Visite Us

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Internet Weighs About as Much as a Strawberry

Last week, the world was shocked—shocked!—to discover that downloading an electronic book to a device such as a Kindle actually increases the weight of the Kindle. Not by any truly measurable amount, said the New York Times, but still: adding data to a device apparently results in trapped electrons which "have a higher energy than the untrapped ones."

And though the amount of data contained in a tiny e-book file is so miniscule as to render it almost irrelevant, the results become more meaningful when you measure a much larger set of data. In that spirit, how much does all the information on the entire internet weigh?

The conclusion: about as much as a strawberry. Check out the above video for the explanation, which includes details about the Kindle stuff, too.

Quoted from Techland
»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 1:14 PM

'Anonymous' Abandons Attack Against Mexican Drug Cartel?

Just days after announcing its intent to reveal information about civilians who have assisted the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas, the group has seemingly backed down for fear of possible violent reprisals.

Two apparently self-identified Anonymous members, Skill3r and Glynnis Paroubek, were quoted in Mexican newspaper Milenio as saying, "We didn't want irresponsible administrators to condemn participants [in the operation] to death. We've discussed it extensively and we all decided to remove it."

This statement follows a post on the Anonymous Mexico Facebook page that reads in part: "Our fight is not of this kind and our ideals are not in tune with that operation. The note [announcing Operation Cartel] published in many electronic media is completely false."

The decision may be a smart one; global intelligence company Stratfor released a report yesterday claiming that "Los Zetas are deploying their own teams of computer experts to track those individuals involved in the online anti-cartel campaign, which indicates that the criminal group is taking the campaign very seriously," a comment which comes with the extra weight of earlier internet-related murders as a warning to "internet snitches" trying to intervene in the drug war.

Despite this, it's possible that Anonymous is split over the decision to withdraw from this particular operation; according to a tweet from Anonymous member Sabu, "#OpCartel is very much alive and like I said to others in private our war is on corruption on both sides of the spectrum. Vamous a GUERRA!" We may not know until November 5th whether or not the operation is still in existence... which, admittedly, may be part of the plan.

Quoted from Techland
»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 11:54 AM

Our Friends Electric: Facebook Info Open to 'Socialbot' Snooping

Perhaps it's time to start paying more attention to whom you're friending on Facebook. A recent study designed to evaluate how safe social networks are from being invaded by programs pretending to be real people resulted in more than 250GB of personal information being collected from thousands of Facebook users by the researchers' "socialbots."

Researchers from the University of British Columbia's Vancouver campus released 102 socialbots onto Facebook as part of the eight week study, each one given a name and a profile picture so as to better convince real users that they were, in fact, entirely genuine. Each bot then proceeded to send 25 friend requests per day—limited to prevent setting off spam alerts—and within two weeks, 976 requests had been accepted.

For the next six weeks, the bots sent requests to the friends of their new friends, with 59% of that second wave accepting, leading to what the researchers call "a large-scale infiltration" of the site.
The researchers said that the exercise proved how ineffective existing safety measures are against this kind of attack, with only 20% of their socialbots being caught by Facebook's "Immune System," with even that low percentage only happening because users flagged the friend requests as spam.

A report on the experiment, "The Socialbot Network," explains the danger this presents:
"As socialbots infiltrate a targeted OSN, they can further harvest private users' data such as email addresses, phone numbers, and other personal data that have monetary value. To an adversary, such data are valuable and can be used for online profiling and large-scale email spam and phishing campaigns."

A Facebook spokesperson deflected criticism by attacking the report, saying that the company has "serious concerns about the methodology of the research by the University of British Columbia, and we will be putting these concerns to them."

Sources: Techland
»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 10:35 AM

Samsung Bests Apple In Smartphone Sales

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co overtook Apple Inc as the world's top smartphone maker in the July-September period with a 44 percent jump in shipments, and forecast strong sales in the current quarter in a clear warning to its rivals.

Samsung only entered the smartphone market in earnest last year, but its sales have skyrocketed thanks to a sleek production system that rapidly brings new products to market. Apple introduced its first iPhone in 2007.

"In the handset division, Samsung has no real rival models to challenge its products except for the iPhone 4S. Apple and Samsung will continue to dominate the market in the fourth quarter," said Kim Hyun-joong, a fund manager at Midas Asset Management, which owns Samsung shares.

Profits from the South Korean firm's telecoms division, announced on Friday, more than doubled from a year ago to a record 2.5 trillion won ($2.2 billion) and accounted for 60 percent of Samsung's total profit, offsetting a plunge in earnings from its bread-and-butter memory chips.

Shipments of smartphones jumped 44 percent from the preceding quarter to 27.8 million units, up nearly four times from a year ago, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Apple's iPhone sales shrank by 16 percent to 17.1 million units in the third quarter. Samsung had 23.8 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter, 9 points higher than Apple. Samsung's flagship Galaxy line of products is powered by Google's Android software.

Apple sold fewer phones in the third quarter, missing street expectations for the first time in year, as customers held off buying iPhones until the October launch of the latest version.

Samsung shares were up 1.6 percent by 0500 GMT (1 a.m. EDT), versus a 0.6 percent gain in the wider market.

The world's biggest technology firm by revenue reported a 4.25 trillion won operating profit for the July-September quarter, broadly in line with its earlier estimate of 4.2 trillion won.

That was down from 4.9 trillion won a year ago but up from 3.8 trillion won in the preceding quarter.

Samsung said its fourth-quarter earnings could be better than the third, boosted by one-off gains from its $1.4 billion sale of its hard disk drive business to Seagate Technology.

"I am cautiously optimistic on the fourth quarter outlook at this point," Robert Yi, head of Samsung's investor relations, told analysts.

"Looking ahead into the fourth quarter, when industry demand is traditionally at its peak, Samsung expects sales of mobile devices to remain strong and flat-panel TV shipments to increase," the company added in an earnings statement.

Apple, whose iPhone sales account for nearly half the firm's total sales, reported a 40 percent gross margin, or the percentage of sales left after subtracting the cost of goods sold. Samsung's phone division reported a 16.9 percent operating margin, which further takes account of marketing costs.

Nevertheless, Samsung faces challenges as the new iPhone introduced earlier this month is notching up strong sales.

Nokia is also fighting back with its first phones based on Microsoft's Windows software. And Sony Corp announced on Thursday it would take full ownership of its mobile venture, Sony Ericsson, in a bid to exploit its music and video library.

Samsung on Thursday announced the launch of its Galaxy Note mobile device, adding to the flagship Galaxy lineup of products. The device, powered by Android, will square off against a series of new models released by Apple, Nokia and HTC Corp.

The iPhone, introduced in 2007 with the touchscreen template now adopted by its rivals, is still the gold standard in the smartphone market.

Samsung may not have come up with the concept, but it has adopted Apple's breakthrough smartphone idea perhaps better than any other handset maker. It tries to offer the Apple experience at a better price with better functionality.

"Samsung's rise has been driven by a blend of elegant hardware designs, popular Android services, memorable sub-brands and extensive global distribution," said Alex Spektor at Strategy Analytics.

"Samsung has demonstrated that it is possible, at least in the short term, to differentiate and grow by using the Android ecosystem."


Profits from Samsung's chip business more than halved to 1.59 trillion won, but the division held up well as its relatively high exposure to lucrative mobile chips helped the firm offset a sharp plunge in prices of commodity computer memory chips.

Samsung was the sole profitable firm among major global dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chip makers in the third quarter.

Second-ranked computer memory chip maker Hynix Semiconductor and Japan's Elpida Memory swung to deep losses as prices of DRAM chips used in PCs tumbled about 50 percent in the third quarter.

Samsung's chip business is also benefiting from strong demand for mobile processor chips used in Apple's iPhone and iPad tablet as well as its own Galaxy smartphones.

Samsung expected demand for PCs to remain weak in the fourth quarter because of weak seasonality, while demand for mobile devices and servers will be relatively strong.

"I see some signs that chip prices have hit bottom as inventories are running out. However, we don't yet know when the industry is going to pick up since macroeconomic uncertainties overshadow the demand outlook," said Park Hyun, an analyst at Tong Yang Securities.

Samsung's display business posted losses for a third consecutive quarter on weak demand for TVs and PCs.

But losses narrowed from the previous quarter, helped by strong earnings from the OLED display, which is widely expected to replace LCD as the next-generation flat-screen in mobile devices and TVs.

($1 = 1,115.250 Korean won)

(Additional reporting by Ju-min Park and Jungyoun Park; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner, Miyoung Kim and Dean Yates)

Lets see pictures of the state of the global smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics.

1. Samsung

2. Apple

 3. Nokia

4. Other Vendors

Sources: Huf Post TECH

»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 10:04 AM

Google Can Now Index Your Comments Made Through Facebook

I know that you, fair Techland readers, are always civil in the comments section. Those who aren't might want to think twice about saying something nasty, as Googlebots (a.k.a. Google's infamous web spiders) can now index website comments from engines like Facebook, Livefyre and Disqus.

Before, the fact that those commenting engines used JavaScript meant that Google couldn't read or index them. Now, however, Google SEO guru Matt Cutts confirms via Twitter that "Googlebot keeps getting smarter. Now has the ability to execute AJAX/JS to index some dynamic comments."

Digital Inspiration points out that you can now search for all the comments someone has made via Facebook's commenting system by searching for something like "commenter name * commenter title." So, internet trolls that for some reason sign in using your real name, your days are numbered!

This also has major implications for websites when it comes to SEO. As The Next Web points out, it's a good thing that all of a sudden a lot more content is going to be searchable, meaning that users could get to sites via things commenters have said. The negative? If a commenter—gasp!—says something inappropriate, that could show up in a site's search results. Also, if websites are lax in rooting out spam, that could negatively affect how Google's spiders view them.

Lesson to websites: Pay attention to what people are saying in your comments section. Lesson to commenters: Don't drink and post ill-conceived angry rants at 3:00 am! Or at least go incognito when you do.


»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 9:11 AM

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Pluto — No Longer a Planet — Has a Twin Sister

If Pluto's looking for someone — or something — to blame for being drummed out of the planetary corps back in 2006, it need look no further than Eris. The solar system's ninth planet had long had its detractors — purists who sniffed at its tiny size and irregular orbit — but it was in 2005 things came to a head.

An artist's rendering of the dwarf planet Eris
That was when Caltech astronomer Mike Brown found a tiny, frigid world orbiting some three times further out than Pluto. Brown had been finding similar objects in the Kuiper Belt — the massive band of comet-like bodies that circles the solar system — for years. But all of them were smaller than 2,320 km (1,440 miles) across, the modest dimensions of Pluto. Eris (which Brown nicknamed Xena, before the International Astronomical Union settled on its official name), though, was evidently a little larger — and that discovery set off an international furor. If Pluto was a planet, Eris obviously was too. And if so, why not Quaoar and Sedna, and several other worlds, which were smaller than Pluto, but not by much?

In the end, the astronomical union avoided the whole mess by demoting Pluto and the rest to the status of "dwarf planet," infuriating Pluto partisans around the world (an odd category, when you think about it: there are no rabid fan clubs for Jupiter or Mercury or Mars). Brown ultimately poked Pluto lovers again when he wrote a book titled How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. The one hope Pluto fans had for revenge was that it was very tough to pin down Eris' size exactly. Maybe it would end up proving smaller than Pluto after all. That wouldn't restore Pluto to full planethood, but it would make them feel better, anyway.

Now a team of astronomers has finally nailed down Eris' size with high precision, and the answer is that it may be bigger than Pluto, or it may not — but the difference is probably pretty small either way. Much more significant, says Bruno Sicardy of the Paris Observatory, lead author of a paper on the discovery in the latest Nature, is that despite their comparable size, Eris is some 27% more massive than Pluto. What's more, it's prettier, with a surface Sicardy describes as "brighter than new fallen snow."

Measuring the size of something 24 billion km (15 billion miles) away is no mean feat. It is, says Sicardy, "like measuring a coin at a distance of 100 miles." Even with the Hubble telescope, Eris looks like a featureless pinpoint. The only way to gauge its size accurately was to wait for it to pass in front of a distant star, in what's known as an occultation. All you have to do then is time how long it takes the star to reappear on the other side and you can calculate the size of the obscuring object. Two years ago, Sicardy and his team found a good star in what seemed to be the right spot — but they couldn't be sure the two bodies would actually cross paths until it was about to happen. "You need to know the location of the star and the orbit of Eris very, very precisely."

Fortunately, they chose well. Last November, the occultation took place. "It's amazing it works!" says Sicardy, who knew better than anyone how hard it was to predict. "The star disappears and then reappears!"

If the occultation had been spotted from only one telescope, it wouldn't have been very useful, since the star might have barely skimmed Eris' edge rather than passed behind its fat middle. But two telescopes, both in Chile, managed to see the event take place. They were far enough apart and saw it from different enough angles that they captured different parts of Eris. Assuming the object is roughly spherical (not unreasonable), they could use those parts of the overall disc to trace out the rest and thus calculate its size. The answer they got: 2,326 km (1,445 miles), with an uncertainty of half a percent. That margin of error actually straddles Pluto's accepted dimensions. At its greatest possible size, Eris is bigger than Pluto; at its least, it's smaller.

Such exquisite mathematical ambiguity is made less certain still by the fact that unlike Eris, Pluto has a thin atmosphere, so when it goes in front of a star, the star doesn't wink out. It fades. Pluto may be a few tens of kilometers smaller than Eris, or a few tens of kilometers bigger.

Whatever Pluto's exact dimensions, the fact doesn't have much significance beyond cosmic bragging rights. What does matter a lot is Eris' surprisingly large mass, which means it has considerably more rock underneath its icy surface than Pluto. As Brown writes on his blog, "explaining why Pluto and Eris are so different is going to keep us busy for many years, I suspect."

Scientists also have to explain why Eris is so blindingly bright. Its surface should darken over the years as dust and cosmic rays mar its pristine whiteness, and yet it's kept its youthful sheen. The answer, the scientists suspect: when Eris comes closer to the sun in its highly elongated orbit, surface ice warms up to form a temporary atmosphere. When it recedes, the atmosphere condenses again to form a new coating of ice just a millimeter thick. "Unfortunately," says Sicardy, "we will have to wait 250 years to test this idea." But Pluto is currently moving further out, so the same thing might happen to it in reverse. "Within 20 years or so," he says "we could see Pluto begin to brighten" as its atmosphere starts to freeze out, confirming the hypothesis.

Astronomers won't have to wait that long to firm up their understanding of the outer solar system, though: Sicardy and his team already have occultations in hand from other Kuiper Belt objects. Measuring their size and density will help theorists figure out how these miniworlds came to be.

Brown, meanwhile, holds out an even more exciting prospect. "There are surely even larger dwarf planets out there," he writes. "It is only a matter of time before both Pluto and Eris are supplanted." Presumably, one hopes, before Eris develops a fan base of its own.

Sources: Science
»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 10:09 PM

Why We Can’t Buy Happiness, But Try to Anyway

In 1972, the percentage of Americans who said they were “pretty happy” was about 50%. In the years since, the U.S.’s standard of living has risen dramatically, and our gross domestic product per capita has increased by 96%. That means we have more, we consume more and we can afford more. But today, what percentage of Americans say they’re “pretty happy?” Fifty percent. In a new book out Nov. 8, Shiny Objects: Why We Spend Money We Don’t Have in Search of Happiness We Can’t Buy, Marketing Professor Dr. James Roberts analyzes why we buy more, more, more but just don’t think we’re any better off. In fact, we seem to think things are even worse.
In your book, you write that over the last several decades, we’ve consumed more and more products, but we’re just as happy as we were 40 years ago. So, what’s wrong with us?

We have short-term amnesia as consumers, and not only are we really not any happier than we were, we’re probably worse off. What we’ve found after every recession in modern times is that we’ve actually up-ticked our spending afterward, but we’re finding that what we thought would bring us happiness, all this extra increase in consumption, just doesn’t deliver the goods. So it’s not only that our happiness has not increased, but there’re a number of studies that tell us we are more depressed, more suicidal, more psychotic, more anxious, more stressed than we were 30, 40 years ago.

It seems that consuming is in our DNA, but we still bare responsibility for our actions, right?

Most of the research says we can blame about 50% of our problems on our personality. We have been programmed as human beings to store up materials for the future when there may not be food available. That was a good thing for us when we were living in the era of scarcity. But now in the era of abundance, we haven’t learned that there’s plenty tomorrow. We’re still storing up, and we just never seem to fill that void.

You write that we seem to understand that money doesn’t bring happiness. But knowing that appears to have no affect on our behavior.

As much as we’re refined and have elevated ourselves from those more primordial concerns, we’re still that caveman under the stress of not having enough. People want to blame marketers and say, “Well, it’s all this advertising.” That may have accelerated it, but you don’t have to look that far back to see that before TV or radio, we had the gold rush, or the Egyptian rulers who were buried with their gold because they thought it would give them an easier entrance into the afterlife.

We’ve always had this idea of the American Dream: a nice house, picket fence. How has the definition changed over the last few years?

It started out with the puritan work ethic that we were to scrimp and save through hard work, patience and perseverance. Then the goal was just to have some level of comfort. But we have perverted the American Dream. We’ve perverted the little white house with the picket fence and the car in the driveway to the 3-car garage with a Hummer out front, the 3,000-square foot house and jewelry and everything that goes along with it. It’s the American Dream on steroids. Today we want the easy wealth without the work.

Do you think this recession will have long-lasting impacts on our behavior?

Just the fact that we’re having another recession and we’re caught with our pants down with no money and savings, suggests that we didn’t learn from the previous recession. As soon as we see the light at the end of the tunnel, we’re back out there with our credit cards in hand at the mall.

Does it feel funny writing a book about the hazards of consumerist culture considering you’re a professor of marketing?

I’m kind of on the dark side. I teach consumer behavior and advertising, yet a lot of what I talk about is, How does all this advertising and marketing impact us as human beings? How does it impact our society? So, yeah, I’m a bit of anomaly in the marketing faculty.

Do you think we can get out of this cycle of more, more, more?

If we can’t convince ourselves that money and material possessions won’t bring us happiness, we are forever going to be chasing that golden ring. So really the change has to be attitudinal. Once we can do that, if we can do that, then the behaviors will follow. Then we’ll start to say, well I don’t need that watch, or that fancy car or that big house. I don’t want to be misunderstood — I’m not saying money is evil. Money plays a very important role in our lives. But the point is that it’s got to be held in balance with all our other important values. Money is a poor master but a good servant. If you allow it to run your life, you are going to be unhappy. But if you use it to live a reasonable life and to help others, you’re going to find great happiness in a moderate level of material possessions and affluence.

So is it unrealistic to think that we could ever get out of these habits? Are you concerned your book will have zero impact?

People are so busy that they really don’t have time to reflect on their behaviors. Someone asked me  – How do you justify or rationalize people spending $20-$25 for a book when you’re trying to tell people not to spend money? And that’s a good question. My answer is, this is an investment that can literally change your life. There’ve been some studies that have shown that overly materialistic men spend less time with their families and are more likely to get divorced from their wives. So it isn’t just a pocketbook thing. It’s about quality of life. I don’t think people realize how much our attitudes toward money and possessions impact that.

Sources: Moneyland
»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 9:25 PM

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

7 Healthy Foods as Sweet as Candy

Don’t be haunted by your sweet tooth; simulate a sugar rush with these tasty and healthier treats

This time of year, the ubiquity of candy summons a monsterlike sugar craving in all of us—which can be more terrifying than the latest slasher flick when it comes to sticking to aweight loss plan. With its often-astronomical sugar content, candy’s clearly not the best choice for your diet. So instead of looting the nearest kid’s Halloween spoils the next time a sweet tooth haunts you, reach for these healthier, but just as sweet, suggestions from Marisa Moore, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Dried Fruit

Are you gaga for gummy snacks? Opt for dried fruit, which contains far fewer calories and grams of sugar than fruit-flavored bears and worms, and has the added benefit of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and other minerals. Just keep in mind that dried fruit contains more calories per gram than fresh produce. A cup of grapes contains about 60 calories, but 2 tablespoons of raisins pack more than 80 calories. Mix dried wild blueberries or cranberries with nuts to add protein, minimize the amount of sugar you consume, and keep you satisfied.

Greek Yogurt with Honey and Fruit

For a decadent-tasting dessert, top Greek yogurt with fruit and honey. “Not only does it satisfy your sweet tooth, but also has that creamy, cold texture we like in desserts,” Moore says. Plus, it’s a superhealthy combo: Yogurt is packed with protein, fruit contains fiber and nutrients, and honey contains antioxidants and possesses antimicrobial properties, which can keep us healthy.

Frozen Banana Dipped in Chocolate

Quell your hankering for ice cream by whipping up a, healthier frozen treat. Dip a small banana in melted dark chocolate and then put it into the freezer. The fruit’s a fantastic source of potassium, which has been linked to a reduced risk of stroke and lower blood pressure.

Cinnamon-Sugar Popcorn

Choose popcorn without added salt, butter, or oil, and prepare it according to the directions. Then dust it with a little bit of cinnamon and sugar. “It’s sweet and low in calories,” Moore says. Three cups of this light snack come to about 90 calories. You’ll want to go easy on the sugar, but it’s not so bad if you have a heavy hand with the cinnamon. Research suggests that the spice may lower glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes.

Hot Cocoa

“A tablespoon of powder contains 12 calories and almost 2 g of fiber.” It also boasts flavonoids, which have been linked to heart health, reduced blood pressure, and lower stroke risk. To get the most benefit, select natural cocoa powder, not cocoa that has been alkalized. The alkalization process removes some of cocoa’s bitterness and improves its color and solubility, but may destroy or modify some beneficial phytonutrients. Check the label for the word alkalized, Dutch-processed, or European-style, and “alkali” will be listed in the ingredients. If it’s not alkalized, the label will read “natural” or “nonalkalized.” Mix it with skim, almond, or soy milk for a low-calorie treat that also serves up plenty of calcium and protein.

Almonds Dusted with Cocoa Powder

Get the sweet and salty satisfaction of eating a Snickers bar or Peanut M&Ms without all of the fat and calories. A quarter cup of Emerald Cocoa Roasted Almonds comes to just 150 calories and packs 6 g of protein and 3 g of dietary fiber. Or you could make your own. Either way you’ll reap the benefits of the heart-healthy nut, which can lower harmful LDL cholesterol.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is a candyphile’s saving grace, as it packs real health benefits. Evidence suggests it may reduce blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. It also lowers stress hormones in anxious people, according to a study published by the American Chemical Society. Look for chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa , and be sure to consume only a bite-size piece, or about an ounce. Despite its positive qualities, an ounce of dark chocolate still often packs close to 150 calories, Moore warns.

Sources MSN
»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 1:49 PM

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Coolest Cameras in The World

8 Coolest Cameras in The World

Panoramas like never before

Digital cameras are constantly evolving. The sensors get bigger, the mega-pixel count higher, and thus the images produced improve. But innovation and evolution can also throw up some interesting anomalies, as these amazing cameras show. For example, if you want to create a digital panorama you usually have to stitch together the pictures using an app or PhotoShop. The Seitz 16 x 7, however, has been designed to capture perfect panoramas in seconds. Up to 160 million pixels are packed into each shot, so every photo looks vibrant and sharp enough to step inside. For creating incredible epic landscapes, capturing architectural wonders or vibrant city scenes, the Seitz 16 x 7 Digital Panoramic Camera can be considered one of the best in existence.

Photography and video in 3D

Films, televisions and video games have all made the jump to the third dimension recently, and now your photos can too. The Fine Pix Real 3D W3 is the first camera that shoots high-resolution 3D photos and movies mass produced for consumers. It's surprisingly easy to use — just press the shutter and capture the world as it was meant to be seen. It also has a feature where you can take two shots of the same subject from different positions and the camera will merge them into a single 3D photo. Clever stuff.

The value of history

It might not look it, but the camera pictured above is the most expensive in the world. So if you thought a camera's price tag reflected how much high-tech gadgetry it had, think again. This 1923 Leica 0-Series is worth an incredible $1.74 million thanks to its historical significance and iconic status. Only 25 were ever produced in order to test the market for a new Leica camera; this is the seventh, and the only one with "Germany" engraved on the top plate. In 2007 the very same camera sold at auction for $475,000 — an amazing return on investment.

The camera engineered like a car

Leica still makes some of the finest cameras in the world, and the M9 Titanium is no exception. This exclusive special edition model is the result of collaboration with Walter de'Silva, famed for his design work with Audi. The camera body is made from precision-engineered titanium, and the trim is a special leather typically used in Audi's top-of-the-range cars. Only 500 Titanium M9s have been produced worldwide, each one is individually numbered and costs around $30,000.

A camera for space travel

The Wide Field Camera 3 is the size of a small piano. But when you're taking pictures of the farthest reaches of the universe, you need something with a big zoom lens. It's actually the third version of the camera housed inside the Hubble Space Telescope, installed during a spacewalk in early 2009. It can capture images of astronomical targets over a wide wavelength range, and has a massive field of view, allowing scientists to see as much as possible of deep space. As well as being scientifically useful, the images captured by this camera are also extremely beautiful.

Incredible resolution in a single image

The megapixel count often overshadows all other aspects of a camera's performance, even though the sensor, lens and other features are just as important for producing great images. However, for professionals shooting images that are going to appear on billboards or glossy magazines, normal digital cameras are often not enough. By using a traditional medium format camera with a digital camera back, the professionals are able to get great single images in incredible detail — and there's none higher than the Phase One IQ180 back, which can capture 80 million pixels.

Incredible images in the palm of your hand

The Pentax Q is currently the smallest camera body in the world featuring interchangeable lenses, a feat made possible by Pentax's newly developed Q mount system. The removal of an optical finder, mirror box, focusing plate and AF sensor makes the camera super light, too, so it's perfect for popping in a pocket.

Redefining the disposable camera

With a diameter of just 0.99 millimeters, the Medigus video camera is the tiniest in existence; yet the minute CMOS sensor inside is still able to capture video with a 45,000 pixel resolution. It's been designed for use in medical procedures that require the use of a small-diameter endoscopic device and is made from materials that won't harm the human body. Despite these impressive specifications, the camera is actually designed to be disposable, eliminating the need for sterilisation after use.

Quoted from MSN
»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 1:25 AM

5 unique auto insurance policies

New products introduced this year are offering unconventional coverage, from pet injury insurance to a vanishing deductible.

Insurance with a difference

Let's face it, car insurance policies are about as exciting as Hello Kitty Snuggies.
Chances are, you haven't even read your auto policy cover to cover, unless you did so in a desperate move to lullaby a colicky child to sleep.

But this year, five new car insurance offerings hit the streets with enough thunder to wake the masses.

Two of these hot new products kicked off with equally funky national TV campaigns -- the commercials are for Vanishing Deductible from Nationwide Insurance, in which an insurance spokesman vanishes, and Better Car Replacement from Liberty Mutual, in which a guy peels away a wrecked car to reveal a new car underneath.

Two other innovative products -- pet injury coverage from the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies and mobile food vendors insurance from Whorton Insurance Services -- fill a very real insurance need that has never been met before.

Finally, you would need to witness the annual spontaneous artistic combustion in the Nevada desert known as Burning Man to fully appreciate the unique challenges of Heffernan Insurance Brokers' insurance program for Burning Man participants.

Shrinking deductibles, equal auto protection for pets, props for our favorite taco wagons, a guaranteed newer car and coverage for whatever weirdness might happen at Burning Man?

How to make your deductible vanish

If you've never filed an accident claim, why should your deductible remain the same?

Now it doesn't have to. Nationwide's Vanishing Deductible program will lop $100 off your deductible for every year of safe driving, up to a maximum deduction of $500, for preferred auto customers only. New program enrollees receive an immediate $100 deduction.

How do you qualify for preferred at Nationwide? "You need to maintain auto insurance for at least six months, have fewer than two at-fault accidents and fewer than three moving violations (aka tickets) with no major offenses such as a DUI," says spokeswoman Elizabeth Stelzer.

What constitutes "safe driving"?

"A safe driver is someone who does not have an at-fault accident," she says. "Not-at-fault accidents and moving violations do not impact the earning of our vanishing deductible."

The vanishing deductible magic act is available to preferred auto policyholders in all Nationwide states except North Carolina for a cost of $30 for the first vehicle on your policy and $5 for each additional vehicle. The fee is charged every six months at renewal.

The deductible credit can be used multiple times throughout the policy period and on all types of claims, including at-fault, not-at-fault and glass damage, Stelzer says.

Affordable coverage for food on the move

Mobile food vendors are all the rage today, with menus that extend well beyond tacos and tamales to fancy fare such as lobster and gourmet cupcakes. There are estimated to be 8,000 to 10,000 rolling restaurants in Los Angeles County alone and 10,000 among Dallas, Houston and Austin, Texas, according to Ron Ortega, program manager of Whorton Insurance Services in Austin.

Unfortunately, obtaining insurance coverage for the three major risks -- foodborne illness and fire and auto accidents -- required chefs to cook up piecemeal protection from expensive surplus-lines underwriters.

That just didn't taste right to Ortega. So he developed the nation's first mobile food vendor insurance, or MFVI.

"Costs vary by state and region, but on average, premiums range from $2,500 to $3,500 for $1 million to $2 million general liability and $1 million auto liability, including physical damage on a stated amount basis," Ortega says.

He estimates his MFVI policy saves mobile food vendors an average 30% over similar surplus-lines policies while providing better coverage.

"What's fueling this industry is its popularity, convenience and affordability in tough economic times, spiced up by social networking," says Ortega. "People love it and want more of it."

Car totaled? Replace it with a better one

Depreciation doesn't just affect the resale value of your new car. It also has an impact on the insurance money you'll receive if you total it.

Liberty Mutual feels your pain and includes new-car replacement as part of its standard auto coverage. If you total your new car within a year of owning it and within its first 15,000 miles, the company will give you the vehicle's full value minus any deductible.

The idea proved to be so popular that Liberty Mutual dreamed up Better Car Replacement for customers who don't drive this year's model. The optional coverage, which costs on average $60 per year, is now available in all states except Kentucky and North Carolina.

"Better Car Replacement works like this: If your car is totaled, we will give you the money for a car one model year newer with 15,000 fewer miles on it," says Liberty Mutual spokeswoman Nicole Guidara. "For example, if you total a 2008 Toyota Camry with 60,000 miles on it, we will give you the money for the value of a 2009 Camry with 45,000 miles on it."

Pets need auto insurance coverage, too

When you load up the van with Fido and the family, one of you isn't covered. Guess which one.

To rectify this industry oversight, the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies now offers $2,000 in pet injury coverage as part of its standard auto policy, at no additional cost to customers. So far, coverage is available in Arizona, Maryland, Texas and New Jersey.

The policy pays up to the claim limit to treat, board, euthanize and replace your pet if it is injured or killed in a crash. It even covers horses in trailers.

"We have a lot of customers who have pets and love their pets," says Chubb spokesman Dave Hilgen. "The distinction is, it will cover any animal that isn't used for business or profit. If you have a race horse and you're taking it to the track, it wouldn't cover that. It has to be a pet."

Any pet? Sure, says Hilgen: snakes, monkeys, hedgehogs. Even bigger exotic animals.

"The bottom line is, it's difficult to get a lion sitter if you happen to have a lion, so sometimes you have to take that lion with you," he says. "If it's a pet, it's covered."

Insurance that’s too hot not to like

Take Woodstock. Lose the headline acts. Add fantastically decorated "art cars" and theme camps. Multiply by Salvador Dali. Allow to rise in the desert sun. Then flambé.

That's Burning Man, a weeklong communal artistic experience that occurs each year in Nevada's Black Rock Desert, culminating in the ceremonial torching of a giant humanoid figure.

Woodstock with open-road vehicles -- what could possibly go wrong, right?

Enter coverage for Burning Man participants, offered for the first time by California-based Heffernan Insurance Brokers. For a premium of $500 to $850, the policy provides property and liability coverage for claims against participants in a theme camp, art car or artistic installation at Burning Man, from setup to breakdown.

Heffernan's Amy Vitarelli and Ben Stern spent two years developing the unique coverage. "As 'burners' ourselves, we know the risks inherent in an event like Burning Man," Vitarelli says.

They're also aware of the irony.

"There is no insurance requirement; that would be very un-Burning-Man-like for the organization to require anyone to purchase insurance," she says. "When you say 'insurance and Burning Man,' it's like this oxymoron -- like wait, those things go together?"

Quoted from MSN

»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 1:00 AM

Sunday, October 30, 2011

6 sites transforming how you shop

It's not always about brand extension. These 6 small websites are pointing consumers to new strategies for buying, selling and trading merchandise.

Over the past 15 years, the Internet has transformed society. It has generated an entire industry, revolutionized commerce and altered the ways people communicate, connect and build relationships.

From a commercial perspective, online shopping has generated a shift in consumer behavior. According to two studies by the Pew Research Center, this shift is far from over. In September 2010, 58% of Americans went online for information about products to buy, up from 49% six years earlier.

The six companies profiled here are building strong momentum in the realm of online shopping. Their technologies can help consumers save time and money, but the websites also do something else: They expose people to new strategies for acquiring, selling or trading consumer goods. Plus, they plug in consumers to the new currents that will inevitably follow as technology continues to transform personal transactions of all kinds.


Based in San Francisco, thredUP is an online clothing swap. Parents can exchange used clothes, as well as books and toys. The website bills itself as a time-saving solution for busy, thrifty parents. You don't have to rummage through garage sales, and the inventory is more abundant than what you'd encounter at the thrift store.

In the real world, clothing swaps are few and far between because they are time-consuming and difficult to organize. ThredUP's marketplace streamlines everything into one browser-friendly interface.

For basic swaps, thredUP customers pay $5 plus $10.95 in shipping fees. is a boutique-style online retailer that chooses small lots from a variety of designers, all retro in style. ModCloth features only a few of each item in each individual size, enhancing the uniqueness of its shopping experience.

In the real world, boutiques can be expensive and difficult places to shop because they tend to run out of inventory quickly. As a solution to this problem, ModCloth provides an extensive inventory of department-store alternatives.

Above all, the company engages in strong social-media efforts to engage its customers. Site browsers can vote on items that they'd like ModCloth to buy and sell.

The site transforms shopping by presenting a holistic experience online, an accomplishment that eludes many virtual retailers.


Established in 2005, Etsy has gained a reputation as one of the world's strongest marketplaces for handmade creations. Its network provides people a place to sell their handcrafted clothing, jewelry, furniture, toys and other items.

Anyone with a handmade product can create a store on Etsy, and everyone can shop there. Brooklyn-based Etsy aims to foster a do-it-yourself culture. It periodically brings online users together for real-world social events that have nothing to do with commerce. Participants show up to learn new skills and socialize.


Lifesta is a marketplace for people to buy and sell daily deals picked up from sites like Groupon and LivingSocial, which bring out the "impulse shopper" in everyone with great face-value offers.

On Lifesta you can buy deals you missed, look for deals that might hold appeal or sell any deal you bought and won't use.

The site offers a way out for shoppers who may have been too eager in snapping up a great deal at Groupon for, say, a morning yoga class. Rather than be stuck with a voucher you'll never redeem, you can offer it on Lifesta at whatever price you choose. Lifesta gets its cut -- 99 cents plus 8% of the sales price -- and you get all or some of your money back.


Rehash is another online community for trading clothes and books. The goal of the site is to provide a space for people to share items that would otherwise cost money or go to waste.

The majority of items in Rehash's database are secondhand, but items are typical of what a shopper would find in a mall. Products found on Rehash include Banana Republic tops, trendy ankle boots and Hollister T-shirts.

Rehash is owned by Orpheux Design, a Florida Web studio and creative agency.


Remember Facebook gifts? They were really fun and thoughtful -- until people realized that they weren't actually real.

Rob Carpenter decided to take Facebook gifts to the next level. In 2008, he established Friendgiftr, a business he has described as the world's first social-media and mobile-based e-commerce 2.0 company. Now, you can send real gift cards from about 150 merchants. Its apps aim to commercialize social networking sites and smartphones.

Quoted from MSN

»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 11:57 PM

Snow smacks Northeast; power could be out for days

Lights out for 3 million; travel snarled; 2 feet of snow in areas; 3 deaths blamed on storm

SOUTH WINDSOR, Conn. — Millions of people from Maine to Maryland were without power as an unseasonably early storm dumped heavy, wet snow over the weekend on a region more used to gaping at leaves in October than shoveling snow.
The snow was due to stop falling in New England late Sunday, but it could be days before many of the 3 million without electricity see it restored, officials warned.

At least three deaths were blamed on the weather, and states of emergency were declared in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and parts of New York.

The storm worsened as it moved north, and communities in western Massachusetts were among the hardest hit. Snowfall totals topped 27 inches in Plainfield, and nearby Windsor had gotten 26 inches by early Sunday.Story: Snow cancels NY, Philly flights, makes road travel treacherous

"Look at this, look at all the damage," said Jennifer Burckson, 49, after she came outside Sunday morning in South Windsor to find a massive tree branch had smashed her car's back windshield. Trees in the neighborhood were snapped in half, with others weighed down so much that the leaves brushed the snow.

Compounding the storm's impact were still-leafy trees, which gave the snow something to hang onto and that put tremendous weight on branches, said National Weather Service spokesman Chris Vaccaro. That led to limbs breaking off and contributed to the widespread outages.

"We can't even use the snow blower because the snow is so heavy," Burckson said.

The 750,000 who lost power in Connecticut broke a record for the state that was set when the remnants of Hurricane Irene hit the state in August. People could be without electricity for as long as a week, said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

This outage will be worse than one caused by Irene, said Peter Bloom, 70, of South Windsor, because he relies on electricity to heat his home.

"I'm going to put another blanket on. What else can I do?" he said as he gassed up a snow blower to clear his driveway. "At least I'll save a few bucks on my electric bill."

The severity of the storm caught many by surprise.

"It's a little startling. I mean, it's only October," said Craig Brodur, who was playing keno with a friend at Northampton Convenience in western Massachusetts.

Some inland towns got more than a foot of snow. West Milford, N.J., about 45 miles northwest of New York City, saw 19 inches by early Sunday.

New Jersey's largest electric and gas utility, PSE&G, warned customers to prepare for "potentially lengthy outages" and advised power might not be fully restored until Wednesday. More than 600,000 lost electricity in the state, including Gov. Chris Christie.

Along the coast and in such cities as Boston, relatively warm water temperatures helped keep snowfall totals much lower. Washington received a trace of snow, tying a 1925 record for the date. New York City's Central Park set a record for both the date and the month of October with 1.3 inches of snow.

But in New Hampshire's capital of Concord, more than 22 inches fell, weeks ahead of the usual first measurable snowfall. Trees downtown still bright with fall colors were covered with snow. Some didn't survive — a large oak tree that had stood alongside the Statehouse fell, partially blocking a side street.

By 8 a.m., Dave Whitcher had already been clearing dozens of parking lots in and around Concord for eight hours as part of his work as a property manager.

Holding up his shovel, he said, "Me and this guy are going to get to know each other real well today."

Residents were urged to avoid travel altogether. Speed limits were reduced on bridges between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. A few roads closed because of accidents and downed trees and power lines, and more were expected, said Sean Brown, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Two of the airports serving New York City, Newark Liberty and Kennedy, had hours-long delays Saturday, as did Philadelphia's airport. Amtrak suspended service between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pa., and commuter trains in Connecticut and New York were delayed or suspended because of downed trees and signal problems.

Philadelphia saw mostly rain, but the snow that did fall coated downtown roofs in white.

In southeastern Pennsylvania, an 84-year-old man was killed when a snow-laden tree fell on his home while he was napping in his recliner. In Connecticut, the governor said one person died in a Colchester traffic accident that he blamed on slippery conditions.

And a 20-year-old man in Springfield, Mass., stopped when he saw police and firefighters examining downed wires and stepped in the wrong place and was electrocuted, Capt. William Collins said.

Parts of New York saw a mix of snow, rain and slush that made for sheer misery at the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York City, where drenched protesters hunkered down in tents and under tarps as the plaza filled with rainwater and melted snow.

Technically, tents are banned in the park, but protesters say authorities have been looking the other way, even despite a crackdown on generators that were keeping them warm.

Nick Lemmin, 25, of Brooklyn, was spending his first night at the encampment. He was one of a handful of protesters still at the park early Sunday.

"I had to come out and support," he said. "The underlying importance of this is such that you have to weather the cold."

Adash Daniel, 24, is a protester who had been at the park for three weeks. He had a sleeping bag and cot that he was going to set up, but changed his mind.

"I'm not much good to this movement if I'm shivering," he said as he left the park.

October snowfall is rare in New York, and Saturday marked just the fourth October day with measurable snowfall in Central Park since record-keeping began 135 years ago, the National Weather Service said.

But the unofficial arrival of winter was a boon for some. Two Vermont ski resorts, Killington and Mount Snow, started the ski season early by opening one trail each over the weekend, and Maine's Sunday River ski resort also opened for the weekend.


Associated Press writers Ron Todt in Philadelphia; David B. Caruso, Colleen Long and Deepti Hajela in New York; Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H.; and Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.

Quoted from MSN
»»  Continue Reading...
Published by Gusti Putra at: 11:49 PM