STEM Majors Prove Especially Profitable For Minority Students: Study

For college freshmen and sophomores, August means plenty of shopping for dorm room decor and overpriced textbooks. Juniors, however, have a much more crucial task at hand -- choosing a major.

And with studies showing that college degrees still hold their value, despite the economic downturn, choosing a major that yields the right post-graduate rewards is more important than ever.

According to a study published in the June issue of Research in Higher Education, majoring in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) proves to be the most profitable for minority students, whether they actually pursue the STEM field professionally or not.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, followed more than 1,000 Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino and black students over a period of nine years in an effort to determine the profitability of STEM degrees and help bridge the gap of minorities in those fields.

Among the students surveyed, those who majored in STEM subjects earn at least 25 percent more than their peers who majored in humanities or educational fields, the study found. In addition, those who pursued jobs related to their STEM majors earned at least 50 percent more than their humanities and education counterparts.

“Among the high achieving minority students we studied, Latinos not only reported the highest annual earnings overall, but also reported the highest annual earnings among STEM majors,” study co-author Gregory Wolniak said in a release.

“Preliminary findings suggest this may partially be due to Latino students’ ability to find jobs related to their major," he added.

Wolniak, a senior research scientist at the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago, believes that, based on these findings, strengthening the pipeline of underrepresented students into STEM careers offers a viable solution to our nation’s growing competitiveness problem in engineering and science fields.

“We need to educate students that if they get a job in a STEM-related occupation, they have an even higher earning premium," said Tatiana Melguizo, a professor at USC and lead author of the study. "Otherwise, students aren’t reaping the economic benefit of all the hard work they went through as undergrads.”

Through his Clinton Global Initiative, former President Bill Clinton previously also addressed the dearth of not only minorities in STEM fields, but women as well.

"The big challenge is women have only 14 percent of the engineering jobs in the U.S. and currently make up only 15 percent of all engineering students," Clinton saidduring a media telephone briefing in March, just weeks before the White House Council on Women and Girls released a study supporting Clinton's claim.

What's more, children of color are set to make up 75 percent of those born by 2030, as reported at U.S. News STEM solutions 2012 summit in June, a three-day event in Dallas gathering leaders across the nation in an effort to solve the STEM crisis.

"This shift from minority to majority means that race, ethnicity, and culture will play a more important role in science, technology, engineering and math fields," said Antonio Flores, CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities at the summit.

Based on data gathered by the 2011-2012 Payscale College Salary Report, we've rounded up the most well-paid college degrees in the country. From petroleum engineering to statistics, not only do STEM majors play a major role in the future prospects of the U.S., but come with a hefty paycheck as well.

Original source here

Small minds will hobble the Big Society

How can public spiritedness prevail when minor transgressions or even simple kindnesses can be inflated into major crimes?

Imagine that you are a well-respected deputy head teacher who has proudly devoted your career of 41 years to the education of primary school children. Your daughter is a teacher, too, and your little granddaughter is in your class.

There is an unruly seven-year-old boy in your school who is frequently uncontrollable and violent. One day, he goes particularly berserk, and you are called to deal with his behaviour. He is thrashing around hysterically, and you physically restrain his arms to calm him down: in the course of the tussle, your hand makes contact with his face. It is alleged that you have smacked him on the face, or so the boy says when he recounts the incident to his mother some days later.

Soon after, you are summarily marched off the school premises, to be charged with assault. Your prosecution takes five months and costs the taxpayer thousands of pounds. The magistrates clear you of blame, but the damage is done.

This is no fiction: it is what happened to Royden Cope, the 63-year-old deputy head of St Bartholomew’s School in Great Harwood, Lancashire. And although he was acquitted last week, he is still suspended from his teaching job pending an “internal inquiry”. His eight-year-old granddaughter had to leave the school because of taunts about her grandfather. It seems to me that those who pursued this prosecution should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

I do not want to return to the days of harsh corporal punishment, and nor does Mr Cope, as he made clear. But the pendulum has swung so far the other way that dedicated teachers are being held, in extremely testing circumstances, to a standard of perfection to which no real human being could adhere: indeed, they are often effectively helpless in response to pupils’ own violence. The blinkered machinations of the state have not only let Mr Cope down, but also that disruptive seven-year-old boy, for who will dare to restrain his flailing tantrums now? Those who might have helped him to change will retreat from him. Instead of receiving a clear signal from a united authority, he has learnt that he can wreak exciting damage by exploiting a divided one.

Unfortunately, Mr Cope’s case is not an isolated incident. It is a symptom of a confused bureaucracy which – terrified of incurring blame itself – has begun punishing honourable people. Take another case last week, presided over by Judge Clifford Bellamy of the High Court, sitting in Coventry, in which it was found that social workers had failed to inform a couple who had adopted a seven-year-old girl that the child may have suffered serious sexual abuse. The couple had said they did not want to adopt such a child, due to the very specific challenges this trauma can pose.

As the unwitting couple attempted to get the increasingly uncontrollable, troubled child to stick to their rules at home, they were themselves accused by social workers of “torturing” her and “being high-risk abusive parents”. When the girl made a false accusation of assault against her adoptive father, both parents were arrested and the mother – a teacher of 20 years’ standing – was briefly banned from all contact with children. Two people who had tried to help were trapped in a nightmare that might have been designed by Kafka.

I can easily think of other cases in which public-spiritedness has attracted heavy censure – such as those of the experienced teachers Martin Davis and Heather Wolfson, each of them suspended for kindly pastoral care which included offering a lift home when a pupil was left stranded. Or that of Dr David Drew, a highly regarded paediatric consultant, who was sacked by Walsall Manor Hospital for “gross misconduct and insubordination” after raising difficult questions about the proper safeguarding of children on his ward, and emailing a well-known Christian prayer to staff as inspiration. The crime of all these people, it seems, was to care too much.

David Cameron speaks warmly of a “Big Society”, which volunteers help to run. Our Government wants more families to adopt vulnerable children, more high-powered graduates in teaching. But a powerful current runs counter to all this. It is concerned with box-ticking rather than morality, with inflating minor transgressions or even simple kindnesses into major crimes. It seems to take joy in parading “respectable” professional people through tribunals, disciplinary panels and courts. There is a zealous whiff of Mao’s Cultural Revolution to it, although our judges often see it for the lunacy it is. By then, however, lives and careers have already been wrecked.

Mr Cameron, take note: we will have no Big Society when small-mindedness is given such terrifyingly free rein.

Rejoice! Our exam results are worse

Good news from the A-level results: the proportion of A or A* grades has fallen for the first time in 21 years, due to “changes in the marking system”. This does not mean that this year’s school-leavers are any stupider or less diligent than last year’s, just as 21 unbroken years of grade inflation did not mean that they were steadily getting brighter.

Grades will have to deflate some distance, however, before they return to where they were in the late 1980s, when I sat my three A-levels, and it was possible for clever students to be happy enough with B and C grades, even a D was nothing terrible, and plenty of people failed outright and resat their exams. As a result, it was possible to see quite quickly where you hadn’t done enough work, or perhaps just weren’t as good at a given topic as you had imagined.

There were advantages to this system, which doled out reality checks like cod liver oil. Some say it didn’t buoy up children’s confidence – but, when everyone is marked harder, there is correspondingly less belief that lower grades constitute a catastrophic failure. Now, young people have to struggle for many years to differentiate themselves from the crowd: for the top jobs, they are expected to provide a clutch of A* grades, a First or 2:1 from university, and even a postgraduate qualification or evidence of lengthy, unpaid work experience. It’s exhausting, prolonged and incredibly expensive: that’s the real cost of inflation.

My Mayfair hotel spree shame

News of the Scrabble player who was caught cheating in a lower level of the US national championship has travelled worldwide. Luckily for him, his name cannot be revealed as he is a minor. The youth was spotted concealing a spare pair of blank tiles, which can be used as wild cards to gain extra points.

I once did something vaguely similar as a child, playing a slow-moving game of Monopoly with my siblings. Wrapped in a rug, I stationed myself near the poorly guarded Monopoly bank, and concealed large amounts of stolen cash under my blanket, enough to finance heady hotel-buying binges on Mayfair. The others found out soon enough – after a while, like a reckless felon, I made no effort to conceal my spending power – and made me return my purchases.

The truth is that cheating at board games, a bit like doping in athletics, quickly grows boring for everyone. It is only the belief in genuine competition that makes the game worth playing. And that is also why, although nothing sounds gentler than an evening playing Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit, such living-room sports so often end in howling, rowing mayhem.

Duchess of Cambridge's alma mater besieged by travellers

Marlborough College, where the Duchess of Cambridge was once captain of its hockey XI, has been invaded by a group of travellers, who set up an illegal camp on its private land.

More than 30 travellers trespassed on to the football pitch on Thursday night, in a convoy of vehicles, including seven white caravans, horseboxes, lorries and even a lavatory block.

Officials from the college, founded in 1843, which charges annual fees of more than £30,000, were forced to call in police and private security guards amid fears that more travellers would arrive.

Last night the travellers, including families with young children, with cart horses and dogs, were refusing to leave the Water Meadows field despite orders from the school.

Wiltshire Police said they were “monitoring the situation” after officers yesterday spoke to female members of the group, who had set up camp in the college’s south-west corner. The travellers, who declined to be named, insisted they were temporarily staying on the site and that they were going to a steam fair in Dorset next week.

They said they had received permission from the school, a claim denied by officials.

The travellers had converged just before 6pm on Thursday after police had evicted them from a similar illegal camp 20 miles away in Newbury, Berks.

Residents and school workers watched as the group drove through the school gates. College officials immediately stepped up security and told teachers to increase their vigilance and to lock up boarding house windows.

Late yesterday a further eight travellers, in two large trucks towing caravans, were prevented from entering the field by private security guards on the gate. The field entrance had also been barricaded although the travellers already on the site were allowed to leave to go shopping.

Children were seen playing unsupervised on the field while two cart horses were grazing on grass and several dogs were roaming free.

William Wyldbore-Smith, the clerk to the council of the school, said: “We asked them to go. They were relatively polite and we gave them a reasonable time to leave. They are trespassing on our property.”

In a statement last night, Jonathan Leigh, the school master, added: “We are pursuing all legal steps to remove these people as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for the travellers said: “We are just travelling through and don’t intend to stay very long.”

Original source here

Child expert on Multiple Intelligences to speak at Superkids 2012

Fun and learning abound at Superkids 2012, a two-day interactive conference and exhibition on early childhood education slated on Sept. 14-15, at Function Room 3 of the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Noted California education consultant and author Dr. Thomas Armstrong will speak on two topics: “The Exemplars of Best Schools” on Sept. 14, and ‘’The Power of Neurodiversity & Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom’’ on Sept. 15.

Armstrong is the award-winning author of 14 books, including “The Power of Neurodiversity: Unleashing the Advantages of Your Differently Wired Brain,’’ “The Human Odyssey: Navigating the Twelve Stages of Life,’’ and “The Best Schools: How Human Development Research Should Inform Educational Practice.’’ He has sold over one million copies of his books which have been translated into 26 languages. He has lectured in 18 countries over the span of his 35-year academic career and has had clients such as Sesame Street, the Republic of Singapore, and the European Council of International Schools.

Dr. Armstrong believes that too much focus on test scores, one of the characteristics of AAD, and not enough on developmentally-appropriate teaching methods can be detrimental to children.

In “The Exemplars of Best Schools,” (Sept. 14, 9 a.m.), he will speak on how schools are focused on an academic achievement discourse (AAD) and the discourse’s characteristics, history, and disadvantages. His talk will enhance the importance of the K-12 format that is being implemented by the DepEd this school year.

He will also highlight key developmental features of good schools at four levels of education: 1) early childhood education and the importance of play, 2) elementary school education and the need to teach kids how the world works, 3) middle schools and the necessity of emphasizing social, emotional, and meta-cognitive learning, and 4) high schools, and the need to prepare students for an independent life in the real world.

In “The Power of Neurodiversity & Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom” (Sept. 15, 8:45 a.m.), Dr. Armstrong will focus on neurodiversity, its meaning, and its applications in learning. Integrated with the multiple intelligences theory by Dr. Howard Gardner, it can provide educators with ideas on how to fully use each student’s strengths to maximize his learning potential.

He will also examine findings in evolutionary psychology, neuropsychology, anthropology, and other fields to show that what we regard as “disabilities” in our culture may have at other times and cultures been considered assets and advantages. He explores the strengths of students with dyslexia, ADHD, autism, intellectual disabilities and other brain differences, and shows how educators can provide positive niches within which these students can flourish.

Superkids 2012, in cooperation with Potencia, Inc. and Progress Preschool Gold by Wyeth, Philippines, is part of the Manila International Book Fair, the country’s largest and longest-running book fair. It is organized by Primetrade Asia, Inc. in partnership with the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP), Asian Catholic Communicators, Inc. (ACCI), Overseas Publishers Representatives Association of the Philippines (OPRAP), and Philippine Booksellers Association, Inc. For more details call 897-0139 or 896-0682. You may also e-mail them at conference@primetradeasia.com.

Original source here

Student With Dwarfism Afraid To Go Back To School After Alleged Neglect

Isabella Lounder, Student With Dwarfism, Afraid To Go Back To School, Says Officials Neglected Her Last Year

Isabella Lounder, a 7-year-old student with special needs, is afraid to return for her first day of school.

Mother Nicole Lounder tells KHOU that officials at Armstrong Elementary in Fort Bend, Texas, failed last year to accommodate and assist her daughter, who has dwarfism and needs a stool to go to the bathroom.

But Lounder says Isabella was ignored by school officials, wetting her pants numerous times after failed attempts to use toilets that were out of her reach. Students would also pick her up, hurting her arms, and she was once locked out of the school, Isabella told the station.

"It's not right," Nicole Lounder told KHOU. "She shouldn't have to deal with that on a daily basis -- just using basic functions."

District officials say they are working to address Isabella's needs for the coming school year.

The allegations against Armstrong Elementary come after numerous accusations in Texas and across the nation that educators have neglected students with special needs. In Texas' New Caney Independent School District, mother Lakay Roberts is upset that her daughter's special education director said the 5-year-old could no longer use her walker at school.

The student has cerebral palsy and needs the walker to move around -- and has used the device at the school for the last two years -- but the school decided it was unsafe after Lakay fell in the parking lot because her walker collapsed.

Most recently in Florida, Osceola County teacher Pranee Andrus was accused of threatening to cut off students' tongues and dragging Phoenix Hanson, a 5-year-old boy with autism, across the floor.

And at Webster Elementary School in Michigan, special education teacher Sharon Turbiak has been dismissed for allegedly "slapping, grabbing and force feeding special-needs preschoolers in her classroom, among other unprofessional classroom management practices."

Turbiak has denied the allegations and is appealing the decision.

Original source here

Facebook shares hit new low

Facebook shares sank 6.3% to a new low on Thursday after early investors got the chance to sell shares for the first time since the social network went public, starting a string of insider lockup expirations that will pressure the stock for months.

Analysts interpreted the unusually high trading volume as a clear sign that at least a few of the insiders were seizing on a fresh selling opportunity. That is stirring a debate over whether they’re simply locking in long-awaited gains on investments made many years ago or bailing out of a company that has lost its luster.

A breakdown on just how many major Facebook Inc. shareholders sold their
stock probably won’t be available until next week at the earliest. Securities regulations give them at least three business days before they have to disclose such transactions.

The information is important “because if you are an investor who has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for a good time to buy the stock, you might decide to stay on the sidelines for a little longer after seeing which insiders decided to sell their stock,” CapStone Investments analyst Rory Maher said.

All told, investors who owned a combined 271 million Facebook shares could have sold their holdings Thursday with the expiration of a ban known as a lock-up period. The restrictions were imposed on a group of venture capitalists, companies and Silicon Valley cognoscente who invested in Facebook during its formative years and sold some of their holdings three months ago when the company went public at $38.

The highly anticipated IPO had valued the company at $104 billion, similar to those of Amazon.com Inc. and PepsiCo Inc.

The shares have plunged by nearly 50 percent since then amid concerns about whether Facebook is destined to become a passing fancy and worries about whether it will be able to sell more advertising on mobile devices as users gravitate there.

Facebook’ stock traded as low as $19.69 before bouncing back slightly. The shares closed Thursday at $19.87, down $1.33, or more than 6 percent. The previous low during the day was $19.82 and the previous low for a close was $20.04, both reached Aug. 2

More than 156 million shares were traded, more than five times the stock’s average volume over the past month. Trading in the overall market was lighter than usual.

The Facebook investors eligible to sell their shares Thursday included venture capital firms Accel Partners and Greylock Partners; investment banker Goldman Sachs Group; software maker Microsoft Corp.; Zynga Inc. CEO Marc Pincus; LinkedIn Corp. Chairman Reid Hoffman; and former PayPal CEO Peter Thiel.

If there was mass selling within this group, Facebook’s stock could decline further because the market would be flooded with nearly two-thirds more shares.

- AP

Usain Bolt 'too expensive' for Stockholm meet

Newly-crowned Olympic sprint king Usain Bolt was deliberately not invited to the Stockholm Diamond League meeting because the Jamaican commands too great an appearance fee, according to organisers.

Meet organiser Jan Kowalski told the Expressen tabloid: "We'd get to saturation point if he were to run every year.

"We had talks with him but we thought 'is it worth paying the price for him to come?'"

The absence of the world's fastest man, who appeared at the Stockholm meet three times between 2009-11, was marked by many more empty seats in the stadium than usual, Expressen said.


Police allowed to track cell phones in US without court warrants

The US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that allows police to track GPS signals without a warrant or probable cause.

The Fourth Amendment protects against “unreasonable searches and seizures” without the issuance of a warrant obtained due to probable cause.

But the Court considers cell phone use to be a public – not private – action, thereby being ineligible for the protections of the Fourth Amendment.

While any US cell phone can now be tracked by police without probable cause or a warrant, the Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that police must obtain a warrant before secretly attacking a GPS tracking device to a suspect’s car.

That ruling is currently being contested, leaving the possibility for police to secretly track vehicles without permission. Without the requirement of a warrant to access cell phone data, US authorities are gaining increasing power over what some would consider “private” rights of individuals – but what the Courts call “public.”

Air France begs passengers for gas money landing in Damascus

A plane of French company Air France
(AFP Photo / Miguel Medina)
An awkward emergency landing in Syria was bad enough, but the crew of Air France Flight 562 was forced to beg passengers for money to buy more fuel.

The plane, heading from Paris to the Lebanese capital with 185 people on board, was diverted over tensions near the Beirut International Airport. Low on fuel, the flight made an emergency landing in Damascus.

Sanctions against Syria increased the cost of the refueling, an Air France spokesperson said. The asked passengers for cash only as a "precautionary measure" because of the "very unusual circumstances," they said.

"The pilot asked the passengers in first class to get their cash together. Everyone started to collect money, and they managed to collect 17,000, but the pilot in the end didn't take anything. They resolved the problems with the Damascus airport," a passenger identified as May Bsat said in an interview with France-Info radio.

Air France managed to pay for the refueling without tapping their customers' pockets, and apologized for the inconvenience. It is not known how much the company paid.

This was the first time Air France had resorted to requesting passengers foot the bill for fuel, but it isn't the first airline to do so. Hundreds of passengers traveling from India to Britain were stranded for six hours in Vienna last year when their Comtel Air flight stopped for fuel, and the charter service asked them to kick in more than 20,000 UK Pounds ($31,000) to fund the rest of the flight to Birmingham, UK.

New family of spiders found in US

The Cave Robber spider (AP)
Washington - A team of amateur cave explorers and arachnologists has found a new family of spiders in Oregon caves and old-growth redwood forests, US researchers said on Friday.

Entomologists at the California Academy of Sciences said the spider, named Trogloaptor - or "cave robber" - for its lethal front claws, had such unique evolutionary features that it represented not just a new genus or species, but also a new family of spiders.

The study, published in the journal ZooKeys, noted that finding a new, previously unknown family was rare, even for species-rich insects and arachnids.

Trogloraptor hangs beneath rudimentary webs spun below cave ceilings. It measures about 4cm wide when its legs are extended.

The spider's impressive claws "suggest that they are fierce, specialised predators," though scientists have not yet determined what they eat and how they attack and kill their prey, according to the study.

It pointed to strong evidence suggesting Trogloraptor was a close relative of goblin spiders.

Citizen scientists from the Western Cave Conservancy and arachnologists from the California Academy of Sciences found the spiders living in caves in southwestern Oregon. Scientists from San Diego State University found more of the creatures in old-growth redwood forests.

Research on the spiders at the California Academy of Sciences was paid in part by the National Science Foundation, along with a private fund.

The forests in the coastal regions from California to the Canadian province of British Columbia are known for hosting unique and ancient flora and fauna, including tailed frogs, mountain beavers and coast redwoods.

"That such a relatively large, peculiar animal could elude discovery until 2012 suggests that more may be lurking in the forests and caves of western North America," the study said.


Fund seekers generate millions of dollars through Kickstarter

Kickstarter the website where people ask for money to finance their projects.

Sometimes, they get more money than they ask for, sometimes, they get millions more.

In April, three-person startup Pebble Technology sought to raise $100,000 to make 1,000 wristwatches that can be programmed with different clock faces.

Donors on Kickstarter showered them with more than 100 times that amount: $10.3 million. It would have gone higher had Pebble not put a cap on contributions and ended the fundraising early.

"We had tried raising money through the normal routes, and it didn t really work," said Eric Migicovsky, the 25-year-old founder of Pebble.

Kickstarter is the largest of dozens of sites devoted to crowd funding, in which donors contribute small sums of money to get a project off the ground.

Inventors, artists and entrepreneurs post their projects on a Kickstarter page, usually with a video presentation. They set a fixed duration for their fundraising, from one to 60 days, and a dollar goal for contributions. Anyone can contribute. If the goal isn t reached by the deadline, no money changes hands and the project is cancelled.

Usually, the contributors get something beyond the satisfaction of knowing they helped turn a dream into reality like

a ticket to a theater production, or in the case of Pebble, a programmable watch.
Designer Casey Hopkins asked for $75,000 to make a luxury iPhone dock out of solid aluminum. He got $1.4 million. When that happened, in February, his was the first Kickstarter project to surpass $1 million.

There have been eight more since then. Artist Rich Burlew asked for $57,750 to put his comic books back in print, and ended up with $1.3 million.

Since launching in 2009, Kickstarter has raised $323 million for projects. Starting a project is free, but Kickstarter takes 5 percent of contributions if a project is funded, and Amazon.com Inc. takes another 3 to 5 percent for processing the payments. The funds are usually subject to taxes as well.

Crowdfunding started as a way to fund band tours and albums. Kickstarter wasn t the first site of its kind. It is, however, the most successful. Co-founder Perry Chen has said that the site was born out of his frustration at being unable to organize a concert. But it s becoming a potent launchpad for tangible products as well, upending in some cases the usual way things get made.

There s a time-worn route for entrepreneurs: They come up with an idea, find funding, make a product, sell it, then pay back the funders 
with interest or an equity stake in the fledgling company. Under that model, funders are usually looking for a big payoff on their early investment.

Finding funding is, of course, where many projects hit the rocks. Those who put up money for a project have to be convinced that it will yield something others want and that s not easy to figure out.
For contributors to take part in a Kickstarter project, all they have to do is ask themselves: Do I want that?

In that sense, Kickstarter is a great way to sell things that don t yet exist. In effect, Pebble sold 85,000 watches, and artist Rich Burlew sold 94,000 books. Now, they just have to make these things.

Migicovsky, the Pebble founder, is based in Silicon Valley, where venture capital runs in rivers. He got some funding from "angel investors" wealthy individuals early on and produced a small run of watches last year. But to realize his vision of a programmable watch that only needs to be charged once a week, he needed more money.

The venture capitalists, who generally invest bigger sums than angels, didn t bite. They re used to backing Web and software projects but are apprehensive about hardware, he says.

So Migicovsky went to Kickstarter, figuring he d raise enough money for a production run of 1,000 watches. But the project got attention from technology blogs, and the orders started pouring in. Over 37 days, he sold one watch every 38 seconds. Frantically trying to satisfy the orders, he hired six people in two weeks, tripling Pebble s staff.

The watches will be ready this fall without the help of venture capital.

"You want to spend your time talking to customers. You don t really want to spend your time talking to venture capitalists. Because at the end of the day, they re just guys with money," Migicovsky says.

The success of Pebble and others is clearly attracting more ambitious projects. A Los Angeles-based startup, Ouya, is collecting money to create a game console. It set a $950,000 minimum reflecting the complexity of competing against the PlayStation, Xbox and Wii and hit $8.6 million in pledges.

David Tisch, the founder of "startup accelerator" firm TechStars, says posting a product on Kickstarter is a great way to gauge demand. If it turns out to be strong, that can make it easier to attract investment that can turn the project into an ongoing business.

"For the first time, there s a way to get customer feedback with money attached to it," he said.

While entrepreneurs revel in the attention they get from donors on the website, Kickstarter s founders are uncomfortable with the site s role as a fundraising tool for products. The company wouldn t comment for this story, and it doesn t release financial data to the public because it s a private company.

In past interviews, co-founder Yancey Strickler has suggested that Kickstarter wasn t intended to be an engine of commerce or a route to riches.

"There is this greater idea of helping people out and that art still has value in the world," he told board-game blog Purple Pawn earlier this year. "We generally don t like Kickstarter to be used to, say, start a business."

Of course, several Kickstarter projects have turned into businesses, like ElevationLab, the Portland Ore.-based startup that makes the Elevation iPhone docking station and Touchfire, a company in Redmond, Wash., that created a keyboard for the iPad.

The majority of Kickstarter projects are still non-commercial ventures like photo books and amateur musicals. At this year s South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, 33 films, or 10 percent of the lineup, were funded through Kickstarter.

Kickstarter s focus on artistic and creative pursuits to the exclusion of others might make it vulnerable to competition. Sam Gordon, who funded his "Brydge" keyboard for the iPad through the site, says Kickstarter needs to clearly define its guidelines for product development.

"If they don t, then there s room for other sites," Gordon said.

Business and technology consultant Scott Steinberg, who has written a guide to crowdfunding, says it s inevitable that commercialism would seep into it as the phenomenon grows.

"Crowdfunding is almost in the pre-K phase, and it s about to grow up very fast here, and become more complex," he says. "Inevitably, more businesses and profit-minded organizations are going to gravitate there."

For the time being, Steinberg thinks crowdfunding will be dominated by products whose appeal is easily communicated visually, like the Pebble watch, or products aimed at fans of existing creators or products, like Burlew s "Order of the Stick" comic.

Burlew says he believes it was crucial to have a core base of fans. His "Dungeons & Dragons"-themed Web comic has been running for eight years, and has supported Burlew and his family for most of that run.

"Have an established audience before you launch your Kickstarter drive. Don t rely on word-of-mouth or sheer luck for people to find your project," Burlew advises.

Once fans got it started, Burlew s Kickstarter project turned into a self-propelled marketing tool. As contributions rose, the project drew attention from comics and publishing blogs, driving more contributions in a "snowballing" effect, Burlew says.

Added to that was the sense of urgency the project instilled, he says.

"I had a lot of readers who either never thought about buying books, or thought about it as something they d like to do in the nebulous future," Burlew said in an email interview from his home in Philadelphia. "The Kickstarter drive gave them a strong incentive to buy the books right now, so I was able to convert more readers into sales than usual."

Burlew, who says he s "generally a suspicious person," was wary of getting prematurely excited about the size of his Kickstarter fund.

Man survives steel rod through his head

The patient is said to have responded well after the metal pole was removed from his brain.

A Brazilian construction worker in Rio de Janeiro has had a "miraculous" escape after he was rushed to hospital with a steel pole through his brain.

The six-foot (two-metre) metal rod fell from the fifth floor of a building Eduardo Leite was working on and went straight through the 24-year-old s hard hat.

He was taken to Miguel Couto Hospital with one end of the rod sticking out of the top of his head and the other protruding from between his eyes.

Mr Leite s wife, Lilian Regina da Silva Costa, said: "They told me he was laying down (in the ambulance) with the bar pointing upward.

"He was holding it and his face covered in blood. His look was as if nothing had happened. When he arrived he told the doctors he wasn t feeling anything, no pain, nothing. It s unbelievable."

Dr Luiz Aleandre Essinger, who treated Mr Leite, said: "It is a very uncommon injury this type of trauma, a steel rod that goes through the patient s brain.

"It enters through the top of the head and goes out between the eyes. The fact that the patient arrived here lucid and talking is incredible."

Doctors removed the rod during a five-hour operation and Mr Leite was able to speak, eat and move his arms and legs afterwards, the hospital said.

Ruy Monteiro, the head of neurosurgery, told the Globo TV network he escaped losing his eye and becoming paralysed down the left side of his body by mere centimetres.

He said the bar entered a "non-eloquent" area of his brain, a part that does not have a major known function.

Headline Aug19,2012/"The Moral Urgency of Life!"


One delightful recap : Every single Head of the State is bravely acquainted with Sam Daily Times. Most found the word 'Student Angel Mother' out of this world! And they all realized and recognized that this was a serious undertaking in the offing! But I stopped everybody and the Samurai from applauding, because of the suffering, pain, injustice and misery in the world! Had I inherited a better world, I would be with my loved ones, reading, and playing golf. But here I am facing upto lower forms of life!! Oh dear! I can hear fearlessness setting in but more on it later.

Understanding why President Clinton thinks he can accomplish something important as a leader of the world's non-governmental sector is easier after seeing what his foundation's three hundred employees and volunteers are doing in the ground. The place to observe that is in Africa, a continent of special meaning for America's first black president, as Toni Morrison famously called him. It is the home of his most venerable friend, who inspired him to make a rash promise. Tom Hunter, a Glasgow investor and philanthropist , who accompanied Clinton was so impressed with the performance of of Clinton's HIV/AIDS Initiative in these countries, that he had tentatively agreed to donate dollars 100 million to health and education projects over the coming decade.

So then and when the Clinton Global Initiative concluded, after two very full days of panels and workshops and reports. President Clinton was able to announce that the participants, -an extraordinary group that included the Presidents of South Africa, Ukraine, Nigeria, and the Dominican Republic, the Prime Minister of Turkey, the CEOs of GE, Sony, Time Warner, Swiss Re, Goldman Sachs, and Starbucks, the President of World Bank, and a handful of Nobel Winners, and the Leaders of the several of the world's largest nonprofit organizations - has signed agreements to sponsor and finance more than two hundred separate projects valued at nearly $ 2 billion.

They pledged to invest hundreds of million of dollars in renewable energy projects, in credit for small businesses in developing nations, in democracy initiatives in Arab and African countries, in clean water for Ghana, and in terrorism insurance for Gaza, in environmental protection for Tierra del Fuego and in youth employment for the Balkans! Remarkable work and service by any standards.

For this great human, , President Bill Clinton, any perk and ever more are just so easily available to him, regardless of whether he spends months planning and executing the heavy responsibilites he has taken on, which will keep him running, flying, meeting , plotting and strenously raising money, for many decades.God bless you, Sir!

Good night and God bless.

Sam Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless.

Coca-Cola and Will.i.am to launch eco-friendly brand

Black Eyed Peas member Will.i.am is teaming up with The Coca-Cola Company to launch a brand of eco-friendly clothing and accessories in a bid to promote recycling, reports FashionMag.com.

Dubbed "Ekocycle," the initiative will feature garments and accessories made form recycled materials.

The idea is to brand recycled products with a hipper image that resonates with young consumers.

'If you think about (recycled) products now, none of them are cool,' said will.i.am, who is best known for his work with The Black-Eyed Peas.

'You have to bring some art and fashion sensibility into this technology that turns a bottle into something cool.'

The first Ekocycle product will be a pair of headphones by Beats, a popular and pricey line created by rapper Dr. Dre and music producer Jimmy Iovine - both friends of will.i.am.

Travelodge set to close 49 UK hotels

UK budget hotel company Travelodge is planning to close 49 properties as part of a financial restructuring which will also see the group invest £55 million into refurbishing 175 hotels.

The restructure, which is part of a drive to secure the long-term future of the business, will be undertaken in conjunction with a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which will reduce levels of rent at certain sites.

Travelodge has worked hard alongside its three key investors, GoldenTree Asset Management, Avenue Capital Group and Goldman Sachs, to reach agreement on its financial restructuring and believes that it provides further stability to the business and demonstrates confidence in the Company.

The key terms of the financial restructuring includes £75 million of new money being injected into the company, with £55 million being invested into a major refurbishment programme across the estate covering over 11,000 rooms and 175 hotels.

Bank debt of £235m will be written off and £71m repaid, reducing total bank debt from £635m to £329m.

“The financial restructuring, including the CVA, will leave Travelodge in a much stronger position going forward and will ensure a long-term, sustainable future for the business.” explains Grant Hearn, CEO.

“Once this joint process is completed, Travelodge’s debt, interest costs and lease liabilities will be significantly reduced.

“This new appropriate level will provide greater security for our staff, suppliers, landlords and developers.  This is a successful brand with millions of customers and the Company will emerge in excellent shape from this process.”

The refurbishment programme will commence in early 2013 and continue through to summer 2014.

KPMG is supervising the CVA process and will be leading discussions with the landlords. The CVA is expected to take approximately 17 days to complete.

Other than certain landlords, the CVA will not impact any other party associated with Travelodge. There will be no impact on the operational running of the business, all of Travelodge’s hotels will continue to operate normally, all suppliers will continue to be paid as normal and customers will experience no changes to bookings.

Madonna sued by Anti-gay Russian activists for $10 million

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - A group of Russian anti-gay activists sued American pop star Madonna for $10 million on Friday, saying she had insulted their feelings when she spoke out for gay rights at a concert in St Petersburg last week.

Performing in black lingerie with the words "No Fear" scrawled on her back, Madonna attacked a city law adopted in March that imposed fines for spreading homosexual "propaganda". She had earlier called the law a "ridiculous atrocity".

Homosexuality, punished with jail terms in the Soviet Union, was decriminalized in Russia in 1993, but much of the gay community remains underground as prejudice runs deep.

"She (Madonna) had been warned with words that she should behave in line with the law and she ignored it. So we will speak in the language of money," said Darya Dedova, one of the 10 activists who filed the lawsuit in a St Petersburg court.

"Of course, it is difficult to measure moral damages and suffering but maybe people who earn money regardless of moral rules will better understand this," Dedova said. She added if they won the case, the money would be sent to orphanages.

"Maybe someone does not see the link but after Madonna's concert maybe some boy becomes gay, some girl becomes lesbian, fewer children are born as a result and this big country cannot defend its borders - for me it causes moral suffering," said Alexei Kolotkov, another of the activists who filed the suit.

The St Petersburg propaganda law is the model for a bill that has been submitted to the national parliament but has not yet faced a vote. Critics say they fear it could be used to clamp down on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, for example by barring gay rights demonstrations.

In Moscow, gay rights suffered a blow when an appeal court upheld a lower court's ruling that found city authorities had acted legally when they rejected applications from activists to hold a gay rights march every year for the next 100 years.

Attempts to hold gay rights rallies in the Russian capital have often ended in arrests and clashes with anti-gay activists.

In May, dozens of people were detained in Moscow after Russian Orthodox activists broke up two gay rights marches, throwing water and shouting prayers.

Dreaming Awake (Falling Under, #2) by Gwen Hayes

She fell for him in a nighttime world. But the time for dreaming is past—and the here-and-now can be just as fragile their love…

When Theia Alderson first encountered a mysterious, handsome boy in her dreams, she never imagined how finding Haden Black—and falling in love—could change her life. To save Haden, Theia sacrificed everything. And the dangerous bargain she made could have lasting repercussions.

Now Theia has returned to Serendipity Falls, and she finds herself struggling with the same deadly hungers that have tortured Haden. When students at their high school fall prey to a mysterious illness, Theia can’t help but wonder if Haden’s control is slipping—and how much longer she’ll have a grip on her own.

And still the nightmare realm of Under won’t let them go. Someone from Haden’s past is determined to destroy Theia from the inside out, starting with those closest to her, forcing Theia to choose between family and friends and a love that may have been doomed from the start…

The Expendables 2 (2012)

The Expendables 2 is a 2012 American ensemble action film directed by Simon West and written by Richard Wenk and Sylvester Stallone, based on a story by Ken Kaufman, David Agosto and Wenk. It is a sequel to the 2010 action film The Expendables, and stars Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film follows The Expendables, a mercenary group, as they seek revenge against Jean Vilain (Van Damme), a rival mercenary who murders one of their own, and threatens the world with a deadly weapon.
Principal photography took place over 14 weeks beginning in September 2011 on an estimated $100 million budget, with filming occurring in Bulgaria, Hong Kong and New Orleans. The film was released across Europe on August 16, 2012, followed by a North American release on August 17. A tie-in downloadable video game was released on July 31, 2012, that served as a prequel to the events of the film.

Synopsis: After taking a seemingly simple job for Mr. Church (Bruce Willis), the Expendables find their plans going awry and one of their own, Billy the Kid (Liam Hemsworth), is brutally murdered by rival mercenary Jean Vilain (Jean-Claude Van Damme). The Expendables set out into hostile territory – with help from Maggie (Yu Nan) – to put a stop to a deadly weapon and gain their revenge against the people who killed their brother-in-arms.

Curiosity's Mars images show mount sharp

The latest images sent to NASA by Mars Rover Curiosity shows the view of Mount Sharp
from the rover’s landing site and a rock that NASA says will be Curiosity’s first target.

The latest images sent to NASA by Mars Rover Curiosity shows the view of Mount Sharp from the rover’s landing site and a rock that NASA says will be Curiosity’s first target.

The images were captured by Curiosity’s Mast Camera. One image shows the lower reaches of Mount Sharp, a monstrous formation of sedimentary rock.

Scientists believe the mound may have been formed from the remains of sediment that once completely filled the basin, offering a potentially valuable geologic record of the history of Mars.

Close-up images also show a rock that the rover will aim to zap with its laser and then analyze the glowing, ionized gas, called plasma, generated in the process.

The latest images sent to NASA by Mars Rover Curiosity shows the view of Mount
Sharp from the rover’s landing site and a rock that NASA says will be
Curiosity's first target.

Smallest Chinese coin in history unearthed

A tiny coin, 15-hundred years old, was unearthed recently in Zaozhuang of East China’s Shandong Province. Scholars say it could be the smallest coin in China’s history.

The paper-thin coin has a rough edge, and is no larger than the size of a regular finger nail. Scholars say this kind of coin wasn’t officially in circulation 15 centuries ago. The period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties is considered one of the most chaotic eras in China’s history.

Money-mad governors and greedy landlords minted this coin in private to squeeze poor peasants. 10-thousand coins like this would not have been enough to afford a bowl of rice. That’s why it doesn’t have a pattern or face value on it.


Dark Matter Detected? Gamma Ray Signal Excites Astrophysicists

Energetic light seen radiating from the center of the Milky Way may be the best evidence yet of dark matter, the invisible stuff thought to be hiding throughout the universe.

A new study has found a strong signal of gamma-rays — light of a very short wavelength — coming from the middle of our galaxy, which may be the result of exploding dark matter.

Scientists think dark matter, which seemingly makes up the majority of matter in the universe, is made of particles called WIMPs ("weakly interacting massive particles"). And WIMPs, when they get very close to other WIMPs, should annihilate each other, because these particles are thought to be their own antiparticles. (When particles of matter and their antimatter counterparts meet, they destroy each other.)

In the dense center of the Milky Way, enough WIMPs should exist that many bump into each other, exploding into pure energy that gives rise to other particles and, eventually, gamma-rays.

 An abundance of gamma-rays is exactly what scientists see when looking toward the center of our galaxy with the Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope. In the new study, researchers found a definitive signal of gamma-rays that couldn't be traced to any known object in this region.

Read More Here

Indiana Melons Linked To 2 Dead, 141 Sickened In 20 States

Aug 17 (Reuters) - A salmonella outbreak blamed on cantaloupe grown in Indiana has killed two people in Kentucky and sickened some 150 people in the past month, health officials said on Friday, urging consumers to throw away melons bought recently from the region.

The outbreak traced to the cantaloupe began in early July and has struck consumers in Indiana, Kentucky and Minnesota. Indiana officials said there were about 150 cantaloupe-linked cases nationwide.

"Usually the pattern is to see outbreaks in the summer. But we're seeing about double the number of cases this year," said Dr. Kraig Humbaugh of Kentucky's Department for Public Health.

The illness caused by the food-borne organism usually causes a week-long bout of diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain, but can be fatal for the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems. Thousands of Americans contract salmonella illness each year, often from uncooked chicken.

Officials in the three states said they were trying to identify distributors and retail outlets selling the affected cantaloupes, but Indiana and Kentucky officials urged consumers to toss out any of the melons bought recently.

Salmonella strains found in two cantaloupes from southwestern Indiana had the same genetic makeup as those causing a cluster of illnesses in Kentucky, Humbaugh said.

Watermelons from the region were also being investigated as another possible source of a smaller salmonella outbreak, he said.

The current salmonella outbreak comes after cantaloupe tainted with Listeria and traced to a Colorado farm killed 30 people across 11 states last year in the deadliest U.S. food borne outbreak in over a decade. (Reporting by Andrew Stern; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)

The Kentucky Department of Public Health warned people not to eat the cantaloupes. Tests found the fruit carried the same strain of salmonella that has killed two and sickened more than 50 in Kentucky.

Salmonella infections result in diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most people recover without treatment, but severe infections can occur in infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says 31 have been hospitalized in this outbreak that has hit 20 states.

Amazingly Preserved Brain Discovered in 2,600-year-old Severed Head

Talk about being in a pickle—a remarkably well-preserved human brain has been discovered in a severed head that was dumped in an English bog 2,600 years ago.

Found inside the skull of an unfortunate Iron Age man in his 30s who was hung, then decapitated with his head quickly ending up in the swampy pit, the ancient gray matter is still soft, "tofu-like in texture," and odorless, with no signs of bacterial or fungal activity.

An incredibly well-preserved brain has been discovered in a skull found in an
English bog that dates back 2600 years. Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Considering that brain tissue normally liquefies rapidly when exposed to air, finding a perfectly pickled prehistoric brain is an incredible discovery. But a brain in a bog—especially one inside a freshly liberated head—has a distinct advantage, it seems. Researchers note that, with no bacteria from the rest of the body to contaminate it along with its boggy, oxygen-starved burial grounds, the brain could indeed stand the test of time.

OK, let’s hook this thing up to some electric current and one of those robot mouths and see what it says!

You Should Back Up Your Gmail, Facebook, and Twitter Accounts

When I first heard of Backupify a few years ago, I thought the service sounded unnecessary at best. The company promises to back up the data you’ve stored on various online services, scooping up all your mail and contacts from Gmail, your calendar entries from Google Calendar, plus everything you’ve got on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Flickr, and LinkedIn.

I have long been an advocate of freqBlogger is a free blog-publishing tool from Google for easily sharing your thoughts with the world. Blogger makes it simple to post text, photos and video onto your personal or team blog.uent backups, but that term is usually reserved for stuff you’ve got stored on your own computer. A backup creates an extra copy, either on an external drive or online, so that when your machine bites the dust, you won’t be hosed. But Gmail isn’t stored on your own computer (you might have downloaded your mail to your desktop, but unless you’ve explicitly deleted your messages from Google’s servers, they’re still online). And Google is very good at backing things up. Like other firms that store data in the cloud, Google keeps many copies of your stuff on thousands of computers across the world. This redundancy is one of the cloud’s biggest selling points. Even if you keep your photos on three different hard drives in your house, they’re still vulnerable. (What if you’re burglarized?) But if one of Google’s data centers gets hit by a meteorite, your data will always be secure in some other center somewhere else.

That’s why Backupify sounded fishy—it seems to do what cloud services already do. It doesn’t help that the firm wants you to pay for the service, too. The company offers a free plan with 1 GB of storage, but if you want to back up even more of your cloud data, Backupify asks for $5 a month for 10 GB of storage or $20 for 50 GB. Remember that the services you’re backing up—Gmail and the rest—are free. So Backupify is asking you to open up your wallet to back up an already backed up free thing. Do they think you were born yesterday?

But in the last few weeks, I’ve seen the light. I now consider Backupify an essential part of keeping my digital life secure. In fact, signing up for its free plan is as important as choosing strong passwords and regularly backing up your local data. And, for my own data, I’m going to go even further. I’ve decided to pay for Backupify’s monthly plan to get enough space to secure all of the stuff I have in the cloud.

Why did I suddenly change my mind about Backupify? After a string of high-profile cloud mishaps, I now realize something important about how Google and other companies store people’s data. Even though the search company saves my email on multiple machines, that doesn’t really mean it’s backed up. Google’s redundancy does protect my stuff from natural disasters or mechanical failure, but it doesn’t do anything to secure my data from its worst enemy—me and other devious human beings pretending to be me.

Backupify, on the other hand, is your savior in the event of human error. If you subscribe to the service, your stuff isn’t really ever gone for good—not when you lose your data because you’ve been hacked, not when you forget your password, not because the cloud service kicked you out, and not because you just accidentally pressed delete.

Rob May, Backupify’s co-founder and CEO, says that he got the plan for the firm in 2008 when he was talking to friends about startup ideas. Someone told him, “Hey, you should build a Flickr backup tool.” May says his first reaction was like mine: “I thought it was a dumb idea.” But the more he thought about the idea, the more sensible it became. Lots of friends told him they were losing data in the cloud, either accidentally or through some attack. And once the data was gone, it was gone.

This gets to the fundamental paradox of the cloud: The advantage of storing your data online is that it’s available everywhere, all the time, to you or anyone with proper credentials. The problem with storing your data in the cloud is that it’s available everywhere, all the time, to you or anyone with proper credentials. In the Atlantic last year, James Fallows described the devastation his wife, Deb, suffered after someone got into her Gmail account and deleted everything:

Six years’ worth of correspondence and everything that went with it were gone. All the notes, interviews, recollections, and attached photos from our years of traveling through China. All the correspondence with and about her father in the last years of his life. The planning for our sons’ weddings; the exchanges she’d had with subjects, editors, and readers of her recent book; the accounting information for her projects; the travel arrangements and appointments she had for tomorrow and next week and next month; much of the incidental-expense data for the income-tax return I was about to file—all of this had been erased.

A few weeks ago, tech journalist Mat Honan suffered a similar attack. And those are just the ones you hear about—a Google representative told Fallows that there are thousands of attacks against Google accounts every day.

But you don’t need to be a victim of a hacker to lose stuff in the cloud. In fact, according to a 2007 study by a trade organization called the IT Policy Compliance Group, malicious attacks cause only a fraction of online data losses. By far the largest cause is human error—you accidentally delete an important document in Google Docs, say. It doesn’t even have to be your error: Earlier this month, in a widely circulated Gizmodo piece that carried the headline “Why the Cloud Sucks,” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak wrote that after he upgraded to the latest version of the Mac OS, he noticed that one of his primary Google calendars suddenly disappeared. At first, he had no idea how it had happened—his other data was intact, so it didn’t look like a hack. Then, he got a notice from the makers of BusyCal, a popular calendar app for the Mac, telling him about an incompatibility with the new version of the Mac OS. The message had come too late: BusyCal, which Wozniak had set up to sync with Google, had deleted one of his calendars.

Backupify solves all these problems with a simple, brilliant innovation: It has no delete function. After you sign up to the service and authorize it to connect to your cloud accounts, Backupify regularly downloads and saves every item you have online—your messages, calendar appointments, contacts, and on and on. But if you delete something from your cloud account, Backupify does not mirror that action on its own servers. So if you, a hacker, or a third-party app trashes your account, it will remain intact at Backupify. Indeed, even if a hacker somehow gets into your Backupify account, he still wouldn’t be able to delete your data. The company’s Web interface has no delete button. The only way to delete your data from Backupify is to call up the company and send its staff a copy of your driver’s license and other credentials to prove that you are who you say you are.

And that gets to why cloud services can’t protect your data the way Backupify does. For privacy reasons, Google and Facebook have to offer customers a delete button that actually deletes your data. (In fact, Facebook has struggled to make delete actually work; in the past, some Facebook photos could still be accessed years after they’d supposedly been deleted. This week Facebook announced that when you delete a photo, it gets permanently removed from Facebook’s servers within 30 days.) Backupify can make deletion difficult only because it’s a third-party service dedicated to backup.

Backupify is about four years old, and in that time it has managed to gain thousands of paying customers, most of them businesses that are looking to protect their Google data. But the firm only has about 200,000 nonbusiness users, which sounds like too few to me. May says that on average, Backupify users restore—that is, undelete—about 3.38 items every year. In practice, that means that a lot of people aren’t restoring anything, and some people are restoring their entire accounts. (You can restore your stuff to your original cloud account, or you can download your data to your hard drive.)

May says that the number of undeletes proves how useful Backupify can be. “It shows you that this is a real problem,” he says. “It happens more than people think. It’s just not publicized very often.” Well, here you go: Let me publicize the heck out of it. You’re keeping all your precious data in the cloud, and it’s all just one accidental or malicious deletion away from oblivion. Signing up for Backupify is free, and it takes about two minutes to do so. What are you waiting for?

By Farhad Manjoo
- Slate.com

Gun-Carrying CU Students To Live in Separate Dorms

Two campuses in the Colorado public university system announced Friday that students who wish to carry a concealed weapon—a legal practice under the state's law—must live in separate dorms from their unarmed classmates, the Denver Post reports.

The announcement comes in the wake of a Colorado Supreme Court decision in March, which said that Colorado public universities could not prohibit guns on their campuses. The new policy will take effect at University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs. Under the new rules, students with permits to carry concealed weapons may still live in regular housing units, but they must store their guns with police, rather than in their living quarters.

The university also announced that students would be banned from carrying concealed weapons to sports games and public gatherings. "We are treating that ticket purchase as a contractual agreement that you won't bring your weapon to the venue," university spokesman Bronson Hilliard told the Post.

It's still too early to tell if the new restrictions will result in further litigation from Colorado's gun rights groups. James Manley, a libertarian lawyer who argued against the university's initial gun ban, said he had not yet determined whether the policy violated Coloradans' Second Amendment rights. "We still need to see the actual language of the policy before we make a decision on how to proceed," Manley told the paper.

Shoaib keen on Pakistan bowling coach role

Shoaib Akhtar: "The current lot of bowlers are good,
but not as good as what Pakistan is known for." © AFP
Shoaib Akhtar, the former Pakistan fast bowler, has said that he is "ready" to take up the bowling coach role, even on a part-time basis, if approached by the Pakistan Cricket Board. The PCB has been searching for a bowling coach since the appointment of Dav Whatmore as the head coach and Julien Fountain as the fielding coach.

"I am ready to be the bowling coach. I will offer my services If the PCB contacts me," Akhtar told reporters at the NCA in Lahore. "It's an honour to serve the country and it can be done by helping the upcoming bowlers. It will give me a chance to pay back what the country has given me."

Akhtar, who retired after the World Cup in 2011, had 178 Test and 247 ODI wickets in a 14-year-long career marred by controversies and injuries.

"The current lot of bowlers are good, but not as good as what we are known for in our strong history of fast bowling," he said. "I always hear that we have talent, but what is more important is to hunt down that talent. Unfortunately, we have been struggling in fast bowling for the last one and half years."

Akhtar suggested that the PCB use the services of past greats, like Imran Khan, to unearth talent. "He [Imran] has that eye to spot the talent and it would be ideal if he could take out some time."

Pakistan, Akhtar said, had the in-house talent for the job, but he also suggested Daryl Foster as a possibility to return to the job he held in 2003, if Pakistan had to look outside. Recently, the PCB had also made a formal offer to Wasim Akram for a short-term coaching role for young fast bowlers but an agreement couldn't be reached owing to Akram's busy schedule.

Commenting on the upcoming series against Australia in UAE, Akhtar said that the onus would be on spinners in the absence of experienced fast-bowlers. Pakistan have dropped Umar Gul and Mohammad Sami for the tour. "Pakistan is already lacking true strike bowlers and [Umar] Gul obviously will be missed this time. If pitches in UAE are flat, then I am afraid things won't be good for the young fast-bowlers and the spinners, as usual, will have to take the extra load."


Djokovic to face Del Potro again, Federer wins

(Reuters) - World number two Novak Djokovic has a shot at revenge against Juan Martin del Potro, who ended the Serb's medal hopes at the London Olympics, when the two clash in the Cincinnati Open semi-finals on Saturday.

World number one Roger Federer, who dealt with American Mardy Fish 6-3 7-6 in some style, will play his Swiss Davis Cup team mate Stanislas Wawrinka in the other semi.

Djokovic, who lost to former U.S. Open winner Del Potro in the Olympic bronze medal match less than two weeks ago, enjoyed a routine 6-3 6-2 victory over 12th seeded Croatian Marin Cilic on Friday to advance.

"It was my best match so far here in this tournament and came in the right moment, really," Djokovic, who had an easy passage through to the last eight after Russian Nikolay Davydenko retired injured during their match, told reporters.

"I had the biggest challenge today with Cilic who has been playing well the last couple of months and I played a really good match."

The five-times grand slam winner may have added incentive on Saturday given Serbia's Davis Cup semi-final loss to Argentina last year in which Djokovic retired against Del Potro.

"All these losses made me stronger and, yes, they are difficult, especially when you're playing for a country and when you're in Olympic Games and we're fighting for bronze medal," said Djokovic.

"He won that match. It happens. It's a sport. You lose, you win, but the most important thing is to try to move on and become even better and even stronger from those experiences and try to win."

Camouflage bendy robot changes colour for disguise

A robot that can change colour to either blend in with or stand out from its surroundings has been created by scientists.

The machine, designed by researchers at Harvard University, was inspired by the camouflage skills of sea creatures such as octopuses, cuttlefish and squid.

Like these cephalopods, the robot has a soft, rubbery body and can move with flexibility.

The study is published in the journal Science.

In 2011, the research team published a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that outlined details of a "soft robot" that could crawl and bend under obstacles.

The machine was made from silicon-based polymers, and its movement was driven by air pumping through tiny cylinders in its four "legs".

Now the scientists have added another layer of complexity to these robots by giving them the ability to disguise themselves.

The camouflage-bots are covered in a network of tiny channels. As different dyes are pumped in, the robots can quickly change their appearance.

As well as changing colour, hot or cold fluids can be pumped into robots, enabling them to be thermally camouflaged, and fluorescent liquids allow them to glow in the dark.

Currently, the fluid is pulled in from a reservoir, but in the future it could be incorporated into the robot's body.

The team thinks the devices could have a variety of different uses.

Lead author Stephen Morin said the soft machines had similarities with organs or tissues and could have medical applications.

He explained: "The idea is that if you have a system that can simulate muscle motion very well and a system that can transport fluid, by combining those you can fabricate that device to fit a specific surgical problem.

"And in planning for surgery or training, you can use something like this in guilt-free way."

The team also said the machines could have a future in search and rescue.

Prof Whitesides said: "For that kind of application, having it be able to advertise itself, for example, in a way that stood out against the dark would be a good thing."

-  BBC.co.uk