Friday, 31 July 2015

Clinical England take 2-1 Ashes lead!


A clinical England decimated a hapless Australia by eight wickets to take a 2-1 lead in the Ashes series at Edgbaston on Friday.

Chasing a modest 121 runs to win, Ian Bell slammed a strokeful unbeaten half-century and along with Joe Root ensured England take the lead and leave the Lord's drubbing behind.

Although Australia were able to dismiss the England openers, they had little to defend. Bell and Root took their time before belting the Aussie bowlers all over the park.

Earlier, Australia's tail wagged on the third morning of the third test to frustrate England's push for victory and a 2-1 Ashes series lead. 


 England had hoped to quickly take the three remaining second innings wickets but a late-order flurry pushed Australia's lead to 120 before Moeen Ali removed Mitchell Starc 15 minutes before lunch with Australia dismissed for 265.

The hosts negotiated two overs before the interval to go in four without loss, captain Alastair Cook on four and Adam Lyth yet to score.

Starc had led Australia's resistance with some big hits in his 58, sharing an eighth wicket stand of 64 with wicketkeeper Peter Nevill (59) who held up England for 147 balls in compiling a maiden test half-century.

Beginning the day with a slim lead of 23, runs came quickly for Australia -- 39 in the first six overs -- through a mixture of good shots, streaky fours and sloppy fielding with Starc in particular quick to punish anything overpitched.

It appeared that England were badly missing strike bowler James Anderson, who suffered a side strain on Thursday that has ruled him out of the fourth test.

But Steven Finn, with his sixth wicket of the innings on his way to test best figures of 6-79, ended Nevill's resistance when the batsman tickled down the leg side and wicketkeeper Jos Buttler took a fine catch.

Starc bludgeoned Moeen for a four and six off successive balls, and after Joe Root took a fine one-handed slip catch to remove Josh Hazlewood (11) and give Ben Stokes a first wicket, the part-timer spinner eventually wrapped up the innings when Starc found substitute Josh Poysden at cover.

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Facebook says drone ready for real-world testing later this year!


Facebook Inc announced on Thursday it has completed building its first full-scale drone, which has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 and will provide Internet access to the most remote parts of the world.

The company said it will test it in the United States later this year.

The plane will weigh about 880 pounds (400 kg), said Yael Maguire, the company's engineering director of connectivity. It will hover between 60,000 feet and 90,000 feet (20 and 30 km), above the altitude of commercial airplanes, so that it is not affected by problematic weather.


"Our mission is to connect everybody in the world," said Jay Parikh, vice president of engineering. "This is going to be a great opportunity for us to motivate the industry to move faster on this technology."

The drone, which was built in 14 months, is able to fly in the air for 90 days at a time, Maguire said. Helium balloons will be attached to the plane and float it up into the air. The drones have a wingspan of 42 meters (46 yards).

Because the planes must constantly move to stay aloft, they will circle a three-km (two-mile) radius, Parikh said. During the day, they will float up to 90,000 feet (30 km) and at night will drift down to 60,000 feet (20 km) to conserve energy.

The drones are part of a programme called Aquila, which is geared towards the 10 percent of the population that does not have any Internet access, executives said.

Separately, Facebook a year ago launched Internet.org, an initiative to provide Internet access to the two-thirds of the world that do not have a reliable connection.

Parikh said Facebook is not planning to sell the drones but will use them to expand Internet access.

Although Facebook does not immediately face policy or legal hurdles in testing its drone in the United States, Maguire said, it is the first company to fly at such altitudes. It has a team working with policymakers to help set guidelines.

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Thursday, 30 July 2015

Finn's five puts England on top!


England are well poised to take the lead in the Ashes series as a hapless Australia surrendered before a hostile England attack on day two of the third Test match at Edgbaston on Thursday.

From 73 for the loss of two wickets, Australia ended the day with the scorecard reading 168/7- a slender lead of 23 runs with just three wickets remaining in hand.

With the match almost swinging in favor of England, only a miracle can allow Australia escape defeat. Peter Nevill and Mitchell Starc will resume the proceedings for Australia on day three. 


The likes of Chris Rogers, Steve Smith departed early as skipper Michael Clarke's terrible form continued. David Warner with a fighting half-century stood tall, but even he was defeated.

A double strike from Steven Finn saw Australia lose two wickets in two consecutive deliveries and that pretty much sealed the deal in favour of the hosts.

Stuart Broad, bowling round the wicket, rapped Rogers on his back leg to trap the opener lbw for six.

Smith then perished for eight when he top-edged Steven Finn to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.

England established a decent lead, despite losing their last three wickets for four runs, after an entertaining eighth-wicket stand of 87 between Moeen Ali and Broad.

The pair added quick runs after lunch, Moeen again showing how valuable he is coming in at number eight.

All at sea against his spinning counterpart Nathan Lyon before the interval, he smashed Mitchell Johnson for six boundaries including three in one over.

But after Broad (31) skied Josh Hazlewood to mid-on, Moeen quickly followed and the innings ended tamely.

A hostile Johnson had begun the second morning on fire, removing Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes in his first over to pass 300 test wickets.

Johnson steamed in and directed a bouncer that was homing in on Bairstow's throat, the startled batsman fending it off with his glove to be caught behind.

Two balls later Stokes also got a taste of 'chin-music', unable to get out of the way of another thunderbolt and falling in the same fashion.

Joe Root kept his cool to compile 63 while Hazlewood and Lyon took three wickets apiece for Australia.

The five-test series is level at 1-1 after England won in Cardiff and Australia hit back in the second test at Lord's.

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How this for an idea? A junkyard of classic cars!

Nestled in a north Georgia forest, over 4000 classic cars decorate 32 acres (13 hectares) that have been turned into a junkyard museum.
 
Image: Trees grow through the windshield of a 1937 Chrysler Imperial as it sits at Old Car City, the world's largest known classic car junkyard Thursday, July 16, 2015, in White, Ga. Many of the cars have never moved in over 30 years and in some cases, trees now grow through them, even lifting some off the ground.



Owner Walter Dean Lewis' parents started the business in 1931 as a general store that also sold auto parts.
 
Lewis grew the collection, which had just 40 cars in the '70s, over time.

'The only thing I ever knew was cars and trucks,' Lewis says. 'I like to say I work for tomorrow, always thinking about the future. Someday they would be valuable.'

Image: Owner Walter Dean Lewis next to a 1950s school bus as it sits at Old Car City, the world's largest known classic car junkyard. 'It's history. I saved them when other people were crushing them,' said Lewis. 'I don't know what I would do if I couldn't get up every morning and look at old cars.'


Lewis stopped selling parts about six years ago, soon after realising he could sustain the business more as a museum, charging $15 (around Rs 950) for visitors just looking, and $25 (around Rs 1500) for photographers. He estimates that 95 percent of the people who come through the six miles (10 kilometers) of trails are photographers.
Visitors are greeted by various artworks and hand-painted messages.



On occasion, Eddie McDaniel, who goes by 'Fast Eddie,' a childhood friend of Lewis, plays blues piano next to a shotgun and a bear mounted on a wall (seen here).        
In the 30 or 40 years that many of the cars have never moved, trees now grow through them and, in some cases, even lift them off the ground. (seen here).         
One of Lewis' more popular vehicles is a 1946 Ford truck used in 'Murder in Coweta County,' a 1983 film starring Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith.
 
'It's history. I saved them when other people were crushing them,' Lewis says. 'I don't know what I would do if I couldn't get up every morning and look at old cars.'

Image: Maintenance man Rockey Bryson looks at a 1946 Ford truck used in the movie 'Murder in Coweta County' starring Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith as it sits at Old Car City.


Classic cars that are partly hidden by trees that have grown around and through these vintage transport vehicles.         
Trees seen growing over a car at Old Car City.

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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

James Anderson takes six as Australia skittled for 136!


England paceman James Anderson ripped shellshocked Australia to shreds with six wickets to bowl the tourists out for a paltry 136 on the first day of the third Ashes test at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

Anderson took six for 47 and fellow quicks Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, on his test return after a two-year absence, two apiece as rejuvenated England put their heavy second test defeat at Lord's firmly behind them.

In gathering gloom, England were 133 for the loss of three wickets before rain forced the players off. England lost Adam Lyth early but Alastair Cook and Ian Bell rebuild the innings as the Australian bowlers failed to make quick breakthroughs. 


Nathan Lyon got the England skipper as Bell threw his wicket away after reaching his fifty.

Earlier, only plucky opener Chris Rogers, passed fit after suffering dizzy spells at Lord's, offered resistance with a half-century for Australia who failed to cope with the seam and swing-friendly conditions after winning the toss and batting first.

Rogers was eighth man out for 52, lbw to Broad, and Anderson fittingly took the final wicket when Nathan Lyon played on as Australia were dismissed in just 36.4 overs.

Anderson, who went wicketless in London where Australia squared the series with a 405-run victory after losing the opener in Cardiff, took four wickets in 19 balls after lunch.

His quickfire burst started when he had Adam Voges caught behind for 16. Mitchell Marsh (0) also nicked a swinging delivery to Jos Buttler and then Peter Nevill's bad misjudgement saw him bowled for two without offering a shot.

England's leading wicket-taker in tests then bagged his 18th five-wicket haul when Mitchell Johnson (3) sliced to Ben Stokes at fifth slip.

Australia lost three wickets in a rain-interrupted morning with Finn, branded "unelectable" by former England limited overs coach Ashley Giles 18 months ago due to a breakdown in his bowling action, took the scalps of Steve Smith (7) and skipper Michael Clarke (10).

After Anderson had given England a flying start by trapping David Warner (2) lbw, Finn, recalled in place of an unfit Mark Wood, found bounce and movement on the quickest pitch of the series so far.


Quickly working up a head of steam, Finn made an immediate impact when he got Smith to nick to Alastair Cook at first slip with the last ball of his first over.

He then bowled Clarke with a full and straight delivery to leave Australia reeling on 38-3 before Rogers and Voges held firm until lunch.

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What China stock market tumble means for rest of world!


China's stock market tumbled this week despite a massive government intervention aimed at halting a slide in prices that began last month.

At its peak in early June, the Shanghai Composite Index had risen about 150 percent from late 2014.

After dropping 30 percent over several weeks, government support measures calmed the market.

But on Monday the sell-off resumed, with the Shanghai index suffering a drop of 8.5 percent, its biggest daily fall since February 2007. Here's what the sell-off means for China's economy and other countries. 

How concerned are ordinary Chinese?

Gyrating stock prices are a popular topic of tea break chatter, but only a minority of Chinese are directly affected. The market boom prompted millions of novice investors to pile into the market. But even with the new additions, a survey by Southwestern University of Finance found the share of households that participate in the market still stood at just 8.8 percent in the second quarter of this year. That is well below the one-third or more of households in the United States and other Western markets that own stocks.

Who are the biggest winners and losers?

Winners included small companies in technology, auto parts and other industries that caught investor attention with an early price surge and enjoyed more gains as more speculators piled in. Sugon Information Industry Ltd., a manufacturer of computer equipment, was the biggest gainer on the Shanghai exchange, with shares up 270 percent from Nov. 1 through Tuesday. No. 2 was Ue Furniture Co., a maker of high-tech office chairs, up 240 percent. State-owned construction companies rose after Beijing announced initiatives to expand trade links with neighboring Asian economies — plans that are expected to lead to multibillion-dollar spending on infrastructure. Other winners include securities firms, which received a flood of money from trading fees and interest on loans to buy shares. Prices rose so much that losses for the biggest decliners were modest. Among the biggest losers was Xiamen Overseas Chinese Electronic Co., a maker of TV sets, off 27 percent.

Does it mean China's economy is collapsing?

China's stock market has little direct connection to its economy. Since trading began in 1990, the mainland's two exchanges in Shanghai and the southern city of Shenzhen have been used mostly to raise money for state companies. Regulators have eased access for private companies but the exchanges still are dominated by state industry. In this government-dominated system, investors react more to changes in regulation and the availability of credit to finance trading and less to economic fundamentals. That can mean share prices move in the opposite direction from economic performance. The explosive rise over the past year came as manufacturing and other economic indicators declined.

How has the Chinese government intervened?

Beijing has unleashed a barrage of measures stop the market slide. They include a threat to prosecute short-sellers, canceling initial public offerings of stock and prohibiting major shareholders from selling their stakes for six months. The government mandated its main pension fund for civil servants to invest up to 30 percent of its assets in stocks, or up to 900 billion yuan ($145 billion). Brokerages in the state-dominated securities industry increased the size of their stock-buying fund to 260 billion yuan ($42 billion). And Central Huijin Investment Ltd., a unit of China's $750 billion sovereign wealth fund, said it would avoid selling any Chinese shares.

Does it affect the rest of the world?

China keeps its financial markets largely sealed off from global capital flows. But due to the size of its economy, traders abroad watch Chinese markets closely and react to dramatic changes. Beginning in 2002, Beijing allowed a handful of foreign fund managers to buy Chinese shares under rules that limit short-term trading. Foreign access increased with the November 17 launch of a program that allows foreign investors to buy mainland shares through Hong Kong brokers. The Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect limits foreigners to buying 568 mainly blue chip stocks on the Shanghai exchange, or about half the companies traded there. Those restrictions mean money cannot flow quickly into or out of the Chinese market. But lurches in Chinese share prices have triggered selloffs in markets abroad.

Will China's economy suffer?

China got little "wealth effect" on the way up, and analysts say the impact on the way down also should be limited. Shareholders who sold before prices peaked made windfall profits. But the rise was too brief to goose consumer spending at a time when economic growth is slowing. One notable effect: The bulge in revenue for securities firms was so big that it helped to offset weakness in other industries and keep economic growth at an unexpectedly strong 7 percent for second quarter. Brokers have been ordered to tighten control over lending to finance trading, which is expected to limit the financial impact on the state-owned finance industry if traders are unable to repay them. "With only a small and relatively wealthy portion of Chinese households exposed to the stock market, we aren't particularly concerned," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report. "Given that the stock market didn't provide any noticeable boost to spending on the way up, there is no reason to expect it to be a drag on the way down."

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Tuesday, 28 July 2015

How to make chocolates at home!

  • Category : Kid friendly
  • Course : Dessert
  • Cuisine : Indian
  • Technique : Toss
  • Difficulty : Easy
  • Servings : Serves 4


  • Make these home made chocolates and serve it at any party or during a festive occasion. This chocolate recipe is easy to make and serves as a delicious dessert.

    Ingredients

        1/4 cup - cocoa powder
        200g - Milk powder
        1 cup - Sugar
        1/2 cup - water
        1/4 cup - Butter
        1/2 tsp - vanilla essence
        Nuts and Raisin

    Method

    1. Make sugar syrup of 1 string consistency, remove from fire.
    2. Add butter to it and then add milk powder, cocoa powder and vanilla essence.
    3. Mix really well until everything blends and allow to cool.
    4. Grease hands slightly with butter.
    5. Pinch small portions of the chocolate and roll them into balls.
    6. Refrigerate for a while and serve them, garnished with nuts and raisins.

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    Bobbi Kristina may rest next to late mom Whitney Houston!


    Bobbi Kristina Brown, who recently died at the age of 22 after lying unconscious for last 7-months, will reportedly rest next to her late singer mother Whitney Houston.

    A source informed that the aspiring singer's body will be flown to New Jersey to be buried next to the music legend after Atlanta, Ga. funeral service, Us Magazine reported.

    Notably, Bobbi Kristina died just after three years of her superstar singer mother's death, who was found in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel ahead of an annual Grammys party.

    Ironically, Kristina too was found in a similar position back in January.

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    Monday, 27 July 2015

    Former President APJ Kalam is no more!


    Former President A P J Abdul Kalam, the 'missile man' who became popular as 'People's President' died today after he suffered a massive cardiac arrest and collapsed during a lecture at the IIM here this evening.

    Kalam, who would have turned 84 in October, was confirmed dead more than two hours after he was wheeled into the ICU of Bethany hospital in a critical condition following the collapse at around 6.30 PM.

    Arriving at the Indian Institute of Management around 5.40 PM, he took rest for sometime and started the lecture on 'Livable Planet' at 6.35 pm. He collapsed five minutes later, according to Director, IIM-Shillong, Prof De. Kalam last tweeted "Going to Shillong to take course on livable planet at IIM." 


    He was admitted to the Bethany hospital at 7 PM, a km away from the institute. De said the hospital authority told him that Kalam died due to cardiac arrest.

    The body was taken to the Military Hospital and will be kept there for the night. It will be taken by an Air Force helicopter to Guwahati at 5.30 AM tomorrow and from there to Delhi by a special aircraft.

    Considered the most popular President, Kalam became the 11th head of the state and occupied the post between 2002 and 2007 but lack of consensus denied a second term in office for a man who came from outside the rough and tumble of politics.  


    Meghalaya Governor V Shanmughanathan, who rushed to the hospital on hearing the news of his admission, said Kalam died at 7.45 pm. Despite medical team best efforts, he could not be revived.

    Chief Secretary P B O Warjiri told reporters outside the hospital that he had spoken to Union Home Secretary L C Goyal asking for necessary arrangements to be made for carrying Kalam's body from Guwahati to Delhi tomorrow morning.

    "The former President has been admitted to Bethany hospital in a critical condition," M Kharkrang, SP Khasi Hills said earlier.

    Doctors from the army hospital and North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) rushed to Bethany hospital but their efforts proved to be of no avail. 


    A seven-day national mourning will be declared by the Centre, Union Home Secretary L C Goyal said. Both the Houses of Parliament are likely to make obituary references and adjourn as a mark of respect to his memory.

    Leaders cutting across the political spectrum tonight paid glowing tributes to former President A P J Abdul Kalam with President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi describing him as a "people's President" and an "inspirational leader" who dedicated his entire life to the nation.  


    As the news of Kalam broke, condolences and tributes poured in from all corners of the country, reflecting the huge popularity he enjoyed both in and out of the highest office of the country that earned him the sobriquet of the "people's President."

    Mukherjee, in a condolence message, said that "in Kalam's passing away, we have lost a great son of India who dedicated his entire life for the welfare of the motherland and its people.

    "Dr Kalam was a people's President during his lifetime and will remain so even after his death," he said.

    He said Kalam will be remembered for his passion for science and innovations and his contributions as an eminent scientist, administrator, educationist and writer.

    His achievements as leader of India's defence research vastly enhanced the safety and security of of the nation, Mukherjee said. 


    Modi said that in Kalam's death he has lost a "marg darshak" who was a source of inspiration for the entire country, particularly for the youth.

    Recalling Kalam's immense contribution in the field of science and technology, particularly space science, Modi said "India mourns the loss of a great scientist, a wonderful President & above all an inspiring individual."

    "In my perosnal life, he was a fine and senior guide (margdarshak). I got an opprtunity to work very closely to him. In my personal life, I have lost a best guide. The country has lost a son who worked to make country a strong nation. He gave his every moment to make India's youth strong and self-reliant," he said.

    Describing Kalam as "one of the greatest scientific minds, a scholar statesman and a true patriot who inspired millions of young and old alike by his works and deeds, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said his "contribution to our polity will remain unparalleled."

    "Kalam inspired millions in the country and abroad and he even breathed his last while infusing a new zeal to young Indians in the course of his last address to IIM students. Indian National Congress stands with the entire nation in condoling Dr Kalam's death," Gandhi said.

    Expressing grief at Kalam's death, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi termed him as "a man of many parts-he won over the hearts and minds of a nation with his warmth and wisdom."

    Noted NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul described Kalam as an "inspiring figure" and a "great humanitarian".

    Expressing his condolences, Lord Paul, Chairman of Caparo Group, the UK-based diversified conglomerate, also described Kalam as a "great President" and a hugely popular leader.

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    Sunday, 26 July 2015

    After retirement plans!

    Selfie with rattlesnake costs man over $150,000!


    Bit by a rattlesnake while taking a selfie with it, a man from San Diego faces a hospital bill of over $150,000 for treatment, a media report said on Sunday.

    Earlier this month, Fassler's arm went purple when he yanked the deadly animal from a bush while posing for the perfect shot and the snake bit him, the Mirror reported on Saturday. Now, he has to pay a $153,161 bill.

    "My whole body was shaking and gyrating. The animal literally paralysed my whole body. My tongue was like out of my mouth, my eyes were off to the side," the man said.

    Fassler had a pet rattlesnake but after the attack, he released it into the wild.

    Exporting nations to waive duties on 200 IT products!


    Nations exporting IT products have agreed to waive tariff on about 200 of them, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said on Saturday.

    "In all, 54 WTO members agreed to eliminate tariff on 201 IT products, whose combined value is $1.3 trillion and accounts for 7 percent of the global trade," WTO said in a statement here.
     
    Products include new generation semi-conductors (chips), GPS navigation, medical equipment, as well as machine tools for manufacturing printed circuits, telecommunications satellites and touch screens.

    Terming the deal a landmark, WTO director-general Roberto Azevedo said the IT accord was larger than similar agreements in automotive products, textiles, clothing, iron and steel.

    "Eliminating tariff will have a huge impact on prices in other sectors where IT products are used as inputs, create jobs and help boost GDP growth the world over," Azevedo said, after members agreed to implement the accord on Friday.

    Claiming it to be the first of its kind at the trade body in 18 years, Azevedo said the deal was struck just two years after members agreed to the historic package to lower trade barriers at Bali in Indonesia in December 2013.

    "We have shown multilateral trading system can deliver real economic results, as evident from the two deals in two years," Azevedo said.

    Asserting that all 161 members of the trade body would benefit from the deal, as they would enjoy duty-free market access in markets, Azevedo said its terms would be circulated at the WTO general council meeting on July 28.

    The deal will eliminate major tariff on the 201 products within three years from 2016.

    "Exporting members will submit a draft schedule on the terms to other members in October and ahead of the next ministerial conference at Nairobi in Kenya in December," Azevedo added.

    The deal also envisages removing non-tariff barriers in the IT sector and to keep a list of products covered under review to determine expansion in future.

    The latest deal is an expansion of the 1996 IT agreement by 81 members then.

    When members recognized that technological innovation had advanced so much that many of the new IT products were not covered under the 1996 pact, they began negotiations in 2012 for expanding the list.

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    Saturday, 25 July 2015

    It's break point for tennis couple Sharapova, Dimitrov!


    Russian five-times grand slam champion Maria Sharapova has split with Bulgarian boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov after a nearly three-year relationship.

    "Our paths split," 24-year-old Dimitrov, currently number 16 in the ATP rankings, told Bulgarian media on Friday. "We experienced wonderful moments together. I wish her much happiness and success in life and in tennis.

    "Now I'm concentrated entirely on the game and I'm sure the results will soon be seen... This is the summer of the new beginning for me." 

    Dimitrov, who climbed to number eight in the world last year after reaching the Wimbledon semi-finals, has had a lean year and is still to reach a final.

    Sharapova, 28, announced that her and Dimitrov were a couple in May 2013.

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    Friday, 24 July 2015

    Japan hotel replaces workers with dinosaurs, robots!


    A hotel in Japan almost entirely run by robots has opened its doors to the public. 

    The 72-room Henn na Hotel - whose name means "weird" - will offer a different experience to visitors at Huis Ten Bosch, an amusement park in Sasebo.

    Guests are received at the reception manned by a mechanical dinosaur, a female android and an automated receptionist.

    After checking in, using a touch screen and facial recognition system, guests are directed to their rooms, priced at $72 per night, by two concierge robots.

    A robot porter helps them with their luggage.

    Guests are unlikely to come across even 10 human beings during their stay at the hotel, operated by Huis Ten Bosch Co., which claim to have reduced salary costs by 25 percent.

    The company said it will be adding robots capable of cleaning rooms in a few weeks.

    An annexe with another 72 rooms is expected to be completed by spring next year.

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    Thursday, 23 July 2015

    This 'epic' image of Earth will floor you!


    Clicked from 1.6 million kms away in space, a NASA camera on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has returned its first stunning view of the entire sun-lit side of Earth. 

    DSCOVR is equipped with the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) that took the new photo on July 6.

    EPIC captures a series of 10 different images in a variety of wavelengths, from near infrared to ultraviolet light, which can be analyzed in a number of different ways.

    "Just got this new blue marble photo from ?@NASA. A beautiful reminder that we need to protect the only planet we have," US President Barack Obama tweeted on his official @POTUS handle.
    The images clearly show desert sand structures, river systems and complex cloud patterns on planet Earth.

    "This first DSCOVR image of our planet demonstrates the unique and important benefits of Earth observation from space," said NASA administrator Charlie Bolden in a statement.

    "I want everyone to be able to see and appreciate our planet as an integrated, interacting system," he added.

    The primary objective of DSCOVR is to maintain the nation's real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts.

    "DSCOVR's observations of Earth, as well as its measurements and early warnings of space weather events caused by the sun, will help every person to monitor the ever-changing Earth, and to understand how our planet fits into its neighborhood in the solar system, Bolden noted.

    NASA will use the camera's observations to measure ozone levels in Earth's atmosphere and plant growth on the ground.
     
    It will also help build maps showing the distribution of dust and volcanic ash around the globe, among other things.

    "The high quality of the EPIC images exceeded all of our expectations in resolution," said DSCOVR project scientist Adam Szabo.

    "There will be a huge wealth of new data for scientists to explore," he concluded.

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    Wednesday, 22 July 2015

    Marvel's 'Ant-Man' is smaller but still not fun size!

    Movie: 
    Ant-Man

    Director: 
    Peyton Reed

    Cast: 
    Paul Rudd, 
    Michael Douglas, 
    Corey Stroll,

    Running Time:
    124 minutes


    If ever there was a sworn devotee — a chanting, face-painted worshipper — of the Big, it is Marvel.

    So the prospect that Ant-Man, the miniscule Mighty Mouse of Marvel's stable of powerhouses, might join the brawny big-screen ranks of the Hulk, Thor and the rest has long held some pleasing irony. But that enticement — Oh, if it was something different! — went out the helicarrier window when, just weeks before shooting was to commence, Edgar Wright, the British blender of genre and comedy who had worked on the project for eight years, departed over "creative differences" — a sacrifice, seemingly, to the Marvel colossus. 

    The precise source of the dispute is unknown, but it's clear enough from the final product, pushed forward with the quick insertion of director Peyton Reed (Bring it On, The Break-Up) and a rewrite by Adam McKay and others, that Ant-Man became bedeviled with staying true to its more modest size and idiosyncratic nature, and with the larger, blander demands of being a Marvel movie complete with superhero cameos and (optimistic) sequel set-ups.

    The result is a film not quite sure of itself, like it's wearing clothes a size too big.

    Paul Rudd plays Scott Lang, a politically motivated cat burglar being released after three years in San Quentin. He has an ethnically diverse group of petty criminal friends: Tip "T.I." Harris, David Dastmalchian and Michael Pena, the only actor rightly convinced he's in a comedy. Lang is trying to right himself for the sake of his young daughter, Cassie (Abby Ryder Forston), and for paying child support to his ex-wife (Judy Greer, an actress too good to be twice relegated to the domestic sidelines in this summer's blockbusters).

    But spryness (an essential quality for any movie about an insect superhero) or any much purpose, at all, is missing from these scenes. The movie is too controlled for Rudd's goofball charm — best on display when simply standing in front of a mirror (Wanderlust) or animated about music (I Love You, Man) - to break free.

    Through some strained plot mechanics, Lang is recruited by the original Ant-Man, the scientist Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), to succeed him in the suit. Along with his daughter (a bob-sporting Evangeline Lilly), he's conspiring to prevent a former apprentice (Corey Stoll) from unlocking the atomic secrets that led to Ant-Man in the first place: the ability to shrink down to bug-size, yet maintain strength. Somewhere in Wonderland, Alice is tapping her foot.

    With the press of a button, he can toggle between big and small, and appear all but invisible when tiny. The perspective change allows for some unlikely superhero foes, like a bathtub drain. During training, while Lang tries to perfect his communication with other underground ants, he sometimes pops out of the ground like a sprouted cabbage.

    With a screenplay credited to Wright, Joe Cornish, McKay and Rudd, Ant-Man unfolds in pleasingly human-sized fashion. It's a heist movie. Not one city is leveled; it's like Marvel has gone on a diet.

    But it's only in the climactic scenes where the movie unlocks the antic potential of its shape-shifting. Rather than taking place above the skyline of a metropolis, the big action scenes are set inside a briefcase and in Cassie's bedroom. Such moments, sprinkled throughout, are like glimpses of a better Ant-Man that might have existed.

    Change, we are told, is afoot in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ant-Man is the final movie in the studio's "Phase Two," with promises of bigger, intergalactic battles looming in "Phase Three." But as a parent might say, it's just a phase.

    Because you have to squint pretty hard to spot the differences from Marvel movie to Marvel movie. If Ant-Man proves anything, it's that any diversion in this universe is likely to get stomped underfoot.

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    Monday, 20 July 2015

    Three-time world champ fights off shark during South Africa competition!


    Knocked off his board by an attacking shark, three-time world champion Mick Fanning punched the creature before escaping unharmed during the televised finals of a world surfing competition in South Africa on Sunday.

    The Australian surfer was struck by the shark from behind and knocked into the water as he sat on his board waiting his turn during the JBay Open in Jeffrey's Bay in the Eastern Cape Province.

    As he scans the water, two fins appear and with a splash he disappears under the surface. He is next seen furiously trying to swim to safety before a rescuer pulls him out of the water.


    "A big sigh of relief seeing Fanning in one piece," a commentator is heard saying, on the video of the event posted on the World Surf League website.

    "I felt something grab, get stuck in my leg rope and instantly jump away. And it just kept coming at my board," Fanning said, once safe on the rescue boat. Fanning said at first he swam away but then decided to defend himself and turned to punch the shark in the back.

    "I saw it taking my board away and I just started cracking it," he told a crowd that gathered around him once he was back on shore, referring to how he struck the shark.

    "I'm totally fine. I've got nothing wrong with me," Fanning said in an interview. "There's a small depression in my board and my leg wrap (was) bitten. I'm just totally tripping out. To walk away from that, I'm just so stoked. Oh man."

    Fanning's mother, Elizabeth Osborne, who watched the incident live on television in Australia, wept as she told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio the attack was "the worst thing I've ever seen happen to any of my family because it was just there in front of me."

    "It was absolutely terrifying. I actually got up and walked across to the television because I just couldn't believe what I was seeing and I thought we lost him," she said in an ABC TV interview. "I went over to the television almost as though I could pull him out of the television. I just wanted to save him really, but there was nothing I could do."

    Osborne said she believes Fanning's brother Sean, who died in a car accident 17 years ago, was watching over his sibling.

    Surfing great Kelly Slater said he was coming up the beach when he saw all the boats and skis heading toward the surfers.

    "I knew there was only one possible reason that would ever happen in a contest and that's if someone got attacked by a shark," Slater was quoted as saying. "I'm halfway between crying and laughing because he got so lucky. I'm lost for words to be honest."

    The World Surf League cancelled the remainder of the event and Fanning will split the prize money with fellow Australian surfer Julian Wilson, who was also in the water when the attack happened. The two will share second place.

    "We are incredibly grateful that no one was seriously injured today," the league said in a statement. "Mick's composure and quick acting in the face of a terrifying situation was nothing short of heroic."

    Commentator Ross Williams said there are occasionally shark sightings in and around events but an actual attack was very unusual.

    "For it to happen in that fashion during the finals, where it actually showed that crazy aggression toward Mick Fanning, such a crazy thing," he said on the video.


    Watch the terrifying video

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    Thursday, 16 July 2015

    Jailbreak of the millennium: Inside billionaire drug lord "El Chapo" Guzman's escape tunnel!

    Jailbreak of the millenium

    It is already being termed the jailbreak of the millennium, and by sober media voices.

    Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman, the most wanted of Mexico's drug lords and according to some accounts the world's 14th richest man, would have breezed along the mile-long tunnel dug just for him on a specially modified motorcycle or one of the two carts it pushed on two steel rails.

    A visit on Tuesday by journalists to the tunnel's exit in an unfinished barn near the prison that held Guzman provided a look at the last few yards that the leader of the Sinaloa cartel traversed to make his second escape from a Mexican maximum-security lockup.

    Tracks guiding the modified motorcycle end two or three steps from the base of a wooden ladder with 17 rungs that he would have scrambled up. The air in the tunnel is warm and humid and fine dust coats everything.

    Reaching the top, a step leads into a small basement dominated by a blue generator as big as a compact car.

    Then it is six strides to another ladder.

    One, two, three steps up. The air thins. The temperature drops 10 degrees.

    Four. Five. Six, the last rung. One more step and Guzman stood on the dusty floor of the barn, where the digging crew had left 4-inch by 4-inch wooden beams, 8-foot- tall coils of steel mesh, gallons of hydraulic fluid, 10-foot lengths of PVC pipe and an electric disc saw.

    Seven strides and the man who Mexico's government said would not repeat his 2001 prison escape stepped through a sliding steel door into the chilly night on the high plain west of the capital.

    For the first time since his latest capture, on February 22, 2014, Guzman was a free man.
     

    Breathtaking audacity
    Authorities also released surveillance video of Guzman's last moments in prison. A recording by a camera in his cell shows him walking to the bed, where he sits and appears to change his shoes.
    He then walks to the shower and toilet area, behind a low dividing wall of about waist height, and simply disappears.

    Another video filmed after the escape shows the gaping square hole cut into what appears to be the floor of the shower.

    The ingenuity and audacity of the caper was breathtaking.



    Essence of the plan
    Buy a piece of land a mile from Mexico's most secure prison, but in the middle of farm fields.

    Throw up a shoddy, concrete block structure that doesn't look out of place.

    Build a wall to hide the dirt.

    Get to work. 



    Inside help

    Experts have said the tunnel would have been more than a year in planning and building.

    The digging would have caused noise.

    The entrance was in a place beyond the view of security cameras at Mexico's toughest prison.

    They also said it was clear the escape by Mexico's most powerful drug lord must have involved inside help on a grand scale.

       
    No simple matter
    Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong conceded as much Monday night.

    He announced that three prison officials had been fired, including Valentin Cardenas, director of the Altiplano prison 55 miles (90 kilometers) west of Mexico City.

    'They had something or a lot to do with what happened, and that's why we made that decision,' Osorio Chong said.

    Still, he did not say who exactly is suspected of aiding the escape. Nor did he talk about rooting out the kind of corruption that led to the escape.

    Osorio Chong said the tunnel was 19 meters (about 62 feet) below the surface and he called it a 'high-tech' breach of the prison's extensive security measures, which include 750 cameras and 26 security filters.

    A tunnel of such sophistication - with lights, air venting, and the customised motorcycle rigged up on a rail line - would normally take 18 months to two years to complete, said Jim Dinkins, former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.

    'When it's for the boss, you probably put that on high speed,' he said. 


    Skepticism
    If anyone was capable of pulling off such a feat, it was Guzman, who is believed to have at least a quarter-century of experience in building large, sophisticated tunnels to smuggle drugs under the US-Mexico border and to escape from hideouts as authorities closed in.

    His cartel also has been most successful in coopting officials, said Edgardo Buscaglia, an organised crime expert at Columbia University. 'By far they are the most infiltrated in Mexico's government institutions,' he said.

    Experts express skepticism that such an engineering project could go on undetected.

    Joe Garcia, who retired this year as interim special agent in charge of US Homeland Security Investigations in San Diego, has extensive experience in tunnel investigations. He said the tunnel at
    Altiplano was longer than any passage ever found on the US-Mexico border.

    To pull off such a feat, rescuers likely had intelligence on the prison even before Guzman was arrested, Dinkins said.

    Sophisticated operation 
    Designers and workers would have needed access to sensitive information such as prison floor plans and alarm and camera systems.


    And just the noise alone as they bored the final 30-foot (10-meter) vertical shaft directly under the prison to reach Guzman's cell would have generated some attention.

    'It's not just like someone took a couple tools, shovels and pickaxes. This is a very sophisticated operation,' said Alonzo Pena, a former senior official at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 'How could they be there and not hear that construction was going on underneath? It's just impossible.'

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    Wednesday, 15 July 2015

    Xiaomi success inspires every man and his dog to make smartphones in China!



    The call of the world's biggest smartphone market is proving irresistible for entrepreneurs in China, where even purveyors of concrete mixers, refrigerators and rock music are mimicking local trailblazer Xiaomi Inc with their own handsets.

    But the market shrank in early 2015 for the first time in six years and sales have fallen at one-time leader Xiaomi. That sudden about-turn raises questions over whether there is any chance for the likes of construction machinery maker SANY Group Co Ltd, Gree Electric Appliances Inc of Zhuhai and veteran rockstar Cui Jian.


    The slowdown may be too much for all but the largest handset makers, much less a plethora of me-toos, some analysts say. In a crowded market plagued by price wars, entrants will have to convince buyers to abandon established brands with phones that surpass even premium models, U.S. research firm Gartner said.

    "It's not that easy to go bankrupt making phones, but it's also not easy to be profitable," said Taiwan-based Gartner analyst CK Lu, who covers the mainland smartphone market. "If you don't have good differentiation, you're putting yourself in a saturated market."

    China had 155 smartphone brands selling over 1,000 handsets a month as at end-March, from 110 two years ago, said analyst Neil Shah of Counterpoint Research. In neighbouring India, there were 103 brands, over half of which are Chinese.

    But small players compete for just one-fifth of the market as the rest is occupied by the 10 biggest incumbents - including Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Lenovo Group, Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Xiaomi - according to Gartner.

    FAIRY TALE

    Bringing a smartphone to market in China costs as little as a few hundred thousand dollars, with money going on licensing and off-the-shelf designs from manufacturers. For greater scale, involvement in design, marketing and offline sales distribution send costs into the hundreds of millions of dollars, said Shah.

    Few entrants are likely to last without mass sales, like Xiaomi, or other businesses to support money-losing smartphone divisions, like Lenovo. Their best chance is to link handsets to new sectors such as wearable devices and smart home appliances, analysts said.

    But new hopefuls are lured to the market by the fairy tale success of Xiaomi. In December, investors valued Xiaomi at $45 billion less than five years after its founding, making the firm one of the world's most valuable startups.

    Chinese startup Smartisan was established in 2012 and, like Xiaomi, has gained popularity based primarily on social-media marketing and word of mouth, rather than expensive advertising.

    "Xiaomi's phones were definitely already successful (in 2012)," a Smartisan spokeswoman said in an email. "Because of that, getting investment and bringing in talent for smartphones became much easier... Before Xiaomi, this would have been very difficult."

    ATTACK OF THE CLONES

    Xiaomi, whose sales are mostly domestic, saw phone shipments rocket 227 percent last year. But the firm's fortunes wavered last week when it reported semi-annual sales that for the first time were lower than the previous six months.

    The decline came after researcher IDC in May said smartphone shipments in China fell in the first quarter for the first time in six years, by 4.3 percent, due to "market saturation".

    "You have so many new things, so much noise, so many new brands coming all the time," said Dan Dery, chief marketing officer of Alcatel OneTouch, part of Chinese smartphone maker TCL Communication Technology Holdings Ltd.

    "I see a lot of our competitors trying to replicate Xiaomi just by putting a cheap phone online," he said.

    A case in point is ShenQi, a smartphone firm started in April by current world No. 3 Lenovo. Like Xiaomi, its remit is to sell high-quality handsets over the Internet, touting software specially designed for a heavy-user target audience.

    "Xiaomi does so many products now," Chen Xudong, then-head of ShenQi and now President of Lenovo Mobile Group, said in a May interview. Xiaomi has expanded from an exclusively online smartphone vendor to make other consumer electronics and home appliances.

    "It's not the same experience as when they launched," he said. "A lot of companies when they grow up, they'll probably change their strategy. That's the key reason we (ShenQi) still have an opportunity."

    Rather than copying Xiaomi's original model, China research director Nicole Peng of Canalys said entrants' opportunities lie in making wearables and smart appliances as well as smartphones - akin to Xiaomi's current strategy.

    "I think no more than three new brands can be commercially successful in the short term, any others will only acquire a tiny portion of the market," said Peng. "But if they want to be profitable just selling phones, the chances are very, very low."

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