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    Monday, May 18, 2009

    CNN - Can a Palm Pre multitask better than an iPhone?

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Can a Palm Pre multitask better than an iPhone?


    Palm's comeback attempt rests squarely on the notion that it has found a better way to manage your complicated digital life.

    Ever since its January coming-out party at the Consumer Electronics Show, Palm has generated buzz for the Pre unlike any other phone released since Apple's iPhone arrived in June 2007 (that includes impressive phones such as Research in Motion's BlackBerry Bold and HTC's G1 Android phone.)

    The two phones will be forever compared -- not just because of their consumer-oriented styles and emphasis on gesture-based user interfaces, but because of the very real enmity between the proud team that worked on Apple's historic iPhone breakthrough and the ex-Apple executives and engineers attempting to rebuild Palm.

    While the iPhone has set the standard for future smartphones, Palm's WebOS delivers two important improvements that the iPhone can't yet match: true multitasking between applications, and a subtle notifications system that doesn't interrupt your train of thought.

    It does that while unveiling its own stamp on the multitouch user interface that Apple introduced to the masses with the iPhone and finding room for a slide-out hardware keyboard favored by CrackBerry addicts.

    There are several reasons why no one should expect the Pre to turn the smartphone world upside down just yet.

    Business users still love their BlackBerrys and RIM is aggressively courting the consumer. Apple has a killer brand, great audio and video player technology, and more than 35,000 applications inside an easy-to-use App Store that grows by the hour.

    All the same, Palm has taken a few steps forward that developers and users should take seriously.

    Until we know how much it's going to cost, it's impossible to predict how many other smartphone users will see value in these improvements, but they (and the competition) will notice.

    The Pre is expected to arrive sometime within the next few weeks, although all Palm has said is that it will be out in the first half of 2009.

    Let's examine the subject of multitasking first, which has been a major criticism of the iPhone almost ever since it was released.

    Outside of a few core applications, such as the phone and iPod player, an iPhone user must completely exit out of one application in order to use another.

    For example, you can return to the home screen and select another iPhone application while staying connected on a phone call, but you can't move back and forth between two applications while allowing the first application to run in the background, making it harder to use applications like instant messaging or streaming radio.

    Apple has said these limitations are necessary to prevent battery life from dropping off a cliff and to ensure application stability. That is perhaps part of the reason why Palm has chosen a different development model.

    WebOS applications will be created with standard Web development tools such as CSS, JavaScript, and HTML that run on a version of the Webkit engine.

    This doesn't mean they are "Web applications," which require a connection to the Internet to work. It does, however, mean they are (in general) more lightweight and less-resource intensive than iPhone applications, which are developed using the Objective-C programming language.

    That may limit the performance of WebOS applications. Don't expect the sophisticated gaming community, for example, to embrace the Pre.

    But Palm's approach means it will be very easy for anyone who has developed a Web application to get up and running on Pre development, which could help expand the number of applications in the early days of the device if the smartphone world likes what they see.

    Other mobile operating systems -- notably Android and Windows Mobile -- allow multitasking, but Palm has developed an elegant way of switching between "cards," something vaguely akin to a combination of Windows' Alt-Tab switching and Mac OS' Expose, or switching between tabs on a Web browser.

    New applications can be launched using the "Launcher" software button on the bottom of the home screen, and users navigate between different applications by flicking finger left or right.

    It remains to be seen how many open WebOS applications it will take to crash the Pre. (Palm product managers at CTIA 2009 refused to speculate, but said it would be very hard to overload the phone.) But Palm's implementation of multitasking is slick, as is its method for delivering notifications.

    Notifications are the lifeblood of the mobile computer: if I'm carrying an always-on, always-connected computer, then I want to know right away when something has happened.

    With the release of iPhone OS 3.0, Apple plans to expand its notifications service to third-party applications, whereas right now it only works for core applications such as incoming phone calls, text messages, and calendar appointments.

    But Apple's system for notifications uses a pop-up window that interrupts you in the middle of a task, pauses the application, and forces you to make a choice (close, view) before proceeding. Palm's notification bar is much less obtrusive.

    When a Pre user receives an e-mail or text message, that alert will pop up on the lower part of the Pre's screen as a horizontal bar.

    But the alert won't interrupt the application, and if the user chooses simply to ignore that alert, it will soon retreat to the lower edge of the screen to be accessed later when the task at hand is completed. That alert will always be at the bottom of the Pre's screen no matter what application or view you've selected, along with some brief information such as the sender or subject line.

    Apple's approach lets you dismiss the alert and continue what you were doing but forces you to remember that you received notifications from a specific application, such as the ESPN Alerts application demonstrated at the iPhone 3.0 event.

    A number outlining how many alerts you've received will appear over the icon for that application -- just as you can see how many e-mail messages await you -- but if you're in a different sector of the home screen, you won't necessarily see the alerts for that particular application.

    Some may dismiss these differences as simply user preferences. But multitasking and notifications are among the most important reasons to own a mobile computer, and few companies have managed to come up with something that advances the game along those lines since the iPhone OS made its debut. Palm has.

    CNN - New services promise online life after death

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    New services promise online life after death


    Your husband, an avid gamer and techie, dies of a heart attack, leaving his vast online life ­-- one you don't know much about ­-- in limbo.

    His accounts, to which you don't know the passwords, go idle. His e-mails go unanswered, his online multiplayer games go on without him and bidders on his eBay items don't know why they can't get an answer from the seller.

    Web site domains that he has purchased, some of which are now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars,­ will expire, and you may never know.

    It's a scenario that's becoming more likely as we spend more of our lives online. And it's raising more questions about what happens to our online lives after we log off for the final time.

    The answer, until recently, was nothing.

    But now, as online usage increases and social-media sites soar in popularity, more companies are popping up to try and fill that void created in your digital life after death.

    Jeremy Toeman, founder of the site Legacy Locker, recognized that when he was on a plane and wondered what would happen to his online life if it crashed. While his will leaves everything to his wife, including all of his digital assets, Toeman realized how difficult it would be for her to access his accounts.

    "My GoDaddy account would belong to her, but it doesn't solve the practical reality of how she would get access to it," he said. He experienced a similar scenario after his grandmother died, and he tried to get the password for her e-mail account -- only to give up because of the hassle.

    So Toeman built his company to change all that. Legacy Locker allows users to set up a kind of online will, with beneficiaries that would receive the customer's account information and passwords after they die.

    "We know it's a hard thing to think about -- to get people to face mortality. We know it's kind of morbid, but for those who live their entire lives online, it's also very real."

    A Legacy Locker account costs $29.99 a year. Users can set up their accounts to specify who gets access to their posthumous online information, along with "legacy letters," or messages, that can be sent to loved ones.

    If someone contacts Legacy Locker to report a client's death, the service will send the customer four e-mails in 48 hours. If there's no response, Legacy Locker will then contact the people the client listed as verifiers in the event of his or her death. Even then, the service would not release digital assets without examining a copy of the customer's death certificate, Toeman said.

    Eddie Lopez is the kind of tech-savvy guy for which a service such as Legacy Locker was made. The St. Paul, Minnesota, man has three online banking accounts, a PayPal account, domain names, Web-hosting accounts, multiple e-mail addresses and many social-networking accounts.

    "I do think this is something people should be really considering these days," Lopez told CNN when asked about services such as Legacy Locker. He wants to hire a service to handle his digital assets but is concerned about privacy.

    "Although I'm glad there's people breaking ground in this area, I don't think I would jump at the first opportunity to sign up," Lopez said. "My concerns are turning over such an exhaustive list of user names and passwords to a single business. That's one-stop shopping for any hacker to get access to just about every detail of my life."

    Lopez would prefer to entrust half of his digital-security information to a service such as Legacy Locker and the other half to family members, so that each side's information would be useless without the other's.

    "I hope Legacy Locker and similar services can address these privacy-security concerns with some real-world solutions," he said. "I just don't feel comfortable turning over my digital life -- built over 15 years -- to a kind promise."

    Legacy Locker isn't the only new company helping techies plan for death in the digital age.

    AssetLock (formerly YouDeparted.com) offers a "secure safe deposit box" for digital copies of documents, wishes, letters and e-mails. Deathswitch and Slightly Morbid also offer similar services in a variety of prices and packages, depending on how many accounts are involved.

    Not all of these services deal with online assets. There's also a growing trend towards giving all aspects of death --­ the grieving process, the funeral, the memorial and even the grave site --­ a digital makeover.

    FindaGrave.com claims to have cemetery records for 32 million people in its searchable database, while EternalSpace.com offers a new spin on the traditional grave site by offering virtual memorial pages ­full of videos, pictures and tributes.

    On Eternal Space, loved ones can choose from different headstones and bucolic landscape backgrounds -- the mountain lake is a popular option -- to create a customized online grave site. Loved ones can add "tribute gifts" such as roses, candles, stuffed animals and other items, while mourners can access photos and videos in a "Memory Book" and leave remembrances of their own.

    Jay Goss, president of Eternal Space president, is trying to bring the funeral experience to anyone who can access the Web. In that way, he hopes to provide a gathering place, and a voice, for mourners who may not be able to attend the real-life memorial service.

    "It'd be the equivalent of a funeral where everyone can attend and everyone can spend 30 minutes behind the podium," Goss said. "It gives everyone a chance to put a 360-degree wrapper on the life the person lived and celebrate that life from how every person knew them."

    Eternal Space's virtual memorial sites are currently only being offered through select funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoriums. Goss' hope is that the site will help allow the deceased's memory to be "eternally" passed on.

    "All of these stories and videos are being left, in essence, to this Eternal Space Web site so that everyone can share, not just that day, not the days after, but the weeks after and years after," he said.

    Some funeral-industry professionals believe these online memorials and virtual grave sites provide a valuable service.

    "Assuming the site is handled with respect, virtual memorials respond to a basic human need to remember our deceased family, friends and colleagues," said Robert M. Fells, general counsel for the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association.

    "Based on our members' feedback, I'd have to say that virtual memorial sites are gaining popularity with the public as a very practical alternative to being present at the grave site," he added. "There's nothing 'weird' about them as far as we have seen."

    "There are funeral homes out there that will help families create virtual memorials, but ... we've also seen Facebook and MySpace profiles of deceased persons being turned into memorials," agreed Jessica Koth, spokesperson for the National Funeral Directors Association. "Consumers have become increasingly comfortable with expressing their grief online."

    "While not a replacement for a funeral, online memorialization can help people work through their grief after the funeral," she added. "We've all become accustomed to communicating and expressing ourselves electronically -- via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter. Expressing one's grief online is an outgrowth of what's happening in other areas of our lives."

    CNN - Clinton to be named U.N. envoy to Haiti

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    Clinton to be named U.N. envoy to Haiti


    Former U.S. President Clinton has been tapped as a United Nations special envoy to Haiti, a senior U.N. official said Monday.

    An official announcement will be made Tuesday, the official said.

    The two-term president has traveled to Haiti on several occasions, most recently in March with his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.

    At the time, the Clintons voiced optimism at Haiti's potential because of political stability and economic growth after decades of chaos. The Caribbean country is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

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    Yahoo! News Story - Note to Joe: Don't reveal top-secret secrets

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    Online Tricks to Cut Your Tech Costs
    By Doug Cooley, special to MSN Tech & Gadgets

    With the economy slogging along like a PC with 64 MB of memory, gadget heads are moving those new MP3 players and wireless N routers out of their online shopping cart and back onto the wish list.

    We feel your pain. So in the spirit of helping cash-conserving technology enthusiasts stay on their game, we offer up these online tips and tricks for saving coin without totally denying yourself the tech toys and tools you love -- and maybe even deserve.
    MSN Savings Center: Recession Survival Kit

    Bargain computers and electronics

    Let’s say your friend left your digital camera on the roof of his car and drove off. (Yes, I am talking about you, Ron.) Recession or not, you need a new one. You can save a few bucks comparing camera prices at the major online computer and electronic gadgetry stores. Techbargains.com, which compiles lots of current tech product deals available online and in stores, can help out. So can MSN Shopping.

    But for bigger savings, consider shopping sites where you find refurbished, overstock or returned items -- many of which still carry a warranty. Tech for Less and Geeks.com specialize in computer equipment, peripherals and electronics of this ilk.

    Online outlet centers are another option. Retailer Best Buy has one, as do computer makers Dell and HP.

    And, of course, eBay auctions and stores offer gadgets galore: cameras, PDAs, cell phones, computers. If you’re patient and do business with well-rated sellers, you can score good, but no-warranty deals on refurbished and working condition equipment.

    ___________________________________________________
    More from MSN:

    * MSN Savings Center: Recession Survival Kit
    * What your gadget really costs
    * Best tech for the buck

    ___________________________________________________

    Freebie software

    As hardware prices get cheaper, software seems to be going the other direction. Here are three ways to not pay for it:

    * Try instead of buy. Software giants like Microsoft (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Tech & Gadgets) and Adobe let you download and try out many of their products, typically for 30 days. If you only need to use a program for a limited time, you won’t have to surrender your credit card number.
    * Look to the clouds. Word processing, spreadsheet and other programs can now live in the Internet “cloud” rather than your computer. Zoho offers free versions of all its Web-based software. Google Docs is also popular, and ThinkFree Office offers a 30-day free trial.
    * Check out freeware. Scads of free applications are available for download, including lots of excellent antivirus products, such as Avira AntiVir Personal. The real trick here is separating the good from the not so good. Start by checking out the reviews and ratings at CNET Download.com.

    'Live Search'

    Free Internet

    Do you really need to pay for Internet at your home when wireless hotspots are everywhere these days? Wi-Fi-FreeSpot provides a state-by-state listing of locations near you that offer free Wi-Fi. If you need to check your free Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo! Mail from home once in a while, ask a friend in your apartment building or cul-de-sac if you can tap into their wireless network on occasion. (Don’t use somebody’s private, unsecured wireless service without asking first. That’s called “stealing.”)

    No-cost Web site

    If you run a business or public organization, a Web site is a must. However, you don’t pay for a site designer or Web hosting when you sign up for Microsoft Office Live Small Business. This service gives you a free domain name, free hosting and free e-mail accounts, plus page templates, design tools and custom code capabilities to build your site. You do have to pay for the renewal of your domain registration after the first year, but that’s pretty much the only cost. You can use the free companion service, called Office Live Workspace, to store and share documents online.

    Games for gratis

    If you’ve seen the price of video games lately, you know that an Xbox or PlayStation habit can be expensive. So check out what’s available for free to download or play online. Download Free Games has freeware games and games under $10 (you can test drive them for 30 minutes before buying). For browser-based Flash games, check out what’s available at Pogo.com, MSN Games or Yahoo Games.

    Stream music and movies

    A subscription to an MP3 download service can run $10-$15 a month. If you mostly listen to MP3s while at your computer, try free streaming music sites like Pandora, Slacker and Jango instead of paying for downloads. These sites let you create your own Internet radio stations that play just the type of music you like.

    If you have Internet at home, maybe you can eliminate your cable or satellite dish TV service, too. Sites providing quality streaming movies and TV shows are now widely available. Hulu has lots of popular shows. You can also find your favorite TV shows on network sites like Fox, CBS, TNT and Disney.

    Nix cell phone overage charges

    Cell phone charges for exceeding your monthly allotment of minutes can be steep and painful. Log into your cell phone account to check your remaining minutes when you think you’re getting close. Or, alternatively, sign up for an OverMyMinutes account. This free service automatically sends you a text message or e-mail alert when you are about to go over your minutes.

    These are just a few of the sites that can help you keep your tech spending under control during these cash-conscious times. Be sure to take a look at The 100 most useful sites on the Internet for more money-saving ideas.

    ___________________________________________________
    More from MSN:

    * MSN Savings Center: Recession Survival Kit
    * What your gadget really costs
    * Best tech for the buck

    ___________________________________________________
    click here for more news and cool stuff
    The Black Rider

    Reuters - Samsung bets on LCD TVs despite downturn

    This article was sent to you from bomastic4000@yahoo.com, who uses Reuters Mobile Site to get news and information on the go. To access Reuters on your mobile phone, go to:
    http://mobile.reuters.com

    Samsung bets on LCD TVs despite downturn

    Monday, May 18, 2009 12:20PM UTC

    By Marie-France Han and Rhee So-eui

    SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics, the world's top TV brand, aims to outperform the overall flat-panel television market's growth this year, thanks in part to its newly launched LED models, a senior official said.

    "2009 won't be an easy year but we plan to maintain market leadership with new products such as LED TV," said Sue Shim, senior vice president in charge of sales and marketing at Samsung's Visual Display division. "(Our market share) will go up."

    Samsung, which is also the world's biggest maker of memory chips and No. 2 maker of mobile phones, had 19 percent of the global liquid crystal display (LCD) TV market in the first quarter.

    "The downturn in the market doesn't seem as severe as expected and we were able to outperform the market's growth (in the first quarter)," Shim told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in Seoul.

    A spokeswoman for the company, which has been cautious about the outlook for all its businesses, said Samsung is maintaining its sales target for LCD TV sets set in 2009 at 22 million, up 10 percent from 2008.

    That target is below DisplaySearch's forecast of a 15 percent growth in the global LCD TV market, but Samsung will strive to post higher growth and expand market share, according to Shim.

    Shim said Samsung had several sets of targets, including a best-case scenario, but declined to give details.

    Samsung competes with Japan's Sony, home rival LG Electronics and Amtran's Vizio brand.

    Thanks to bargain-basement prices and consumers eager to upgrade from clunky cathode-ray tube TV sets, the flat-screen TV segment has performed strongly despite the global economic downturn, which has sapped consumer demand for most other types of electronics.

    "People are giving up eating out and traveling in the midst of this downturn," Shim said. Instead, they are putting more emphasis on activities inside their homes.

    Shim is a marketing veteran who worked for Procter & Gamble for 17 years before joining Samsung in 2006.

    NEW FOCUS ON LED

    One key to future growth and market leadership for Samsung are the latest LCD televisions models using light-emitting diodes (LED) as light source, instead of bulkier and less energy-efficient cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs).

    "LED TV has a vivid picture quality, a slim design and is eco-friendly. It saves about 40 percent of energy when compared to a traditional LCD TV of the same size," Shim said.

    "After four years of using an LED television, the costs savings alone would be as much as the price of a 30-inch-grade LCD model."

    Shim declined to give sales targets for the LED TV segment, but said Samsung had shipped 200,000 units to retailers in the six weeks since the first models were launched in March.

    DisplaySearch expects LED TV sales to reach 32.4 million units in 2015, up from estimates of 2 million in 2009 and 7.3 million in 2010, according to Samsung.

    A major obstacle for widespread adoption of LED sets is however the price premium, which can be as much as $700 over a traditional LCD model of the same size.

    "Going forward, the entire market will shift to LED. LED is the best television technology made available so far," Shim said.

    (For summit blog: http://blogs.reuters.com/summits/)

    (Editing by Anshuman Daga)

    CNN - Abuse of child 'witches' on rise, aid group says

    Sent from bombastic4000@yahoo.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Abuse of child 'witches' on rise, aid group says


    Christian Eshiett was a rambunctious pre-teen who spent a lot of time cavorting with his friends in southern Nigeria. He would skip school and run away from home for days, frustrating his grandfather, who oversaw the boy's care.

    "I beat him severely with canes until they broke, yet he never shed a tear," said Eshiett Nelson Eshiett, 76. "One day, I took a broom to hit him and he started crying. Then I knew he was possessed by demons. ... Nigerian witches are terrified of brooms."

    From that day two years ago, Christian, now 14, was branded a witch. The abuse intensified.

    "They would take my clothes off, tie me up and beat me," he told CNN in a telephone interview.

    The teen is one of the so-called witch children in Eket, a city in oil-rich Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria.

    They are blamed for causing illness, death and destruction, prompting some communities to put them through harrowing punishments to "cleanse" them of their supposed magical powers.

    "Children accused of witchcraft are often incarcerated in churches for weeks on end and beaten, starved and tortured in order to extract a confession," said Gary Foxcroft, program director of Stepping Stones Nigeria, a nonprofit that helps alleged witch children in the region.

    Many of those targeted have traits that make them stand out, including learning disabilities, stubbornness and ailments such as epilepsy, he added.

    The issue of "child witches" is soaring in Nigeria and other parts of the world, Foxcroft said.

    The states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River have about 15,000 children branded as witches, and most of them end up abandoned and abused on the streets, he said.

    Christian ran away from home and wandered around for two years with other children similarly accused. He said they stole, begged for food and performed menial jobs to survive.

    The plight of "child witches" is raising concern among aid organizations, including the United Nations.

    "It is a growing issue worldwide, among not just African communities, but in countries such as Nepal as well," said Jeff Crisp, head of policy development and evaluation for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. "We are trying to see whether it is a neglected protected issue."

    Belief in witchcraft thrives worldwide. About 1,000 people accused of being witches in Gambia were locked in detention centers in March and forced to drink a dangerous hallucinogenic potion, human rights organization Amnesty International said.

    In 2005, relatives of an 8-year-old Angolan girl living in England were convicted of torturing her for being a "witch," according to the Times Online.

    Pastors have been accused of worsening the problem by claiming to have powers to recognize and exorcise "child witches," sometimes for a fee, aid workers said.

    But some are true believers, such as one minister in Lagos, Nigeria. He pinpoints children affected by witchcraft for free, he said.

    "Sometimes, we get a dream that shows us a certain person is suffering from witchcraft," said the Rev. Albert Aina, a senior pastor at Four Square Gospel Church. "Sometimes, you have a child who has inexplicable body marks because of struggling in the night. They are easy to identify, but why charge when you have been given a gift by God?" Aina said.

    Once a child is branded a witch, the stigma can last forever.

    Christian was reunited with his grandfather, a former theater instructor at a university in Nigeria. Eshiett said he let his son's child return home because he loves him and he advocates for youth education.

    But, he added, he does not think Christian has been or can be freed from witchcraft.

    "When you are possessed, you are possessed; no one can deliver you from Satan," Eshiett said, adding that his grandson is a witch because he still exhibits unruly behavior and does not take education seriously.

    Aid organizations acknowledge that the belief is acceptable and popular in some communities.

    "It is not the belief in witchcraft that we are concerned about," Foxcroft said. "We acknowledge people's right to hold this belief on the condition that this does not lead to child abuse."

    Foxcroft, whose documentary, "Saving Africa's Witch Children," was broadcast last year, spoke to a U.N. panel on the issue in April.

    The aid worker said he is planning a global conference in 2010 and public awareness campaigns, including addressing the issue in Nigerian movies. The nation's film industry, dubbed Nollywood, is a popular form of entertainment in African countries.

    Government officials also have joined the fight.

    Akwa Ibom recently added a clause into the Child Rights Act, saying that anyone found guilty of branding a child a witch would get up to 12 years in prison.

    "This is groundbreaking, and Stepping Stones Nigeria applauds the Akwa Ibom state government for this," Foxcroft said.

    But, he added, there is more work to be done, and other groups, especially churches, have to team up to resolve the problem.

    "The role of the international Christian community in this cannot be underestimated," Foxcroft said. "Unfortunately, the fact remains that this belief system is being spread by so-called Christians."

    CNN's attempts to reach Akwa Ibom state officials through phone calls and e-mails were unsuccessful. A Nigerian federal communications official declined to comment.

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