Greece swimmers perform the team free routine during Synchronized Swimming Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday Oct. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)HERE ARE THE things you need to know as we round off the day in three easy steps.THINGS WE LEARNED#ANIMAL RESCUE The week’s second major animal rescue has seen 56 puppies taken into the DSPCA’s care after they were discovered in a van at Dublin Port yesterday evening.#STRIKE: As talks between Aer Lingus, DAA and Siptu over a €748 million pension deficit break down, industrial action at Ireland’s airports is starting to look more and more likely.#GROWING: Police in England now have 340 leads in an inquiry into allegations that the late presenter Jimmy Savile sexually abused a number of young girls while working for the BBC.#TRAGEDY: A company in Louth has been fined €25,000 for breaching health and safety rules which resulted in the death of a three-year-old boy in Drogheda in November 2009.#BUDGET 2013: Social Protection Minister Joan Burton has promised to maintain core social welfare payments in the coming year but refused to be drawn on exactly what exactly core social welfare payments are.#COMPENSATION: A High Court judge has called Ireland’s compensation system “outdated, ineffective and unjust”, according to RTÉ. Justice Mary Irvine’s remarks came as she was worried that a €4 million settlement would not be sufficient for Jennifer Courtney who suffered traumatic and permanent brain damage in 1987.THINGS WE LOVEDNew Zealand is issuing a series of The Hobbit coins as legal tender next month. “I’ll see your Bilbo Baggins and raise you a Frodo,” will be heard all over Christchurch casinos.We are all Nobel Peace Prize winners. Hurrah! So, how are you going to spend your 0.178 cent share? Meanwhile, Gawker says it’s wack.Also spotted on Gawker: New Study Finds That Male Mice Housed Together Form Little Mice Boy Bands, Get All The Girl Mice Excited. Really? Well, kind of.Ryan Tubridy, dressing up. Again. THINGS WE SHAREDA new documentary series goes behind the Big Waves to examine what motivates a pro-surfer to spend his life chasing water. First up, a portrait of champion Greg Long who says “Surfing big waves just becomes part of your heart and soul and who you are.”There are many facts about flamingos that we did not know. Did you?A bossy big sister is one of the best assets a young sibling can have. They just don’t know it yet:
(Willie Frazer/YouTube)The parade, which is planned for Saturday 14 December, has been given the go ahead but the Parades Commission has said it can not pass the Ardoyne area.It said that there would “be an adverse impact on an already fragile community, a negative impact on community life and the potential for serious public disorder”.The ‘Push for Justice’ is also restricted from passing through the city centre as the commission said this could be detrimental to retail business.The commission said it has been informed that this time of year is “crucial to help the survival of the already hard-pressed city traders” and noted concerns from elected representatives about parades going through the heart of the city’s retail sector on a Saturday afternoon.No paramilitary-style clothing is to be work at any time during the parade and “flags, bannerettes and symbols relating to a prescribed organisation” will also not be permitted.Read: Loyalist protester Willie Frazer turns up at court dressed as Abu Hamza>VIDEO: Arson attack on home of loyalist Willie Frazer> THE PARADES COMMISSION has placed a number of restrictions on a ‘bed push’ through Belfast that has been planned by union flag protester Willie Frazer.The ‘Push for Justice’ is part of a fundraising campaign to send IRA victims to Libya to seek compensation for the country’s support of the terrorist organisation. Some 40 people are expected to take part in the parade which will involve pushing beds through the streets.Libya’s new government has indicated it is willing to reveal information about the passing of weapons and money to the IRA and about those sent for training in Libya.
ONE THIRD OF patients discharged from hospital last year were over the age of 65, according to a big ESRI study into the demographics of Irish hospitals.More than 1.54 million people were discharged from Ireland’s 57 acute public hospitals last year, an increase of 4.8 per cent on the previous year.The study found the number of public patients has grown every year since the recession began as the number of people with private health insurance has simultaneously decreased. Public patients made up 83 per cent of total discharges, up from 78 per cent in 2008.At the same time, private patients made up almost 17 per cent of discharges from Irish hospitals in 2012. The total number of private patients discharged has been on a downwards curve since 2008.Medical card holders made up more than half (53.7 per cent) of all patients discharged, a figure which has also been rising since 2008.The ESRI research found the average length of stay in hospital for acute in-patients was 4.1 days, a slight drop on previous years. The HSE South had the lowest average at 3.9 days while the HSE Dublin North East area had the highest average at 4.2 days.However long-stay patients, who are in hospital for more than 30 days, made up just 2.5 per cent of discharges, despite accounting for 28.5 per cent of in-patient bed days.In-patients account for 2 out of every 5 patients in hospital, most of which were emergencies. Elevtive in-patients make up another 17 per cent of hospital discharges, while maternity in-patients were 20.3 per cent.The figures were revealed in the Hospital In-Patient Enquiry (HIPE) project run by the ESRI. The 57 acute public hospitals collect demographic and clinical information about each person discharged from the hospital every month which is passed on to HIPE. It does not collect information on emergency department or outpatient visits.The report found that people aged over 65 also used the largest proportion of total bed days (47.3 per cent), an increase on the previous year.The number of older people coupled with the length of time that they stay in hospital is indicative of the scale of the problem faced by many hospitals in dealing with elderly people who need care but who are not able to look after themselves at home.Read: €10 million State energy campaign had no impact – ESRI > Read: Consumer confidence is at the highest level since June 2007 >
Updated 6.27pmEMERGENCY SERVICES ATTENDED a single-vehicle collision on the M50 this afternoon but the road has now been reopened and traffic is moving as usual.AA Roadwatch reported heavy traffic on the northbound motorway. The road was closed after junction nine at the Red Cow pub.Motorists were asked to exit at an earlier junction to avoid delays.Gardaí said it was too early to report on injuries.Drivers have been asked to take extra care this evening after Met Éireann issued a red alert for parts of the country.First published 4.04pmEarlier: Man arrested in connection with fatal stabbing in ShankillElsewhere: Man dies in Christmas nightclub shooting
THE BABY GIRL who died last night after being admitted to hospital on Wednesday with serious injuries has been named.Police in Northern Ireland identified the 3-month-old as Caragh Walsh of Glasvey Drive, Twinbrook in west Belfast.The child’s father was arrested and has been charged with grevious bodily harm. Christopher O’Neill (23) of the same address appeared in court on Friday morning.A post mortem examination on the baby is to take place in the coming days.The BBC reports that defence lawyer for O’Neill said that the child had been in some sort of medical distress when the 23-year-old had taken action to try to help her.
SHANE FILAN’S MEGA, mega mansion (complete with dance studio, pond and five acres of land) has gone on the market.Located in the famed Yeats County, Castledale is going for just €990,000, a steal when compared to the €3 million it cost to build the five bed, six bath house in 2004.“Finished to the highest specification”, according to the estate agent Sherry Fitzgerald Draper, you’ll get a piano area, snooker room, nursery, cinema room, gym room, a garage with three double doors and private, fully landscaped grounds for your buck.Filan moved to Surrey, England with his wife and three children and was declared bankrupt there last June.Here’s what the former Westlife pad looks like:
ALEX FERGUSON IS this morning meeting the press for the first time since Tuesday night’s Champions League exit to Real Madrid.In the wake of that controversial defeat, the Manchester United manager refused to face the press, and since then the newspapers have been full of talk of Wayne Rooney’s apparently imminent exit.But this morning, in his routine Friday morning conference, Ferguson insists the England striker will be at Old Trafford next season.Fergie has also banned two newspapers and they won’t be readmitted until ‘they apologise’ according to Dan Roan of the BBC.“He will be here next year, you have my word on that,” Fergie said of Rooney, who was dropped for the match on Tuesday. “There is no issue between myself and Wayne Rooney. To suggest we don’t talk is nonsense.“He understood the reasons completely. Tactically we got it right. We don’t always but we did then. There are no issues with the player and he will be involved on Sunday. I left out Shinji Kagawa after he scored a hat-trick. I thought I would get more stick for that.”Ferguson is still bitter about the circumstances of Tuesday’s defeat, in particular the dismissal of Nani, on which the entire contest turned.“It is hard to keep your faith when you have things like that,” said Ferguson.More to followWhich of you weirdos is going to buy Ronaldo’s wrecked car on Ebay?
Starting from 7am, and running until 7pm this evening, volunteers for Special Olympics Ireland are shaking collection buckets in more than 200 towns across the country.The money raised will be used to ensure that Special Olympics Ireland can continue to realise its promise of offering people with an intellectual disability the opportunity to participate in sport in their area.Former Munster and Ireland rugby player David Wallace joined the Special Olympics board of directors last October, five months after injury forced him from the professional game earlier than he would have liked.Having previously acted as an ambassador for Down’s Syndrome Ireland, the Irish Rugby Union Players Association got him in touch with S.O Ireland and a working relationship was established. Wallace visited University of Limerick late last year, where one of the organisations 400 nationwide clubs operates, and spent some time discussing health and nutrition with the athletes.Impressing a PresidentWallace attended some of the squad’s floorball matches during the Winter Special Olympics in South Korea. Last week, he had to honour of accompanying many of the athletes to an audience, at Áras an Uachtaráin, with President Michael D Higgins.Michael D Higgins and his wife, Sabina, greet the Special Olympians and David Wallace.“The squad had some great success over in South Korea,” said Wallace, “and it was fantastic for them to get such a warm welcome back. The President told me how proud he was of their achievements and I couldn’t have agreed with him more. They’re a very inspiring bunch.”The next big event on the horizon is the Special Olympics Ireland Games, which take place in Limerick next year, followed by the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles.Today’s nationwide bucket collections is the organisation’s biggest fundraiser of the year, something that Wallace says will hopefully maintain the grassroots level of clubs, athletes, volunteers and aspiring competitors. He told TheScore.ie:When I first came on board, I was surprised by how vast it is. There are 11,000 athletes and 25,000 volunteers at some 400 clubs in towns and villages across Ireland. The amount of work that goes on at local, provincial and national level is amazing.“Sport brings them such a massive outlet and allows them a great way of expressing themselves. It is not just sport. There is a social aspect to it as well and so many gain a sense of confidence and purpose in the training and competitions.”You can support Special Olympics by donating to one of the on-street collectors or by texting the word SPECIAL to 50300 to donate €2 [100% of the donation will go to S.O Ireland].For more information check the Facebook page or follow then on Twitter @SOIreland.Call me maybe? Joe Schmidt expects Ireland decision soonArctic Monkeys, Fatboy Slim and Bjork for Electric Picnic 2013 IRELAND CAME TOGETHER in the summer of 2003 to welcome the Special Olympics World Games to its shores.Spectacular opening and closing ceremonies were held at Croke Park; U2, Colin Farrell, Westlife, Nelson Mandella and Jon Bon Jovi joined the party and events took place at host cities the length and breadth of the country.Risteard Pierse wrote an inspirational feature, entitled She can be in the Special Olympics, for the Irish Independent, following the games, about his daughter Sophie, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. 10 years on from that summer and the dream lives on for thousands of athletes across the country.
Joanne O’Malley is founder of Mindfulness and Compassion, set up in response to people’s need for an antidote to stress and a way of living fuller, more alive, wholehearted and balanced lives. More info: www.mindfulnessandcompassion.ie email@example.com. Tel 087 961 5901Column: How practising mindfulness can help your work life How is this relevant to you?Let’s look at how we live now, always rushing, multi-tasking, distracted. Our consciousness is continually absorbed by compulsive thinking and doing, so we are anxious, angry, continually dissatisfied and grasping for the next thing, which is never enough. Individualism is valued above all both in the ‘digital’ and the ‘real’ world so we have become insulated, socially disconnected, unable to empathise with others so narcissism, prejudice and bullying are at epidemic proportions.Research now shows that high self-esteem has a downside. A person needs to be ‘above average’ just to feel OK. Of course, if you think about it that is not realistic. How can we all be above average? It shows that our self image and views about ourselves have to be inflated, so we feel the need to puff ourselves up or put others down just to feel OK. And not only do we not see ourselves clearly but as self-esteem is contingent on success, we feel good when things are going well but in times of difficulty we may be confused and harshly self-critical. All of which is at odds with the promise of self-esteem – to feel good about yourself?What is Compassion Training?Compassion Training is not self-development. It begins with the recognition that we are good enough as we are. Training is about cultivating an inner attitude towards both self and others, not a doing but an opening, ‘letting go’ of the constructed self image and the layers of self deception, pretence, avoidances, denials and uncovering / reconnecting with what is deepest in ourselves.Kristin Neff who has led much of the research in this area says that ‘self-compassion’ trumps ‘self-esteem’. Treating ourselves with kindness and gentleness is a courageous mental attitude that stands up to harm, including the hurt that we inflict on ourselves through self-criticism, isolation and obsessive rumination when things go wrong. Self-compassion provides emotional resilience, allowing us to admit shortcomings, forgive ourselves, and respond with care and respect.Why do people ‘train’?We don’t go out in a boat to learn how to sail on a day when there is a storm. We learn on a nice, fine day when there is a gentle breeze and we practise and practise until we develop skills so we are comfortable and capable of sailing whatever the conditions. Similarly, Mindfulness and Compassion Training requires time and space to be cultivated. Our current culture is ‘always on’ and so much turbulence disables our ability to build emotional strength.When we come into the present moment and cultivate alert awareness, it simplifies things, we discover stillness, peace, spaciousness inside. There is a subtle shift from self involvement as we become liberated from the story of ‘me’ to a deeper more real accepting sense of self, imperfections and all. So, we let go of the false sense of self (constructed identity) and embody who we already are. This is a huge relief and, paradoxically, we discover that what is deepest in us, our true nature.Why compassion?If you want others to be happy, practise compassion. If you want to be happy, practise compassion.– Dalai Lama ‘Kicking ass’ comes at a cost. The vain pursuit of selfish happiness is bound to fail because we are not autonomous, separate human beings. Compassion creates a ‘win-win’ situation and is the best way to succeed in life because it is attuned to the interconnected nature of all beings.Even Einstein recognised that our experience of ourselves as separate is ‘a kind of optical delusion of consciousness’:This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.– Albert Einstein IF I WAS to ask – what is your interpretation of compassion and can it be taught, what would you answer?The narrow definition of ‘compassion’ is the feeling of concern that arises when we encounter pain and suffering, our own as well as others’. It involves the motivation to relieve this suffering and is natural in everyone, though often not acted upon. In a wider sense, compassion is the most transforming energy in the universe with all the ingredients that everyone longs for; the embodiment of kindness, of caring, of loving. It is a skill that can be enhanced with practise, it’s not impractical or touchy-feely but a courageous state of mind and heart, ‘the path of the warrior’, with far-reaching consequences in terms of how we experience ourselves, the world and reality.Cynics may dismiss compassion as impractical and illogical, but scientists are now mapping its biological basis and deep evolutionary purpose as crucial to survival. Research shows that compassion can improve physical and mental health, well-being, happiness, success and interpersonal relationships.
5 apps worth downloading this week (if you have a smartphone) THEY FIT IN a pocket, have batteries that last all week and are almost indestructible: old-school Nokias, Ericssons and Motorolas are making a comeback as consumers, tired of fragile and overly-wired smartphones, go retro.Forget apps, video calls and smiley faces, handsets like the Nokia 3310 or the Motorola StarTec 130 allow just basic text messaging and phone calls.But demand for them is growing and some of these second-hand models are fetching prices as high as 1,000 euros a piece.“Some people don’t blink at the prices, we have models at more than €1,000. The high prices are due to the difficulty in finding those models, which were limited editions in their time,” said Djassem Haddad, who started the site vintagemobile.fr in 2009.Haddad had been eyeing a niche market, but since last year, sales have taken off, he said.Over the past two to three years, he has sold some 10,000 handsets, “with a real acceleration from the beginning of 2013″.“The ageing population is looking for simpler phones, while other consumers want a second cheap phone,” he said.Among the top-sellers on the website is the Nokia 8210, with a tiny monochrome screen and plastic buttons, at €59.99.Ironically, the trend is just starting as the telecommunications industry consigns such handsets to the recycling bins, hailing smartphones as the way ahead.Finnish giant Nokia, which was undisputedly the biggest mobile phone company before the advent of Apple’s iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy, offloaded its handset division to Microsoft this year after failing to catch the smartphone wave.But it was probably also the supposedly irreversible switch towards smartphone that has given the old school phone an unexpected boost.‘Back to basics’For Damien Douani, an expert on new technologies at FaDa agency, it is simply trendy now to be using the retro phone.There is “a great sensation of finding an object that we knew during another era – a little like paying for vintage sneakers that we couldn’t afford when we were teenagers”, Douani told AFP.There is also “a logic of counter-culture in reaction to the over-connectedness of today’s society, with disconnection being the current trend”.“That includes the need to return to what is essential and a basic telephone that is used only for making phone calls and sending SMSes,” he added.It is also about “being different”.Today, everyone has a smartphone that looks just like another, while ten years ago, brands were much more creative.It is a mostly high-end clientele that is shopping at French online shop Lekki, which sells “a range of vintage, revamped mobile phones”.“Too many online social networks and an excess of email and applications, have made us slaves to technology in our everyday life. But Lekki provides a solution, allowing a return to basic features and entertainments,” it said on its website.A Motorola StarTac 130 – a model launched in 1998 – and repainted bright orange was recently offered for €180, while an Ericsson A2628 with gold coloured keys for €80.“We have two types of profiles: the 25- to 35 year-olds attracted by the retro and offbeat side of a telephone that is a little different, and those who are nostalgic for the phone that they used when they were younger,” said Maxime Chanson, who founded Lekki in 2010.“Some use it to complement their smartphone, but others are going for the vintage, tired of the technology race between the phone makers.”- © AFP, 2014Read: What you need to know about saving on the cloud
For Pekerman’s men to surrender top spot in the group Japan and Ivory Coast, playing Greece, would have had to win by margins large enough to overturn the four-goal advantage Colombia held over the African side.Even when the rain stops football fans — including supporters of teams who are good at the game — struggle to adopt a sunny disposition. The calmest people in the crowd were two ladies in yellow ponchos sat with a quiet brown dog, but that may have been because they had no view of the screen from their camping chairs. The ladies are all about the knock-out stages. Source: Adelle HughesNot long after the jugglers had put their batons and lighter fluid away Rodriguez had laid two goals on a plate for Jackson Martinez, before the Monaco man himself completed the rout with a delightful jink and dink.By the time 43-year-old Faryd Mondragon replaced David Ospina in goal to become the oldest player in World Cup history it was raining again. On a changeable day in Bairro do Recife beer was now falling from the sky as the Colombian invaders toasted their progress to a second round encounter with Uruguay in the Maracana.In the food court they may have been ordering celebratory ice creams but out in the fan fest one man was contemplating a trip to Rio de Janeiro.“I will have to ask my bank account,” he said, as beer rained down upon him.Breakfast at Bebeto’s: All you need to know from last night’s World Cup action‘Nothing happened’, snaps Uruguay’s Lugano as FIFA promise investigation into Suarez ‘bite’ Source: Adelle Hughes.“We are trying to colonise Brazil,” was one jubilant gentleman’s reasoning after watching James Rodriguez inspire Colombia to a 4-1 win over a technically proficient if unthreatening Japan in Cuiaba.Another explanation might be the cheap flights available between his homeland and Recife, northern Brazil’s hub airport.The hordes did not bring the weather with them. Even after our hearty lunch of meat skewers, beef sandwiches and cheese pastries we were stood in front of the big screen, shivering in the wind and rain.To take our minds off the weather we danced, we cheered and we drank the cans of beer being sold out of ice-filled shopping bags by entrepreneurial teenagers.Good FridayTo the howls of those behind them some soft souls tried to open their umbrellas. The wind instantly snapped the brollies out of shape, to the cheers of those behind the same soft souls.Stood in the elements, drinking cans and watching sport in a town square. A fan fest in these conditions gives us a glimpse of what we would all be doing if the All-Ireland finals were played on Good Friday.Eventually the rain gave way to goals and, surrounded by our new South American friends, we exulted at Juan Guillermo Cuadrado’s penalty and slapped our foreheads as Shinji Okazaki was allowed to head home with the last touch of the first half. Source: Mikey Stafford.The interval gave more entrepreneurs, of the juggling variety, an opportunity to earn some of our spare change but Colombian nerves were still on edge. If we had ventured back to the food court we might have seen pizza slices pushed away by anxious wig-wearing fans. Safe from the elements but too nervous to eat. Mikey Stafford reports from RecifeMAYBE THEY WOULD have braved the elements for a first choice Colombia team, but there they sat in the shopping centre food court waiting for their beloved “Los Cafeteros” to kick off against Japan.The Recife fan fest was yards away, they would not even have had to walk — three escalators would have carried them out into the square — but Jose Pekerman had made eight changes for their final Group C match and they were happy to sit nervously in their red, yellow and blue wigs, among the dining Brazilian families.Outside in the rain it was all kicking off.Colombia will not play in Brazil’s easternmost city and could only have done so in a second round game this Sunday if they had finished as runners-up in Group C. From the moment they riddled Greece in their first game that never looked likely, yet the fan fest was packed with nervous Colombians mingling with relaxed Mexico fans, who had seen their team secure their passage at Arena Pernambuco 24 hours earlier.The sizeable clusters of Japanese could be explained by the fancied Asians playing their opening game in Recife before fatally drawing with Greece in nearby Natal, yet no one could offer an explanation for the huge numbers of Colombians, neither in the fan fest nor the nearby food court.
EVERY WEEKDAY EVENING, TheJournal.ie brings you the five things you need to know before you head out the door.1. #BREAKING: A Malaysian passenger flight has been ‘shot down’ close to Ukraine’s border with Russia. There were 295 people on board.2. #APOLOGY: The PSNI has apologised to the families of soldiers killed in the Hyde Park bombing for ‘failing to secure justice‘. It follows the publication of a report which reviewed ‘on the run’ letters.3. #CUTS: Microsoft has announced plans to cut 18,000 jobs from its global workforce. These will take place as the company integrates recently-acquired Nokia.4. #INDUSTRIAL ACTION: Siptu has criticised Greyhound after the company contacted residents in Dublin this morning claiming that the picketers were disrupting services.5. #SUMMER HOLLIERS: The Dáil has risen for the summer. TDs will now focus on constituency work until 17 September.
VETERAN CHANNEL FOUR news journalist Jon Snow has recently returned from a spell in Gaza, where he reported on the conflict between Palestine and Israel.His personal testimony about what he witnessed there has seen a huge reaction online.Here it is, in full: Source: Channel 4 News/YouTubeRead: Human remains disturbed as missile strike hits Gaza cemetery>
THE ISRAELI ARMY has given a first indication it is ending operations in parts of Gaza, while continuing to bombard other areas ahead of fresh truce talks in Cairo.Meanwhile in Dublin, thousands attended a march from the Garden of Remembrance to the Department of Foreign Affairs, organised by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC).Protests took place in other towns and cities across the country.
The LG Optimus C is a popular budget Android handset that is available on a number of wireless networks in one shape or form. According to Engadget, the latest provider to start shipping the handset is Cricket Wireless, who may not be as well known as say Sprint or AT&T, but they still provide respectable PAYG and monthly contract options.The only snag with Cricket Wireless is the availability, as the last time we checked their wireless service it was limited in terms of coverage. For this reason, it’s best to enter your zip code into their website’s availability checker to see if you can qualify.As for the phone spec, it manages to pack in a 3.2” HVGA screen and a 600Mhz CPU, which we believe is based on an ARM 11 processor, alongside a Adreno 200 GPU (so expect to run some older games, but not the latest ones, like Angry Birds Seasons).Additionally, you get a 3.2MP camera, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity. However, the biggest surprise of all is that its Android 2.2 operating system is upgradeable to Gingerbread, something which a lot of the more expensive handsets can’t manage.In terms of cost, Cricket Wireless is offering the device at $199.99, but with a $20 web discount and a $50 mail in offer. This brings the price down to $129.99 and is without a long term contract. Sadly, there is a requirement that you have to sign up for a $55 a month unlimited Android plan to begin with, which of course makes the deal seem less tempting.To make up for this the above contract does provide unlimited US long-distance calls, unlimited anytime and weekend/evening minutes (nationwide roaming is available as an add-on), plus unlimited text and web (with a 1GB fair usage policy and speed reduction if you go over).Read more at Cricket Wireless via Engadget
Way back in October of 2010, Microsoft slipped up and posted an Angry Birds icon on the Windows Phone 7 site. At that time, Rovio was still playing its cards close to its chest, and was hoping to keep its plans to port the uber-popular casual game to WP7 hush-hush until it was ready to make an official announcement.But that’s the past, and Rovio finally came through and landed Angry Birds in the Marketplace. Windows users can play the game on their desktops, too — using either a native app or the web version, designed as a Google Chrome Web app.AdChoices广告If merely playing Angry Birds isn’t enough for you and you’re looking for another way to show off your affinity for the game’s cutesy cast, Microsoft has a suggestion: install the official Angry Birds theme for Windows 7!The theme includes five wallpapers — one of the pigs hunkered down inside a structure, two full-screen birds, and two pigs (one slightly battered). It’s kinda of shame that Microsoft and Rovio didn’t cram in a few more images — the .themepack weighs in at under two megs, and I certainly wouldn’t have minded waiting a few more seconds for a larger package to download.The best part of the theme, however, isn’t the background images. No, it’s the sound scheme, chock full of .wav files that you’ll recognize as in-game sounds. It’s been a long, long time since I bothered using a sound scheme in Windows, but the Angry Birds theme is fun enough that I’ll be sticking with it for the time being.To install the Angry Birds theme on your Windows 7 computer, head on over to the Personalization Gallery and double-click the .themepack file when your download completes. Windows 7 will automatically activate it for you.
Solar cell research continues to increase their efficiency and produce more free energy per square inch. However, the fact solar cells aren’t transparent means adding them to our power hungry gadgets is difficult. We can put them on the back of devices, but they are usually facing away from sunlight. Transparency would allow them to become part of displays as well as enabling every window to become an energy generator.Researchers at UCLA are attempting to solve this problem by creating a new type of visibly transparent solar cell, and they’ve managed to develop one good enough for use on windows.The new transparent cell works by harvesting solar energy from infrared rather than visible light. It does this by utilizing a silver nanowire-metal oxide composite conducting film that is almost transparent. The end result is a new polymer solar cell you can see through, but does have a slight impact on the visible light passing through it, much like sunglasses or tinted glass does.As for how good this transparent cell is at harvesting solar energy, it is currently only managing a 4% efficiency, but that’s sure to be improved through further development.A transparency limited to 66% and low efficiency will stop this cell being considered for integration with a touchscreen, but it certainly makes sense to add to a window or other non-interactive glass surfaces. The cell is also thought to be quite cheap to manufacture due to its use of a composite electrode made from a mixture of silver nanowire and titanium dioxide nanoparticles.The transparent solar cell still has a way to go before being considered for commercialization, but I hope it isn’t too long before I can purchase some clear sheets to stick to my windows and start generating free energy.Read more at UCLA and ACS Nano, via Engadget
Apple has purchased biometrics and embedded security company AuthenTec for $365 million, and it’s a noteworthy deal for a number of reasons. One of the most talked about involves Apple’s favorite legal combatant, Samsung.It turns out that Samsung and AuthenTec signed an agreement just ten days ago. The deal allows Samsung to integrate AuthenTec’s QuickSec Mobile VPN on its Android devices. It’s clearly a move to bolster Samsung’s enterprise credibility — something Apple was no doubt considering when it began pursuing the 14-year-old company.While Apple dominates the consumer mobile market, it’s still working on becoming a major player in enterprise settings. Despite all its struggles, RIM continues to be a dominant force there, and Apple will be counting on the AuthenTec acquisition to help turn the tables. But mobile device security is important to consumers, too, especially when it comes to things like digital payments.iOS 6 is also bringing Passbook, a digital wallet that Apple no doubt wants to ensure is secure as possible. It’s initially going to store everything from loyalty cards to boarding passes, but Apple has big plans for Passbook — and AuthenTec’s expertise in mobile security will help the company achieve its goals.Another interesting tie-in is this patent application from 2009. It’s for a more secure device unlocking system, something integrated AuthenTec sensors could no doubt bring to future iOS devices. Apple’s never been big on slapping unnecessary adornments on its products, so it’s unlikely that they have plans to use AuthenTec’s fingerprint recognition technology.More at TechCrunch
We’re at least a couple of months away from Microsoft divulging the official price of the Xbox One, but that hasn’t stopped a few retailers letting you pre-order one with a “to be announced” price.Amazon Germany is being a bit more speculative, however, and has listed the next-gen console with a price point of 599 euros.That converts to about US$770, which is way too expensive for the majority of gamers to consider. But you have to remember this is a guess on Amazon’s part, and listing a price below what Microsoft has in mind could see customers complain if the e-tailer tries to increase it closer to launch. It’s much better to price too high and then happily inform those who pre-order that the price has dropped in a few months.Both the Xbox One and PS4 have switched to an x86 platform, and both Sony and Microsoft are buying major components of the machine from a single vendor: AMD. Sony has also stated that we definitely won’t see a major loss made for every console sold like with the PS3 when it launched. But what price will they most likely launch at?The sweet spot price that keeps getting mentioned is $399, which would put the Xbox One at just over double the Xbox 360 and $150 more than the current PS3 price. But there’s another factor to consider here: competition. It seems likely both consoles are going to launch within a few weeks of each other, and whichever machine has the lower price will obviously have a sales advantage.With that in mind, we could see a bit of a pre-release price war, with both companies deciding to keep the hardware profit margins to a minimum in order to come in lower than their main rival. We could therefore see either machine as low as $350. How about $324.99? Surely not.On the flip side, that speculative $399 price point could be too low and both machines may be aiming for the $499 mark. But would gamers stomach such a price in today’s economy?
Last week I discussed how 4K gaming was to blame for Call of Duty: Ghosts being a 50GB install on PC. 50GB is a lot of data if you decide to download the game, but not so much in terms of hard drive space when you consider terabyte-sized drives are the norm now. Even so, not many of us have 4K monitors to take advantage of those huge, detailed textures, let alone the hardware to allow the games to run at a decent framerate.4K gaming is the future, though, for PC gamers at least. And game review website Thirty IR is keen to show us how good it looks. To do this they’ve been uploading videos of the Battlefield 4 Beta to YouTube running at a 4K resolution. You can even choose to watch them in “Original HD” on YouTube if you have a monitor capable of hitting such resolutions.Running the game at 4K and a solid 60fps requires your rig has some serious CPU and graphics processing power available. Thirty IR’s setup includes a Core i7 3970X running at 4.8GHz, 32GB of Corsair Dominators Platinum RAM clocked at 2,133MHz, and four EVGA GTX Titan graphics cards running in 4-way SLI. The monitors being used are three Dell U3011 30-inch units at a res of 5160 x 2560. The game is actually being played above 4K resolution at 4800 x 2560, but the recording is at 4K (4096 x 2160).The thing to remember about this video is that at the moment it’s one of those “that would be nice to have” situations for a lot of gamers. But then in a few years from now it will be the common setup in an affordable gaming rig. It’s also a reminder that it’s not going to take very long for the next-gen consoles released next month to be easily outpaced by PC hardware again. And hopefully developers continue to take advantage of that performance rather than just shipping the console versions on PC.