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Fri, 09 May 2008 01:48:34 GMT

SFIFF Dispatch

SFIFF Dispatch
Craig Phillips on a film that screens only once - tonight! - at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

With his second feature, Jonathan Levine, New York native and once an assistant to writer-director Paul Schrader, captures his home town''s vibe expertly in the uneven but ultimately winning little coming of age dramedy The Wackness. The film takes a bit of time to find its stride - but it does when Levine lets go of some of his filmic pretenses and lets the characters take hold.

Josh Peck, continuing his graduation from teen TV star to respected actor, is wholly believable and empathetic as Luke, a sad sack who has always felt a bit out of his peers'' social circles. His parents are fracturing and on the brink of bankruptcy, so to earn some extra green he sells, well, green weed (hidden in an ice cream cart), and even trades some of it to a therapist in exchange for counseling sessions. These scenes will not remind anyone of Ordinary People.

Posted by: dwhudson      Read more     Source


January 15, 2007, 8:59 PM CT

Rca Small Wonder Digital Camcorder

Rca Small Wonder Digital Camcorder
One of my favorite toys at CES this year is the RCA Small Wonder, a digital camcorder which is "EZ," to quote the packaging. With this "point-and-shoot" MPEG-4 digital camcorder, there are no tapes or discs to buy, and the device runs on standard AA batteries, meaning that you won't be trying to shoot a family milestone and realize you forgot to charge the battery. At 60 minutes of standard-quality recording time (30 minutes of high-quality video), you're not going to run out of time, either.

The lovely "booth babe" (though they prefer to be called model spokespersons, thanks very much) let me record her demo-ing the product and then plug it into the computer through the built -in USB port arm and instantly e-mail to my editor, Hoyun, who probably wondered what the hell she was watching.

Keeping the younger market , ie children, they've made it as easy as turning on the power button and pressing the red "record" button. You can play back clips on the camcorder's 1.5-inch LCD screen, and unwanted clips can be deleted with the touch of the "delete" button. The EZ105 connects directly to a TV set for immediate viewing, for example when you've got the grandparents visiting. Best yet, there's no software to install (software is built into the camera itself.) At $129, they are going to sell a lot of these.........

Posted by: Betsy      Read more         Source


November 10, 2006, 4:16 AM CT

Audio Telescope Heeds Call Of The Wild Birds

Audio Telescope Heeds Call Of The Wild Birds Audio telescope" system uses three separate processing boards to digitize the input from an array of 192 microphones.
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Intelligent Automation, Inc. (Rockville, Md.) and the University of Missouri-Columbia have modified a NIST-designed microphone array to make an "audio telescope" that could help airports more efficiently avoid costly and hazardous bird-aircraft collisions by locating and identifying birds by their calls. The prototype system was described in a recent paper.*.

From chirps to trills, bird song commonly is soothing and restful--unless you're a pilot. Collisions with birds in flight, called "bird strikes," caused over $2 billion worth of damage to aircraft in the United States or U.S. aircraft abroad, since 1990, as per statistics from the Federal Aviation Administration. Worldwide, wildlife strikes --mostly birds--have destroyed more than 163 aircraft and killed more than 194 people since 1988.

Airports fight back with X-band radar and infrared cameras to monitor birds, but neither technology can distinguish between different kinds of birds, especially in bad weather. That's important because not all birds are equally hazardous to aircraft, and shutting down runways because of the proximity of unknown birds imposes its own costs in delays and increased aircraft congestion. The "audio telescope" proposed by NIST and IAI scientists is a one-meter-diameter concentric array of 192 microphones that would be mounted parallel to the ground to listen to the skies. By comparing the arrival time of sounds at different microphones, the array can determine the direction from which the sound came, even distinguishing simultaneous sounds coming from different directions. The scientists adapted mathematical algorithms designed to allow speech recognition systems to identify different speakers in order to distinguish different species by their calls. The system can tell a Canada goose from a gull or a hawk within a couple of seconds.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink         Source


October 1, 2006, 8:21 PM CT

Compulsive Buying In Women And Men

Compulsive Buying In Women And Men
Do you think women are more prone to compulsory buying? Then you are wrong!

Contrary to popular opinion, nearly as many men as women experience compulsive buying disorder, a condition marked by binge buying and subsequent financial hardship, according to new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

"The widespread opinion that most compulsive buyers are women may be wrong," the researchers wrote in their paper, which would be published in the recent issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Senior author Lorrin Koran, MD, emeritus professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said the study is the first large, nationwide effort to assess the prevalence of the disorder. The study found that more than one in 20 adults in the United States suffers from the condition.

People who have compulsive buying disorder - sometimes called compulsive shopping disorder - are often struck with an irresistible, intrusive and often senseless impulse to buy. It is common for sufferers to go on frequent shopping binges and to accumulate large quantities of unnecessary, unwanted items. Sufferers often rack up thousands of dollars in debt and lie to their loved ones about their purchases. The consequences can be bankruptcy, divorce, embezzlement and even suicide attempts.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink         Source


September 21, 2006, 4:33 AM CT

Business travel costs surging

Business travel costs surging
Business travel costs are going higher and higher!

Business air travel costs have hit their highest levels in nearly five years as carriers regain pricing power, a survey showed on Tuesday.

American Express Business Travel said its survey of travel managers showed US domestic one-way airfares increased 13% from a year ago to an average of $247. This was the highest since late 2001.

The survey found higher costs in all categories, including economy-class tickets and international travel.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink         Source


September 19, 2006, 10:22 PM CT

Cancun Mexico

Cancun Mexico
Perched at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula along the Caribbean coast, Cancun is the ideal place for a Mexican getaway if your idea of the perfect vacation involves spending hours spread out on a gorgeous beach with the sun radiating above you. With its sparkling white sand and stunning blue waters, the beaches in Cancun can entertain and enthrall you with their sheer beauty and wondrous sights. Throw in the lively nightlife and abundant water activities, and you have the makings of a relaxing, entertaining vacation along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

Eventhough Cancun is typically known as a popular Spring Break destination for high school seniors and college students, there is more to this tourist resort than a low drinking age. Whether you are looking to soak in the heat of the summer (late June is blazing hot) or the gentle warmth of the off season, there is a perfect time for you to enjoy all this bustling tourist city has to offer.

The beginning of summer is possibly the best time to see Cancun so you can avoid the rowdy students and the hurricane season. When you arrive, make a beeline for the beaches on the northern side, which is also where you will find the exclusive and expensive hotel zone. This area has upscale hotels, restaurants, and bars that back up to pristine beaches on the ocean such as Playa Langosta, Playa Tortugas, and Playa Las Perlas. Playa Las Perlas is great for swimming and sunning while the other two beaches are great for water sports such as jet skiing, scuba diving, snorkeling, and parasailing.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink         Source


August 25, 2006, 3:59 PM CT

Aphrodite's Rock

Aphrodite's Rock
Legend has it that Aphrodite the Greek goddess of beauty and love was created from the foam of the sea surrounding the beautiful island of Cyprus. Aphrodite's Rock is a massive rock that marks the spot, which she emerged from.

Aphrodite's Rock is located on the south coast of the Island near Pafos, which is home to one of the most magnificent beaches in the world. The Rock is held in great respect by the natives of Cyprus, who think that it wields divine powers.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink


August 25, 2006, 2:42 PM CT

Crete A Legendary Island

Crete A Legendary Island
Crete is the largest of the a number of Greek islands. It is the home of one of the world's oldest civilizations. It was first inhabited in 6000 B.C. It was on this island that the ancient Minoan civilization flourished thousands of years ago.

The main tourist attractions can be found on the north coast of the island. The north coast also contains the majority of the Cretan cities.

The south coast features a number of isolated beaches. The interior region of Crete is very mountainous and most tourists do not venture into these areas due to bad roads and also because of the lack of English speaking guides. However, the Greek people of this region are very friendly and hospitable.

The months of June, July and August offers the best beach weather. This time period is also the peak tourist season. The best time period to visit Crete is during the Spring and Autumn months when the island experiences mild, comfortable temperatures and when the island is not as crowded by tourists.........

Posted by:       Permalink         Source


August 19, 2006, 5:12 PM CT

Pyramid Shaped Watermelon

Pyramid Shaped Watermelon
Pink Tentacle has translated an article from the Asahi Shinbun reporting on pyramid shaped watermelons being cultivated in Nara.

Everybody's seen the ridiculously overpriced square watermelons ($100 US), so now you can add pyramids to the scheme. According to the article, the grower plans to try shaping "gourds and bottles" out of watermelon next year. Can I put in a request for a car-shaped watermelon?.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink         Source


July 22, 2006, 11:42 AM CT

Unstable Ground In Mississippi Delta

Unstable Ground In Mississippi Delta
While erosion and wetland loss have become huge problems along Louisiana's coast, the land 30 to 50 feet beneath much of the Mississippi Delta has been very stable for the past 8,000 years, with low to nonexistent subsidence rates. So say georesearchers from Tulane University and Utrecht University in the Netherlands, challenging the notion that subsidence, or sinking of the earth, bears much of the blame for Louisiana's coastal geology problems.

A research team led by Tulane's Torbjorn Tornqvist suggests instead that compaction of the shallowest and most-recently formed delta sediments is the main cause of subsidence in that area.

"Our research could have major implications for rebuilding plans that are currently being debated," said Tornqvist. "Over the long term, comprehensive understanding of subsidence will better support rational coastal management and successful urban and land-use planning for all low-lying areas along the Gulf Coast".

Their findings were published online on Fri., July 21, 2006, in the journal Geology, published by the Geological Society of America.

Tornqvist and his team reconstructed the rate of sea-level rise over the past 8,000 years from three separate areas in the Mississippi Delta. Peat samples were used as sea-level indicators because peat forms as soon as water levels rise above the land surface.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink         Source


July 22, 2006, 11:34 AM CT

Kenya Wild Life

Kenya Wild Life
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Kenya is a developing East African country known for its wildlife and national parks. The capital city is Nairobi. The second largest city is Mombasa, located on the southeast coast. Tourist facilities are widely available in Nairobi, the game parks, the reserves, and on the coast. Read the Department of State Background Notes on Kenya for additional information.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Visas should be obtained in advance, eventhough airport visas are available. Travelers who opt to obtain an airport visa should expect delays upon arrival. There is a fee for the visa, whether obtained in advance or at the airport. Evidence of yellow fever immunization may be requested.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink         Source


July 22, 2006, 11:24 AM CT

Portugal - Europe's Latest It Spot

Portugal - Europe's Latest It Spot
Portugal, in Southern Europe, shares the Iberian peninsula at the western tip of Europe with Spain. Geographically and culturally somewhat isolated from its neighbor, Portugal has a rich, unique culture, lively cities and beautiful countryside. Eventhough it was once one of the poorest countries in Western Europe, the end of dictatorship and introduction of Democracy in 1974, as well as its incorporation into the European Union in 1986, has meant increased prosperity -- and increased prices for travelers.

Still, it may be one of the best value destinations on the Continent. This is because the country offers outstanding landscape diversity, due to its North-South disposition along the western shore of the Iberian peninsula. You can travel in a single day from green mountains in the North, covered with vines and all varieties of trees to rocky mountains, with spectacular slopes and falls in the Centre, to a near-desert landscape in the Alentejo region and finally to the glamorous Algarve. If you want a condensed view of European landscapes, culture and way of life, Portugal might very well fit the bill.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink         Source


July 16, 2006, 1:40 PM CT

Amazing Spain

Amazing Spain
Spain is more than bullfights, flamenco dancers and crowded beaches. It's a spectacular and diverse country, the north resembling the rolling, green hills of Ireland and the south giving you a taste of Moroccan landscapes and architecture. Its tremendous history is reflected in its prehistoric cave paintings, Moorish palaces, crumbling castles, Roman ruins, Gothic and Renaissance cathedrals as well as some very unique modern architecture. The uniqueness of Spain lies in the separate kingdoms which made up the original Spanish nation. These regions remain diverse in their language, culture, cuisine and art. These regions include: Andalucía, Aragon, Asturias, Basque Country, the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands, Cantabria, Castilla La Mancha, Castilla Leon, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, La Rioja, Madrid, Murcia, Navarra and Valencia. Areas of interest are not limited to each region, here are some highlights:.

Beaches

Excellent and quiet beaches can be found near Malaga, Huelva and Almería in the south as well as near the coasts of La Manga, Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria and Euskadi. If you do enjoy extremely developed resort towns, there are plenty of crowded beaches on the Costa de la Luz and the Costa del Sol. Interesting is the harbour of Almerimar with cosy bars, just south of El Ejido (Almeria).........

Posted by: Lee      Permalink         Source


July 16, 2006, 11:42 AM CT

Alexandria The City Of Legends

Alexandria The City Of Legends
Alexandria, the city of legend, is the world's gateway to the land of the Nile. Home to the great philosophers, thinkers and professers of ancient times, this great city has impacted the world more than any other city, not by force like its counterparts, Rome and Carthage, but by the ingenious power of the human mind. Founded by a young king who had conquered the known world by the time he was 30, on a breezy strip of land on the fringes of the bright blue Mediterranean Sea, this amazing city, eventhough lacking its dominance it once attained over the world, is still the most amazing city in the world's oldest tourist destination, the country of Egypt.

Alexandria is a wonderful city to just get lost. Throw away your map and walk into a back alley and witness the extreme kindness and generosity of the Egyptian people. Listen to the stories and immerse yourself into the cultures. When the day is coming to a close, follow the smell of the sea and fish back to the Corniche, Alexandria's waterfront avenue, and watch the sun glide under the sea while the waters of the harbor crash into the rocks below. Alexandria is still a city of legend, even though the city of the past is now only in the collective memory of writing and art. Don't skip Alex as so a number of tend to do. Experience it! Visit the museums, stand in the soft Egyptian sands, taste the culture and and the foods, and thank yourself for an adventure you will cherish.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


June 28, 2006, 0:03 AM CT

Boosting Cell Phone Performance

Boosting Cell Phone Performance
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and industry collaborators have developed improved methods for accurately measuring very faint thermal "noise"--caused by random motion of electrons--in electronic circuits. The technique may help improve the signal range, data rate and battery life of cell phones and other wireless communications devices.

Low background noise typically translates to better performance in electronics, such as longer ranges and clearer signals or higher information-carrying capacity. However, noise too low to measure means that circuit designers cannot tune the system for optimal performance. The NIST research focuses on CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) transistors, which are inexpensive and widely used in integrated circuits for wireless devices. Noise levels for CMOS transistors have, until now, been too low to measure accurately in much of their signal frequency range (1 - 10 gigahertz), and as a result CMOS circuits may be poorly matched to wireless transmission systems, resulting in significant signal loss.

In a collaboration with IBM Semiconductor Research and Development Center (Essex Junction, Vt.) and RF Micro Devices (Scotts Valley, Calif.), NIST has developed and demonstrated the capability to reliably measure the noise in CMOS devices before they are cut from silicon wafers and packaged. This is believed to be the first method for on-wafer noise measurements directly linked to national standards for thermal noise power. The new measurement methods were described June 12* at the IEEE Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits Symposium in San Francisco.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink         Source


June 27, 2006, 9:53 PM CT

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park
Established on January 26, 1915, Rocky Mountain National Park is a living showcase of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains. With elevations ranging from 8,000 feet in the wet, grassy valleys to 14,259 feet at the weather-ravaged top of Longs Peak, a visitor to the park has opportunities for countless breathtaking experiences and adventures.

Elk, mule deer, moose, bighorn sheep, black bears, coyotes, cougars, eagles, hawks and scores of smaller animals delight wildlife-watchers of all ages. Wildflower-lovers are never disappointed in June and July when the meadows and hillsides are splashed with botanical color. Autumn visitors can relax among the golden aspens or enjoy the rowdier antics of the elk rut (mating season).

359 miles of trail offer endless opportunities to hikers, backpackers and horseback riders. Fly fishers, bird-watchers and photographers discover the splendor that they traveled so far to find. During the winter, snowshoers and cross-country skiers revel in the white-blanketed tranquility of meadows and forests.

60 peaks rising above 12,000 feet challenge intrepid hikers and climbers. Anyone visiting between Memorial Day and late autumn can see a number of of these peaks eye-to-eye by driving over Trail Ridge Road. Topping out at 12,183 feet, this is the highest, continuous, paved road in the United States.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink


June 27, 2006, 9:51 PM CT

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park
Glacier preserves over 1,000,000 acres of forests, alpine meadows, and lakes. Its diverse habitats are home to over 70 species of mammals and over 260 species of birds. The spectacular glaciated landscape is a hikers paradise containing 700 miles of maintained trails that lead deep into one of the largest intact ecosystems in the lower 48 states.

The park contains over 350 structures listed on the National Register of Historic Sites and six National Historic Landmarks.........

Posted by: Betsy      Permalink