Monday, January 31, 2011

Too much thinking not that good

While introspection is a good thing, but too much "thinking about your thinking" might not be as beneficial as you thought.

A new study found that in people who are good at turning their thoughts inward and reflecting upon their decisions, the size of a specific region of the brain is larger than those who do not.

This act of introspection—or "thinking about your thinking"—is a key aspect of human consciousness, though scientists have noted plenty of variation in peoples' abilities to introspect.

Based on the findings, the researchers, led by Prof. Geraint Rees from University College London, suggests that the volume of gray matter in the anterior prefrontal cortex of the brain, which lies right behind our eyes, is a strong indicator of a person's introspective ability.

However, the researchers found that some people think too much about life.

These people have poorer memories, and they may also be depressed.

In addition, they say the structure of white matter connected to this area is also linked to this process of introspection.

It remains unclear, however, how this relationship between introspection and the two different types of brain matter really works.

The findings establish a correlation between the structure of gray and white matter in the prefrontal cortex and the various levels of introspection that individuals may experience.

In the future, the discovery may help scientists understand how certain brain injuries affect an individual's ability to reflect upon their own thoughts and actions.

With such an understanding, it may eventually be possible to tailor appropriate treatments to patients, such as stroke victims or those with serious brain trauma, who may not even understand their own conditions.

"Take the example of two patients with mental illness—one who is aware of their illness and one who is not. The first person is likely to take their medication, but the second is less likely. If we understand self-awareness at the neurological level, then perhaps we can also adapt treatments and develop training strategies for these patients," said one of the study's authors, Stephen Fleming from University College London.

"We want to know why we are aware of some mental processes while others proceed in the absence of consciousness. There may be different levels of consciousness, ranging from simply having an experience, to reflecting upon that experience. Introspection is on the higher end of this spectrum—by measuring this process and relating it to the brain we hope to gain insight into the biology of conscious thought," said Fleming.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011 could be Tendulkar's World Cup

"Mushy, bas ye ek hi wicket hai," bellowed Pakistan's combative wicket-keeper Moin Khan as Sachin Tendulkar arrived at the crease in the World Cup clash at Sydney in 1992. Despite the presence of other stalwarts in the team, Moin felt it prudent to alert leggie Mushtaq Ahmed about the benefits Pakistan would reap if they dismiss the then 18-year-old Tendulkar early. That Pakistan couldn't and Tendulkar scored a match-winning 54, is mere statistic. What was more revealing was the attention he commanded even at such a young age.

Circa Centurion 2003, a raging Tendulkar was making a mockery of a sizeable target of 274 and a potent Pakistan bowling attack, en route to a regal 98. The knock wasn't without alarms though. While on 46, Akram deceived Tendulkar with a slower ball and the batsman checked his drive but Abdul Razzaq at mid-off jumped too late and dropped the catch. "B*****d, tereko pata hai batsmen kaun hai," was Akram's furious response to Razzaq.

Twelve years and three World Cups later, Tendulkar remained the man to get.

After graduating from a middle-order batsman to opening in ODIs, he was breaking records out of habit and had become the biggest scalp for bowlers and India's pulse. A Tendulkar ton had the potential to prompt even the most corrupt babu to work without accepting a bribe!

His legend though had started to gain root just before the 1996 World Cup came to the sub-continent for the second time. Tendulkar had just signed a $10million deal with World Tel. In the World Cup, he justified the hype and the billing, scoring the tournament's highest run tally (523 runs in 7 matches).

India's dependence on him was growing. And no where was it more prominent than in the semifinals .

Till he was at the crease, the Eden Gardens pitch appeared docile. The moment he fell for 65, the pitch metamorphosed into a minefield where every Sri Lankan bowler appeared to be hurling a bomb and India crashed out.

As the 1999 edition in England drew closer, Tendulkar had gone past Desmond Haynes' record for most centuries in ODIs. He had had by far his best year in international cricket (1998). He had gained and lost captaincy and had been introduced to injuries. An attacking and talented opening partner, Sourav Ganguly, had been unearthed along with a solid middle-order batsman in Rahul Dravid. The team's over-reliance on Tendulkar though remained a constant. But he failed to get going, barring the game against Kenya where he scored an emotional century after his father's death. Not surprisingly, India exited at the Super Six stage.

After another failed dalliance with captaincy post the World Cup, his game blossomed under the John Wright-Ganguly regime.

Success chased India and Tendulkar in the West Indies and England, but just months before the 2003 World Cup, a disastrous tour of New Zealand followed.

With Dravid being asked to keep wickets and acting as a finisher along with Yuvraj Singh and Virender Sehwag finding his feet as ODI opener, Tendulkar was asked to bat at No. 4. Although he scored runs there, he was happier at the top. Post India's loss to a second-string South African side in a warm-up game, coach Wright sought a one-on-one with Tendulkar and restored his opening spot. The Kiwi realized that a happy Tendulkar was key to India's fortunes.

Tendulkar's massive stature prompted the team management to request him to address the nation prior to the match against Zimbabwe at Harare after fans attacked players' homes and families following India's humiliating defeat against Australia in the group stage at Centurion.

His reassuring words calmed them and India's campaign was up and running. Tendulkar ended the World Cup with a mammoth 673 runs and pocketed the man-of-the-series award.

In the Chappell era, insecurity and injuries didn't get the best out of the legend and the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies proved to be a shambolic campaign.

But the pieces have been put together now. The Master, now semi-retired from the ODI game, picks and chooses his tournaments. New strokes have been added and every move he makes is with keeping in mind the World Cup.

To achieve that, he's changed a few things. The crouched stance has given way to a more upright one, easing the pressure on his back. He doesn't play pre-meditated shots. While batting in the powerplays there is no more the reluctance to play lofted strokes, an affliction he suffered from between 2005 to 2007. His bat too appears lighter and that could be a reason why he is playing more horizontal bat strokes.

2011 could be Tendulkar's World Cup. Yes, India as hosts will be under pressure and the media will keep gloating over the fact that he is close to a hundred international hundreds. But hasn't Tendulkar lived his entire life meeting expectations?

Sachin at World Cups

1992: Still only 18, Tendulkar came to grips quickly on the bouncy surfaces of Australia. He won the man-of-the-match award in back-to-back games against Pakistan and Zimbabwe in winning causes.

M: 8; Runs; 283; Hs: 84; Avg: 47.16; 50s: 3

1996: At the peak of his powers, Tendulkar mastered most bowling attacks and led the team to the semis. His counter-attacking 90 against Australia and his ton at the Kotla against Sri Lanka were absolute gems. Finished as top-run-getter.
M: 7; Runs: 523; Hs: 137; Avg: 87.16; 100s: 2; 50s: 3

1999: Came to the tournament after a lengthy injury lay-off and had to rush to India after the first match against India after his father died. He scored a hundred on return against Kenya, but wasn't his fluent self.
M: 7; Runs: 253; Hs: 140*; Avg: 42.16; 100s: 1; 50s: 0

2003: With his opening spot restored, was at his very best. His knocks against Pakistan, England and Sri Lanka were the highpoints of the edition.
M: 11; Runs: 673; Hs: 152; Avg: 61.18; 100s: 1; 50s: 6

2007: Scored a scorching 50 against Bermuda, but looked insecure and scratchy at No. 4.
M: 3; Runs: 64; Hs: 57*; Avg: 32; 50s: 1

Total: M: 36; Runs: 1796; Hs: 152; Avg: 57.93; 100s: 4; 50s: 13.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Rupee falls 13 paise against dollar

The Indian rupee depreciated by 13 paise against the dollar on Friday, as the American currency strengthened against other major currencies.

The domestic unit in early morning was trading at Rs 45.70 a dollar, 13 paise lower from the yesterday's close at the Interbank Foreign Exchange (Forex) market.

Yesterday, it snapped five-session long losing spree to close 14 paise higher at Rs 45.57/58 a dollar following a heavy dollar sale by exporters and some banks.

Dealers said dollar's gains against other currencies overseas and month-end demand for the American currency weighed on the rupee sentiment.

Meanwhile, the BSE Sensex recovered by 36.44 points at 18,720.87 points in the opening trade.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Paes-Bhupathi enter Australian Open final

Reliving their old magic, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi earned a chance to complete their Grand Slam cabinet by reaching the men's doubles final of the Australian Open on Thursday.

The third seed Indian Express, as they are known, pipped the second seed pair of Belarusian Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor of Canada 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-3 in the semifinal at Melbourne Park.

They will play against top seed American twins and double defending champions Mike and Bob Bryan in the summit clash.

The Bryan brothers eased past unseeded duo of Eric Butorac and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-3, 6-2 in 54 minutes in their semifinal.

Paes and Bhupathi decided to rejoin the forces after nine years to win that elusive Australian Open trophy, at the start of the season.

They came into Australian Open in a good nick as they clinched the Chennai Open at home.

Paes has won 12 Grand Slam titles and Bhupathi 11 in their respective careers but they have never won Australian Open men's doubles trophy.

Interestingly, Bhupathi has not won a men's doubles Grand Slam title since 2002 US Open with max Mirnyi.

Paes and Bhupathi last played together at a Grand Slam at Australian Open in 2002 when they reached the second round.

Paes and Bhupathi had to sweat a lot against Mirnyi and Nestor as both the pairs fought tooth and nail before the Indians prevailed.

There was hardly anything to separate the two teams as they broke each other twice in the opening set, which was decided through a tie-break in the favour of the Indians.

Paes and Bhupathi had their chances to clinch the issue in straight sets but squandered two breakpoints and dropped their own serve once to allow their rivals to take the match to the third set.

They did not repeat the mistake in the deciding set and converted the first available chance to open up lead and end on the right side of the result after two hours and 20 minutes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

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AR Rahman bags 2 Oscar nominations

The 83rd Academy Award nominations are out with Rahman bagging two Oscar nominations once again.

Two years back at the 81st Academy Awards, AR Rahman bagged three Oscar nominations for Slumdog Millionaire out of which he won two Oscars. When the 83rd Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday, the music maestro pleased his fans as he yet again managed to bag two Oscar nominations for his work in Danny Boyle's 127 Hours.

Rahman has been nominated in two categories this year. Best Original song for 'If I Rise' from 127 Hours and Best Original Score for 127 Hours.

Lets hope Rahman brings the coveted trophy home this year too!

Monday, January 24, 2011

SRK, Big B & Dench to work together

It cannot get any bigger or better than this! Two icons of Bollywood and a heavyweight Hollywood A-lister are coming together to support the cause of education among the underprivileged in India.

Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Judi Dench will be working in tandem to promote education among the low-income groups of the country with the sole aim that when these kids become bread-winners, they will have a better life and in turn provide better opportunities to their children.

And bringing these top actors together is none other than the Oscar-winning sound engineer Resul Pookutty. His foundation has been silently working towards bettering the socio-economic conditions of the poverty struck groups but he believes that the time has come to go top gear. "It is unimaginable that even in the 21st century there is rampant illiteracy in India. We are making our presence felt in the world and this aspect is something that should definitely be tackled. Along with economy and cultural boom, India should not be spoken as a country that is also illiteracy stricken," Resul told TOI.

He added, "Without Amitabh Bachchan's blessing, my project would have not started at all. He has helped me with funds and goodness. It is time to implement new things. Just when I was planning different things, Judi Dench came to my rescue. She had spent eight weeks in the country while shooting her Hollywood project in Rajasthan. She saw the rich and the poor and was touched by the work that we were doing."

According to Resul, Judi will play a very active role in the project. "Judi has told me to draw plans and just tell her what is to be done and she will try her level best to do more than what has been asked of her," he said. SRK's inclusion certainly bolsters the plans further. "I have met Shah Rukh while working on his movie Ra.One. I told him all about our charity that is being supported by two big luminaries and he was more than keen to support. SRK is a silent benefactor and he too will be with us in this cause," Resul added.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Laptop vs desktop

Laptops are easy to pack up and can be used anywhere. Desktop PCs are typically more powerful and offer better ergonomics but are tied to one place. The best way to decide between the two computing concepts is to consider your own needs.

'If you're not always going to be using your computer in the same place, then it makes more sense to buy a laptop,' says Bernd Rippel, team coordinator for electric products at TUV Rheinland, a German standards organization. 'If you need more power or are spending a lot of time working on the system, then you're generally going to want a stationary device.'

Examples of processing-intensive applications include video editing and high-end 3D games. Another important rule: 'Desktops are usually cheaper than a comparably equipped portable computer.'

Consumers should take comfort into consideration when choosing a machine, says Intel's Thomas Kaminski. 'Do I want to use my device only at a workstation, or will I want to use it on the couch too?' he asks. There's a reason that it's called a 'laptop.'

Both the classical desktop and so-called all-in-one devices, where all of the technology is packed into the monitor, are intended for use at a desk. Those who frequently bring their machine along to friends or family are better served with a mobile computer, Kaminski says.

When it comes to performance, there's more than just the CPU. Hard drive size, graphics and RAM must also be taken into consideration. 'The faster processors are better, it's true, but processors don't tell the whole story,' Kaminski says. 'If I'm just surfing on the internet and using Office programs, then maxing out the CPU isn't that important.'

If you plan on editing videos, though, then you'll need as much RAM as possible, as well as plenty of fast hard-drive storage.

Whether a laptop is serviceable for gaming use depends primarily on what kind of graphics technology is featured inside. Unlike with a PC, it's difficult to replace the parts inside.
If you want to play games with the laptop, then you'll need a graphics card that falls at least into the mid-line range for mobile chips, says Klaus Baasch, test editor at Chip computer magazine. For other users, a slower solution known as shared graphics which draws storage space from the computer's RAM is sufficient.

When looking to buy a computer, the question of ergonomics shouldn't be ignored. It's not a good idea to purchase a too small laptop. 'Daily work on the laptop is only fun if you're working with a 14-inch display or bigger,' says Klaus Baasch. The biggest laptops on the market come with screens boasting 15.6 inches on the diagonal.

Yet when you're dealing with a laptop, tilting the display does no more than alter the angle of viewing. Many PC monitors by contrast can be adjusted in height. The PC can also be moved in terms of monitor and keyboard placement.

None of which is available on the laptop, unless a docking station is used. They help even out some of the ergonomic deficiencies inherent to mobile computers, since docking stations can accommodate more than just monitors, keyboards and mice. In addition to connecting in other peripheral devices, a laptop set into the docking station receives power as well.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

'Facebook breaking marriages'

If you think that Facebook is a harmless way to keep in touch with friends and family, you are wrong. The social networking site is fuelling divorce epidemic.

Flirtations on the social networking site are increasingly becoming a major factor in marriage breakdowns.

Family lawyers have revealed that the problem has become so great that almost every divorce they have dealt with in the past year has involved the website.

One expert said she had dealt with 30 cases in the last nine months and Facebook had been implicated in them all.

Whilst another online law company said one in five of their divorce petitions in the past year contain references to Facebook.

Emma Patel, the head of family law at Hart Scales and Hodges Solicitors, said the site acted like a "virtual third party" in splits.

"Facebook is being blamed for an increasing number of marital breakdowns, and it is quite remarkable that all the petitions that I have seen here since May have cited Facebook one way or another," the Telegraph quoted her, as saying.

"Its huge popularity as well as the lure of sites like Second Life, Illicit Encounters and Friends Reunited are tempting couples to cheat on each other.

"Suspicious spouses have used these to spy and find evidence of flirting and even affairs, which have then led to break-ups," she said.

She said that many of divorces came after partners found "flirty messages" on the Facebook wall of their partner-and also "inappropriate suggestive chats" which spouse's can see.

The lawyer said that she urged all clients to "stay off" Facebook during divorce proceedings-as it could throw a spanner in the works of it going smoothly-especially if they post photos of new lovers.

She said: "They feel compelled to share their feelings online, and, in some cases, they not only express their stress, but also make inflammatory accusations against their partner."

James Wrigley, of Hackney, east London, said, "My girlfriend left me after finding out I had been sending Facebook messages to a girl at work.

"She got my password and read the messages and that was the end of that-four years together down the drain, but at least we hadn't got married."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Facebook said it was "tosh" that Facebook could ruin a relationship.

"It is like blaming your mobile phone or your emails.

"Does being on Facebook force you to do something-absolutely not I would say," he said.

Friday, January 21, 2011

6 To-dos of mobile number portability

After a long wait and numerous missed deadlines, mobile number portability (MNP) is finally here. Set for a nationwide roll-out today, MNP will usher in an era of new freedom for mobile subscribers in the country. The technology will allow subscribers to change their mobile service provider without the fear of losing their old mobile number.

This means users will be able to retain their old mobile number even after they decide to change their service provider. And yes, the service is available for both postpaid and prepaid customers and also on both GSM and CDMA platforms.

Here’s all about how MNP works in six simple steps.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

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Facebook really threat to Google?

A strong holiday shopping season will help Google Inc beat Wall Street's quarterly targets again, but investors may need more convincing to buy into the Internet giant's longer-term future.

Google, whose shares underperformed the market in 2010, will need to overcome past failures to get onto the social Web and local advertising, twin areas that threaten to siphon off Internet traffic, and advertising dollars.

Now, the world's top Internet company is recruiting and driving an acquisitions spree, aiming to ensure its online products remain popular as surfers turn to new services like Facebook, now the most heavily trafficked site, and wireless gadgets.

It tried to buy fast-growing online local-shopping service Groupon for $6 billion but was rebuffed, Chicago Breaking Business, a Tribune Newspaper website, and other news outlets reported.

"The key opportunity for Google in 2011 is to prove that the transition to mobile, social and local is a graceful one," said Stifel Nicolaus & Company analyst Jordan Rohan. "Google cannot be perceived to be run over by, Apple, or Facebook."

The competitive landscape will be uppermost on investors' minds given recent events at rivals, such as Apple CEO Steve Jobs' medical leave of absence and Facebook's $50 billion valuation. Google stock rose 2.5 percent on Tuesday after the surprise Jobs news.

Google has made a good start with its Android mobile operating system now on more phones than Apple's software. Investors will be eager for updates on those fronts when the world's No. 1 Internet search engine reports fourth-quarter financial results after Thursday's market close.

But the question is whether Facebook's success could start to cut into Google's business, as investors debate whether marketers will advertise on both online services, or shift advertising dollars from Google to the world's largest social network. "Facebook's the long-term competitor, not Bing," said Walter Price of RCM Capital Management, which owns Google and Microsoft shares, referring to Microsoft Corp's search engine.

Holiday cheer
Google, which has beaten Wall Street revenue expectations for the past five consecutive quarters and missed profit targets just once in that period, is expected to report net revenue of $6.06 billion for the fourth quarter, up roughly 10 percent quarter-over-quarter, with earnings per share of $7.14, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Spending on search advertising remains healthy in the United States, the company's single largest market, propping up the topline, said Kaufman Brothers analyst Mayuresh Masurekar.

Retailers and e-commerce Web sites had pumped up their spending on search advertising during the holiday to lure customers and "capture every available lead," he said.

Google's growing staff (the company added roughly 3,500 employees in the first nine months of the year) and its unpredictable capital expenditures schedule mean that earnings per share will be a wildcard, said Gleacher & Company analyst Yun Kim.

Yet as long as EPS is in-line and Google delivers strong revenue growth, investors will be appeased, he added. In October, Google's shares gained more than 10 per cent after the company beat third-quarter profit and revenue expectations.

During the post-earnings conference call in October, Google gave investors what it said was a "one-time" peek at some of its businesses beyond search, revealing that it was generating $2.5 billion in revenue from display ads on an annualized run rate, and $1 billion from its mobile business.

"They kind of gave people the confidence that even though search slows down there are levers that Google can pull to keep growing," said Kaufman's Masurekar.

Social weak spot
Google has launched a flurry of new services in recent months, including an electronic bookstore that competes with Amazon and Barnes & Noble Inc, and a Web TV service which, despite receiving lackluster initial reviews, could eventually open the door to important advertising opportunities.

Android, Google's 2-year-old smartphone operating system, has emerged as one of its strongest initiatives. More than 300,000 Android phones are sold every day, and Android ranked as the second most popular smartphone operating system in the third quarter, ahead of Apple's iOS software, used in the iPhone, according to industry research firm Gartner .

But Google has shown itself less adept when it comes to Internet social networking, where Facebook dominates. In 2010, Facebook displaced Google to become the most visited Web site in the United States, according to Experian Hitwise. And advertisers are increasingly warming to the service: according to a Goldman Sachs document, Facebook generated $1.2 billion in revenue in the first nine months of 2010.

No wonder some say Google runs the risk of becoming another Microsoft, dominant in one area but abruptly and rapidly eclipsed in fast-growing new markets by up-and-coming rivals. "Google needs to step up in social or it runs the same risk that Microsoft does of having the (stock's price-earnings) multiple degrade," said RCM Capital's Price.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Facebook giving 'access' to your mobile no, address

IT security and control firm, Sophos, has advised Facebook users to remove their addresses and phone numbers from the site, as the social network recently told developers that users' off-site contact details will now be accessible programmatically.

According to Sophos security expert, this could herald a new level of danger for Facebook users, third-party application developers are now able to access your home address and mobile phone number.

"This change isn't as drastic as it might first appear, because users will need to give permission for third-party Facebook applications to access this data," explained Graham Cluley, Senior Technology Consultant at Sophos. "But it still sounds like a recipe for disaster, given the prevalence of rogue scam applications already on Facebook - all of which benefit from apparently being blessed by the Facebook name and brand."

Facebook is already plagued by rogue applications that post spam links to users' walls, point users to survey scams that earn them commission - and sometimes even trick users into handing over their cell phone numbers to sign them up for a premium rate service. Now, rogue app developers will find it easier than ever before to gather even more personal information from users.

Sophos believes that Facebook should be making a more publicly visible effort to eliminate rogue application providers first, before opening up such valuable and easily abused personal information to its developer community."Facebook told its alleged one million app developers how to ask users for permission to access this newly liberated data late on Friday night, but we already know many users don't bother reading the small print and just click the button without thinking of the consequences," continued Cluley. "What they've failed to do is explain how Facebook will become more safety-conscious now that it has taken this controversial step."

Suggestions are flying around Twitter that users should change their mobile number to that of Facebook's US customer service line, thus ensuring that any misuse of this new feature ends up paining Facebook.

Sophos advises that all Facebook users do the following -

* Remove their address and phone number from Facebook immediately.
* Review all their Facebook privacy settings.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Beckham slams prostitute's claims

Soccer ace David Beckham has filed legal papers saying he was at his ill father's bedside on the day prostitute Irma Nici claimed she slept with him.

Beckham, who insists he had never even met Nici, has now filed a new legal document, revealing his whereabouts on the occasions she alleged to have bedded the footballer.

In court papers obtained by Britain's News of the World tabloid, which are signed by the star and dated Jan 14, 2011, Beckham states: "This trip is quite memorable to me because of my father's very serious health situation. Although it is well-known that I frequently stay at Claridge's while in London, I did not stay or otherwise set foot inside Claridge's during this trip."

The sports star also claims to have been having a therapeutic massage in a New York hotel when he is said to have first hired Nici in August 2007, reports aceshowbiz.

He also dismisses claims he phoned Nici from New York in October, 2007, in a bid to arrange a meeting - insisting, "I have reviewed my travel itinerary and I was never in New York for October 2007."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nintendo beats Microsoft in console sales

Nintendo Co's Wii edged out Microsoft Corp's Xbox 360 as the best-selling video-game console in the US after Microsoft was unable to meet demand for its Kinect motion-sensing peripheral, the companies said.

Nintendo sold more than 2.3 million Wii consoles in December, the Kyoto, Japan-based company said in a statement, citing figures from researcher NPD Group Inc. The company said it sold more than 2.5 million Nintendo DS handheld systems.

Total industry sales for the month fell 9 percent to $5.06 billion from $5.55 billion a year earlier, when Nintendo and Sony Corp cut prices of their video-game consoles, Port Washington, New York-based NPD said in a statement.

Microsoft sold 1.9 million consoles in December, the biggest one-month total for the Xbox 360, David Dennis, group product manager with Xbox, said today, citing NPD. The figures track sales in the five-week period beginning Novenber 28.

"We would have sold more had we not run out of supply in late December," Dennis said in an interview. "We air-freighted stuff in December, but you can only sell as many as you can make."

Retailers will continue to see "pockets of supply constraints" through early February, he said.

Industry sales of software fell 8 percent to $2.37 billion, while sales of accessories including Kinect and Sony's Move motion-controller jumped 10 percent to $853.2 million, NPD said.

Online sales
Including games sold or rented digitally and online, video-game sales for the year were unchanged to down 1 percent at $15.4 billion to $15.6 billion, NPD estimated.

"The increasing number of ways to acquire the content has allowed the industry to maintain total consumer spend on content as compared to 2009," Anita Frazier, an NPD analyst, said in the statement.

Xbox 360, released in November 2005, is benefiting from a June console redesign, followed by the Nov. 4 introduction of the Kinect add-on. Consumers spent $6.2 billion on Xbox hardware and software last year, more than any other console, the company said, citing NPD figures.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, has shipped more than 8 million Kinect sensors for its Xbox device, topping the company's forecasts, and now has 30 million users for the related Xbox Live online service.

NPD stopped reporting unit sales of consoles in September. The industry tracker now releases monthly revenue for video-game hardware, software and peripherals. Console makers are free to report their own unit sales.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How Future TV may look!

High-definition had a long road to fruition, coming into its own only after content that took advantage of crisper resolutions reached critical mass.

Samsung, LG and Panasonic are all set to offer third-party applications on their televisions, similar to those consumers use on phones and tablets. With so many electronics makers vying to differentiate themselves, none has yet come out as a clear leader, and several are in any case hard-pressed to make profits off televisions.

But many say ease of use will be key to promoting take-up. Sony offers a keyboard interface for its Google TV, but smartphones and tablets are hot contenders to become the new, and hopefully more intuitive, TV remote.

"People are overwhelmed by technology," said Joe Taylor, CEO of Panasonic's North America unit, which showed a tablet-style remote for its Viera Connect smart TVs at CES.

"Essentially, we want to make an intuitive device. A 70-year-old could figure out how to use it without looking at an operating guide," he said. Microsoft showed how TVs could be controlled with an LG Windows smartphone, by swiping and tilting the device to control what is shown on the big screen. Other, even more futuristic technologies are being put forward as ways for people to control their TVs, with Microsoft and Toshiba showing off hand-signal and voice-command systems.

For those who are not looking to replace their televisions, Blu-ray players from some makers are also beginning to add "smart" features, or there are separate accessories from Apple and Logitech. Another less expensive option could be a new phone from Sony Ericsson, the Experia Arc, which can be simply plugged into the TV's HDMI port, using a cellular or Wi-Fi connection to deliver content such as YouTube videos to the TV.

"Its not a full blown Google TV but it does give you access to your email and content like YouTube," said Peter Farmer, head of marketing for North America.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

'Net nannies don't stop Facebook'

A European Internet study has an instant message for parents who want to block their children from viewing social networking sites or blogs: few software programmes filter out such content.

A solid 84 percent of programmes restrict access to websites such as porn pages, according to a study released by the European Commission.

But only a "few tools" can block instant messaging services or filter out "Web 2.0" content such as blogs, forums and social networking sites.

And not all products on the market provide parental controls for smart phones and video game consoles.

Computers are no longer the only way to go online: 31 percent of children access the Internet with their phones and a quarter through platforms such as the Xbox or PlayStation, the study found.

A survey released in parallel to the study found that only a quarter of parents in the European Union use parental control software to monitor, track or filter online content.

The use of such software varies widely among parents in the 27-nation EU, from 54 percent in Britain to nine percent in Romania.

The EUKidsOnline survey was conducted in 25 countries with more than 25,000 children and one of their parents between April and August 2010.

The study on filtering software analysed 26 parental control tools for PCs, three for game consoles and two for mobile phones. It was funded by the EU's Safer Internet Programme.

"The study found that the existing software is good at filtering adult online content," the commission said in a statement.

"But there is still at least a 20 percent chance that sites with unsuitable material for children and especially those encouraging youngsters to self harm (sites promoting anorexia, suicide or self-mutilation) could pass through their filters," it said.

1st ODI: SA beats IND!

South Africa's fast bowlers addled aboriginal to set up a absolute 135-run win in the aboriginal one-day all-embracing adjoin India at Kingsmead on Wednesday.

Chasing a ambition of 290, India's hopes were finer concluded back they were bargain to 43 for four in the 11th over. Despite a half- aeon by Virat Kohli they were bowled out for 154.

"We were outplayed completely," accepted Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

"We are a ancillary that banks on a acceptable alpha and accepting wickets in duke to hunt eight or nine runs an over . . . it never happened."

Dhoni said the one-day specialists in his aggregation had been belted in their convenance opportunities because of rain.

"As we go into the alternation we will get acclimatised added and hopefully accomplish the alternation added interesting."

South African captain Graeme Smith, meanwhile, hailed 'a appealing complete' achievement in the aperture bout of a five-game series, with accurate acclaim for the bowlers.

"We were superb with the ball," he said.

Dale Steyn absolved Murali Vijay in the aboriginal over and left-arm bowler and man of the bout Lonwabo Tsotsobe best up the key wicket of Sachin Tendulkar three overs later.

Morne Morkel, who came on as aboriginal change, took two wickets in one over as the Indian batsmen bootless to appear to agreement with the clip and animation of a Kingsmead angle with a acceptability for actuality added active in the additional innings of day-night games.

Tsotsobe went on to affirmation four wickets for 31 runs, while adolescent pacemen Steyn and Morkel took two anniversary and left-arm fast bowler Wayne Parnell took one.

Hashim Amla got the South African innings off to a fast start, scoring 50 off 36 assurance with eight fours but the home side's absolute of 289 for nine was congenital about a 131-run fourth wicket affiliation amid AB de Villiers and JP Duminy.

In a abandonment from their accustomed tactics, South Africa took the batting powerplay afterwards 27 overs and it seemed to pay off as De Villiers and Duminy added 45 runs in bristles overs and affected India to use some of their more good bowlers early.

But De Villiers holed out to abysmal midwicket and Duminy was leg afore wicket back he absent an attempted about-face sweep, abrogation South Africa after a specialist batsman for the aftermost eight overs in which they were belted to 45 runs while accident four wickets.

Opening bowler Zaheer Khan took two for 44, with both his wickets advancing in the aftermost over of the innings, while Sharma's seven overs brought him two for 30.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

Sony Ericsson showcased Xperia Arc. Sporting a large 4.2-inch multi-touchscreen, Xperia Arc comes with 8.1 megapixel camera and HD video recording capability.

The phone offers upto 2.46x smart zoom, auto focus, face detection, Flash/LED, geo tagging, image stabilizer and noise suppression features. Running on Google Android 2.3, the phone is powered by 1 GHz Qualcomm processor. The phone has 512MB memory and comes with 8 GB memory card.

Connectivity features include 3.5 mm audio jack, aGPS, Bluetooth, Google Maps, HDMI, USB support and Wi-Fi.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Preity's sad to lose Pathan

Team Punjab co-owner and Bollywood star Priety Zinta said she was disappointed to lose all-rounder Irfan Pathan but glad to buy former Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist in the first session of auction for the fourth leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Saturday.

Punjab went all out to buy their former player Pathan but faced a fierce fight from Team Delhi. Punjab was in the bidding till $1.8 million before Delhi grabbed him for $1.9 million.

"Irfan is a wonderful player. He is a great swing bowler and a good batsman. He has a good temperament. He was my favourite player in the team and we wanted to have him. So, we are naturally disappointed, you don't get every player you want to buy," Priety said.

Punjab, however, are drawing solace from the purchase of Gilchrist, who led the Deccan Team to win the second edition of the league. They bought the retired Australian for $900,000.

"Gilchrist is the only reason I am smiling. Adam is an inspiring player. He is a fantastic player and he holds his nerves in a tough situation. I have not spoken to him but have exchanged text messages after we bought him," Preity said.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

IPL auction, Day 2: Venugopal Rao goes to Delhi Daredevils for $700,000, Kaif unsold

Delhi Daredevils bought middle-order batsman Venugopal Rao for $700,000 after fetching young pacer Umesh Yadav for $750,000 as the second day of auction heat up on Sunday.

Who got whom | Team Composition | Players to go under hammer

Knight Riders bought young and upcoming India pacer Jaidev Unadkat for $250,000 whereas Manpreet Gony was bought by Deccan Chargers for $290,000.

Chennai Super Kings got the Kiwi all-rounder Scott Styris and Aussie pacer Hilfenhaus for $200,000 and $100,000 respectively.

Super Kings then fetched pacers Sudeep Tyagi and Nuwan Kulasekara for $240,000 and $100,000 respectively.

CSK bought T20 World Cup 2007 hero Joginder Sharma for $150,000. Pune Warriors got South African Wayne Parnell for $160,000 whereas RCB bought India pacer Abhimanyu Mithun for $260,000.

Former India batsmen Mohd Kaif and Wasim Jaffer too failed to find any buyer for the IPL 4.

Australian all-rounder Dan Christian became the first big buy of the day as he was bought by Deccan Chargers for $900,000 after most of the players found no takers including Sanath Jayasuriya.

Australian speedster Shuan Tait was bought by Rajasthan Royals for $300,000. Kolkata Knight Riders got L Balaji for $500,000.

India pacers Munaf Patel and Vinay Kumar light up the action as Mumbai Indians spent $700,000 for Patel and Kumar went to Kochi for $475,000.

Delhi Daredevils bought Ashok Dinda and Ajit Agarkar for $375,000 and $210,000 respectively.

Second day of auction resumed on sore note as most of the players found no takers including Jayasuriya, Oram and Bopara after franchisees spend astronomical sums on Saturday.

Delhi Daredevils bought Mathew Wade for $100,000 as the cricketer became the first to be sold on Sunday.

A splurge and purge mentality restored the IPLs feel good factor on a thrilling first day of player auctions, with some of India's rising stars gleefully cashing in as demand for them went through the roof.

With franchisees looking to revamp and renew their stocks, some astronomical sums were tossed around on new faces. The litigation-hit events past few months of turmoil were forgotten.

Owners traded egos and bank balances in a dramatic, often-surprising and always eventful bidding game, churning out new heroes, mostly home-grown, and discarding some big names along the way.

India opener Gautam Gambhir was the undisputed new star as a cat-and-mouse game saw Kolkata Knight Riders emerge with the highest bid of the day, a new IPL high of $2.4m. KKR continued the spending spree with the second-highest bid of the day, a whopping $2.1m on the swashbuckling Yusuf Pathan and another $1.1m on South Africas Jacques Kallis!

Teams had a maximum of $9m to spend on, and in an indication of the sound financial health of the league, 15 new millionaires emerged out of the 88 auctioned players on Saturday.

There was heartache for fans of the older generation of cricketers too, as some greats of the modern game like Sourav Ganguly and Brian Lara were ruthlessly discarded and found no takers.

Youth, specifically Indian youth, was the buzzword. Robin Uthappa was snapped up by new entrants Sahara Pune Warriors for another $2.1 million. Rohit Sharma completed the line-up, with Mumbai Indians willing to cough up $2 million for one of India's most talented young batsmen. The fresh-faced Dhoni look alike Saurabh Tiwary hit the jackpot, picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for a cool $1.6m.

Yusuf's younger brother Irfan, out in the cold and out of the World Cup probables, didn't do too badly either, pocketing $1.9m as his new team, Delhi Daredevils, went flat out for him.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

RIM to govt: Need 2 years to provide email access

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) wants 18-24 months to address security concerns raised by Indian agencies who have been demanding access to its corporate email services, two newspapers reported.

The Economic Times and Mint cited minutes of a meeting between the company, the government and security officials held on December 29 as their source.

RIM had denied on Thursday it was planning to provide access to data transmitted through Blackberry Enterprise Server.

"RIM reaffirms that any suggestion that it is enabling, or planning to enable in any time frame, access to data transmitted through BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is both false and technologically infeasible," it had said in a statement.

The company's dealings with the government were positive and on track, it had said. India has threatened to shut off BlackBerry Messenger and corporate email services unless it gains access to them, in a campaign driven by fears that unmonitored communication puts the country's security at risk.

RIM averted a ban last year, and the Indian government said in late October that RIM had set up an interim arrangement for lawful interception of BlackBerry Messenger services and assured a final solution by the end of January 2011.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

RIM: BlackBerry Playbook better than Apple iPad

To build upon the hype already surrounding its soon-to-be-released PlayBook, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion RIM) unveiled another video to project its tablet as better than Apple's iPad.

The Canadian wireless giant released the new video about the capabilities of its tablet just before the opening of the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Thursday.

Giving a sneak peak at PlayBook, the new 3 minute and 18 second video highlights the multimedia capabilities of its Web browser. Taking viewers quickly through various websites, it highlights how versatile its browser is.

But more importantly, the BlackBerry maker is using the new video to score points over Apple's iPad by highlighting how its tablet browser is built on open Web standards and thus supports Flash which Apple's iPad does not.

It means PlayBook users will be able to fully access YouTube and Facebook whereas iPad users cannot access full versions of these popular sites.

PlayBook uses a new software platform built by QNX Software Systems. RIM bought Ottawa-based QNX Software Systems for $200 million in April to have exclusive access to its software technology for its tablet.

The new video demonstrates how PlayBook users can send instant messages on Facebook Chat and play Flash-based games inside Facebook - which is not possible for iPad users.

With 2011 set to become the year of the tablet, Motorola, Microsoft, Dell, Samsung and HP will also likely unveil their tablet plan at the four-day electronics show opening January 6.

PlayBook, which was unveiled in September, will be launched in the US market by the end of March. It measures seven inches against the 9.7-inch iPad.

Interestingly, BlackBerry bosses were forced to unveil their tablet so early before its launch because of Apple boss Steve Jobs' dismissal of it as "too small'' in September.

"The 10-inch screen size is the minimum required to have great tablet apps. We don't think you can make a great tablet with a seven-inch screen. We think it's too small to express the software that people want to put on these things,'' Steve Jobs had taunted the BlackBerry maker.

RIM has already announced to sell PlayBook below $500 to undercut sales of iPad which has sold more than seven million units since its launch in April.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

DoCoMo to launch iPad rival

TOKYO: Japan's top carrier NTT DoCoMo is to launch a tablet computer running Google software to challenge Apple's hot-selling iPad, a report said.

DoCoMo will marry the new Google-backed Android operating system with a device made by South Korea's LG Electronics to launch the product in Japan by the end of March, the Nikkei business daily said, without naming sources.

Users will be able to get on the Internet via DoCoMo's cellular connections, it said, adding pricing and other details were yet to be decided.

Google is expected to release a tablet-friendly operating system worldwide in early this year.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Facebook tried to buy Twitter for $500 million

The microblogging site Twitter turned down a $500 million purchase offer from the social networking site Facebook in 2008, according to the Financial Times.

In an interview with the British business daily published over the weekend, co-founder Biz Stone said Twitter wanted to become not just a popular site but a viable business, rather than be taken over by another company.

"We've created something that people are finding value in," he said. "But we haven't yet created a business out of this, and we really wanted to do that."

According to the Financial Times, Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg offered $500 million in Facebook stock for Twitter.

But Stone said Facebook had nothing that Twitter's three co-founders -- Stone, Evan Williams and Jack Dorsey -- wanted. The daily added, without elaboration, that Twitter still isn't turning a profit more than four years after it was created.

In mid-December, Twitter said it had received a major infusion of funds from a group of investors, which reportedly put a $3.7 billion value on the site. Created in 2006 to exchange messages of no more than 140 characters, Twitter had 175 million registered users as of November 1, and transmitted 25 billion "tweets" last year.

About 95 million messages a day are sent over the site. It has pursued rapid growth over profits, but since last spring, it has brought in advertising revenues through paid for "promoted tweets."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hotmail users find empty inboxes

Many Hotmail users had a nasty New Year surprise when they found empty inboxes and missing folders as they logged in.

Several frantic users posted complaints against email giant MSN claiming that their emails have been deleted from their accounts.

It is still unclear whether the problem lies with Microsoft, which owns MSN, or whether it is the work of hackers, the Daily Mail reported. A number of users complaint that all of their messages have disappeared while others said the
majority of the e-mail in their inboxes was sent to their deleted mail folders instead.

It is not known yet how many account holders have been affected.
Windows Live support technicians said in numerous threads that the Hotmail team is aware of the problem and working on a fix.

"At this point it appears to be a limited issue, and Microsoft is working with individual users who are impacted. We apologize for any inconvenience to our customers," Microsoft spokeswoman Catherine Brooker said.
She declined to disclose what caused the glitch.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Facebook, Twitter under SEC lens

A red-hot trading market has developed in the shares of the world's leading social-networking companies: Facebook, Twitter, Zynga and LinkedIn. What is unusual is that none of the companies are listed on a public stock exchange. Each is privately held.

Now, the Securities and Exchange Commission wants to learn more about the business of these stock trades. The agency has sent information requests to several participants in the buying and selling of these four companies' stocks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the inquiry who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about it.

It is unclear exactly what has piqued the agency's interest. An SEC spokesman declined to comment on the matter. But the SEC's interest comes as a crop of new exchanges is popping up to facilitate these trades. Over the last year, several private exchanges have matched up buyers and sellers of shares in these fast-growing companies.

Though the volume remains thin, the number of transactions is increasing each month. At the same time, Wall Street brokerage firms have begun forming investment pools to buy these companies' shares. Driving this activity is the social-networking phenomenon, which has created the hottest, and most hyped, segment in Silicon Valley in years.

Businesses like Facebook , the social-networking leader, and Zynga, a popular maker of online games, already generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Twitter has more than 150 million users, and just received $200 million in venture financing. LinkedIn , another social-networking site, has become a Facebook for professionals.

Who is selling these shares? Much of the supply comes from former employees at these companies and their early-stage venture capital investors looking to exit their stakes. The buyers in these so-called secondary trading markets are mostly wealthy speculators looking to snag a piece of the next Apple, Microsoft or Google before the rest of the in-vesting public can.

Part of what is driving this emerging market is the shifting dynamics of initial public offerings on Wall Street, particularly in the technology sector, as companies take longer to tap the public markets. "We are providing a growing need," said David Weir, the chief executive of SharesPost, an online marketplace for private investments started last year that now has 33,000 registered members.

"A decade ago, these companies would be public by now. Investors can now buy into these businesses and sellers to exit their already valuable stakes." SecondMarket, the leading trading exchange handling transactions in these securities, is expected to execute about $400 million in trades across about 40 private companies this year.

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