Sunday, June 13, 2010

Apple announces iPhone 4

Apple has revealed its latest iPhone model.

Branded as the "biggest leap" in hardware since the 2007 original, the iPhone 4 will offer several new features and a redesign.

The squarer look has front and back glass casing that is more scratch resistant than previous models, as well as steel sides that double as integrated antennas for improved reception.

At 9.3mm, it is 24% thinner than the 3GS, includes noise-cancelling microphones and a three-axis gyroscope to improve tilt controls for applications and gaming.

Battery life has improved by seven hours on 3G and ten hours on WiFi and video, with music lasting at around 40 hours and 300 hours on standby.

The 'Retina Display' system increases the screen resolution to 940x420 pixels and offers a contrast ratio four times higher than the 3GS.

The camera has added LED flash, five times digital zoom and five megapixels in picture quality. It also records video at 720p at 30fps. A portable version of iMovie is coming to the device.

A front-facing camera is to support FaceTalk, an Apple-developed open standard for mobile calls. The feature will be WiFi-only at launch and supported by mobile networks from next year.

It will also launch with the iOS4 operating system that adds multitasking, folders and iAds, and will be available for free for the 3GS, 3G and iPod Touch.

The iPhone 4 will be on sale June 24 in the US, France, Germany, UK and Japan, and in a total of 88 countries by September.

16GB and 32GB models in black or white colour schemes are to be priced at $199 (£137) and $299 (£206) respectively. UK pricing has yet to be announced.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Books: A Walk to Remember

I just finished reading the book A Walk to Remember authored by Nicholas Sparks. It was such a bittersweet story. I shed tears while reading it, especially on the last part. You should experience yourself too.

Here's the plot of the story:

               When a prank on a fellow high school student goes wrong, popular but rebellious Landon Rollins Carter  is threatened with expulsion. His punishment is mandatory participation in various after-school activities, such as tutoring disadvantaged children and performing in the drama club's spring musical. At these functions, he is forced to interact with quiet, bookish Jamie Elizabeth Sullivan, the only daughter of their church's pastor, and a girl he has known for many years but to whom he has rarely if ever spoken. Their differing social statures leave them worlds apart, despite their close physical proximity.

Landon has difficulty learning his lines for the spring play, so he asks Jamie to assist him. She decides to help him but under one condition: Landon must promise not to fall in love with her. He chuckles at the strange request, obviously doubting that he could ever fall in love with her.

Landon and Jamie begin practicing together at her house after school. As they spend more time together, a friendship begins to develop. Landon discovers that Jamie’s wish list of everything she aspires to accomplish in life includes befriending someone she doesn't like, getting a tattoo, being in two different places at once, and making a telescope so she can see a special comet that is coming, but she doesn't tell him her number one wish. One day, Jamie approaches Landon when he is hanging out with some of his friends. When Jamie asks if they are still on for practice that afternoon he smirks and replies, "In your dreams." His friends laugh and Landon's smirk falters as Jamie feels betrayed and embarrassed. That afternoon, Landon arrives at Jamie's house, hoping that she will still agree to help him. But she refuses to let him in, and asks him in a sarcastically sweet voice if he wants to be "secret friends." She slams the door in his face when he agrees. Landon eventually learns the script by himself.

During the play, Jamie astounds Landon and the entire audience with her beauty and singing voice. Landon, clearly surprised and overcome with unexpected emotion, kisses her at the end of her key song, "Only Hope." After the play, Landon is approached by his father, who walked out on him and his mother when he was very young. When he turns to go, his dad calls after him not to walk away. "You taught me how," he says simply, and leaves.

In the following days, Landon tries to get close to Jamie, but she repeatedly rejects him. The breaking point comes when a few of Landon's so-called friends play a malicious joke on Jamie. (The prank consisted of a photoedit of Jamie's face onto an almost pornographic image and its distribution.) She is about to cry in the middle of the cafeteria when Landon comes to her aid. He punches out one of his now ex-friends and literally turns his back on the group, takes Jamie out of the cafeteria, and, when they're outside the school, apologizes about the group, calling them "animals".

In his car at her house, he asks her out to dinner, but she replies that she is not allowed to date. He goes to her father in the church and asks him for permission. When her father says no, Landon apologizes for the way he has treated Jamie in the past and asks for her father to have faith in him. The man begrudgingly agrees, and Landon takes her out to dinner. Despite his reluctance at first, she convinces him to dance with her. Even though Jamie still doesn't want to reveal her number one wish, Landon reveals his number one wish to be leaving his hometown, to which Jamie points out that it's not about leaving, but more about figuring out what to do when he gets there.

Landon then sets out to help her accomplish a few things on her wish list. He takes her to the state line and positions her over it, with one foot on each side of the line. When Jamie asks him what he's doing he tells her, "You're in two places at once." He also gives her a temporary tattoo of a butterfly. While walking along a boardwalk, Jamie asks Landon how he could have such amazing moments and not believe. She explains her faith to him eloquently. "I might kiss you," he says. And he does. He then tells her that he loves her, but she doesn't reply right away. When he prompts her, all she can say is "I told you not to fall in love with me..."

As their relationship grows, Jamie's father confronts her. He tells her that her behavior is "sinful." She argues that she is in love with him, and her father looks her straight in the eye. "Then be fair to him, Jamie. Before things get worse."

The couple meets up at the cemetery where Jamie goes to stargaze and they spend the night waiting for Pluto to rise. Landon tells Jamie that he had a star named for her. She tells him for the first time that she loves him, and he finally realizes something that he has been trying to find out for a while: Jamie's number one wish is to marry in the church where her parents were married.

When Landon goes home in the morning, his mother confronts about being with Jamie, to which he assures is nothing bad. She also confronts him with a list of goals he wants to accomplish, which include going to college and getting into medical school. She tells him that he'll have to work hard to achieve those goals, to which he claims he is capable of because Jamie believes in him.

One evening, Jamie finally tells Landon that she has terminal leukemia and has stopped responding to treatments. He is initially upset, but she says that the reason why she didn't tell him was because she was moving on with her life and using the time she had left. She says that she was doing fine until they fell in love. Jamie starts to break down as she says, "I do not need a reason to be angry with God" and runs away.

Landon goes to his father and asks him to help Jamie. His father hesitates, as leukemia is not his specialty, and says he needs to examine her and know her medical history before he could do anything. Landon leaves, angry and bitter. On the way home, he tears up as the situation sinks in.

Eric, who was Landon's best friend but had also participated in the prank on Jamie, comes and tells him how sorry he is and that he hadn't understood. Landon leaves dozens of flowers on Jamie's doorstep and asks her father to tell her that he's "not going anywhere". The pair makes up soon after.

Jamie's cancer gets worse until she collapses one day. Her father rushes her to the hospital where he meets Landon. Landon doesn't leave Jamie's side until her father practically has to pry him away. The next day, Landon comes to the hospital and sees Jamie being wheeled out of the ward. He asks what's going on and she replies by asking him to thank his father for the help. Apparently Landon's father arranged to pay for private homecare for Jamie. Landon is stunned and, later that night, goes back to his father's house. He whispers "thank you" and his father hugs him. With all the exhaustion and fear over Jamie's situation and years of hurt about his parents' divorce on his shoulders, Landon breaks down in tears in his dad's arms.

Landon continues to fulfill various wishes on Jamie's list, including building her telescope. Her father, who now approves of him, helps out, as does Dean. Belinda, Landon's ex-girlfriend who originally proposed the prank, also apologizes. After Jamie sees the comet through the telescope, Landon proposes and Jamie accepts. They marry in the church where her parents were married. With the wedding, Landon has completed everything on Jamie’s wishlist, and then she died months after their wedding.

Four years later, Landon visits Jamie's father and tells him he has finished college and has been accepted into medical school. He then gives Jamie's father a book that Jamie had given to him. He tells her father that he is sorry he could not grant Jamie's ambition to witness a miracle before she died. Her father replies that Jamie did see a miracle. "It was you," he says with a fatherly smile.

In the end, Landon remarks that Jamie not only saved his life—she taught him everything about life, hope and the long journey ahead. He ends his monologue by saying that Jamie and his love is like the wind. "I can't see it, but I can feel it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pulling Negative Thoughts Out By The Roots

I went out my front door this morning to go for a walk and I took a gander at my front yard.  It is springtime and many of the bushes and plants are flowering.  We have opted against using herbicide so our yard is home to a variety of beautiful wildflowers.  However, the word got out to the weeds about this safe haven, and they dot the landscape as well.

I postponed my daily jaunt and took a few minutes to pull weeds.  This has been a learning experience for me as there are quite a variety of weeds in the yard.  At first it was difficult for me to distinguish between a wildflower and a weed.  Sadly, I must confess that a few desert daisies, lupine and penstamine suffered an early demise due to my horticultural ignorance.

While I was weed plucking it occurred to me that my thoughts are a lot like the vegetation in my yard.  There are plants that provide beauty, shade and inspiration.  And then there are the weeds.  If left unnoticed, the weeds can choke the life out of some of the other helpful plants.  However, we have a home owner's association, so I know it would never come to that.  The more likely scenario is we would get a notice about the weeds, followed by a fine.

Interestingly enough, a lot of weeds are easy to distinguish.  Just like ugly thoughts, speech and actions, they have bristly stems and leaves that hurt others when they come too close.  Their nastiness serves as a form of protection.  I have heard individuals defend their negativity in a similar way.  A thorny disposition can become a barrier to keep people at bay.

Weeds, like nasty thoughts, speech and actions, will multiply if left unchecked.  That is why it's best to learn to distinguish the naughty little buggers early on and get rid of them before they turn into towering trees.
However, a negative mindset, like some weeds, can be difficult to identify.  Gardening and cultivating healthy thoughts, speech and actions takes work.  However, over time, if you work at it, you will see a positive result.
Here is an excerpt from our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

Your wishes, good, bad or indifferent, become your brain's programming.  So why not try for something that will bring you joy?  That does not mean that everything wonderful you wish for will instantly become reality.  But if you surround yourself with positive thoughts and begin a course of action to achieve the things you want in life, you will move your life in a happier direction.

The first step in erasing negativity is by transforming thoughts, words and actions from negative to positive.  Each thought, however fleeting, each word and the intent behind it, as well as our daily actions have certain repercussions.  Whether or not you believe in the laws of karma is really unimportant.  The result is the same. Negative thoughts penetrate the mind and slowly start to color one's perspective of the world.

Disparaging thoughts can spread like a cancer and slip into your speech, and eventually manifest in unproductive and harmful actions.  Many individuals, especially those who have suffered a loss, are largely unaware of how negative they have become.  It is a habit.  And habits, if not changed, become a way of life. 

Confucius said:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Each of us is in charge of our own destiny.  We can work to cultivate a positive outlook, or we can adopt a victim mindset and let weeds of negativity take root in our lives.

Remember, erasing negativity is no walk through the park.  It's like weeding a garden.  It takes work, but it becomes easier over time.  The choice is yours.  Either way, please remember: You reap what you sow.

'Need For Speed: World' dated for July

Electronic Arts has confirmed that massively multiplayer online racing game Need For Speed: World will be released on July 20.

Developed by EA Black Box, the online MMO allows players to compete in races and also access an RPG-style progression and power-up system.

In its 150 square-mile open world, the game features the most popular cities from Need For Speed: Most Wanted and Need For Speed: Carbon.

On July 20, the MMO will officially launch as a free download from the Need For Speed website, with players getting access to all races, pursuits and career progressions up to level ten.

After that point, gamers will be asked to pay for a starter pack, which allows them to compete up to level 50 and access a range of power-ups and vehicles.

Anyone pre-ordering Need For Speed: World will get access to the game a week earlier on July 13. They will also receive increased XP points and guaranteed access to all Need For Speed: World beta events.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Chocolate Milk Diet

By David Zinczenko

Imagine if everything you needed to know about weight loss, you learned in kindergarten. Well, if your teacher gave you chocolate milk as a lunchtime treat, she was (unknowingly) giving you one of the most powerful weight-loss tools in the nutritional universe. Turns out this childhood staple may be the ideal vehicle for your body’s most neglected nutritional needs. Each bottle delivers a package of micro- and macronutrients that can help you shake off body flab and replace it with firm muscle. And when you served it ice-cold, the creamy sweetness flows across your tongue with all the pleasure of a milk shake. Yum.

That’s the crux of what I'm calling "The Chocolate Milk Diet," which isn’t a diet at all. It’s essentially three eight-ounce servings of chocolate milk consumed at key points throughout your day: one when you wake up, a second before you exercise, and a third directly after your workout. Or, if it's your day off, just pattern them for morning, afternoon, and night. Sounds good, right? It is, and that’s why it’s so easy. But is this a free ticket to eat as much fried chicken as you want throughout the rest of the day? Unfortunately not, but alongside a healthy diet, it can help you drop lots of belly fat fast. Here are the four reasons why:

Secret #1: The Calcium Effect
Researchers have known for years about the role that calcium plays in building strong bones, but a more recent development deals with they way it affects your belly. A series of studies have shown that calcium can actually impede your body’s ability to absorb fat, and when researchers in Nebraska analyzed five of these studies, they were able to estimate that consuming 1,000 mg more calcium can translate to losing nearly 18 pounds of flab. What’s more, other studies have shown that dairy foods offer the most readily absorbable calcium you can find. Knock back three servings of brown cow and you’ll reach that crucial 1,000 mg threshold. At that point, any other calcium that you eat or drink is a bonus.

Bonus Tip: Everything is not as it seems in the world of fat and calories. Click here to see the 30 “Healthy” Foods that Aren’t. You'll be shocked by the pounds of fat you may unwittingly gain while thinking that you're eating healthy.

Secret #2: The Vitamin D Factor

All the calcium in the world isn’t going to help you if you don’t get a good dose of vitamin D to go with it. That’s because vitamin D is responsible for moving calcium from your food to your body, which means if you’re running low on D, you’re probably also missing the calcium you need to stay slim. Other symptoms of the D deficiency are weak muscles, easily breakable bones, and depression—not a great combo for success. Now here’s why this is significant: Most experts agree that the average American isn’t getting enough D. Some estimate that only half the population is meeting the requirement and one study published in the journal Pediatrics found that 70 percent of American children had low levels of D in their diet. The thing is, your body makes vitamin D naturally when you expose your skin to sunlight, but most people spend too much time indoors to benefit. And intentionally spending more time in the sun could put you at risk for skin cancer. The solution? Drink up. Chocolate milk, like most milk, is fortified with vitamin D.
One caveat here: Drink 1% chocolate milk. Vitamin D won't work without a little fat to help break it down. You want to skip the whole milk, too, as it has too many calories to make it a regular habit. The best option is 1%, or low-fat chocolate milk. It has the fat you need to absorb crucial vitamins, yet at three cups a day, it will save you 120 calories over whole milk.
Bonus Tip: Everything you need to know about cereal is right here: America's Best and Worst Cereals. Keep the sugar down and the fiber up for a perfect start to your day.

Secret #3: The Endurance Boost

If you want to lose the gut, you’ve got to exercise—no surprise there. But here’s a fact that’s not so obvious: Drinking chocolate milk can improve your gains. In a study published in The International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, subjects given chocolate milk before hopping on the stationary bikes were able to ride 49 percent longer than subjects given a generic carbohydrate-replacement beverage. And on top of that, they pedaled even harder. Total work performed by the chocolate-milk group was greater than the work performed by subjects drinking carbohydrate-replacement drinks or electrolyte-fortified sports drinks. The reason? Milk has naturally occurring electrolytes that keep you hydrated—more hydrated then water, in fact, which I revealed recently on my Twitter account—and its natural sweetness helps push more energy into your muscles. Another study from 2009 found similar results, but it went one step further by asking participants which beverage they thought tasted better. Not surprisingly, 100% chose chocolate milk.

Bonus Tip: Discover more loveable liquids by browsing through our Best Beers slideshow. Or, if you’d rather avoid the calories altogether, then you’ll want to read The Worst Beverages in the Supermarket. Again, the point is to make weight-loss easy and fun, without ever worrying about going on a diet again.

Secret #4: The Protein-Body-Weight Connection

Want to know the secret to staying thin? You need more muscle. That’s because muscle burns more calories than fat, so for every new muscle fiber you create, your resting metabolism receives another surge of fat-torching energy. And chocolate milk can help you do that. Researchers have determined that the ideal protein load for building muscle is 10 to 20 grams, half before and half after your workout. How much protein will you find in low-fat chocolate milk? Eight grams per cup. (That means one serving before your workout and one serving after will give you a total of 16 grams of highly effective whey protein—a perfect serving.) Add that to the extra cup you drank first thing in the morning and you’re looking at a turbocharged metabolism that keeps you burning calories all day long.
And don’t forget, you can still melt those 18 pounds of belly fat without giving up your favorite foods. You just need to make smart swaps, and we’ve got 10 new ones right here. You'll lose weight faster than ever—again, with ever dieting again.

Like this story or have another nutrition secret? Please share it with others here. 


Follow the author Dave Zinczenko on Twitter! You'll get daily health and nutrition secrets (like those mentinoned above) that will improve your life—instantly!

Nintendo Taps AKB48 Member For Xenoblade Image Character

Mayu Watanabe
JPOP group AKB48 continues on their path of complete takeover of the game industry. The latest member of the 48-person group to lend her marketing muscle to a major game release is Mayu Watanabe.

Nintendo has selected Watanabe as image character for Monolith Software's upcoming Wii RPG epic Xenoblade. Watanabe will appear in commercials for the game, one of which began airing today.

Watanabe's debut spot is titled "Kikai no Karada," or "Body of a Machine." The spot shows a CG form of Watanabe wielding a pair of swords, set against the Xenoblade end theme song.

Midway through the spot, Watanabe says something along the lines of "I want you to use this body as much as you want," a phrase that Nintendo says has great significance in the game.