Monday, October 15, 2012

Adrenaline, cliff diving, and live television | ? the blog

Greetings from a lounge chair sitting within view of a palm tree-lined beach and the Pacific Ocean.? We just finished a tasty breakfast (egg, veggie, and bacon frittata with orange juice and locally grown Maui coffee) and are now lounging poolside before lunch. It?s a rough life for sure.

Those who know me will attest that I?m a pretty driven guy ? always got multiple projects going, always making plans.? Usually, I?m the one who goes on vacation and always has to be doing something or going somewhere.? Go go go go.

Except this time.? I, my wife, and another couple are spending a week in Maui with the specific goal of doing very, very little.? So far, so good ? yesterday we walked along the beach coastline, hung out in the surf, drank maitais with lunch, sat around our condo, barbecued ribs and zucchini for dinner, and sat on our lanai (Hawaii-speak for ?balcony?) talking until we retired for the evening.? Today promises to be much the same.

I?m very aware that other people?s vacations to Hawaii tend towards much more activity.? They get up at 5am, go mountain biking for 3 hours before breakfast, then drive to the sea cliffs where they go rock climbing, then paddle a kayak to the next beach to cook lunch over a campfire, then take a helicopter tour to the top of oceanside cliffs from which they go cliff diving.? Afterwards they go into town to the nearest bar that has a DJ and dance until the wee hours of the morning.

Oy.? I?m getting tired just imagining it.

When it comes to vacation, certain people are obvious adrenaline junkies.? But did you know there are adrenaline junkies in the editing world too?

Have you ever seen the end of a live show like American Idol and enjoyed the montage of all the singers? performances that just happened minutes earlier?? Have you ever watched the Super Bowl or World Cup games and seen the final compilation of the best moments of the broadcast put together to a high-energy piece of music?? All those montages were put together by an editor in a matter of minutes, sometimes with mere seconds to spare before dropping in the final shot and beginning live playback.? To do that, you gotta be good at your job ? you have to be fast, and you have to be accurate. If you?ve ever been inside a control room during a live broadcast, you?ll know that it requires a lot of concentration to do your job.? You?re expected to be perfect, because mistakes often end up being very obviously seen or heard often by millions of people.? Mistakes reflect poorly on you, the whole crew, and the entire television network, so live television is often very stressful.? People yell, scream, and regularly get fired and then rehired after the show finishes for the day.

I?ve done some quick-turn editing for live tv myself, and it?s a blast. ?One time, the AKC (American Kennel Club) National Championship Dog Show was airing for 3 hours on 2 consecutive nights live on both Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.? We were at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California. For three days leading up to the live show, I and a couple other editors had been cutting away on our Avids in the edit truck while everyone built the sets in the main venue, prepped for the live show, and produced little video packages displaying how truly odd dog people can be.? (But not as odd as Cat People.? I?ve also done shows about them too.? Eeeee.)

On the two nights of the live shows, I was responsible for cutting 30-second bumpers that featured the specific dogs that had just won their specific categories.? Our assistant editor was capturing the live feed from the production truck, and I would see each dog as it won.? I?d fill each hole and then wait for the final winning dog to be announced ? instantly after the judge?s announcement, the assistant editor stopped the capture, and I opened up the bin that contained the newly created clip.? I shuttled through the clip looking for the shot, marked it, and dropped it into my sequence.? Since it was playing under multiple layers of graphics, I hit ?render effect? and waited. The post producer stood anxiously over my shoulder, waiting for the render to finish.? It finished, I opened up the output tool, and I output the sequence to tape.? The instant the red ?record? button turned off on the tape deck, the post producer grabbed the shuttle control on the deck, spun the tape backward to the beginning of the reel to make sure the output was successful.? He punched ?eject? on the deck, grabbed the tape, and bolted out the door of the edit truck, SPRINTING across the broadcast compound to the back door of the? production control truck.? Surrounded by waveform monitors, tape decks, and hard drives, the playback engineer grabbed the tape, slammed it into deck #3, and cued it up to 2 seconds, 60 frames before the bumper began.? As the live broadcast approached its commercial break, the assistant director called out ?stand by VT-3 for playback ? in 15? 10?? The director spoke into the intercom ?ready effect to VT-3.?? The technical director?s finger punched the button labeled ?VT-3? amid hundreds of other buttons on his broadcast switcher, routing the still frame from the deck into the Preview monitor in front of the director. The on-camera announcer finished her sentence: ??and we?ll be right back after this.?? The director intoned ?roll VT-3?, and the playback engineer hit the ?play? button on videotape deck #3.? One second later, the director said ?effect to VT-3,? the technical director hit the button on the switcher that triggered a computer-generated transition to the perfectly-timed video feed from deck #3 that went full frame onto the Program feed.? Parked 12 feet away from the production control truck was the satellite uplink truck that took that live program feed from Long Beach, California, almost instantly bouncing it up to a communication satellite orbiting over 20,000 miles above the surface of the earth.? That satellite almost as instantly bounced that program feed back down to a satellite dish in Sterling, Virginia, outside network master control for Discovery Communications.? Master control then bounced that signal through their own cable and satellite distribution network, allowing that feed to almost instantly flow through millions of television sets?

?including the broadcast cable feed in the edit truck back in Long Beach. I stood with a grin on my face, watching the 30-second piece of video that had existed only on my Avid until mere minutes ago.? The post producer, having returned from his sprint to the control truck, gave me a high five. ?We had 2 minutes to spare,? he told me with a grin.? We not only delivered perfectly, we had delivered ahead of schedule.

Meanwhile, in households across the world watching the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, that same 30 seconds of television flashed up on millions of television sets?

?whose owners had already left to grab another Diet Coke from the kitchen.


Cutting for live tv is a rush, all right.? It?s a blast.? And there are many editors in live television who live for that rush.? They get every bit as much a kick out of cutting tv with only seconds to spare as they?d get from jumping off a cliff in Hawaii.

Which brings me to my latest question ? why do you edit?

Are you like the live tv guys who do it for the rush?? Are you like the seasoned film editors who contemplatively make each cut in the process of creating art? Do you edit because it?s your job and provides you a paycheck?? Do you edit because you want to eventually make money at it?? Do you do it for no other reason than you love it?? Or maybe a mix?

Pick your top reasons in our mini poll below. ?I?m curious.

And now, back in Maui? I don?t see myself going cliff diving on this trip.? We came to Hawaii to chill the heck out, and that?s what we?re gonna do.? Now if you?ll excuse me, I?m gonna go order myself a maitai.

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It's talent, not gender ? Business Management Daily: Free Reports ...

Why do women at GM hold an unusually high number of leadership roles, as compared to the rest of the auto industry? Credit CEO Dan Akerson?s mother.

As a child, Akerson saw his talented mother, Marguerite, work long hours for thin wages at Piggly Wiggly. Despite her fierce ambition, the first-generation German immigrant was never able to rise higher than assistant manager.

With her talent, ?she should have been the manager,? he says. His stance today isn?t ?so much conscious, as a recognition of talent.?

? The Wall Street Journal blog.

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Maintaining carpet of torn and worn | Unique Home improvement ...

The carpet has its own advantages in terms of enchanting eye look, especially if the carpet is installed in line with the furniture and accessories in your room. Choosing a carpet with more color contrast is also not to be blamed, because it will be able to strengthen the feel of the room. For example, a room that has walls paint color gray and black sofa, it will look bold by adding a red carpet in the middle. However, it would be very unfortunate if the beauty of your room and wear is reduced by tearing her carpet. Especially if your carpet type wool, cotton, bamboo and sea grass, keep in mind that not riding with something heavy on it, because this type of carpet has a thin fiber. Normally every 2 weeks once the carpet was to be cleaned. To clean it, certainly not in vain. See your carpet type first, because not all carpets can be brushed or washed with soap. Moreover, soap, soap residue can weaken carpet fibers, so it will easily lead to torn carpet. For that, it would be better if you choose to use vinegar and water instead of soap. Spray vinegar and water in your carpet, leave a few hours, do not be afraid of the smell, it?ll be gone by itself. Also do not forget to change the carpet every 2 months, so that the part that can change positions often trampled.


However, if your carpet is already torn and worn out, and you want to replace it or you want to change to another type of flooring, it is certainly a challenging choice. You can come at Fashion Carpets Flooring America, there are thousands of different types of carpet and other flooring types that you can choose according to your needs. Another advantage is that you can get, you can try the carpet that you want to buy first, they are devoted to providing obligation-free help. They encourage their customers to bring flooring samples home prior to purchasing them to Ensure optimal satisfaction and that the chosen material works well with the decor. How interested to try it?

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Armed men seize military vehicle in Egypt's Sinai


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Post World

Post World

After a nuclear world war has devastated most of the world, several colonies have risen up, all aiming to control what is left of the world.


Game Masters:

This topic is an Out Of Character part of the roleplay, ?Post World?. Anything posted here will also show up there.

Topic Tags:

Forum for completely Out of Character (OOC) discussion, based around whatever is happening In Character (IC). Discuss plans, storylines, and events; Recruit for your roleplaying game, or find a GM for your playergroup.
This is the auto-generated OOC topic for the roleplay "Post World"

You may edit this first post as you see fit.

If at first you don't succeed, call in an airstrike.

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Calligraphy Jack
Member for 0 years

I'm quite interested in this. Do we make our own Character Sheet, or will one be provided later? Are the rules as for how you create your resources? Number of people? Are weapons limited to small arms?

"It is not to be expected that human nature will change in a day."
~Frank B. Kellogg

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Member for 4 years

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Turkey condemns U.N. inertia as Syrian conflict deepens

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan rebuked the U.N. Security Council for inaction over Syria on Saturday as war intensified across the country, saying the world body of superpowers was repeating mistakes that led to massacres in Bosnia in the 1990s.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces used air strikes and artillery to bombard insurgents on several fronts in the 19-month-old conflict, which risks dragging in regional powers with no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough.

Turkey - increasingly entangled after having intercepted a Russian airliner carrying what it said were Russian-made munitions for the Syrian army, infuriating Moscow and Damascus - has led calls for intervention, including no-fly zones enforced by foreign aircraft to stop deadly air raids by Assad's forces.

But there is little chance of United Nations support for robust action given the opposition of veto-wielding Security Council members Russia and China.

"The U.N. Security Council has not intervened in the human tragedy that has been going on in Syria for 20 months, despite all our efforts," Erdogan told a conference in Istanbul attended by dignitaries including Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby. "There's an attitude that encourages, gives the green light to Assad to kill tens or hundreds of people every day."

The bloodshed has worsened markedly in the past two months although neither side has been able to gain a distinct advantage, with government force relying heavily on air power and artillery to batter the rebels.

Combat has been reported nationwide but the crucial strategic battles are being fought in an arc through western Syria, where most of the population lives.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was expected to meet U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on the sidelines of the Istanbul conference later. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said this week Brahimi would visit Syria soon to try to persuade Assad to call an immediate ceasefire.

The government dispatched warplanes to attack insurgent forces surrounding the Wadi-al-Dayf military barracks near Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province, wounding 22 rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The rebels captured Maarat al-Numan this week, cutting the main north-south highway linking Damascus, Homs and Aleppo, and government forces will need to retake it in order to reinforce and resupply Aleppo - Syria's largest city and commercial hub.


The U.N. Security Council, divided between Western powers on one side and Russia and China on the other, has proved helpless in halting a conflict which has spiraled into civil war and killed more than 30,000 people.

Erdogan said a system which allowed one or two nations to block intervention in such a massive humanitarian crisis was inherently unjust, and that Syria would go down in history as a U.N. failure much like Bosnia in the 1990s.

"How sad is that the United Nations is as helpless today as it was 20 years ago when it watched the massacre of hundreds of thousands of people in the Balkans, Bosnia and Srebrenica," Erdogan told the Istanbul conference.

The July 1995 massacre in Srebrenica was the worst on European soil since World War Two, in which Dutch U.N. peacekeepers abandoned what had been designated a U.N. safe haven to advancing Bosnian Serb forces, who then killed 8,000 Muslim men and boys and bulldozed their corpses into pits.

Turkish officials had expressed hope they might be able to persuade Moscow, which sold Syria $1 billion of arms last year, to soften its strident opposition at the Security Council and that if it succeeded, China would follow suit.

But relations between Ankara and Moscow sank to a new low this week after Turkey forced down a passenger jet flying from Moscow and publicly accused Russia of ferrying military equipment to Assad's forces.

Russia has said there were no weapons on the plane and that it was carrying a legal shipment of radar equipment.


Elsewhere on Syria's battlefronts on Saturday, government forces rained mortar fire down on the opposition-held Khalidiya neighborhood of the city of Homs, the Observatory said. Explosions were felt throughout the besieged district.

To the south of Damascus near Deraa - cradle of the uprising which began with peaceful street rallies - Assad's troops and rebels were fighting on the edge of the town of Maarba.

After four days of heavy fighting in and around the town of Azmarin on the Turkish border, the rebels appeared to have a fragile hold.

Syrian government forces have been shelling the town from the hills and troops have been engaged in street battles with the insurgents over the past week. Shelling continued into Friday evening but only the sound of distant mortar fire could be heard on Saturday as battles for other border areas flared.

"Praise be the town is now in our hands ... We have raised two flags inside the town and the battles are over. Azmarin is completely under our control," one resident, who did not want to be named, told Reuters by telephone from inside the town.

In a preliminary death toll across the country for Friday alone, the Observatory listed about 160 dead. That included 67 civilians, 36 rebels fighters, and 54 government soldiers.

Among the dead were two civilians, including a 3-year-old child, in a bombardment of old Aleppo, a district whose ancient buildings have been severely damaged by the conflict.


Tensions between Ankara and Damascus have also worsened. Turkey scrambled two fighter jets on Friday after a Syrian helicopter bombed Azmarin and has warned of a more forceful response if Syrian shells continue to fly over the border.

Syria's state news agency SANA said Damascus was ready to accept a Russian proposal for a Syrian-Turkish joint security committee to try to contain the border violence, but there was no confirmation of this on the Turkish side.

The Beirut Star newspaper said in an editorial that the incidents on the Turkish-Syrian border represented a "potentially catastrophic turning point" which could turn the civil war into a regional one.

"With the border increasingly fortified, littered with Turkish and Syrian army tanks, it is beginning to more closely resemble a war zone than a demarcation line between two sovereign territories," it said.

(Reporting by Angus MacSwan in Beirut and Jonathon Burch on the Turkey-Syria border; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


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How You Can Advertise Your Web Based Business Efficiently ...

How You Can Advertise Your Web Based Business Efficiently

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Transparent Investor Communications Don't Have to Be Scary ...

  • Posted by stnetwork
  • on October 12th, 2012

It?s nearly 2013, and publicly traded companies are waking up to the fact that investors are demanding more transparency in a world where social media makes it easier and more immediate. And their employees are already on social media ? nearly all of them under the age of 35 source social media for breaking news and relevant items daily (if not hourly).

At StockTwits, we?ve built a platform that allows Investor Relations teams from companies to share and engage with investors, traders, analysts, and traditional media in a fully compliant manner, while providing all kinds of tools to manage and measure their presence in the world of social media.

As someone who has worked closely with the community at StockTwits, our team has been working feverishly to set, enforce, and be examples of best practices. We know what works, what resonates, and who gets the most out of their engagement efforts.

The first rule of engagement is?common sense. It has to be. Don?t reinvent the wheel or over-think or over-analyze a potential message. Simply share smart information that investors and analysts might find interesting or informative in their due diligence. Be forthright when responding to investor questions. Be a real voice, not a corporate automaton.

Some great recent examples of companies exhibiting best practices using StockTwits for Investor Relations efforts are:

Each of these companies is consistently present, shares a wide variety of information, and encourages the community to participate in their events.

This is just the beginning. The more companies get involved with investors, the more we all win. Transparency via social media holds the key.

I plan to begin sharing many more anecdotes of social media best practices for Investor Relations on my blog. Stay tuned.

- Sean McLaughlin (@chicagosean on StockTwits)

For more info on the StockTwits IR Product, contact Sean at [email?protected] or?click here.?

The information in this blog post represents my own opinions and does not contain a recommendation for any particular security or investment. I or my affiliates may hold positions or other interests in securities mentioned in the Blog, please see my Disclaimer page for my full disclaimer.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Leveraging the cloud also helps service providers stay competitive ...

Service providers like iStreamPlanet are leveraging new distribution technologies to keep up with the times.

Current hardware and software alone can't sufficiently scale to meet the growing demand for more content, longer viewing hours and high-quality viewing experiences across the growing variety of display devices.

While major broadcasters have struggled with the daunting task of having to simultaneously target a myriad of display devices for their content in order to stay competitive (and generate new revenue), so too have the service providers that are helping them do that. Moving to the cloud has become a natural evolution and a key component of staying in business ? for these companies and their clients.

Indeed, encoding a single live stream for the Internet has evolved into transcoding that single stream into dozens of different file formats so that consumers everywhere can view them.? at the end of the day, creating a seamless and compelling experience for the consumer is what matters most ??to everyone involved.

One such service provider (and there are several), iStreamPlanet, based in Las Vegas, says it has worked hard to keep up with the times. In 2000, Mio Babic, founder, president and CEO of the company, began working with media companies to bring live events like the Olympics to computer screens in a compelling way. Today his company has moved much of its audio and video file processing activities to remotely based data centers (the cloud) to keep up.

?Current technologies and products simply cannot scale to meet the growing demand for more content, longer viewing hours and high-quality viewing experiences across a plethora of devices,? Babic said. ?In working with some of the largest brands in the digital media industry to produce some of the highest-profile online video experiences in history, we've seen firsthand how expensive, cumbersome and complex it is to keep up with digital proliferation. It is with those experiences and customers in mind that we are developing the next generation of media workload products and services.?

This move to the cloud has allowed iStreamPlanet to work with more customers in a much broader capacity. Babic?s strategy of offering the best products and technology and not committing to any single technology provider is also a secret to its success. Remaining technology-agnostic keeps the company current and able to offer the best tools for the application at hand.

The company?also has been helped by the emergence of distribution infrastructure providers like CloudSigma, which has long-standing relationships with the Switch SuperNAP datacenter (located in Las Vegas and considered one of the largest such data centers in the world) and in the European-based Interxion datacenter (London). iStream Planet designs the system and makes technology recommendations, while CloudSigma implements the connections necessary to make it happen.

?Without the cloud, media companies would have to spend a lot more money on OpEx and additional hardware, which, frankly, no one wants to do,? said Robin Cole, vice president of Products & Services at iStreamPlanet. ?The cloud allows [broadcasters] a much better level of fidelity in terms of scalability and control over the environment, than hardware has, to this point. So the cloud ends up being a great way to scale a business and save money.?

Similarly, offering such remote processing services has also allowed iStreamPlanet to save money relating to its operations, which it says it then passes on to its customers.

?As a service provider, we understand that we have to stay competitive in our pricing and our engineering expertise,? Cole said. ?There?s a lot of competition out there, so offering reliable, secure service at a reasonable price is key to our success as well. But we also feel, with our heritage in digital broadcasting, we are uniquely qualified to do the job.?

Cole joined iStreamPlanet less than a year ago, after years at Microsoft, which was an iStream Planet customer. Among a number of clients, iStream Planet helped NBC stream content during past Summer and Winter Olympic games using Microsoft?s SilverLight technology.

?When I joined the company, what I found was that iStream Planet was growing along with industry needs,? she said. ?And what the industry needed was a comprehensive platform that could accommodate different types of business models and video streaming scenarios. On the surface, media companies like NBC, Turner Broadcasting, AMC Networks and?the United States Olympic Committee all had different requirements, but we?ve found that we could accommodate all of them with a similar cloud-based solution. They needed to produce complex live events that required multicamera, multiplatform distribution capability on a global basis. We needed a fast and easy way to do that.?

One of the cloud-based services iStream Planet will soon offer ? thanks to its CloudSigma partnership ? is called Director 5, a video-on-demand, media-processing workflow that can scale to support up to 1000 concurrent encode and transcode jobs. Director 5 leverages the latest in virtualization technologies running on high-capacity hardware that, the company says, are intelligently provisioned and performance-optimized as needed, and then automatically removed when no longer needed. So customers pay only for what they use.

The company said it will also market what it calls an ?advanced metadata services framework? that leverages device-customizable Electronic Programming Guide (EPG) and TV/VOD metadata, authentication, authorization, and ID federation for live and on-demand streaming of content to over-the-top (OTT) devices. AMSF gets content owners and distributors up and running quickly and allows them to accommodate all types of IP-connected devices ? including smartphones and tablets ? as well as and OTT devices like game consoles and set-top boxes.

Both Director 5 and AMSF will be commercially available later this year.

?We?ve been talking about the traditional broadcast and the digital media worlds coming together for a while now, and today, that is finally happening in a very real and meaningful way. The digital media side is clearly not making the money that traditional broadcast TV is, yet the Internet and mobile video consumption are not going away. We all know that.?


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Donald Trump's back with 14 'Apprentice' All-Stars

FILE - In a Monday, May 14, 2012 file photo, "Celebrity Apprentice" host Donald Trump arrives for the NBC network upfront presentation at Radio City Music Hall,in New York. The series, which on Monday starts shooting this new season for a March 2013 premiere, announced its slate of 14 contenders Friday morning, Oct. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)

FILE - In a Monday, May 14, 2012 file photo, "Celebrity Apprentice" host Donald Trump arrives for the NBC network upfront presentation at Radio City Music Hall,in New York. The series, which on Monday starts shooting this new season for a March 2013 premiere, announced its slate of 14 contenders Friday morning, Oct. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)

(AP) ? If at first you don't succeed ....

NBC's "The Celebrity Apprentice" is bringing back 13 players fired from past "Apprentice" contests, plus one notable winner, in the first-ever "All-Star Celebrity Apprentice."

"We wouldn't have done the 'All-Star' concept unless we were able to get the right contestants back," said Donald Trump, the host and boardroom boss who once again will be pronouncing each contestant's fate.

The series, which on Monday starts shooting this new season for a March 2013 premiere, announced its slate of 14 contenders Friday morning.

They include:

? country music star Trace Adkins.

? actor Stephen Baldwin.

? actor Gary Busey.

? magician and illusionist Penn Jillette.

? DJ artist and rap star Lil Jon.

? NBA Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman.

? Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider.

? actress and author Marilu Henner.

? singer La Toya Jackson.

? TV personality and actress Claudia Jordan.

? reality star Omarosa, who competed in the first, pre-celebrity edition of "The Apprentice."

? actress and author Lisa Rinna.

? Playboy Playmate of the Year Brande Roderick.

? plus Poison frontman Bret Michaels, who in 2010 emerged as the winner despite life-threatening ailments that included a brain hemorrhage and hospitalization for what doctors called a warning stroke.

"They're all very smart, and I think they learned a lot from their last go-around," Trump told The Associated Press. "This time, some of them will change their game to fool their rivals ? some for better, some for worse."

The winner, as usual, will collect $250,000 to donate to his or her chosen charity.

Trump was asked whether, beneath the tough manner he displays for each contender in the boardroom, he has secret favorites in the race.

"Absolutely, I do," he replied. "Some people I like much more than others. I'm a human being, so I have my likes and my dislikes. But I don't let that cloud my judgment. If I like somebody but somebody deserves to be fired, I'll always fire them, as opposed to somebody that I don't like if they don't deserve it. I would lose total credibility if I did otherwise."

The upcoming season will be the 13th for the overall "Apprentice" franchise, a track record that amazes Trump.

"Who would have thought?" he marveled. "When we first signed for it, they didn't even take an option (for more seasons). No one thought it would go any further."

It did, catching on with its debut in winter 2004, as Trump introduced "You're fired" to the treasury of TV catchphrases.

Since then, he said, it's been lucrative and fun.

"My business is real estate, but the show has been an amazing experience," he said, "good in every way."

It's also been, in some fashion, a learning experience.

The main thing he's learned? "You can never predict," he replied. "I'll see a contestant come out, and you would say they're going to win, on the first day. And then they're the first one fired."

But there's been one other thing he's discovered: the impact of his exposure on TV.

"I was very well-known before the show," he said, "but, frankly, I used to be able to walk outside. I can't even walk outside now! Overall I think the show's great, but there are times when you'd like to have a little bit of privacy."

Then Trump laughed at a reporter's facetious suggestion that he consider donning a disguise.

"I could put on a real wig," Trump joked. "A lot of people say, 'He wears a wig.' I don't. But maybe I should wear one: a big black sucker!"



Associated Press


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PFT: Spikes causes stir with 'I'm homophobic' tweet

Atlanta Falcons v Washington RedskinsGetty Images

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III practiced fully on Friday and it looks like he will be in the lineup for Sunday?s game against the Vikings.

Griffin III has not experienced any setbacks in his recovery from a concussion, although he still must go through another round of tests before he?ll be cleared to go this weekend. After practice, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he didn?t know if the team would list Griffin as probable or questionable while making it clear he was planning on having Griffin in the lineup.

?That?s what we have doctors for. Doctors make those decisions, we don?t,? Griffin said, via the Redskins website.? ?That?s why we run all these tests. But why would you not let somebody play if he?s felt good right at the end of the game [and] every day until now??If he has these tests after practice today and all of sudden he?s not feeling good or something?s wrong, obviously we?re not going to take the chance.?

The Redskins decided to go with questionable, which makes sense given the possibility that something will go wrong. Unless it does, Griffin will be in the lineup. Whether he?ll be able to throw to Pierre Gar?on is another question, though.

Gar?on is questionable with the foot injury that?s been hampering him for several weeks. He was able to practice fully on Thursday and Friday, but Shanahan said that it limited him on Friday.

?It?s lingering for sure,? Shanahan said, via Rich Tandler of ?It was enough where he didn?t take many reps today. It?s painful and that?s why we sat him out. It?s tender and it?s still sore. It?s a pain issue, but it?s sore enough where he can?t push off all the time.?

We probably won?t know on the receiver?s status until Sunday morning, which is when we?ll get the confirmation on Griffin as well.


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Bayside, NY Real Estate Specialist Sophia Tseng Develops New ...

Denver, NC ? Sophia Tseng, a real estate specialist in Bayside, NY, utilized the experience and knowledge of Pro Step Marketing to develop a new real estate website that incorporates advanced property search tools and search-engine friendly content. Sophia Tseng?s new website,, offers site visitors information on the real estate markets in Bayside, Flushing, Little Neck, Whitestone, Fresh Meadows, Forest Hills, other Queen Towns and Nassau Towns in New York and advanced search capabilities for those interested in buying a home.

Visitors to Sophia?s new Pro Step Marketing-designed website, will find the attractive design, informational copy and detailed property search capabilities are amazing resources for those looking to buy or sell real estate in the Bayside, Flushing, Little Neck, Whitestone, Fresh Meadows, Forest Hills, Other Queen Towns and Nassau Towns areas. By focusing specifically on the Bayside, Flushing, Little Neck, Whitestone, Fresh Meadows, Forest Hills, Other Queen Towns and Nassau Towns in New York real estate markets, Sophia has created a site that offers detailed information and valuable resources to help their clients buy or sell their Bayside, Flushing, Little Neck, Whitestone, Fresh Meadows, Forest Hills, or other Queen Towns and Nassau Towns, New York area home.

Pro Step Marketing, located in Denver, North Carolina, provides real estate web design, marketing consultation and education services to real estate agents across the country, along with logo design, branding services for print and web, website design and development, including lead integration strategies, and search engine optimization. Pro Step Marketing has a team dedicated to pulling all the pieces together so their clients can finally get the results they?ve always wanted from their real estate marketing strategy.


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Chinese auto sales take unexpected September slide amidst anti ...

China anti-Japan protests

Vehicle sales in China took a sizable dip for the first time in eight months, due largely to the fact that buyers in the country are turning away from Japanese brands. Automotive News China reports wholesale deliveries fell by .3 percent last month, while Toyota and Nissan saw sales figures fall to their lowest levels since 2008. Meanwhile, figures compiled by Bloomberg indicate Honda had its worst month since May of 2011.

While analysts in China expect market share to shift from Japanese brands to automakers like General Motors, Hyundai and Volkswagen, the Chinese Association of Automobile Manufacturers expects October to be another down month.

Anti-Japanese riots recently broke out in China, with demonstrators targeting Japanese businesses and products with violence. Since then, buyers have participated in boycotting Japanese goods, including large items like cars and SUVs. Sales of Japanese vehicles fell by 41 percent to 160,000 units last month alone, slicing market share from 20.5 percent this time last year to 12.2 percent.


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Friday, October 12, 2012

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G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) win 2012 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Beta-adrenergic receptor (red) with G protein bound to it determined by Brian Kobilka's lab (green, blue and yellow complex) (Image: Wikipedia commons)

Brian Kobilka (Stanford) and Robert Lefkowitz (Duke) have won the 2012 the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on one of the most important classes of proteins in living organisms, the G Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs). A lot of us had predicted this prize based on groundbreaking work done during the last decade on several kinds of GPCRs, although personally I thought it would take a few more years for the prize to be awarded. Nevertheless, the class of proteins and their physiological importance makes this prize extremely well-deserved and this has been one of the fastest discovery-to-prize transitions in recent decades. From a chemical standpoint, the GPCRs provide a superb example of a molecular machine whose subtle workings we have only started to understand. This Nobel Prize continues the proud tradition of recognizing crystallographers who are among the most persistent and fearless of all scientists. It?s a tradition that goes back to the 1962 Nobel Prize awarded to Max Perutz and John Kendrew for their studies of hemoglobin and myoglobin.

GPCRs are essentially both the gatekeepers and molecular messengers of the cell, transmitting signals from inside to outside. The signal can consist of an astonishing variety of stimuli, from photons (light) to neurotransmitters to hormones. They mediate virtually every important physiological process, from immune system function to reproduction to the fight-or-flight response in humans. GPCRs are also immensely important in medicine and are the target of about 30% of all drugs. Naturally occurring small molecules which bind to GPCRs include adrenaline, prostaglandins, dopamine, somatostatin and adenosine. Drug-like small molecules which bind to GPCRs include caffeine, morphine, heroin and histamine. The range of stimuli and molecules that GPCRs respond to is remarkable and their role in the workings of life is unquestioned.

Unfortunately for a long time, it wasn?t possible to study the detailed structure of GPCRs because of the great difficulties in crystallizing them. GPCRs are membrane bound proteins that span the cell membrane in the form of seven transmembrane helices which are connected by three loops, three on the intracellular side and three on the extracellular side. Most importantly, these proteins are bound on the inside to a small subunit of a G protein, a key signaling molecule that acts as a sensor and messenger to ferry signals inside the cell. Because GPCRs are membrane proteins, any attempt to take them out of the membrane would rapidly destroy their integrity; it?s like trying to study a delicate embryo by taking it out of the womb. The six loops on a GPCR are particularly floppy and it?s challenging to pin them down; they also turn out to be particularly important determinants of molecular binding.?GPCRs can also exist in two states, an active state and an inactive state, and crystallizing the active state turns out to be a fearsome task because of its instability.

Molecules that bind to these proteins come in three flavors. Agonists activate the receptor. Inverse agonists completely shut it down. Antagonists prevent agonist binding but don?t shut the protein down.?A small molecule like a drug binds to one of the GPCR helices on the outside and this results in a complex series of motions of the helices that results in the dissociation of one of the G protein subunits. After dissociating, the G protein can interact with a variety of other proteins, including proteins called kinases which attach and detach phosphate groups and control cell signaling. The end result of this process is usually the activation of a so-called second messenger, a small molecule like cyclic GMP (cGMP)?which goes into the nucleus of the cell and brings about specific gene expression and attendant physiological responses. There?s a variety of ways in which GPCRs are regulated, activated and inactivated and G protein binding is just one of them. A recently highlighted class of proteins called arrestins for instance can deactivate GPCRs when they are overstimulated and internalize them for degradation.


A schematic of the GPCR activation process. As shown in the "Intracellular perspective", the binding of a small agonist molecule to the protein causes a crucial movement of the helices, resulting in interactions with intracellular G proteins and transmission of the external stimulus inside the cell. (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

However as mentioned before, studying GPCRs especially in their crystallized state was immensely challenging. Membrane proteins have always been the bane of crystallographers and GPCRs were especially recalcitrant. But beginning in the 90s, a series of breakthroughs allowed the detailed structural characterization of these proteins, and both of this year?s Nobel Laureates have made key contributions to this development. The ?model organism? for GPCRs has been the beta-adrenergic receptor (BAR) which binds to adrenaline and brings about the ?fight-or-flight? response among other things. Beginning in the 80s, Robert Lefkowitz pioneered the modern study of GPCRs by first cloning and sequencing the gene for the BAR. In addition his group also established a variety of techniques for handling the BAR. Lefkowitz was also the first to identify arrestins which are responsible for GPCR deregulation and control. In a broad sense he can be considered the father of modern GPCR research.

Apparently Lefkowitz?s enthusiasm must have rubbed off on his postdoc Brian Kobilka. After beginning his independent career at Stanford, Kobilka began work that resulted in a series of tour-de-forces that gazed into the inner structure and workings of the BAR in exquisite and unprecedented detail. The structural story had started to unfold in the late 90s. In 2000, Krzyfztof Palczewski became the first to obtain crystals of rhodopsin, the GPCR responsible for sensing light. However, while this was a major achievement, the structure was relatively low resolution and could not shed light on the details of GPCR activation. This task was left to Kobilka?s group.

In the last few decades beginning with the first structure in 2007, Kobilka?s group has provided an astonishing set of insights into GPCR structure through crystallography. Their workhorse has been the BAR. In 2007 they obtained a crystal structure of the BAR in its inactive state. The breakthrough became possible because of detailed manipulation, trial and error and sheer persistence (a trait shared by many protein crystallographers). Crystallography is still very much of an art and there isn?t always a rational path to crystallizing a particular protein. Kobilka?s group tried countless combinations of amino acid sequence variants of the protein with a small section deleted along with several detergents, stabilizing small molecules and proteins. The winning combination turned out to be an antibody which stabilized the GPCR when it was lifted out of the membrane. A second structure was stabilized by attaching a bacteriophage virus to it. Once these tricks were figured out Kobilka?s group ploughed ahead. Another major breakthrough came with a structure of the GPCR in its active state, a state which had previously thought to be too unstable to be isolated. The comparison of the structures in the active and inactive state provided valuable insights into the activation process, including the identity of the specific helices that move and affect G protein binding. Finally, Kobilka?s group dealt the coup-de-grace in 2011 when they published the first ever structure of a GPCR bound to a G protein. That structure has again led to unprecedented, atomic-level understanding of GPCR function including the movement of the crucial helices and loops. Kobilka?s work was also accompanied by pioneering work from?Raymond Stevens?s lab at Scripps which also developed special techniques to crystallize GPCRs. All these projects are technical tour-de-forces, involving the testing of thousands of conditions, countless hours of manual labor and the delicate handling of temperamental proteins. Together Kobilka and Stevens?s labs have turned into the world?s top GPCR crystallography destinations.

These breakthroughs have opened the way to not only a detailed dissection of the mechanism of GPCR function but also to structure-based drug design. In addition they have struck a blow to the belief that GPCRs cannot be crystallized. In the last 12 years more than a dozen GPCR crystal structures have been resolved. These include the dopamine receptor, the CXCR4 chemokine receptor which is thought to be involved in HIV infection, the adenosine A2 receptor which binds to caffeine and provides our daily morning high and most recently, the key opioid receptors which bind to morphine. In fact most crystal structures of the GPCRs come with drugs attached to them and therefore they are invaluable starting points for designing more potent drugs with better safety profiles. The morphine-bound structures are particularly promising in this regard since finding a safe alternative to morphine has for decades been a kind of medical crusade with many corpses but no holy grail in sight.

But most importantly, as with any other major discovery, Kobilka and Lefkowitz?s work asks more questions than it answers and points to exciting, uncharted territory. GPCR function has turned out to be much more subtle than we thought. The most significant discovery in this context has been the observation that similar small molecules ? two agonists for instance ? can nonetheless activate the proteins in different ways and lead to very different physiological responses, a phenomenon called ?functional selectivity?. This results from the differential interaction of GPCRs with G proteins, arrestins and other proteins in the interior of the cell. Remarkably, functional selectivity can even lead to the exact same molecule acting alternatively as an agonist or antagonist, depending on the physiological response that is being mediated by the protein. Thus, GPCR function is more like Nature?s Bach symphony than a set of independent notes where it?s combinations of interactions rather than the binding of a single molecule that result in a complex physiological response. The work done by Kobilka, Lefkowitz and others opens the door to understanding how this symphony is exactly conducted.

Addendum: I have to say that the whole ?But is this chemistry?!? meme is getting quite boring. Binding of a small molecule to a GPCR is as much of a molecular interaction as anything in chemistry. Plus, think about the downstream chemistry that GPCRs do, including phosphorylation and salt-bridge breakage. I thought chemists were supposed to rub their hands with glee at the reduction of biology to chemistry while biologists fret and fume. But I see the opposite, biologists being quite sanguine about proteins being awarded medicine Nobels while chemistry continue to complain about proteins (chemicals!) being awarded chemistry Nobels. As I have said before though, this very bickering shows the astonishing reach and diversity of the field. If you can?t even agree on a definition for your field, well, that means your field is truly omnipresent.


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Google Street View Technology Takes a Peek Inside New Jersey ...

Google Virtual Tour of Hamilton Honda in New Jersey ? Click through it to see the inside of this dealership.

Some New Jersey Business owners have been taking advantage of a recently launched program from Google officially titled ?Google Business Photos.? The same Street View Technology that has allowed people to virtually walk up and down local streets is now being used to take users for Virtual Tours that show the interiors of business locations.

This new offering from Google has allowed New Jersey Businesses to add a new dimension to their online presence across Google products. Google Business Photos uses Street View Technology to give internet users the ability to step inside a business for a 360 degree, interactive Virtual Tour.? The Virtual Tour functions just like street view, only in much better detail. The functionality allows people to zoom in on different items, pan 360 degrees, and click on arrows to explore around inside the business location.

Google Business Photos is a paid premium service from Google, and the first of it?s kind. It is available to any business location that has already set up a free Google+ local page.? The service includes the Virtual Tour described above, and a set of professional high resolution images.? The one time fee is based on the size of a location and is available through photographers known as Google Trusted Photographers. Google Trusted Photographers are a small group of photographers that are trained and certified by Google to provide this service to businesses around the World.

Orsi Soos is a photographer with Black Paw Photo, based out of NY, and has been Certified by Google to provide coverage across the New York and New Jersey areas. She has this to say about the service: ?Google Business Photos provides excellent exposure for businesses when customers find them online through Google. The Virtual Tour gives business owners a unique tool they can use to attract new customers that find them through Google Search and Google Maps.? Not only can users look inside a business on Google products, but the business owner can also embed the Virtual Tour on their own website. When compared to typical marketing/advertising expenses, this service is an extraordinary value.?

To learn more about Google Business Photos and see Virtual Tours of other New Jersey based businesses you may visit the following link:?

The video presentation below provides an overview of Google Business Photos and was created by Black Paw Photo:


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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Biden, Ryan take the debate spotlight for a night

Workers carry chairs through the media center ahead of Thursday's vice presidential debate Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Workers carry chairs through the media center ahead of Thursday's vice presidential debate Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Vice President Joe Biden followed by his daughter Ashley Biden, arrives on Air Force Two at Lexington Blue Grass Airport, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

A sign promoting the Vice Presidential debate is held up at a rally on the Centre College campus, site of the debate, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, in Danville, Ky. Vice President Joe Biden will face Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Shadows are cast across the floor as people pass by outside the debate hall ahead of the vice presidential debate with Republican vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Vice President Joe Biden, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, at Centre College in Danville, Ky. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

DANVILLE, Ky. (AP) ? Vice President Joe Biden and Republican Rep. Paul Ryan seized the campaign spotlight Thursday night for a 90-minute debate, their only faceoff of the 2012 race for the White House.

The encounter between the 69-year-old vice president and 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman was a high-profile interlude between last week's race-altering debate featuring President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney and next Tuesday's return engagement.

Romney has gained ground in national and battleground-state surveys in the week since he shared a stage with the president, and even Obama has conceded he performed poorly.

Mocking recent changes in Romney's rhetoric, Obama told a Miami rally on Thursday, "After running for more than a year in which he called himself severely conservative, Mitt Romney is trying to convince you that he was severely kidding."

Romney visited with 93-year-old evangelist Billy Graham in North Carolina ? 'Prayer is the most helpful thing you can do for me," he told the evangelist ? before an evening rally in Asheville.

For Biden, Thursday night's debate was his first since the 2008 campaign, when he shared a stage with Sarah Palin, then John McCain's running mate.

Ryan spars frequently with Democrats during debates on legislation on the House floor and in the House Budget Committee, which he chairs, but not in a one-on-one encounter covering 90 minutes and a virtually unlimited range of topics.

For all their differences, the two men shared a common objective, to advance the cause of their tickets in a close race for the presidency ? and avoid a gaffe that might forever seal their place in the history of debates.

Romney's choice of Ryan as running mate over the summer cheered conservatives in the House, many of whom regard him as their leader on budget and economic issues. The seven-term lawmaker has authored a pair of deficit-reducing budgets in the past two years that call for spending cuts and changes in Medicare, blueprints that Republicans passed through the House and Obama and his allies in Congress frequently criticize. He also champions a no-tax increase approach to economic policy.

As a senator before becoming vice president, Biden was chairman of the Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees, and he has long experience in national security issues. More recently, he was Obama's point man in arduous, ultimately unsuccessful negotiations with Republicans on steps to cut the deficit.

Both Ryan and Biden held extensive rehearsals, with stand-ins for their opponents.

Biden turned to Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who is well-versed in Ryan's policy views from his tenure as senior Democrat on the Budget Committee.

Ryan's foil in rehearsal was former Solicitor General Ted Olson, a skillful courtroom advocate.

Martha Raddatz of ABC News had moderator duties.

After they meet next week in Hempstead, N.Y., Obama and Romney will have one more debate, Oct. 22 in Boca Raton, Fla.


Associated Press writers Philip Elliott in Kentucky, Ken Thomas in Florida and Kasie Hunt in North Carolina contributed. Espo reported from Washington.

Associated Press


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