Friday, November 30, 2012

Starts with Why | Bridgeland, Calgary Personal Training and Group ...

start with why Starts with WhyThis week I started reading the book, ?Starts with Why? by Simon Senek. A great book to help you figure out why you do the things you do. Do you just go through life and wait for things to happen to you? Do you fall in the routine of life, to the point you?re on autopilot and don?t even need to think about your actions?

If you said yes to those questions, you?re most likely not really that happy with your life. Are you really living the life of your dreams?

I was at a Business Networking meeting this past week, and everyone stood up and gave the ?why? they are in business and what they are passionate about. It got me thinking, do I wake up every morning and have a purpose to my day? Does every action I take start with why?

Deep thoughts for a Friday morning icon smile Starts with Why

Many of you go to the gym because you know you need to for your health and fitness, others go to look good, others go to stay fit, others just go.

What is your why for exercising? Once you figure out what your ?why? is, you will be more comitted to sticking with it.

This leads to the infamous New Years Resolutions. Every January millions of us jump on the health and fitness bandwagon. 80% of those, don?t even make it till the end of January. All of a sudden Super Bowl gets in the way and then its Valentines, and on and on come the excuses.

Before January comes, I want you to write down your Why for your New Years Resolutions, whatever they may be. Do you want to lose 50, 20 or 10 pounds? Write down why. Is it because you want to look a certain way? Is it for health reasons? Is it that you want to live till you see your great grandkids, or is it to reduce stress and to make you happy.

Knowing your Why will help you propel forward when life gets in the way. Knowing your why helps bring the people into your life that will help and support you. Knowing your why will give you purpose to your life.

Life is too short to just go through the motions. Life your best life. Is your life you?re living today, what you dreamed up when you were a kid. If not, change it.

Tags: Calgary Bridgeland Boot Camp, Calgary downtown bootcamp, Calgary Fitness Boot Camps, Calgary Weight Loss

Posted in Motivation/Mindset by admin |


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Review: 'Memphis' brings high energy to Auditorium

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TD Canada Trust grand opening in South Surrey

A new TD Canada Trust branch is opening on Saturday in South Surrey.

TD Canada Trust will officially open a new full-service branch located at 2640 152 St. During the opening, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation will make a financial contribution to Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society.

The grand opening event takes place Saturday, Nov. 24 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be a ribbon cutting and cheque presentation at 12 noon.

The public is invited to come take a tour of the new branch, enjoy some refreshments, play some games and meet their neighbours.

In attendance will be Jane Russell, senior vice-president, TD Canada Trust; Bruce Gray, district vice-president, TD Canada Trust; andJessica Watson, branch manager.


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Red Square bomb plotter gets 15 years in jail

MOSCOW (AP) ? A man whose plot to cause carnage on Moscow's iconic Red Square was thwarted by a spam phone message that prematurely detonated a bomb was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in jail.

Ilyas Saidov, a member of an underground Islamist group, brought explosives-laden belts disguised as heaters for two female suicide bombers on a bus from his native Dagestan, a southern province in the Caucasus region plagued by almost daily clashes between Islamists and federal forces.

But just hours before they were to detonate the bombs on New Year's Eve, 2010, a belt attached to a cellphone exploded after the detonator was activated by a spam message, killing one of the women and prompting the arrest of the other. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail in May.

Spam is a daily nuisance for many Russians buying new SIM cards but this time the message saved thousands from being in harm's way, authorities said. Red Square is a popular gathering point for Muskovites to see in the new year.

The Moscow City Court also found Saidov guilty of gunning down two police officers and three civilians in Dagestan.

Saidov pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators, giving up the leader and several members of an underground Islamist group he was part of. His testimony led to the killing of several Islamists.

Four members of the group have been convicted, and six more are currently standing trial, investigators said.

Since 2000, at least two dozen female suicide bombers, most of them from the Caucasus, have carried out terrorist attacks on security officers and civilians in Russian cities and aboard trains and planes.

The bombers are often called "black widows" in Russia because many of them are the wives, or other relatives, of militants killed by security forces.

Islamic militants are believed to convince "black widows" that a suicide bombing will reunite them with their dead relatives beyond the grave.


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Car engines downsized, without sacrificing power

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Passengers have a habit of packing some unusual things in their luggage, but when a Ford engineer passed his bag through security recently, it clearly took the TSA X-ray technician by surprise. It?wasn't?a gun, knife or illicit drugs but a big steel block.? More precisely, it was the main piece of a new 1.0-liter engine that Ford will begin offering on its Fiesta subcompact next year.?

With gasoline prices surging to near-record levels and many experts forecasting a steady climb over the next few years, consumers are looking for ways to cut their fuel bills. There?s a clear trend towards downsizing, with?compact and subcompact automobiles increasing their market share substantially.

But Americans have traditionally been believers that big is better, and despite expectations, demand for SUVs and CUVs?hasn't?collapsed. If anything, sales of pickups are, well, picking up again. Yet, these vehicles are getting far more mileage than ever before and downsizing also gets the credit ? but unless you peak under the hood, you may not notice.

Take the Ford F-150. The full-size pickup has traditionally been powered by an assortment of big, bigger and truly enormous V-8s. But over the last year, roughly half the F-Series trucks rolling out of Ford showrooms have been equipped with smaller V-6s.

?The old saying that ?there?s no replacement for displacement? is now obsolete,? said Bob Fascetti, director of global engine operations for Ford.

Downsizing trend
The Detroit automaker?isn't?the only one discarding that old adage. Hyundai delivered quite a shock, a few years ago, when it introduced the latest-generation Sonata line, the midsize sedan coming equipped only with a four-cylinder engine rather than the traditionally prerequisite V-6 option.? A growing number of competitors have since copied that approach.

?The downsizing trend that captures the change in the auto industry is the switch to four-cylinder engines,? notes Jim Farley, Ford?s global marketing czar.

It?s not the first time automakers have downsized powertrains. They tried that strategy in the 1970s and ?80s, following the twin Mideast oil shocks. But the engines they came up with were, to put it bluntly, unfit for the job. Motorists largely steered clear of what were derisively known as ?stone ponies.?

Today?s downsized engines are an entirely different breed, however, thanks to more sophisticated technologies like direct injection, variable valve timing and advanced turbocharging.

?We?ve come a long way in terms of the power output of small engines,? said?Dave Sullivan, auto analyst with AutoPacific, Inc.? And in the process, ?We?ve reached the point where bigger cars can get the fuel economy of smaller cars? without sacrificing much ? if any ? performance.

Consider Ford?s new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine, the one that caused a stir when the block was put through X-ray.? In decades past, 3-cylinder engines were found on only the lowest-cost econoboxes.? They were rough, slow and generally unpleasant to drive.? The new turbocharged Ford powertrain, however, actually develops substantially more horsepower and wheel-spinning torque than the current 1.6-liter engine found in the Fiesta.

Automotive engineers like to talk about ?specific output,? the amount of power from a given displacement.? The new 1.0-liter EcoBoost produces 123 horsepower per liter. Compare that to the big Lamborghini Aventador, its 6.5-liter V-12 producing ?just? 108 horsepower per liter.

A new age
The trend towards downsized engines isn?t limited to mainstream and economy cars.? Even luxury makers are shifting gears, many buyers demanding more environmentally friendly technology even if they can afford the gas bills.? Bentley recently launched a new V-8 that is a virtual match for the performance of its classic V-8.

Those new technologies, such as direct injection, helped Porsche deliver more horsepower ? even as it bumped up the fuel economy of its latest-generation 911 sports car by a substantial 16 percent.

Of course, other breakthroughs also help, like improved aerodynamic designs and advanced 7-, 8- and even 9-speed transmissions that ensure an engine is always operating at its most efficient RPM speed.

?We?re entering a new age,? said Ford?s Farley, where the latest gasoline-powered drivetrains are now delivering ?fuel economy in the range of what hybrids used to get.?

And so, while advanced powertrains like EcoBoost might carry a modest premium over traditional gas engines, they?re still substantially cheaper than hybrids. That?s one reason, the Ford marketing chief said, why sales of hybrids and battery cars may not be growing as quickly as expected despite this year?s run-up in fuel prices. In fact, he notes industry studies showing some current hybrid buyers ?would switch back? to conventionally powered vehicles.

That said, Farley and other industry executives aren?t ready to write off battery-based vehicles. As good as the latest gas engines are getting, some experts warn the technology may soon hit the wall. And with the recently approved federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard calling for 54.5 mpg by 2025, the industry may still be forced to adopt more hybrids and battery cars ? and push for more vehicle downsizing.

But as the latest 1.0-liter EcoBoost illustrates, the gas engine is showing a lot more life than many had anticipated ? and that?s clearly good news for American motorists who still like their big sedans, pickups and SUVs.

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Plano tower fetches $120 million in sale to Arizona investor | Biz ...

The 12-story Encana Tower was completed earlier this year. (DMN files)

A new Plano office tower has been snapped up by an Arizona-based investor which paid a top-market price.

Cole Real Estate Investments bought the recently-completed Encana Oil & Gas tower on the Dallas North Tollway in Legacy business park.

The 12-story, 318,600-square-foot office tower is fully leased to the Canada-based energy firm, Encana.

Cole Real Estate said Wednesday it paid $120 million for the tower.

The purchase price ? more than $375 per square foot ? is one of the highest paid recently for a local office property.

Encana will continue to occupy the building on a 15-year lease.

Cole executive vice president Thomas Roberts said ?the strategic importance of this facility, attractive location and recent construction, make this an ideal investment.?

Gary Carr, vice chairman in the Dallas office of CBRE Group brokered the sale.

Dallas developer KDC built the Encana tower which is located on the east side of the tollway just north of Legacy Drive. The property includes room for Encana to expand with further office construction.

Phoenix-based Cole Real Estate owns 70.6 million square feet of commercial real estate in 47 states.

In the Dallas-area, Cole?s holdings include the Cigna Pointe office building in Plano and the AT&T office building in Pinnacle Park, west of downtown Dallas.

Cole?s just-completed Plano purchase is the second major office sale in Legacy business park so far this year.

In May, investor KBS Real Estate paid $113 million ? or about $217 per square foot ? for three Legacy Town Center office buildings. CBRE?s Carr brokered that sale, too.


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Iran "will press on with enrichment:" nuclear chief

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran will go on enriching uranium "with intensity" and the number of enrichment centrifuges it has operating will rise substantially in the current year, the country's nuclear energy chief was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

The comments by Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, signaled continued defiance in the face of international demands that Tehran halt enrichment to the higher 20 percent fissile purity level, close down its Fordow enrichment plant, and ship out its stockpile of the material.

But Abbasi-Davani also said Iran would continue and possibly raise its output of reactor fuel using 20 percent enriched uranium, which could allay concerns that a growing stockpile of the higher-grade material could be put to making atom bombs.

Diplomacy between Iran and the world powers - the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, and Britain - has been deadlocked since a June meeting that ended without breakthrough.

Iran has faced a tightening of Western trade sanctions in the last two years, with the United States and its allies hoping the measures will force Iran to curb its nuclear program.

"Despite the sanctions, most likely this year we will have a substantial growth in centrifuge machines and we will continue (uranium) enrichment with intensity," Abbasi-Davani was quoted as saying on Wednesday by the website of Iranian state television (IRIB). The Iranian calendar year runs to mid-March.

But Abbasi-Davani did not say whether Iran would increase the work that most worries the West, the higher-grade enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity, as opposed to the lower-grade enrichment to 3.5 percent level needed for nuclear power plants.

Iran says it needs 20 percent refined uranium to turn into fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran, and argues its nuclear program has purely peaceful purposes.

Abbasi-Davani said on Wednesday that Iran was continuing its production of fuel to power the Tehran reactor - which uses fuel converted from 20 percent enriched uranium - and could possibly increase its production from two "complexes" of fuel per month to three, according to state news agency IRNA.

That could help ease concerns over a recent increase in Iran's higher-grade uranium stockpile which Western countries fear could be diverted for use in a possible weapons program.

A U.N. nuclear watchdog report issued this month showed that Iran in late September suddenly stopped converting 20 percent enriched uranium into oxide powder used at the Tehran reactor.

Because Iran's enrichment work at the same time continued unabated, the halt meant that its stockpile of the higher-grade uranium rose by nearly 50 percent to 135 kg in November compared with the level in the previous quarterly report in August.

Iran started producing 20 percent-enriched uranium at the Fordow site, buried deep inside a mountain, in late 2011 and has been operating 700 centrifuges there since January.

A U.N. report earlier this month said that the Islamic state has put in place the nearly 2,800 centrifuges that Fordow was designed for, and is poised to double the number of them operating to roughly 1,400 from 700 now.

U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Yukiya Amano said earlier this month that Iran is enriching uranium at a constant pace and international sanctions aimed at making Tehran suspend the activity are having no visible impact.

Abbasi-Davani also said the Arak research reactor, which Western experts say could potentially offer Iran a second route to material for a nuclear bomb, faced "no problems" and was progressing towards a launch as normal, IRIB reported.

"There is no specific scientific, technical, or budgetary problem in regards to the Arak reactor and in the near future we will witness its launch with virtual fuel," he said.

A U.N. report this month showed that Iran has postponed until 2014 the planned start-up of the Arak complex, which analysts say could yield plutonium for nuclear arms if the spent fuel is reprocessed.

(Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by Mark Heinrich)


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"Homeland" in, "Boardwalk Empire" out in PGA TV nominations

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Emmy-winning dramas "Homeland", "Mad Men" and British period piece "Downton Abbey" will compete for the annual Producers Guild Awards for the top shows on U.S. television, organizers announced on Wednesday.

But last year's winner - HBO's lavish Prohibition-era gangster drama "Boardwalk Empire" - failed to make the cut this year with the Producers Guild of America, one of the leading professional guilds in Hollywood.

Instead, the producers of popular fantasy drama "Game of Thrones" and drug underworld show "Breaking Bad" round out the nominees for the top PGA prize in television.

The PGA also nominated the producers of comedies "Modern Family", "The Big Bang Theory", "Louie", "30 Rock" and Larry David's wry "Curb Your Enthusiasm" as contenders for its 2013 awards on the small screen.

In the reality genre, singing contest "The Voice" will go head to head with fashion show "Project Runway", "Top Chef", "Dancing with the Stars" and Emmy darling "The Amazing Race".

Hollywood's guilds represent professionals in their respective industries, and recognition by peers can go a long way toward boosting a producer's career.

The PGA will announce nominees in its closely watched movie category in early January, and hand out its awards for film and television at a ceremony in Hollywood on January 26.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Dale Hudson)


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Think Thin: Sharp?s New 4K 32-Inch Monitor Is 35 mm Thick

Think Thin: Sharp’s New 4K 32-Inch Monitor Is 35 mm Thick
Sharp announced a 32-inch 4K resolution professional monitor Wednesday. Besides being among the first 4K monitors to hit the market, the whisper-thin wonder has the thinnest frame of any monitor currently available.


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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Kim Kardashian divorce inches toward trial

FILE - This Aug. 31, 2011 file photo shows Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries attending a party thrown in their honor at Capitale in New York. Kardashian's attorney Laura Wasser told a judge on Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012 that the reality starlet is "handcuffed" to her estranged husband, Humphries, and unable to move on with her life because the NBA player continues to seek an annulment but is not ready for trial. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)

FILE - This Aug. 31, 2011 file photo shows Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries attending a party thrown in their honor at Capitale in New York. Kardashian's attorney Laura Wasser told a judge on Wednesday Nov. 28, 2012 that the reality starlet is "handcuffed" to her estranged husband, Humphries, and unable to move on with her life because the NBA player continues to seek an annulment but is not ready for trial. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, file)

LOS ANGELES (AP) ? Kim Kardashian's divorce attorney told a judge Wednesday that the reality star wants to move on with her life but is "handcuffed" to her estranged husband because the case is not yet ready for trial.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Moloney told attorneys for Kardashian and NBA player Kris Humphries to return to court in mid-February to set a trial date to either dissolve or annul the couple's 72-day marriage. He didn't set a deadline for depositions and other pre-trial investigation to be completed, but indicated a trial could be held early next year if it is ready by Feb. 15.

Humphries, a power forward for the Brooklyn Nets, is seeking an annulment based on fraud, but his attorney says he needs more time to collect documents from companies that handle Kardashian's reality shows.

Kardashian is seeking a traditional divorce and her attorney Laura Wasser has cited both the marriage's short duration and a prenuptial agreement as reasons for why it should be quickly resolved.

"I don't think his client has a fraud case," Wasser said in court of Humphries' attorney. "I think there's a fishing expedition going on here."

Humphries' attorney Marshall Waller said he needed to be sure he had documents from E! Entertainment and NBC Universal before deciding the scope of his case, but that he was narrowing it down.

"I do understand the desire to get this case moved," Waller said. "There's nothing in particular about this case that makes it more important than anybody else."

Wasser however said that unlike in a regular divorce proceeding, Kardashian cannot have her marriage dissolved and resolve other issues later. "Ms. Kardashian is now handcuffed to Mr. Humphries," she said.

Kardashian filed for divorce more than a year ago, citing irreconcilable differences just weeks after the couple's star-studded and televised wedding. Humphries later filed for an annulment, claiming the marriage was based on fraud but he has yet to lay out any specific evidence for his claim.

Wasser says Kardashian's mother, Kris Jenner, and current boyfriend, Kanye West, have been deposed in the case.

Kardashian, 32, has not yet been deposed in the case. She is the star of the E! Entertainment Television series "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," the network's top-rated show, which averaged more than 3 million viewers in its sixth season. She also appears on other series involving her family.


Anthony McCartney can be reached at

Associated Press


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Tips for Boosting Small Business Productivity with Technology ...

ZDnet has a good piece on how small businesses can use IT to boost productivity. ?They list 5 tips on how SMBs can leverage IT to increase the productivity of their workforces. We happen to love the first two points, as they are parts of the OfficeDrop solution that our business owners are really embracing:

  • Digitized Workflow ? we agree that having important tasks done digitally, vs the traditional (slow) paper method provides a major boost to small business productivity
  • Mobile Access ? as we?ve blogged before, small businesses are leading mobile IT adoption, mainly because they are seeing that their employees are much more productive on the go when they have quick and secure mobile access to important files.

Check out the ZDnet video below on how small business is using technology to become more productive:

Interested in using technology to make your SMB better? One of the most compelling features of OfficeDrop?s cloud storage solution is our file search engine. For many of our clients, full text file search has become the?most important tool in their company?s organizational/retreival toolbox.?Anything that they need they can simply type into a search box and they?ll not only be shown the list of files matching the query, they?ll also get thumbnail previews of the files that will let their employee pick the correct one right away. Previews matter a lot when dealing with scans, because scanners don?t always pick names that make sense; many of scanned files are named funny strings of numbers based on the date that the item was scanned.?With OfficeDrop, PDFs & scans are made fully text searchable, and files with text like Word documents, PPT?s and more are also full text searchable. So it?s easy to find words, numbers, phrases within my files. OfficeDrop?s web file search engine is currently our leading edge file search interface. I can easily add in search modifers like ?searching for files modified ?yesterday? or ?3 months ago to today,? by file type like ?pdf? or type ?audio.? It?s pretty amazing what can happen you can do cloud search on all of your files.


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Cyber Deals Aren't Just for Monday | Daily Ticker - Yahoo! Finance

Missed those Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals? You're not alone. Some retailers like (AMZN) are extending their holiday sales for an entire week to lure in shoppers. The holiday shopping season has just commenced but early signs are pointing to a jolly year for retailers, especially online retailers.

Related: How to Protect Yourself While Shopping Online This Holiday Season: Wired's Mat Honan

According to research firm comScore, online sales totaled $1.04 billion Black Friday weekend, a 26% gain from last year. Online retailers are expected to post $43.4 billion in holiday sales this year. A survey conducted for The National Retail Federation estimates that more than 129 million Americans shopped online on Cyber Monday, up from 123 million on the same day last year. E-commerce currently makes up less than 10 percent of consumer spending in the U.S.

Related: Why Black Friday Holiday Sales Matter Less Than Ever Before was the most-visited retail Web site on Black Friday, according to comScore, followed by the online sites of Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target and Apple. Amazon also recorded the highest year-over-year increase in visitor traffic among the top five retailers.

"We expect this to be our biggest holiday season ever," Amazon spokesman Scott Stanzel says in the accompanying clip.

Amazon has yet to release its Cyber Monday stats but Stanzel expects the numbers to beat last year's tally when 17.7 million items were purchased by consumers worldwide, a rate of 200 items per second. For 2012, Amazon hired 50,000 temporary workers to help meet the site's holiday shipping demand.

Related: Inside the World of Online Retail: What It's Like to Be a Warehouse Worker

As expected, consumer electronics are the hottest sellers on Amazon, with tablets and TVs being two popular holiday gifts. But consumers are also taking advantage of low prices on toys, movies and diamond stud earrings on the site, Stanzel notes. Amazon has been viewed as the evil empire by brick-and-mortar retailers because of its ability to offer deep discounts on merchandise and its zero-tax policy in most states. "Showrooming" -- the pejorative term used to describe Amazon's effect on sales ? has become well-known among consumers and the retail industry alike. Showrooming refers to shopping and analyzing a product in a physical store but ultimately purchasing the item at a lower cost on Amazon or another online retailer. Stanzel says consumers are just trying to find the best deals.

"We think there's much transparency in retail these days," he says. "People can get the information they want, they can seek out the lowest prices. There's a lot of competition for that consumer dollar."

Retailers' holiday sales will depend largely on how optimistic consumers are about the economy. The Conference Board reported Tuesday that its consumer confidence index rose to 73.7 last month, the fourth consecutive monthly increase.

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Judge Sentences Teenager to Ten Years of Church

Judge Sentences Teenager to Ten Years of Church

Posted by Paul Constant on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 2:44 PM

ThinkProgress links to an interesting story from

[Tyler] Alred, 17, pled guilty to manslaughter after he drove his vehicle into a tree, killing a 16-year-old passenger, John Luke Dum. Alred had been drinking, but was not legally drunk. Because Alred was prosecuted as a youthful offender, Norman had more discretion in deciding the teen?s punishment.

The judge gave Alred a choice: he could avoid prison as long as he was willing to attend church for ten years, as well as complete high school, train as a welder, and give up alcohol, drugs and tobacco for one year.

Besides being unconstitutional, there's an interesting statement about priorities hidden in this verdict: Alred is supposed to go to church for a decade, but he only has to abstain from booze and drugs for a year. What I'm taking from this is that it's more important to be publicly repentant than it is to actually learn a lesson.

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Meizu MX2 packs 1.6GHz quad-core chip, 4.4-inch display and Jelly Bean, due mid-December

Meizu MX2 packs 16GHz quadcore chip, 44inch display and Jelly Bean, due midDecember

Amidst the fierce competition in the Chinese mobile market, Meizu has managed to keep up with its annual cycle to unveil its latest flagship device, the MX2. Announced at the launch event in Beijing earlier today, the MX2 comes with a Samsung-made 1.6GHz, Cortex-A9 quad-core SoC dubbed "MX5S," along with 2GB of RAM, a 30-percent faster GPU, a 4.4-inch 347ppi (1,280 x 800) gapless display with 3.15mm bezel and efficient "New Mode 2" technology (the description of which sounds like IGZO to us), an improved eight-megapixel BSI F/2.4 camera and a choice of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of built-in memory. There's also a front-facing camera, dual-mic noise cancellation, MHL video output, S/PDIF audio output, a non-removable 1,800mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.0 and HSPA+ radio at 2,100MHz (2G at 900/1800). As before, the white double injection-molded back cover can be taken off to access the SIM card slot, but there should also be various color options in the near future. Read on for more info, and do also check out the official introduction video after the break.

Continue reading Meizu MX2 packs 1.6GHz quad-core chip, 4.4-inch display and Jelly Bean, due mid-December

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Via: Engadget Chinese

Source: Meizu


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Greek Bankruptcy Averted ? for now |

Greek Bankruptcy Averted ... for now

(Getty Images)

ATHENS, Greece (TheBlaze/AP) ? Greece has avoided imminent bankruptcy after its international creditors finally agreed to give it more money, but the cash-strapped country?s economic distress is likely to drag on for years to come.

After three weeks of negotiations, Greece?s euro partners and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to release vital loan payments totaling some ?44 billion ($57 billion) and introduce a series of measures designed to reduce the country?s massive debts to a more manageable level within a decade. These include reducing the interest rates Greece has to pay on the loans and a bond buyback program.

Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras hailed the agreement in Brussels early Tuesday as a victory that heralds ?a new day for all Greeks,? but the reaction in the markets was a bit more cautious.

Greek Bankruptcy Averted ... for now

Antonis Samaras (Getty Images)

For three years, Greece has been struggling to convince markets as well as its creditors that it can get a grip on its public finances, which spiraled out of control. The country is predicted to enter its sixth year of recession and is weighed down by an unemployment rate of 25 percent.

The so-called troika of the European Central Bank, IMF and the European Commission has twice agreed to bail out Greece, pledging a total of ?240 billion ($310 billion) in rescue loans ? of which the country has received about ?150 billion ($195 billion) so far. In return for its bailout loans, Greece has had to impose several rounds of austerity measures and submit its economy to scrutiny.

Without the bailout money, the country would be staring bankruptcy in the face together with a possible exit from the 17-country eurozone, with potentially chaotic repercussions for the world economy.

Greek Bankruptcy Averted ... for now

(Getty Images)

The meeting agreed to release ?34.4 billion in loans to Greece in December, with the remainder issued in three installments in the first quarter of 2013. The money will be used to help recapitalize Greece?s struggling banking industry and pay back suppliers.

Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras said the deal was ?very important for it keeps Greece in the euro, offers it a significant opportunity to exit the vicious cycle of recession and over-indebtedness, and contributes to its debt reduction.?

But opposition leader Alexis Tsipras, whose Radical Left Coalition wants Greece to scrap its bailout commitments, accused the conservative-led governing coalition of failing to defend the country?s interests.

?The solution does not include a viable program for Greece, therefore it is no solution,? he said. ?(It follows) successive failures of a program that has destroyed our society and meets none of the targets it sets.?

The meeting in Brussels was the third time in the last two weeks that finance ministers from the 17 European Union countries that use the euro had tried to hammer out a deal on the next installment of bailout money for struggling Greece.

Greek Bankruptcy Averted ... for now

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde takes her seat during a briefing at the IMF headquarters April 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are holding their 2012 spring meeting through April 21. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The main aim of the bailout program is to right Greece?s economy and get it to a point where it can independently raise money on the debt markets once the bailout loans start to run out at the end of 2014. It has been clear for months that the country is far from achieving that goal. Greece?s debt levels are expected to hit 190 percent of its annual economic output next year- some ?346 billion.

Current forecasts have Greece?s debt level at 144 percent of its output by 2020. The IMF had originally said it would only agree to the bailout program if the country?s debt was at 120 percent by then. Tuesday?s meeting reached a compromise between the IMF and the euro ministers where Greece will now have to reach a 124 percent debt load by 2020 and below 110 percent by 2022. The difference between the current forecast and the new 2020 target would involve a cut in Greece?s debt load of some ?40 billion.

The deal still requires the authorization of a number of Parliaments in Europe, including Germany?s, where patience with repeated Greek rescues has been running low.

Greek Bankruptcy Averted ... for now

A demonstrator holds a sign depicting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and three recent Greek prime ministers in Nazi uniforms during a protest against Merkel?s visit to Greece on October 9, 2012 in Athens, Greece. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

However, Rainer Bruederle, the caucus leader of the Free Democrats, the junior coalition partner, said he expects broad approval this time on Thursday.

?Conditions have been put together which maintain a tough mechanism toward Greece, but still save us from a collapse of the Greek economy possibly having consequences that could pull down the whole of Europe,? he said.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter


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Family Friendly Christmas Party Ideas ? Celebrations at Home

I?m excited to finally share this project I worked on with Urbanity Studios. I spoke with them several months ago about styling a party around one of their invitations, but they also wanted to highlight the fact that they can customize them through colors and wording, and offer coordinating pieces as well. I decided to style the same basic party in 3 different color schemes and I?ll be sharing each one separately.

Today is our traditional color palate of red and green, but our decorative details are whimsical and playful for a Family Friendly Christmas party. Read on for the details, and to get your FREE downloadable tags that match this set?

Get the Look:

  • This entire party was inspired by the patchwork Christmas tree invitation with it?s whimsical tree and string of ornaments graphic. Send out invitations soon, and use their coordinating address label wraps for a completed look.
  • Since ?whimsy? is the word of the day, I used dots and stripes throughout the decor. It doesn?t get more whimsical than dots! This also appeals to our younger guests at this family party.
  • White fudge dipped Oreos are dressed up with decorations from the baking aisle ? a simple trick anyone can do, and get that ?designer? look.
  • Urbanity Studios can provide coordinating signs & menus for your party too. I used a small sign to frame a menu for the sweets table ? an alternative to using individual food labels.

  • This easy menu consists of cupcakes, cheesecake mousse parfaits, white dipped Oreos, white truffles, powdered donuts, and various candies. Spoons for the parfaits are dressed up with tiny Santa hats found at the craft store.
  • I made favor boxes out of large matchboxes, and wrapped them in scrapbook paper. A coordinating sticker from Urbanity Studios tops them off in style. Fill them up with small candies or a small ornament.
  • Serving a red tinted punch in an apothecary jar keeps the party?s colors uninterrupted. Just use a punch bowl ladle to scoop it up.
  • Put your Christmas packages to work for you and let them decorate your party space. Stack boxes and place them in nooks and corners to add brightness.
  • The backdrop was designed to resemble the invitation with it?s hanging ornaments. I used ornament wall clings and ?hung? them with thin ribbon. A thicker ribbon is used like a swag to frame out the entire dessert table.

This was such a fun project to work on and I can?t wait to share the other 2 party design with you. Urbanity Studios has a wonderful gift to you as well. They are offering FREE Christmas tags that coordinate with each of the 3 parties I styled.? Just use a hole punch to loop a ribbon through, and tie them on. ? Get the downloads here.

For more inspiration, follow me on Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook. Cheers!

This is a sponsored post per Celebrations At Home styling service.


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Monday, November 26, 2012

Facebook stock climbs after upgrade

NEW YORK (AP) ? Facebook's stock is climbing after an upgrade from an analyst who believes Wall Street is underestimating the company's potential to grow revenue.

Bernstein Research analyst Carlos Kirjner said Monday that Facebook Inc. is likely to beat Wall Street's revenue expectations over the next 12 to 24 months. He expects Facebook to hit $6.98 billion in revenue in 2013, some 9 percent higher than the average analyst's expectation. In 2011, the social network reported revenue of $3.71 billion.

Kirjner upgraded Facebook's stock to "Outperform" from "Market Perform," saying that mobile advertising will drive revenue growth.

Facebook's stock is up $1.85, or 7.7 percent, at $25.84. It's still down 32 percent from its initial public offering price of $38.


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KAWS Companion In Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - Business ...

The Brooklyn-based artist Brian Donnelly -- better known as "KAWS" -- sent a balloon shaped like Mickey Mouse's dead body down Broadway in New York during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The balloon's official name is "Companion," and it is based on a sculpture of a gray, seated figure with a skull for a head and crosses for eyes. The figure wears the familiar buttoned britches and shoes of Mickey Mouse. Aside from the shape of its ears, it is basically a dead version of Mickey Mouse.

In fact, Donnelly said "Companion" was based on Mickey Mouse when the scupture was exhibited at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Conn. He told the museum that "Companion" was a "take down" of Mickey:

KAWS introduced the famous Companion in 1999. The seven and three-quarter inch limited edition toy featured the signature KAWS inflated skull and crossbones, with a skinny-legged Mickey Mouse body.? KAWS chose Mickey Mouse after a search for the most recognizable and international character in the cartoon world to ?take down.? Since then, the Companion has grown in scale. The towering Companion (Passing Through) presents the iconic figure sitting down with both gloved hands covering its face.

As this photo from the HighSnobiety blog shows, the "Companion" balloon traveled the route right in front of the real Mickey balloon. There's a better set of images here.

When the balloon reached Macy's in Herald Square, the NBC morning commentators -- Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker -- had little to say about it.


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Jones fined for hit on Stafford, no fine on Stafford

Denver Broncos v New York JetsGetty Images

How bad was Thursday night?s loss by the Jets?? Fireman Ed left at halftime and deleted his Twitter account.

Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia says the impact of the very big Vince Wilfork comes from ?little things? that don?t show up on the stats sheet.

Bills DE Shawne Merriman is becoming more confident.

The Dolphins are considering various upgrades to their 25-year-old stadium.

The 17 rookies on the Browns? roster are learning about the Pittsburgh rivalry.

Bengals TE Jermaine Gresham is fueling his team?s recent run.

Ravens RB Ray Rice has only two 100-yard games this season, and he has averaged only 55.6 yards over the last five games.

The Steelers? home field will get ripped up on Saturday, with?four high-school games being played there.

Colts interim coach Bruce Arians calls Sunday?s visit from the Bills a playoff game; ?We have to take that approach because Buffalo is taking that approach,? Arians said.? ?They?re do-or-die, we better be do-or-die. That?s been our mindset all week.?

Titans RB Chris Johnson was happy to have a week off, but he ?wouldn?t have minded to keep on going,? given his recent run of success.

Jaguars QB Chad Henne knows that a key to getting the starting job beyond 2012 is to get the team?s first home win of the season on Sunday.

Texans coach Gary Kubiak didn?t regard getting kicked in the nuts to be a sufficient excuse for QB Matt Schaub?s failure to make the throw; ?He didn?t like that,? Kubiak said of Schaub.

Raiders FB Marcel Reece is finally getting the stats, but he?d prefer to be getting the wins.

Chiefs WR Dexter McCluster delivered Thanksgiving dinner to an elderly fan, and in return she gave him the business.

Broncos LB Von Miller is conjuring comparisons to Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas.

With Chargers LT Jared Gaither on IR, it?s time for undrafted free agent Mike Harris to step up.

Giants QB Eli Manning has a history of performing well after the bye week.? (So did Andy Reid.)

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is in ?awe? of Robert Griffin III.? (No one currently is in awe of the Cowboys.)

Redskins WR Pierre Gar?on ?suffered no setbacks? after a five-catch, 93-yard performance against Dallas.

With Eagles RB LeSean McCoy likely out, seventh-round rookie Bryce Brown is expected to get the bulk of the carries on Monday night.

Lions defensive end Willie Young loves fishing.? (He?ll have time to do plenty of it in January.)

Lost in the poor performance of the Bears? offensive line on Monday night is the fact that the Bears? defensive line wasn?t every good, either.

The unexpectedly good recovery of Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has left RB Toby Gerhart unexpectedly out of the mix for touches.

When the Packers face Detroit on December 9, Cory Uttech of Sheboygan will be the first non-player to perform the Lambeau Leap during a game.? (And then Ndamukong Suh will kick him in the crotch.)

Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy calls rookie S Mark Barron ?a silent killer.?? (Barron likely has used the phrase ?silent but deadly? in reference to McCoy at some point this season.)

Saints safeties Roman Harper and Malcolm Jenkins are trying to forget what Vernon Davis did to them the last time they faced San Francisco.

After being shredded by LaRod Stephen-Howling, the Falcons are hoping for better run support against the Muscle Hamster.

The Panthers get another chance to prove they?re ready for primetime.? (Or to prove they?re not.)

The 49ers? kick and punt coverage units have improved significantly in recent weeks.

Coach Jeff Fisher realizes something has to give when the Rams, who haven?t won in five straight games, face an Arizona team that has lost six straight.

Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton said that the intended message of the reduced use of S Adrian Wilson was ?do your job and do your job well.?

The Seahawks emerge from the bye week healthy and rested and ready for the stretch run.


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Analysis: "Caveat emptor" as foreigners rush to ride China rebound

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Foreign investors have started rebuilding their China equity portfolios, tempted by low valuations after two years of market underperformance and signs economic growth may be stabilizing.

They have pumped nearly $4 billion into Chinese equity funds in the past two months alone, trying to get in early on what they hope will be a sustained rally.

But sentiment looks to be running ahead of fundamentals. There are clear risk signals for the Chinese market -- including sluggish earnings, rising corporate debt and retail investors looking for other opportunities -- even if the broader economy gathers strength.

"Valuations are attractive and fears of a major slowdown in China seem to be waning, while China still promises growth faster than the rest of the world," says Paul Gillis, professor at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management.

"But most of the problems affecting Chinese stocks -- accounting fraud, the variable interest entity and regulatory stand-offs between the U.S. and China -- have not gone away and still need to be solved."

Illustrating that growth does not translate into equity gains, the MSCI China stock index has fallen more than 40 percent since its launch in 1992. Over the same period, China's nominal GDP has increased by 15 times.


The shift in foreign investor attitudes is clear.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch's global survey of fund managers, covering 248 managers with $695 billion of assets under management, found confidence in China's economy was at a three-year high.

In October, Chinese shares listed in Hong Kong, known as H-shares and the main gateway for foreign investors into China, jumped 7.6 percent to easily outpace other regional benchmarks.

"I think most fund managers are looking at the fundamental mismatch in their portfolio between their direct exposure to China and the role China plays in the global economy, often very little versus one hell of a lot," said Michael McCormack, executive director at China-focused fund consulting firm Z-Ben Advisors.

"Investors are now trying to rebalance that."

One attraction is valuations. The MSCI China index, the most popular benchmark for China funds, has consistently underperformed Asian markets over the past two years, following a stellar run where it nearly tripled in value between October 2008 and November 2010.

The index trades on a forward price-to-earnings multiple of 9.2, cheaper than Brazil on 9.9 and India on 13.2, and a lure to investors hoping to get in early on another substantial upswing. The H shares are at price-to-book ratios around four times lower than in 2007, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Those valuations and signs the economy is improving -- Thursday's flash PMI reading showed the first expansion in manufacturing in 13 months -- have piqued interest, and it seems investors are worried about missing out on riding the recovery.

Data from fund-flow tracker EPFR Global shows inflows into China equity funds accounted closed in on $4 billion over the 10 weeks to mid-November, and accounted for more than half of the flows in Asia ex-Japan funds in the week to November 15.

" has bottomed out and found a new level, so people don't want to be negative about China anymore," said Stuart Rae, chief investment officer of Pacific Basin Value Equities at AllianceBernstein.

The company's $879 million Asia ex-Japan fund, launched in November 2009, is now overweight China for the first time, said Rae, who also manages its US$150 million QFII China fund.


As Beijing's new leadership settles in, the stock market's fundamentals are back in focus and they could make the recent enthusiasm seem premature, said Simon Grose-Hodge, head of investment advisory for South Asia at private bank LGT.

For one, there is unlikely to be a repeat of anything remotely like the 4 trillion yuan ($640 billion) stimulus package that guided the Chinese economy through the 2008/09 global financial crisis.

Instead, there may be smaller, more targeted spending plans that don't make cheap credit available across the board.

And longstanding issues for investors, such as transparency, reform of state-backed companies, corporate governance and regulator interference in the market, have yet to be properly addressed despite some positive noises from authorities.

So while the H-shares in Hong Kong are showing signs of life, China's domestic stock markets are languishing near three-year lows and on the nose with retail investors.

Two-thirds of Chinese companies that have posted third-quarter earnings missed expectations, according to Citi Private Bank. Profits fell an annual 5.8 percent, and analysts, on average, are still cutting earnings expectations for next year.

Leverage has soared above comfortable levels, with Beijing-based consultancy GaveKal-Draganomics expecting corporate debt to hit 122 percent of GDP by the end of the year, up from 108 percent at end-2011.

Rising non-performing loans (NPLs) pose a risk for the banks, a hangover from cheap credit as part of the 2008/09 stimulus. Goldman Sachs & Co estimates the NPL ratio is more than six times the official reported rate of 0.97 percent.

Further, China's industrials were owed more than 8 trillion yuan in net receivables at the end of September, up 16.5 percent from a year earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

HSBC says the annual pace of profit growth of non-financial companies in the CSI 300, which tracks the performance of China's A-share market, has been falling for the last three quarters, while the quality of earnings -- measured as the ratio of free cash flow to net profit -- is in negative territory.

The CSI300 is down 7 percent this year, following a 25 percent drop in 2011 and a 12.5 percent fall in 2010.

"Five years back in 2007 the (Chinese) market was one of the most expensive and now it's cheap on a par with Korea -- it's one of the cheapest markets in Asia," said Pacific Basin's Rae.

"There is lots of stuff that's cheap -- some has recovery potential but then some is cheap for a reason."

($1 = 6.2345 Chinese yuan)

(Additional reporting by Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by John Mair)


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