Poll Should businesses open their toilet facilities to the public

first_img Yes (874) I’m not sure (722) BUSINESSES IN DUBLIN city may have to allow members of the public – including non-paying customers – to use their toilet facilities.Today’s Irish Times reports that the council has no money to provide no extra permanent facilities.Businesses may be asked to allow the public use their toilets, but would be allowed to refuse entry “in exceptional circumstances”. It is not known if other cities will adopt this practice, but today we want to know what you think.Should businesses open their toilet facilities to public? Poll Results: Maybe – in some circumstances (1539) No – only to paying customers (1406) YesNo – only to paying customersMaybe – in some circumstancesI’m not sureVotelast_img read more

ICSA No nasty surprises for farmers in the Budget

first_imgFARMERS ARE ONE one of the more satisfied groups in society today following the Budget announcement today, as they avoided any harsh cuts or major changes to schemes for disadvantaged areas.Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said that maintaining the current level of payments to farmers in disadvantaged areas was a “key priority”, announcing €195 million next year for the scheme.He also announced investment of €40 million in the beef sector which will include a genomics scheme, a data programme, the technology adoption programme and the Suckler Welfare Scheme.Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Eddie Punch of the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association (ICSA) said farmers welcomed the proposal of money for the suckler herd breeding scheme.“We’ll call it small step in the right direction,” he said. Punch said it was “an uneventful budget for farmers” as the government has already “paired to the bone everything it could cut in previous budgets”.There will be a small increase next year in the farmers’ flat rate addition, which compensates farmers for VAT incurred on farming inputs, from 4.8 to 5 per cent.Capitol Gains Tax retirement relief is also being extended to disposals of long-term leased farmland in certain circumstances, to encourage older farmers to lease out their land.Finance Minister Michael Noonan said earlier that an “independent cost benefit analysis” will be undertaken to identify what works and what doesn’t.Punch said that he was “concerned that could have some adverse outcome”. However he said that the general sense was that “there hasn’t been any additional nasty surprises” for farmers.Related: IN FULL: Michael Noonan’s Budget 2014 speech>Read: Payments under €125m scheme for disadvantaged farmers start today>last_img read more

We just kept getting them in the post How a family of

first_imgSarah said that her situation is “a bit ridiculous” given the recent controversies over chronically ill people not being able to get medical cards or have their existing ones renewed.“It’s a bit ridiculous when you are speaking to people and they say they are still waiting on their medical card and I say: ‘Really? Because I have three each!’”.The HSE has been in contact with Sarah about the anomaly which she is keen to rectify.* Not her real name. The identity of this person is known to TheJournal.ie but she asked not to be named. TheJournal.ie has seen all 14 medical cards.WATCH: ‘It is a balancing act’: Reilly apologises over medical card problemsRead: Public information campaign launched to address ‘confusion’ over medical cardsRead: ‘The most vulnerable people in our society’: Dáil hears medical card horror stories A DUBLIN-BASED family, who waited a year for their medical cards to be renewed, now have 14 between them with one of their children having four cards despite only one of them being valid.The apparent administrative error by the HSE came after mother-of-three Sarah* applied for new medical cards for her then two children, now aged 7 and 2, and her husband.“When we had to renew them we were waiting a couple of weeks and we were ringing the HSE and we weren’t getting anywhere,” she told TheJournal.ie“Finally we got hold of somebody and they said there was no details there so we had to resend the documents. We kept ringing and ringing. We were probably waiting a little over a year.”She said that when the medical cards did arrive for herself, her husband and her two children they kept arriving. She said: “We just kept getting them in the post.”Sarah said that her husband had changed doctors, resulting in two different doctors’ names appearing on the cards.As a result, she has three medical cards (two registered to the same doctor, and one registered to another doctor), her husband has three (two registered to the same doctor, and one registered to another doctor).Her two-year-old son has four cards (three registered to the same doctor, and one registered to another doctor) and her seven-year-old has three (two registered to the same doctor, and one registered to another doctor).Her youngest child, aged 12 months, has one card as she was able to obtain one by providing a birth cert and PPSN number rather than follow the application process she did for the other cards.HSE responseSarah said she contacted the HSE about the 14 medical cards – all of which are in date but nine of which she doesn’t need – but was told to keep them.TheJournal.ie asked the HSE for information about how and why this might have happened and asked if there are any statistics on how many cases like this might be in the system where multiple cards are issued to people.In a response, the HSE said that when a card holder changes doctor they are issued with a new card and the old card has no value. It said that even if a card is lost and a replacement is ordered the old card is no longer valid.Its full statement reads: “When a medical card/gp visit card holder changes their doctor of choice they are issued with a new card(s) which shows the new doctor’s number on the GMS Scheme.“Once the new card(s) is issued the old card has no value to the National Medical Card Register. On receipt of their new medical card/gp visit card the cardholder should either destroy their old card or return it to the HSE, Primary Care Reimbursement Scheme Office.It should be noted that there is only one registration on a Medical Card Register, the patient is registered with the correct GP and only one GP is paid e.g. if a person mislays their medical card/gp visit card, requests a new one and subsequently finds the old one, although they may physically have two card only the reissued card is the valid card.”last_img read more

Moves to protect 111yearold shipwreck washed up by storm on Kerry beach

first_imgThe Sunbeam pictured after the storm [Image: Seán Mac an tSíthigh]THE NATIONAL MONUMENTS Service is taking steps to protect the wreck of a 150-year-old schooner dislodged from its century-old resting place off the coast of Kerry and washed up on a beach as a result of last weekend’s storms.The ‘Sunbeam’ — built in England in 1860 — was driven ashore amid high winds while on a voyage from Co Cork in 1903 with no loss of life.Over the intervening decades, the wreck has become something of an attraction on Rossbeigh Beach, with photographers regularly making trips to the site to capture images of the ship’s skeletal remains poking from beneath the sand in the shallows.Local photographer Matthew Murphy, who lives nearby, believes he may have captured the last image of the ship before it was dislodged: [Image: Matthew Murphy Photography]He gave an account of the scene on Saturday evening via Facebook:I took this last Saturday evening just as the tide was coming in. I literally had a minute to get a shot. No time for composition or anything like that and between the wind and splashes I was lucky to get anything. It was crazy weather and the tide was coming in faster than I had ever seen it. I literally had to run out of there.I’m just glad that I had captured something that evening, because who would have know that just a short while later and after 111 years The Sunbeam would move again.Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Murphy said that concerns had been raised locally after several planks and fittings from the wreck went missing.Officials from the Monuments Service have been carrying out an inspection of the site this morning, and will then decide on the next steps to be taken. One of the options being considered is reburying it once again at a site close to its original resting spot.Gardaí are warning people not to interfere with the wreck while it’s on the beach, as the ship is protected under the National Monuments Act. The penalty for a breach of the act includes a fine of up to €50,000 and/or a term of up to 12 months in prison.Another view of the post-storm Sunbeam [Image: Martin Ficken]Related: Stunning photos capture wreck of Tall Ship Astrid at dawnRead: 30 saved as Tall Ship Astrid runs aground off Kinsalelast_img read more

This short film may make you reconsider emigrating

first_imgWATCH THIS short Irish film, which has just gone online this morning, and tell us you don’t feel moved.Origin, made under the Irish Film Board Short Shorts scheme, tells the tale of a young Irishman on the day he is about to emigrate. “As he races through the streets of Dublin he comes to realise the spirit he’s leaving behind.”The animated film – from Souljacker – is directed by James Stacey and produced by Sean Smith, written by Stacey and Matthew Darragh, with an original score from Kila’s Rónán Ó Snodaigh. It was nominated for Best Animation at the IFTAs 2012, with Darragh directing the animation. via Souljacker Ltd/Youtubelast_img read more

Oscar Pistorius fined for unpaid taxes report

first_imgOSCAR PISTORIUS WAS audited and fined for unpaid taxes after having to declare his assets during his bail hearing, a South African newspaper reported Sunday as the Olympian prepares for his first court appearance in nearly four months.The City Press newspaper said that the South African Revenue Service fined the double-amputee runner “less than one million rand” (under $105,000), which he paid.Pistorius’ uncle, Arnold Pistorius, said “Oscar is tax compliant” in a brief statement to The Associated Press, without elaborating further on any of the details of the report.Oscar Pistorius is charged with premeditated murder for the Valentine’s Day shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp at his house in Pretoria in the pre-dawn hours, and will appear in court on 4 June for what prosecutors say will be a brief hearing while the police investigation of his killing of Steenkamp continues.He denies murder and says he shot Steenkamp in error after mistaking her for an intruder in his home.The 26-year-old Pistorius declared in a court affidavit during his application to be freed on bail in February that he earned around $630,000 a year and owned three houses and a vacant plot in South Africa with a combined value of nearly $1 million.The City Press said he owns another house in Johannesburg, which the newspaper claims he bought for 9.8 million rand ($1.02 million) this year. That house was not declared as part of his assets in his affidavit. City Press did not say if that house was bought before or after the killing of Steenkamp at Pistorius’ $500,000 Pretoria villa, which Pistorius said was his main residence.Suspended dealsMuch of Pistorius’ income is believed to have come from big-name sponsors Nike and eyewear company Oakley, which suspended their deals with the Paralympic champion after he was charged with murder.His family has denied previous media reports that he is facing financial ruin because of spiraling legal costs, saying in a statement in March that those legal bills, while huge, were “under control.”“While the family doesn’t deny that Oscar’s legal expenses are massive and that he has sold off some of his investments, including his racehorses … Oscar will evaluate the cost situation on a day-to-day basis and make decisions as required.”Pistorius, now free on $113,000 bail, also has decided to step away from competition for the rest of the year to focus on his upcoming trial, which is likely to be long and expensive for him and where he will face a life sentence in prison with a minimum of 25 years before parole if convicted of premeditated murder in Steenkamp’s killing.Taking its tollOne of Pistorius’ teammates from last year’s London Olympics, LJ van Zyl, said in Britain that the Blade Runner’s case and his absence from track competition also was taking a heavy toll on South African athletics and its other athletes.“If Oscar is at the competition, the South African stadium is full and now that has gone,” said Van Zyl, who ran with Pistorius on South Africa’s 4×400 relay team in the Olympic final in London and trained at the same track as the double-amputee in Pretoria. “So athletics is really taking a dip now he is off the track. In the beginning it was really tough for every one of us.”“It was media crazy at the track. Now it’s still painful for all the athletes. It’s sad, but I try to focus on my thing,” he said.Van Zyl said he was planning to travel and stay with Pistorius in Manchester for Saturday’s Great City Games before Pistorius had to cancel all his competitions in the wake of Steenkamp’s death and his murder charge.“I get like a weird, sorry feeling and I also miss Oscar,” Van Zyl said. “We planned to stay together here and also travel to Manchester and now it’s all gone.”Prosecutors say Pistorius’ 4 June court hearing, the first since bail proceedings and his first public appearance in nearly four months, will likely take less than 10 minutes and the case will be postponed until a date in August while police continue to gather and analyse evidence and identify and interview witnesses.Oscar Pistorius’ brother acquitted of killing woman in road crashOscar Pistorius spending time with Reeva Steenkamp’s friends while on baillast_img read more

Elderly man dies in Donegal house fire

first_imgAN ELDERLY MAN has died following a fire at his home in Glasserchoo in Gortahork, Co Donegal.The body of the man, 87, was discovered at approximately 7.20am today. His remains were removed to Letterkenny General Hospital, where a post-mortem examination is scheduled to take place later this afternoon.Gardaí say the man was the only occupant of the house.The scene has been preserved for technical examination.Read: Entire housing estate for sale in GalwayRead: Four off-the-beaten-track places you really should visitInterview: Galway native on top of the world after North Pole victorylast_img read more

Pádraig Harrington Rory McIlroy and lots of sports stars send good wishes

first_imgTHE BRITISH AND Irish Lions are currently winging their way to Hong Kong where they’ll play the first game of their epic tour this weekend.And as they go, the best wishes of sport’s best from this part of the world, are with them. Check out this good luck video featuring mesages from the likes of our own Rory McIlroy and Pádraig Harrington. And even Tim Henman. YouTube: HSBC7 things we learned from the Lions’ team buslast_img

British government wants Ireland to buy Ulster Bank report

first_imgTHE BRITISH GOVERNMENT is reportedly considering a plan which would see it ask the Irish Government to buy Ulster Bank, the last remaining major retail bank in Ireland outside of partial state ownership.Ulster Bank is currently owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group, which itself is majority owned by the British taxpayer following a series of recapitalisations in 2008 and 2009.While the RBS group has crept toward profitability in the last few years, gradually offering some payback to its public owners, Ulster Bank has continued to be loss-making – recording losses of €195 million in the first quarter of 2013.BBC News reports that a report commissioned by the Treasury, the UK’s equivalent to the Department of Finance, has now called for RBS to be split into a ‘good bank’ and ‘bad bank’ so that the profitable arm of the business could be freed up to engage in more lending.However, it also reports that a second option is also being assessed – with Ulster Bank being earmarked for separation from the rest of the RBS Group, possibly through a sale of the bank to the Irish government.The BBC’s business editor Robert Peston says this could be achieved by swapping ownership of Ulster Bank for the British investments and loans currently held by Ireland’s own bad bank, the National Asset Management Agency.Ireland is unlikely to play ball with such a move, however, as it would see the government take ownership of the last major retail banking chain which does not already have some degree of state ownership.As a result of investments made by the State during the financial crisis, the taxpayer already owns 99.8 per cent of AIB and its subsidiary EBS, 99.8 per cent of Permanent TSB, and around 15 per cent of Bank of Ireland.Another complicating factor is that Ulster Bank operates in both Northern Ireland and the Republic, with the two bodies organised within RBS as a single entity – meaning significant restructuring would be needed if the Irish taxpayer was to avoid directly taking over a bank in the North.A further disincentive is the fact that NAMA’s British portfolio is seen as performing particularly well, given how the UK’s real estate market has recovered in recent years, in comparison to the mixed performance of Irish development projects.Read: Ulster Bank lost €1,500 a minute in the first three months of 2013More: Ulster Bank parent company lost nearly €6bn in 2012last_img read more

Here are the sites vying for World Heritage status

first_imgCradle Mountain in the Tasmanian wilderness Source: Jörn Brauns/Wikimedia CommonsINCA TRAILS SPANNING six countries and a French cave with some of the earliest known paintings are among the sites expected to get World Heritage status at a UNESCO meeting that started last Sunday in Doha.Altogether, at least 30 natural and cultural sites, including the Erbil Citadel in Iraq’s Kurdistan, are vying to get the United Nations cultural body’s prestigious distinction and add their names to an already 981-strong list.The June 15-25 World Heritage Committee gathering will also mull whether to put London’s Westminster Palace on its list of endangered sites.And in a first for a developed country, Australia is asking that large swathes of its Tasmanian Wilderness — one of the last expanses of temperate rainforest in the world — be delisted to make way for loggers.Inclusion on the list has significant economic implications as a World Heritage site is eligible for financial assistance towards preservation and the coveted status is also a powerful draw for tourists. Source: Daniel Lobo via Flickr/Creative CommonsThe listing of the Qhapaq Nan — a huge network of roads once used by the mighty Inca Empire that snake over perilously high snowy peaks over more than 30,000 kilometres (18,600 miles) — would benefit not one but six countries overall.The trails go through Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru — the last of which added the routes to its tentative list in 2001, and was later followed by the others.Age-old cave paintingsSubmitted by France, the Chauvet Cave, located in a limestone plateau of the meandering Ardeche River in southern France, contains some of the earliest known paintings, drawn more than 30,000 years ago.The grotto has more than 1,000 pictures — many of which feature animals such as bison, mammoths and rhinos.The cave was closed off by a rock fall around 20,000 years ago and remained sealed until its rediscovery in 1994. More drawings are expected to be found in remote parts of the grotto.India, meanwhile, is hoping to have its Rani-ki-Vav stepwell on the banks of the Saraswati River in western Patan listed.“Designed as an inverted temple highlighting the sanctity of water,” it is divided into seven underground storeys of terraced walls with pavilions and buttresses, according to its official nomination document.The committee, which consists of representatives from 21 countries elected for six years, will also use the Doha meeting to issue warnings.It has, for instance, raised concern that there are too few restrictions governing the development of skyscrapers in London, which it says could affect Westminster Palace, a World Heritage site.The committee warned that “there do not seem to be defined settings or overall agreed constraints in place to ensure that new tall buildings do not impact on important views and other attributes of the property”.Australia delistingAustralia will also be under scrutiny, with two of its most high-profile protected areas facing threats to their status as World Heritage sites.The Great Barrier Reef, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, is considered in poor health and UNESCO is mulling whether to downgrade its status to “World Heritage in Danger” at the Doha meeting.It is under growing pressure not just from climate change and the destructive coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish, but agricultural runoff and rampant coastal development linked to mining.Another of Australia’s natural wonders under threat is the Tasmanian Wilderness, which covers nearly 20 percent, or 1.4 million hectares, of the southern island state.Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who favours more access for loggers, has requested UNESCO remove its World Heritage status from 74,000 hectares (183,000 acres) of the area, claiming it was not pristine — but this could be rejected at the meeting.The nominated sites have already been examined by two consultative bodies that transmit their positive or negative recommendations to the committee, although these are not always followed.- © AFP, 2014Read: This Canary island is the first in world to become energy self-sufficient>last_img read more

Dublin office rent has grown by nearly 25 in a year

first_imgOFFICE RENTS IN Dublin have grown by almost one quarter in the space of a year, new research by property agency Savills has found.The rapid increase in the price of office space in the capital can be partially attributed to the depths to which the market sank during the recession, Savills head of office agency Roland O’Connell said.“Effective rents fell by more than 50% during the downturn and, in that context, it is not surprising that we are seeing something of a bounce-back.”Despite this, O’Connell said that there was a real danger from the elevated rate of growth in rental prices.“While increasing commercial rents are welcome insofar as they reflect the underlying strength of the economy, we would not want to see this rate of growth continue in the long term.”He said that the knock-on implications of high rent prices could hurt Ireland’s competitiveness and the attractiveness of Dublin as a location for mobile international business.Incentives on the way outThe strong demand for office space has led landlords to cut back on the incentives they are offering potential clients, typically a period of rent-free occupancy.The roll-back on rent-free periods has combined with the upward headline rent trajectory to give Dublin the highest ‘net effective’ rent growth in Europe, at 39.3% in the last 12 months.This compares with an average European growth rate of 5.1%.Dublin was one of only seven European markets across Europe in which the average rent-free period fell, along with international hubs such as Hamburg, London, Dusseldorf and Paris.Director of research John McCartney said that increased demand has allowed landlords to row back on incentives, with the average rent-free period on a standard office lease halving in the last year.O’Connell said that the upward trend was an acute reminder of the need for more construction activity to boost the supply of prime office space in Dublin.Read: There isn’t enough office space in Dublin to fit all the new start-ups>Read: Job growth drives one-third increase in Dublin office lettings>last_img read more

Over 90000 homes may have dangerous levels of radon gas just 8

first_imgA map showing what areas could have higher-than-normal levels of the gas. Source: RPII.ieClick here to view a larger version.TENS OF THOUSANDS of homes across the country could be at risk of cancer-causing radon gas, but just a fraction have been checked according to Ireland’s radioactivity watchdog.Many homes can be easily checked for the gas.Radon is a common radioactive gas, making up a portion of natural background radiation nationwide, produced by the decay of several forms of rock, such as limestone and granite.In higher concentrations in certain areas it can pose a danger to health, and is linked to 250 cases of lung cancer each year.The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has released figures showing that 181 homes have been identified as containing “high levels” of the gas in past eight month.Four homes – two in Ballindooley and Castlegar, Co. Galway, one in the Campile area of Co. Wexford and one in Ballisodare, Co. Sligo – had levels equivalent to 15 chest X-rays a day.Roughly 8,000 other homes identified as high-risk have been checked.However, the risk posed by the gas is still unknown for the 83,000 homes in danger areas. File photo of one style of radon test kit. Source: WikimediaHomeowners can purchase radon detectors, or contact the RPII to request a house check.“Of concern to us is that only 1 in 4 homeowners, having tested and found a high reading, have taken action to reduce the high level of radon present,” chief executive Dr Ann McGarry said.That means three quarters of homeowners are living with the knowledge that they are putting their family at risk when the problem can easily be fixed.Remedial work when high levels of radon are found include the installation of fan-assisted sump, costing in the region of €850.More information on how to test your home is available on RPII.ieRead: Selling your home? You might have to test it for radon >Calm down: Higher radiation levels at Sellafield were just ‘background radon’ >last_img read more

Man due in Derry court charged with stabbing another man in the

first_imgA 44-YEAR-OLD man is due in court in Derry charged with stabbing another man in the back at a house yesterday morning.The 43-year-old victim was taken to hospital after the stabbing took place at the house in  the Summer Meadows Park area at about 3am.The accused is being charged with attempted murder as well as two counts of assault causing harm, common assault, possessing an offensive weapon and intent to use it.The NI prosecution service is to review all of the charges with the man scheduled to appear at the Magistrates Court in Derry this morning.Read: UDR memorial removed and replaced with IRA slogan, PSNI investigating it as ‘hate crime’ >Read: PSNI chief apologises to Hyde Park bombing families over ‘failure to secure justice’ >last_img read more

Opera 11 beta gets Tab Stacking feature

first_imgIf I had to sum up the core feature that each of the main IE alternatives brought to the table Chrome would be speed, FireFox would be customization, and Opera would be experimentation. And with the Opera 11 beta that experimentation continues.Tab Stacking has been added to the latest beta roll-out which happened today as a way of dealing with tens or hundreds of open browser tabs. According to Opera’s Desktop Team:Tab stacking allows you to organize your browsing, optimize the space on your tab bar, and keep yet even more tabs handy for use. The video above gives you a better idea of how it works in practice. Tabs can be dragged and dropped on to other tabs to group them. This stack can then be accessed from a single tab making it easier to have lots open without the mess of hundreds across a single bar with none of the names visible.To see what’s in a stack just hover over it to get a visual preview and the ability to select which window to focus on or remove from the stack. An arrow appears to the right of a tab stack allowing you to expand the tabs along the tab bar too.You can try it out for yourself by downloading the latest Opera 11 beta build.Read more at the Opera Desktop Team and Web Upd8. Tab stacking image courtesy of Peter Van Dijck’s Guide to EaseMatthew’s OpinionOpera isn’t the only company experimenting with how to handle lots of tabs. Mozilla has Tab Candy for Firefox in development, and I think I prefer it to this solution.Opera’s Tab Stacking looks a bit hit-and-miss to me. In the video a tab slides rather than linking meaning this could be a slow process. It also falls down if you want lots of tabs in a stack as you will either run out of screen space or have to deal with smaller previews instead.With Tab Candy you are taken out of the main browser interface and switch to a tab organizing window. It just looks like a cleaner and more fluid solution.What do you think, is Tab Stacking a good solution to the problem?last_img read more

Eight Awesome Menorahs

first_imgMobile MenorahReligious ceremony hasn’t really entered the modern age until it gets its very own iPhone/iPad app. The Mobile Menorah lets you light candles with you fingers and control their burn rate–and each download of the app goes toward the planting of trees in Israel.MenorahmorphI can’t put my finger on it (I might burn myself), but there’s something about the Menorahmorph that I really like. The menorah was designed by Karim Rashid for the Jewish Museum, but really it looks like something Nickelodeon might have created in the mid-90s.Menorah CorkIt’s not a real holiday without a bottle of Manischewitz. Celebrate the festival of lights and keep your wine fresh for $16. Not too shabby.PeznorahLifeHacker teaches you how to build the geekies menorah you’ve ever owned out of nine of your favorite cartoon candy dispensers.LED MenorahActually, we’re a little bummed that we didn’t think of this first. ThinkGeek has an awesome little menorah built out of a used motherboard. The recycled menorah features nine LEDs and a 9-bit DIP switch.Flower Power BusHere’s one for the deadhead in the family. It’s a standard menorah built on the hood of a toy VW bus–just make sure that it’s just regular candles that they’re burning on this thing. Dreidel MenorahThis menorah’s nine candle holders fold up into a light weight dreidel. You get two of Chanukah’s best known symbols in one velvet pouch. Puzzle MenorahThis menorah designed by Israeli artist Benny Dabach features nine interlocking aluminum pieces, including a slightly taller shamash (for lighting the rest of the candles). Another Chanukah is almost upon us. The eight-day-long Jewish holiday begins on December 1 at sundown this year. With two days until it kicks off, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to celebrate. Of course, as everyone knows, you can’t really mark the Maccabees’ revolt without a good menorah.After the jump, check out some of the coolest menorahs you can buy–or make, including an iPhone app, a Pez-based candle holder, and one that will help you get your holiday drink on. last_img read more

Steve Jobs to be questioned as part of antitrust lawsuit

first_imgIn January, Steve Jobs was granted a medical leave of absence by the Board of Directors for Apple. This medical leave followed a previous one back in 2009 during which the CEO received a liver transplant. Apparently, the medical leave is not going to keep Jobs from being required to answer questions as part of a class-action lawsuit brought against Apple and its iTunes music store.In July 2004, RealNetworks attempted to compete head-to-head with iTunes over iPod owners through the use of a workaround technology called Harmony. The technology allowed iPod owners to transfer music purchased from the company’s music store to their device. Before Harmony, iPod owners only had this capability with iTunes, but this new capability was short-lived. In October 2004, Apple released an update which killed the ability for iPod owners to continue to use Harmony.AdChoices广告As a result of this move, Thomas Slattery and other iPod owners filed a class-action lawsuit in 2005 accusing Apple of having a music store monopoly with iTunes. The lawsuit alleges that Apple broke federal antitrust laws in addition to California’s unfair competition law because it required iPod owners to listen to music purchased only from iTunes.That lawsuit chalked up a victory recently when U.S. Magistrate Judge Howard R. Lloyd opened the door for Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, to be questioned. Jobs will be questioned for up to two hours, but those questions must be limited to what the CEO knew about the October 2004 iPod update which killed the ability for the Harmony technology to work. Lawyers for Slattery had hoped to expand the questioning to include why Apple refused to license its FairPlay DRM technology which would have eliminated the need for Harmony. That scope of questioning was denied by the judge since claims involving the licensing of FairPlay were dismissed as part of the lawsuit in December 2009.Read more at Bloomberglast_img read more

Video Nexus 7 touchscreen defect

first_imgAs Nexus 7 pre-orders start filtering out into the world, users are finally getting acquainted with Google’s 7-inch slate. There is a lot to like about the device; it’s fast, solidly built, and has great software. I should say, these things are true in most cases. Ever since my tablet showed up, I’ve been noticing some odd touchscreen behavior that would seem to indicate a defect.On occasion, the right side of the screen will stop picking up touch inputs. This has happened in a variety of situations, but I’ve found that one surefire way to trigger it is to play a Tegra game. These games push the hardware, and it only takes a few minutes for the screen to start degrading in performance.Touching the right side (when held in portrait) of the screen sometimes elicits no response from the tablet. Sometimes the Nexus 7 will detect the touch, but quickly loses connection and the touch point is lost. The dead area runs all the way up the height of the panel, and across to about the mid point. The severity of the issue seems to vary over time; some occurrences are much less serious than others. To temporarily solve the issue, I can turn the screen off and back on.While the fix is easy, it’s still an annoying bug to put up with. Playing games for more than a few minutes means toggling the screen and interrupting gameplay. Still other times, non-games seem to be triggering the same behavior, but this is less common.The poor touch detection seems to extend to every part of the UI when it happens. Swiping through home screens can only be accomplished by using the left side of the screen, and it’s almost impossible to use any buttons or UI elements that show up on the right side.Because of the ease in replicating the issue with Tegra games, I’m tempted to say this has something to do with heat. Although, the problem can be solved each time it happens by turning the screen off and on. That seems to indicate heat buildup isn’t the only issue, but perhaps a contributing factor. Whatever the cause is, it looks like my Nexus 7 is going back to Google in the coming days.last_img read more

Meet the visual effects studio behind some of the best video game

first_imgCharacters from various Playstation 3 games gather in a seedy bar to reminisce. Doctor Who looks up as hundreds of spaceships swarm around Stonehenge. The magic mirror in Snow White and the Huntsman melts at the queen’s call and reforms into a reflective figure. They’re all impressive examples of seamless visual effects, and they all came from the same studio.The Mill has been adding effects to commercials, TV shows, movies, and more since 1990, and you’ve probably come across their work more than once. Just like “Michael,” the player championed by that pub full of game characters, people who do effects work are often unsung heroes of video production. And that’s why you might be surprised, while looking at the studio’s 2012 showreel, at how many clips you recognize.The Mill has a knack for creating effects that blend naturally with real footage. Somehow the flaming head of Sweet Tooth doesn’t look awkward in an underground bar, nor does the soft glow of a blue Portal portal in the background — and that video is only one example of their game-related work.The Mill’s brief Kid Icarus: Uprising commercial nails the style of that title, and their Mass Effect 3 ad looks so authentic that it will give you hope for the ME feature film project. (The movie is still early in development, so there’s no indication whether The Mill will be involved, but their shot of Reapers destroying the Golden Gate Bridge makes a pretty good argument for it.)See more of The Mill’s work on their website.last_img read more

17GHz quadcore LG Optimus G Pro unveiled

first_imgNTT DoCoMo recently unveiled its new spring line-up, and the LG Optimus G Pro is officially on the starting roster. As previously leaked, it’s a significant upgrade over last year’s Optimus G — which was already a pretty darn nice phone.LG started off by kicking the original 4.7-inch 720p display to the curb and upgrading the Optimus G Pro to a full 1080p panel that measures a full five inches. The processor has been bumped, too. The new Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core chip is clocked at 1.7GHz, matching the muscular ZTE Grand S in terms of sheer processing power. Other flagship devices like Sony’s Xperia Z and the Huawei Ascend Mate are sticking with stock speeds of 1.5GHz.With great power comes the need for a great battery, and LG has delivered on that front: the Optimus G Pro packs a generous 3000mAh battery. That’s quite a bit less than the Ascend Mate’s 4050mAh, but the G Pro isn’t quite in half-foot slab territory. 3000mAh should provide LG’s customers with plenty of juice.Several of the original’s features have been left untouched. The G Pro still has 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, and a 13 megapixel rear-facing camera. Those are all still fairly top-shelf specs, and LG clearly didn’t think there was a need to shake things up just yet.The Optimus G Pro will go on sale in Japan this April, but LG hasn’t announced its plans for the rest of the world yet. An announcement could be coming at MWC 2013, and it’s hard to imagine the company deciding not to push the successor to one of its biggest smartphone successes to date in every market it can.More at Engadgetlast_img read more

New transparent crystal expands under pressure

first_imgWhen something is compressed, you would expect it to get smaller. But that’s not the case for a new translucent crystal known as zinc dicyanoaurate made from gold, zinc, and cyanide. In fact, it does quite the opposite. These crystals expand by up to 10% when put under pressure.The crystals have a roughly hexagonal structure with gold atoms buffered by cyanide molecules on each side, connected to carbon-nitrogen blocks. The key to zinc dicyanoaurate’s unusual properties is the spiral of gold atoms running down the middle of the structure. This golden helix actually works like a tiny molecular spring, connecting multiple rings. As pressure is applied, the spring transfers the energy into the rings, which then stretch and cause the crystal to become longer.Designing materials capable of expanding in this way is not easy. Most molecules simply lack the durability to reorient their internal structure without falling apart. Scientists have only been able to create compounds capable of this for a few years, and these crystals exhibit the most dramatic expansion under pressure. The new crystals were made by combining two salts, one containing gold and the other zinc.Researchers used a diamond-anvil cell to squeeze individual microscopic crystals as a way to test the crystals response to pressure. At 1 gigapascal, when a regular crystalline material would have compressed 2-3%, this substance expanded by 5%. At 10 gigapascals, equal to the pressure at the lowest point in the ocean, it was still growing.Zinc dicyanoaurate could someday have applications in electronics, optics, and (predictably) more accurate pressure sensors.last_img read more

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