Weekly Roundup – 5/27/12

Virginia/US
iPhone ‘stolen’ on Disney cruise, pictures uploaded to Facebook
Katy McCaffrey had her iPhone stolen while aboard the Disney Wonder in April. The ship is operated by Disney Cruise Line.

A man, who appears to be a Disney employee named “Nelson,” allegedly used the stolen iPhone to take photos of himself and other coworkers aboard the ship. Those photos were then automatically uploaded to McCaffrey’s Apple iCloud Photo Stream account.

This is why you don’t steal people’s iPhones or anything that doesn’t belong to you. As a former Disney Cast Member, I’m ashamed how these people behaved.

Source: RPD cops made ‘inappropriate comments’ about Obama, first lady
In his re-election bid for the White House, President Barack Obama stopped at VCU’s Siegel Center earlier this month where thousands of people flocked to hear him speak.
But a source within the Richmond Police Department (RPD), who does not want to reveal his identity for fear of retribution, is blowing the whistle on the department.
The man tells CBS 6 News’ Sandra Jones that inappropriate comments were made by a 20-year police veteran, against the president and first lady.
“There was an officer providing exterior security to the President on that day on the phone with the supervisor. The supervisor said to that particular officer, ‘you’re down there right? So, you can take a couple of shots, you might have to kill yourself, but you can take a couple of shots.’”

This is coming from law enforcement? That’s not right at all.

Richmond billboard turning heads
The billboard outside Ellwood Thompson’s says “1, 2, 3, 4. Open The Closet Door. 5, 6, 7, 8. Don’t Assume Your Kids Are Straight.”
The creators of the billboard, Mothers and Others of Virginia, say they’re raising awareness of discrimination against gays and lesbians in Virginia by some citizens and lawmakers.

I’m not sure what to think of this billboard.

World
China hits back on U.S. human rights
“The United States’ tarnished human rights record has left it in no state — whether on a moral, political or legal basis — to act as the world’s ‘human rights justice,’ ” China said in an annual report on U.S. human rights.
The report cited the arrests of protesters participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States. Many protesters, it said, accused police of brutality.
It also said the United States has “fairly strict restrictions” on the Internet, saying the U.S. Patriot Act and Homeland Security Act both have clauses about monitoring the Internet, giving the government or law enforcement organizations power to monitor and block any Internet content “harmful to national security.”
Chen Guangcheng: I’m doing fine Chinese dissident Chen’ new life
“The facts contained in the report are a small yet illustrative fraction of the United States’ dismal record on its own human rights situation,” China’s report said.
Thursday, the U.S. State Department criticized a number of countries, including China, in its annual report on human rights around the world. The human rights situation in China, it said, “deteriorated, particularly the freedoms of expression, assembly, and association,” with Chinese forces reportedly committing “arbitrary or unlawful killings.”

Wow. Both countries have human rights issues.

Health
Music: It’s in your head, changing your brain
“I think there’s enough evidence to say that musical experience, musical exposure, musical training, all of those things change your brain,” says Dr. Charles Limb, associate professor of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Johns Hopkins University. “It allows you to think in a way that you used to not think, and it also trains a lot of other cognitive facilities that have nothing to do with music.”

Gotta love music.

Technology/Social Media
Goodbye to Windows Live (and Whatever It Meant)
An array of products, with no natural connections to one another, have received the “Windows Live” moniker. Windows Live Essentials, for example, was the name for a suite of software products that could be installed on a PC, and included photo management, video editing and instant messaging. Windows Live Mesh provided file synchronization among one’s personal computers, including Macs. And the list went on: Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Search, Windows Live Toolbar, Windows Live Family Safety, Windows Live Writer, and others.

Except for maybe Windows Live Mail, who used these programs?

Business/Money
With Personal Data in Hand, Thieves File Early and Often
With nothing more than ledgers of stolen identity information — Social Security numbers and their corresponding names and birth dates — criminals have electronically filed thousands of false tax returns with made-up incomes and withholding information and have received hundreds of millions of dollars in wrongful refunds, law enforcement officials say.

The criminals, some of them former drug dealers, outwit the Internal Revenue Service by filing a return before the legitimate taxpayer files. Then the criminals receive the refund, sometimes by check but more often though a convenient but hard-to-trace prepaid debit card.

The government-approved cards, intended to help people who have no bank accounts, are widely available in many places, including tax preparation companies. Some of them are mailed, and the swindlers often provide addresses for vacant houses, even buying mailboxes for them, and then collect the refunds there.

This is crazy. Basically, they’re just trying to cash in on people’s refund checks.

Entertainment
‘American Idol’ finale: Ace Young proposes to Diana DeGarmo
At least Ryan Seacrest didn’t make us wait until after the commercial break. During the “American Idol” finale, he invited former “American Idol” also-rans Diana DeGarmo (she placed second to Fantasia Barrino in season three) and boyfriend Ace Young (he made it halfway through season five) up to the stage, and then stepped aside as Young got down on his knee and proposed to his girlfriend of two years.

Aw, congrats guys!

American Idol Finale: Who Won the Whole Thing?!
Phillip Phillips was named the winner of the 11th season of American Idol tonight—and was immediately engulfed in hugs and back-pats from his fellow finalists before last year’s winner, Scotty McCreery, handed the trophy over.

Congrats!

‘Dancing With the Stars’: Donald Driver pulls out surprise win
Donald Driver took home the coveted mirror ball trophy Tuesday night on “Dancing With the Stars.” The victory was a bit of a surprise, with runner-up Katherine Jenkins and third-place finisher William Levy performing well with their partners throughout the season.

Congrats Donald and Peta!

What were the Top 10 most-watched shows this season?
CBS can call itself the country’s most-watched network for the ninth time in the past 10 years.

The network won the 2011-12 television season, which ended Wednesday, by averaging nearly 12 million viewers each week. That’s about 3 million more viewers than closest competitor Fox, the largest margin of victory of any network in more than two decades.

America continued to be passionate about reality competition series this season, although there are signs of wear and tear in the relationship. Half the country’s 10 most-watched programs this season were reality competition shows, including two nights each of “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars,” and NBC’s “The Voice.”

Gotta admit that I watch a few reality shows. The only shows I watch on CBS are The Big Bang Theory, The Amazing Race, and How I Met Your Mother. Other than that, I watch DWTS, So You Think You Can Dance, Smash, Grey’s Anatomy, The Bachelor, The Office, and Glee. Occasionally, I’ll watch American Idol, Mad Men, and Weeds. New shows I’m looking forward to this summer: Duets and The Newsroom.

“Call Me Maybe”: The song of summer 2012
If “Call Me Maybe” hasn’t gotten its hook into your head by now, it’s only a matter of time. Jepsen’s earwormy tune has all the characteristics of a great summer song, as did Katy Perry’s ”California Gurls” in 2010, and “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008, and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” last August. It describes the nervousness of making the first move on a crush: “Hey, I just met you / And this is crazy / So here’s my number / So call me, maybe?”

It’s such a cheesy song, but I love it!

Sports
London 2012: Haile Gebrselassie Olympic 10,000m hopes ended
Ethiopian two-time Olympic 10,000m champion Haile Gebrselassie has failed to qualify for this summer’s Games in London after finishing seventh at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games in Hengelo.
With the race being an official Ethiopian Olympic trial, Gebrselassie needed a top-two finish to qualify.
But the 39-year-old ran a time of 27 minutes 20.39 seconds, nearly nine seconds behind winner Tariku Bekele.

Wow, what a difference 9 seconds makes.

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Weekly Roundup – 5/13/12 & 5/20/12

I’m combining these two weeks because I didn’t have much time to do a weekly roundup last week.

Virginia/US
Michelle Obama to Va. Tech: Don’t let violence define school
“There will always be folks who judge you based on things that you say or do; folks who define you based on one isolated incident,” she told tens of thousands of Hokie graduates at Lane Stadium. “And here at Virginia Tech, I know you all know a thing or two about what that’s like. But you also know that, in the end, people can only define you if you let them.”
She urged them to stand up for the school’s academic and community successes when outsiders focus only on recollections of the tragedy. The graduates in the four-year bachelor’s degree program were in the first freshman class to attend the school after the shootings.

I wish I heard her speech.

Richmond man interrogated at airport because of yard work
A Richmond man is detained by TSA at the airport and interrogated for an hour and a half. Ralph Stephenson was flying out of the Richmond International Airport Sunday for a business meeting when he ended up getting questioned by TSA officials.

It turns out, it’s the yard work he did Saturday that landed him in the hot seat.

“I said yesterday I fertilized some rhododendrons and I used Hollytone,” said Stephenson. “I said is it trace amounts of fertilizer? And they said yes. But they weren’t going to tell me. They were going to let me guess.”

He said he made his flight just fine, but has advice for anyone else planning to travel: “If you’re gonna fly, and your wife asks you to put fertilizer down, refuse to put fertilizer down within 24 hours of flight.”

I bet the TSA made the man feel like a criminal. Poor guy. He went through all of that just because he fertilized his yard the day before? Wow. It certainly shows that the TSA doesn’t let anything get passed by them.

Shooting targets resembling Trayvon Martin sold online
Shooting targets resembling Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot to death in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer, were offered for sale online before the ads were pulled by the auction site.

Wow. This is so wrong in so many ways. Why would anyone make a profit over someone’s death? What’s worse is that it is a shooting target.

Obama Still Won’t Release His Grades, Gives Himself Another ‘Incomplete’
President Barack Obama wouldn’t give himself a letter grade for his handling of the economy and instead leaned on what’s become his crutch when asked to grade his presidency.

“I think it’s still incomplete. We’ve still got work to do,” he said on ABC’s “The View,” in an interview that aired Tuesday morning.

They make it seem like it’s such a bad thing. He basically stated that there is more to be done.

Poll: Obama’s gay marriage stance could hurt him
A New York Times/CBS News poll released Monday night shows the possible political perils of President Obama’s recent announcement that he supports same-sex marriage.

Most of those polled say the president’s position will not impact how they vote. But among those who say it will influence their choice, 26 percent said they are less likely to vote for Obama as a result, while 16 percent say they are more likely to.

Sixty-seven percent said they thought Obama’s announcement was made “mostly for political reasons,” while 24 percent said it was “mostly because he thinks it is right.”

In another potentially damaging sign, 70 percent of Independents attribute the president’s move to politics, along with nearly half of Democrats.

Ouch. Given the timing, it kinda does seem like he said that due to the presidential race, but it could also be because of North Carolina banning gay marriage.

Non-Hispanic US white births now the minority in US
Black, Hispanic, Asian and mixed-race births made up 50.4% of new arrivals in the year ending in July 2011.

It puts non-Hispanic white births in the minority for the first time.

Sociologists believe the ongoing economic slowdown has contributed to a greater decline in birth rates among white people.

More diversity. 🙂

The Best Cities For Jobs
Instead of government, the big drivers of growth now appear to be three basic sectors: energy, technology and, most welcome all, manufacturing. Energy-rich Texas cities dominate our list — the state has added some 200,000 generally high-paying oil and gas jobs over the past decade — but Texas is also leading in industrial job growth, technology and services. In first place in our ranking of the 65 largest metropolitan areas is Austin, which has logged strong growth in manufacturing, technology-related employment and business services. Houston places second, Fort Worth fourth, and Dallas-Plano-Irving sixth. Another energy capital, Oklahoma City, ranks 10th, while resurgent New Orleans-Metairie places 13th among the largest metro areas.

Other than Washington, looks like Texas is a great place to move to.

Obama will win in November, Americans predict
Fifty-six percent of of Americans say President Barack Obama will win re-election, the Gallup polling organization said Tuesday, drily calling that prediction “perhaps a slightly more optimistic assessment than is currently warranted.”

Thirty-six percent say presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will be the one taking the oath of office in January.

Bad news for Romney fans.

NATO accepts Obama timetable to end war in Afghanistan by 2014
“We have finalized plans so 2014 will be a year in which the United States will not be spending as much money in Afghanistan as it is spending today. It will save money and we will be providing security ourselves,” he said. “That transition and the eventual withdrawal in 2014 of the U.S. forces and other NATO forces from Afghanistan is good for Afghanistan and good for our allied countries.”

I hope this work out.

World
Four die on Mount Everest
Four people died while coming down the southern slope of the mountain during the weekend after reaching Mount Everest’s 8848-meter (29,028 foot) summit, officials said.

The victims have been identified as Ebehard Schaaf, 61, a German medical doctor; Sriya Shah, 33, a Nepali-born Canadian woman; Song Wondin, a 44-year-old man from South Korea; and Wen Ryi Ha, 55, of China, according to officials with the tourism and civil aviation ministry and at the base of the mountain.

This is so sad. 😦 Knowing the potential risks, is it even worth it getting to the top?

World’s tallest tower, Tokyo Skytree, opens
The new tower, whose construction began in July 2008, surpasses China’s Canton Tower (600 meters high) as the world’s tallest tower, but is still nearly 200 meters shy of Dubai’s 830-meter Burj Khalifa skyscraper, the tallest manmade structure ever built.

Tokyo Skytree will provide services for digital radio and TV transmission, as well as an aquarium, theater, academic institutes and regional heating and cooling facilities.

It will also give visitors a chance to gaze across the city.

Pretty cool.

Health
Can Your Mental Health Affect Your Longevity?
Research paints a compelling argument. Adults with serious mental illness like schizophrenia die about 25 years earlier than the general population, according to a 2007 report from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors. They’re 3.4 times more likely to die of heart disease or diabetes, 3.8 times more likely to die in an accident, 5 times more likely to die of respiratory ailments, and 6.6 times more likely to die of pneumonia or flu, found the team led by Joseph Parks, director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health.

Things don’t look good for those with mental illnesses.

Technology/Social Media
Squeezing cash from China’s billion phone app market
This year, China will overtake America as the world’s biggest smartphone market.

And for many Chinese, the smartphone offers them their first personal route to access the internet – by some estimates 40% of those connecting to the web in China now do so solely via a mobile phone.

That offers IT developers, and mobile phone app makers in particular, an extraordinary opportunity.
Interesting.

Business/Money
Facebook sets share price in $100bn flotation
The social network said on Thursday that it valued shares at $38 (£24) each, and that its shares would begin trading in New York on Friday.

At this price the eight-year old firm would be worth more than $100bn.

Demand is set to be high; earlier this week Facebook said it would be selling 25% more shares than planned.

Wow, it’s hard to believe that the company is going public on the stock exchange soon.

Stocks slump again; 10-yr yield near all-time low
The Dow Jones industrial average posted its 11th loss in 12 days after a pair of discouraging economic reports further unnerved traders already concerned about a possible exit from the euro by Greece.

The Dow lost 156.06 points, most of it toward the end of the trading day, to close at 12,442.49. It is down almost 6 percent for May, and what had been a strong year for stocks has been reduced to a slender 1.8 percent gain.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index closed at its lowest point since Jan. 17.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year note hit 1.69 percent. That is lower than any 3 p.m. reading since at least 1953, according to records kept by the Federal Reserve.

Talk about hard economic times.

Nearly 87,000 Jeep Wranglers recalled
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the recall affects only 2010 Wranglers with automatic transmissions and ones that were built before July 14, 2010. Chrysler spokesman Eric Mayne said the 2010 models had a transmission plate and catalytic converter that were configured differently than Wranglers from other years.

It said debris can get trapped between a plate that protects the transmission and the catalytic converter, which causes a fire. Debris can build up when the SUVs are driven off-road or through tall brush.

I’m glad I don’t own one.

Entertainment
Donna Summer, queen of disco, dies at 63
The five-time Grammy winner, who was still making records as recently as last year, died in Englewood, Fla., Thursday after battling cancer. She was 63.

RIP Donna.

Summer concert preview: Tours offer real music deals
Well-heeled concertgoers are paying as much as $2,500 this summer to get the VIP treatment at a Madonna concert (front-row seats, souvenir T-shirts and other material amenities). But for about a quarter of that cash, fans can sample a broad palette of music with some of the biggest stars on the road. USA TODAY looks at seven high-value shows that offer plenty of bang without breaking the bank.

I want to go to a concert this summer.

Robin Gibb, member of the Bee Gees, dies after battle with cancer
Robin Gibb, one of three brothers who made up the disco group the Bee Gees behind “Saturday Night Fever” and other now-iconic sounds from the 1970s, died on Sunday, according to a statement on his website.

He was 62.

Gibb “passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery,” said the statement, which was attributed to his family. He died in England at 10:47 a.m. (5:47 a.m. ET), according to a post on his official Twitter feed.

RIP Robin. We lost another music legend this week.

Sports
VCU leaves CAA, announces move to Atlantic 10
The president said at press conference Tuesday to announce that VCU is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association to join the A-10 that “premier universities are premier across the board and that includes athletics.”

I think this a good move on VCU’s part. That means more automatic bids to the NCAA and a chance to play higher ranked teams.

Weekly Roundup – 5/6/12

Virginia/US

Fixed Mortgage Rates Fall to All-Time Low on Weak GDP Report, Euro Zone Concerns
If you thought mortgage rates were as low as they could go, think again. Mortgage rates are dropping, this time to a new all-time low.

Average rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage sank to 3.84 percent, Freddie Mac reported Thursday, down from 3.88 percent last week and beating out the previous record low of 3.87 percent in early February this year.

Good news for homeowners.

Obama talks exit strategy, signs deal with Afghanistan
President Barack Obama, speaking early Wednesday at the tail end of a surprise visit, discussed the exit strategy from Afghanistan and promised a steady drawdown of U.S. troops.

Obama committed to pulling 23,000 troops out of the country by the end of summer and sticking to the 2014 deadline to turn security fully over to the Afghan government. He also said that NATO will set a goal this month for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations next year.

This is a good thing. It’s time to bring our troops back home.

Poll: Obama ahead of Romney in Virginia
Fifty-one percent of voters said they would vote for the president if the election were held today, while 44% said Romney, according to the Washington Post poll released Thursday.

Looks like it’s going to be a tight race. I wonder who is going to win our electoral votes.

Virginia: For lovers, and for Romney and Obama
President Obama will make Richmond the site of his kick-off campaign rally this Saturday and, as he often does, will motorcade across the Potomac Friday for an official event in northern Virginia, this one devoted to student loans at an Arlington high school. Mitt Romney has two stops in Virginia lined up this week, Wednesday in northern Virginia and Thursday in Hampton Roads, and he will also be in Lynchburg to speak to graduates of Liberty University next week.

Obama is coming to the VCU Siegel Center on Saturday, and I can’t go see him because I have to work. :(. I can’t go see Romney either because he’s not stopping in Richmond. This sucks.

US adds 115,000 jobs in April, fewer than expected
The US economy created 115,000 jobs during April, down on the previous month and fewer than analysts had expected, official figures have shown.

However, the unemployment rate fell slightly to 8.1% from 8.2% in March, the Labor Department said.

The unemployment rate hit a three-year low, but part of the reason for the fall was a drop in the number of people looking for work, which reduced the size of the workforce.

“The drop in the unemployment rate was actually an unhealthy drop – you had less people looking for work, which shows a bad sentiment,” said Ron Florence at Wells Fargo Private Bank.

Things aren’t looking good.

Judge says Facebook ‘likes’ not protected by First Amendment
The “like” button on Facebook seems like a relatively clear way to express your support for something, but a federal judge says that doesn’t mean clicking it is constitutionally protected speech.

Everyone should be careful what they “like” from now on.

Nurse in Afghanistan dies in Skype chat with wife
The wife of an Army officer serving in Afghanistan witnessed her husband’s death as the two video chatted via Skype, his family said Friday.

The circumstances of Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark’s death were not immediately available. The Pentagon said it was under investigation, and his brother-in-law said he didn’t have details.

Wow, I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been for his wife to see.

Obama outlines case for re-election at first official campaign rally
The president said that in the final six months of 2008, “nearly three million of our neighbors lost their jobs.” But he said when he took office, “We didn’t quit. We don’t quit. Together we are fighting our way back.”

Obama touted the federal government’s rescue of the big auto companies, and he criticized his challenger, saying “when some wanted to let Detroit go bankrupt, we didn’t turn our backs.”

The president also touted his foreign policy achievements, saying that “for the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.” He said that “Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to this country,” and “al Qaeda is on the path to defeat.”

He then pledged that “by 2014, the war in Afghanistan will be over,” and pointed out that Romney had opposed setting a troop withdrawal deadline in that conflict.

I like Obama and some of the things he has done, but sometimes, I feel like he makes empty promises he can’t keep.

Connecticut Passes a Marijuana Bill
The Connecticut Senate passed a bill on Saturday legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, with tight restrictions intended to avoid the problems that have plagued some of the other states where it is now legal.

I guess it’s good if marijuana is used for medical needs.

World

Bin Laden’s last letters go online, showing dark days
A selection of documents seized in last year’s raid on bin Laden’s Pakistan house was posted online Thursday by the U.S. Army’s Combating Terrorism Center. The documents show dark days for al Qaeda and its hunkered-down leader after years of attacks by the United States and what bin Laden saw as bumbling within his own organization and its terrorist allies.

“I plan to release a statement that we are starting a new phase to correct (the mistakes) we made,” bin Laden wrote in 2010. “In doing so, we shall reclaim, God willing, the trust of a large segment of those who lost their trust in the jihadis.”

Until the end, bin Laden remained focused on attacking Americans and coming up with plots, however improbable, to kill U.S. leaders. He wished especially to target airplanes carrying Gen. David Petraeus and even President Barack Obama, reasoning that an assassination would elevate an “utterly unprepared” Vice-President Joe Biden into the presidency and plunge the U.S. into crisis.

I’m not surprised he had plans to kill Obama. What a shame. I’m glad he’s dead.

How to see the supermoon — and shooting stars, too
The moon will be at its fullest at 11:35 p.m. ET just after hitting perigee, the point in its orbit that brings the moon closest to Earth. The technical name for the event is a “perigee moon.”
The moon will be about 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) from Earth, about 12.2 percent closer to our planet than when the moon is at apogee, its farthest point. The average Earth-moon distance is about 230,000 miles (384,400 kilometers).

I didn’t see it. Overcast.

Technology/Social Media

Facebook Organ Donor Initiative Prompts 100,000 Users To Select New Option
Thousands of Facebook users have signed up to be organ donors this week, thanks to a new feature on the social networking site that makes it easier to register.

The new option was announced Tuesday by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as a way to boost the number of potential organ donors. By the end of the day, 6,000 people had enrolled through 22 state registries, according to Donate Life America, which promotes donations and is working with Facebook. On a normal day, those states together see less than 400 sign up.

I registered as an organ donor in Virginia today. 🙂 It would be great if this initiative goes worldwide. It looks like only people living in the US and Puerto Rico can register via Facebook.

Why Mac users should care about Windows malware
A Sophos researcher stirred up the Mac masses this week when he reported that 20 percent of Mac computers carry Windows malware. The good news is that even though Macs are capable of harboring Windows-targeting viruses and Trojans, those machines can’t be harmed by the malware in all but exceptional cases. The bad news, though, is that Mac users can still spread that malware to Windows machines in a number of ways.

Sucks for Windows users.

Text Message Marketing Is Still a Thing
If you compare mobile marketing with TV networks, text message campaigns would be PBS. They’re not sexy, and they’re not enormously popular, but they’re still kicking around, somewhat. According to a survey of 2,262 adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of location-based marketing firm Placecast, only four percent of mobile users receive marketing text messages.

I get them every once in a while, and they’re annoying.

Samsung unveils Galaxy S III smartphone with face, voice recognition
The new handset, with a whopping 4.8-inch screen and an 8-megapixel camera, was unveiled at a slick launch party in London on Thursday, complete with a backing orchestra.

Billed by Samsung as having been “designed for humans,” the phone features voice and eye-recognition technology that the company hopes will set the handset ahead of its rivals in the crowded smartphone market.

The new Galaxy handset, which runs the most up-to-date version of Google’s mobile operating system — Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich — recognizes when a user is looking at it, and ensures the screen doesn’t go dark while it has eye contact.

It looks like a really nice phone. If I didn’t have an iPhone, I’d probably buy the Samsung Galaxy S III.

New iPhone: Tantilizing Details Revealed
Adding to the existing rumor of a four-inch screen on the new iPhone is info obtained by Jeremy Horwitz of iLounge, who says not only will that screen be a larger 4 inches (measured diagonally), but it will have a new aspect ratio, which we would assume would be 16 x 9 — the same shape as typical HDTVs. It’s about time — since its inception, the iPhone screen has been shaped in the old-timey 4 x 3 ratio, the same as ancient standard definition TVs.

Basically, it’s a longer version of the iPhone4/4s. Still can’t wait to get my hands on one.

Verizon reps push 4G Android over iPhone
“The only drawback to the iPhone is it doesn’t have 4G, and Verizon is really pushing 4G,” another rep said on the phone. “Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone is a great phone. It just costs the company a lot of money for returns when customers find out that a faster 4G network is available and the iPhone’s only on 3G.”

I can see why Verizon is doing it. I’m sure the game will change when Apple makes a Verizon 4G phone.

Business/Money

Australia billionaire to launch “unsinkable” Titanic
An Australian billionaire announced plans on Monday to build an “unsinkable” version of the Titanic, 100 years after the original sank after hitting an iceberg.

Titanic II is expected to make its maiden voyage from England to North America, the old Titanic route, in late 2016.

“It is going to be designed so it won’t sink,” mining and tourism tycoon Clive Palmer told reporters. “It will be designed as a modern ship with all the technology to ensure that doesn’t happen.”

DOOMED! Sounds like the ship may be cursed. You sure as hell won’t find me on-board! Who knows, there might be a replica of the iceberg out there.

Man sues BMW after motorcycle seat allegedly causes 2-year erection
Viagra and Cialis apparently have nothing on a BMW motorcycle seat. According to a lawsuit filed last week in San Francisco Superior Court, the seat left its driver with a two-year erection.

Henry Wolf filed suit against BMW North America and Corbin-Pacific, Inc. He claimed in the lawsuit that the “ridged seat” of his 1993 BMW motorcycle caused him mental and emotional anguish after it left him with a severe case of priapism, aka a long-lasting erection.

Oh my God. I have no words…

WestJet’s ill-advised move to tablets
The winner of the “Dumbest Move Involving Technology Award” this week goes to WestJet for the airline’s plan to ditch its in-flight entertainment system in favour of renting tablets to passengers.

Yup, you read that right–for the low, low price of $10 to $12, WestJet will rent you a tablet pre-loaded with movies, TV shows and possibly games. And if you don’t want to pay? You’ll be stuck looking at the clouds for hours. Unless your flight is at night, in which case you won’t even be that lucky.

This is really not a big deal. Most passengers bring stuff to entertain themselves on the plane anyway.

Spirit Air to charge up to $100 for carry-on bags
Spirit Airlines will raise its fee for carry-on bags to up to $100, becoming the first U.S. airline to charge so much for a service that most other airlines offer for free.

Spirit said on its website that the new fees apply to carry-on bags registered at the gate and will become effective Nov. 6. Until that time, Spirit will continue to charge $45.

Ridiculous!!! I will never fly Spirit Airlines. End of story.

Facebook sets $28 to $35 IPO price range
It’s the day techies and investors have been waiting for: Facebook set a price range of $28 to $35 per share for its initial public offering. It also upped the maximum size of its offering to $13.6 billion, up from its previous $5 billion estimate.

Facebook currently has around 2.1 billion shares outstanding, so if its IPO prices at the top of the range, the company would be valued at just shy of $75 billion.

Many Facebook employees and executives, including Zuckerberg, hold unexercised stock options. The company itself is also holding some shares for future employee equity grants. If all of those shares were exercised, Facebook’s outstanding share count would rise to around 2.8 billion, pushing its valuation closer to $98 billion.

Cha-ching! Mark Zuckerberg wants to take over the world.

Entertainment

Jessica Simpson’s baby girl arrives
Jessica Simpson has given birth to a daughter in a Los Angeles hospital, the actress-singer said in a statement posted on her website Tuesday morning.

“Eric and I are elated to announce the birth of our baby girl, Maxwell Drew Johnson,” Simpson said.

The baby weighed in at 9 pounds, 13 ounces and measured 21.75 inches long, according to the website.

Congratulations!

‘Avengers’ Opens in U.S. After Conquering World Box Office
The movie is projected to open in the U.S. and Canada to at least $150 million in ticket sales — among the top five biggest openings of all time.

Wow, that’s huge!

Health

Taking E-Mail Vacations Can Reduce Stress, Study Says
A new study released Thursday by the University of California, Irvine, which was co-written with United States Army researchers, found that people who do not look at e-mail on a regular basis at work are less stressed and more productive.

The study, “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email,” looked at 13 workers in a typical office setting and asked them to discontinue e-mail for five days. The results were that during the e-mail hiatus, these people spent longer periods of time focusing on a single task at work and shifted between computer windows much less than those who were slaves to their in-box.

The researchers also tested people’s stress levels by attaching wearable heart rate monitors and found that their stress levels were much lower when not checking e-mail on a regular basis.

I need to try this at some point. Sometimes, it’s good to go “off the grid.”

Sports

Hokies introduce James Johnson as new head coach
After 19 years as an assistant coach at nine schools, James Johnson was introduced Tuesday as the new Virginia Tech men’s basketball coach.

I hope Jim Weaver selected the right guy for the job.

Morris: BCS got it right on playoff
Just as it had done for most of the past 15 college football seasons in determining the pairing for the national championship game, the BCS knew what it was doing when it decided last week on a four-team playoff to begin after the 2014 regular season.

BCS officials, conference commissioners and TV executives met in Florida with a two-pronged order of business. First, they needed a college football playoff that would satisfy university presidents who generally oppose the idea because the sport already is spiraling out of control. Next, they needed to quell the annual uproar by media and fans who clamor for a playoff of any kind.

The BCS just got a little more exciting. College football is awesome.

More players file concussion lawsuits against the NFL
More than 100 former professional football players, including former Atlanta Falcons Jamal Anderson, Chris Doleman, and O.J. Santiago, are adding their names a growing list of players suing the NFL.

They join more than 1,500 other players who claim that the National Football League hid the dangers of concussions from them.

The latest lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta by attorney Mike McGlamry, states that the NFL “repeatedly refuted the connection between concussions and brain injury.”

It goes on to assert that the organization failed “to take reasonable steps necessary to protect players from devastating head injuries. Moreover, the NFL has downplayed and misrepresented the issues and misled players concerning the risks associated with concussions.”

Way too many players are suffering from a brain injury/concussion. Something needs to be done.