Weekly Roundup – 6/17/12 & 6/24/12

I’m combining these two weeks because I didn’t spend too much time reading stories on the web. 😦

Virginia/US
Dad changing tire on I-95, dies in front of 2 children
Police said Steven Ridley, age 35, was stopped on the right shoulder changing a flat tire on a 2010 Chrysler 300M, when Robert M. Krill, of Pennsylvania, ran off the right side of the roadway in his U-Haul and struck Ridley and his vehicle.

Ridley died at the scene. Police said his vehicle’s hazard lights were activated.

Police said that Ridley’s 14 year-old son was outside the vehicle assisting his father when the crash occurred. He was not injured.

Ridley’s nine-year-old daughter, who was seated inside the vehicle in the front passenger seat, suffered minor injuries and was transported to VCU Medical Center.

I can’t imagine what his children must be going through. It’s so sad.

GOP convention held in Richmond
The GOP also tried to unify their party, especially after a vote this week by the GOP’s State Central Committee. They decided to change their method for choosing candidates for statewide elections in 2013 from an open primary to a convention.

I wonder how this will play out.

Judge: Sandusky defense can call experts on personality disorder
Lawyers for Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach accused of systemic sexual abuse of boys, are expected to begin presenting their client’s case next week, when the high-profile trial resumes.

When they do, they will be able to call experts to testify about whether Sandusky suffers from Histrionic Personality Disorder, thanks to a judge’s ruling Friday.

He definitely has a twisted mind/personality for sure.

For Many Immigrants, Policy Offers Joy and Relief
For many immigrants here, especially students like Ms. Sochitl, Mr. Obama’s announcement on Friday of his plan to offer work permits to some illegal immigrants under 30 years old who came to the United States before age 16, unleashed a wave of joy and relief, undercut with wariness about if and how the policy might be implemented. The policy does not grant any permanent legal status.

I think it’s good news, especially since a lot of these people didn’t have a choice.

Rodney King dead at 47
Rodney King, whose beating by Los Angeles police in 1991 was caught on camera and sparked riots after the acquittal of the four officers involved, was found dead in his swimming pool Sunday, authorities and his fiancee said. He was 47.

RIP Rodney King.

Gas prices break below $3.00 at multiple SWVA gas stations
According to the GasBuddy.com price finder, stations in Troutville, Fancy Gap, and Collinsville are each at $2.99 or $2.98.

Wow, that’s cheap! I wish gas prices were like that around here. I don’t want to drive 4 hours for cheap gas.

Details of the Jerry Sandusky verdict
After nearly 21 hours of deliberations, the jury in the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky reached a verdict Friday night. It found him guilty of 45 of 48 counts.

There originally were 52 charges against Sandusky. On Thursday, Judge John Cleland announced that three of the counts were dismissed, and earlier this week a fourth charge was withdrawn by prosecutors, bringing the total number of charges to 48.

Thank goodness.

World
Egypt awaits presidential election results
The results are due in the coming hours, after the election commission heard appeals by the two candidates.

Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq have both claimed victory and vowed to form unity governments.

Thousands of their supporters spent the night in the centre of Cairo amid increasing political polarisation.

Correspondents say the atmosphere has been peaceful, but tense.

Political divide. What else is new?

Daredevil Takes a Successful Walk Across a Popular Void
Mr. Wallenda, in a red shirt, seemed to float over the roiling waters beneath him. Shortly after 10:30 p.m., as he neared the end, the crowd of roughly 100,000 people in Canada roared; Mr. Wallenda took a knee, pumped a fist, and ran a few steps to the end. He hugged his family and then called his 84-year-old grandmother to assure her that he was all right.

That’s awesome! Way to go.

Japan to restart first nuclear reactors since tsunami
Japan’s government on Saturday approved bringing the country’s first nuclear reactors back online since last year’s earthquake and tsunami led to a nationwide shutdown, going against wider public opinion that is opposed to nuclear power after Fukushima.

Oh boy, this doesn’t look good.

Health
Deadly bubonic plague found in Oregon: Back to the Middle Ages?
A man has been hospitalized in Oregon who is believed to be suffering from the black plague, a disease that killed about one-third of the population of Europe during the Middle Ages.

The unidentified man in his 50s became ill several days after being bitten when he tried to get a mouse out of the mouth of a stray cat, according to OregonLive.com. The man was listed in critical condition in a Bend hospital on Tuesday.

Oh my goodness! I hope he will be ok.

Technology/Social Media
Nokia to provide incoming Seton Hall University freshman with Lumia 900
Nokia on Tuesday announced a new partnership with Seton Hall University that will see all incoming freshman receive a Lumia 900 smartphone. The handset will be equipped with SHUmobile, an app available across multiple platforms that provides access to campus news feeds, directories and maps. The Lumia 900s offered by the school will also have access to a custom Freshmen Experience section that allows users to communicate with their freshmen peers, academic advisers, roommates and to view housing information. The university will use Nokia Data Gather to conduct polls and gather other information from the students. The entire class of 2016 will receive a Nokia Lumia 900 with free service from AT&T for the fall semester, but they must foot the bill or rely on Wi-Fi networks after the semester ends.

Nice. Good way to move forward with technology.

Flirting App Under Fire, After Three Children Are Raped
Skout, a fast-growing and free flirting app for iOS, has come under fire recently, after it was discovered that a third child was raped by a man posing as a teenager in the app’s separate section for 13- to 17-year-olds.

Ew.

Ethiopia clamps down on Skype and other internet use on Tor
Users already face up to 15 years in jail if they use Skype or similar internet call services.

“The Ethiopian government is trying to attack every means of information exchange,” Ambroise Pierre from the Reporters Without Borders Africa service told BBC News.

“There’s already a very strict control over written press, and last year several journalists were arrested, and now the government is tackling communications over the internet.

Wow, that’s harsh.

Can living without the web increase the social divide?
One third of all Americans – 100 million people – have not adopted broadband at home. In South Korea and Singapore adoption rates top 90%, according to a 2010 study by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

And there is a growing divide between the digital haves and have-nots: Less than one third of the poorest Americans have adopted broadband, while more than 90% of the richest have adopted, says Digital Nation 2011, a US government report.

It’s hard to even function without the internet.

Facebook Now Lets You Edit Comments
But starting Thursday the site is also now offering the ability to edit your comment — and change that pappy back to the puppy you intended in the first place. The edit option appears in the form of a small pencil icon on the right side of your comment. Clicking on the pencil will bring up a drop-down menu the option to edit your comment as well as the option to delete it entirely.

Finally.

Kyck: the Social Network for Soccer Fans
Launched as a website last summer and iOS app [iTunes link] in April, Kyck lets you follow and be followed by other users and get content delivered based on the teams and players you support. Following users means their posts — whether photos, comments on live matches or takes on club or international squads — are delivered to a stream that resembles something of a cross between Twitter and Tumblr feeds.

You can tag your own posts by player or team so that they’re filtered into specific conversations. A Top Kycks section, meanwhile, delivers content the app’s algorithm deems most relevant to you for quick browsing according to the favorites you list in your profile. Checking in to specific club or international matches means you get game updates and stats delivered within the app or via push notification.

That’s pretty cool.

LinkedIn Slapped With $5 Million Lawsuit Over Password Breach
The news just keeps getting worse for LinkedIn. The social network for work professionals is being sued for $5 million after more than 6 million of its users’ passwords were leaked online earlier this month.

Katie Szpyrka, a LinkedIn user from Illinois, filed the lawsuit. She claims LinkedIn deceived its more than 160 million members by having a security policy “in clear contradiction of accepted industry standards for database security.” Szpyrka is seeking class-action status for the suit.
Ouch.

Bill C-11 passes Commons, allowing for U.S.-style copyright law
Bill C-11 passed a final vote at third reading on Monday night, bringing Canadians one step closer to SOPA-like regulation of their media consumption. According to the CBC, the bill was immediately introduced to the Senate after passing the vote, and will likely be sped through the Senate review process, meaning it stands a good chance of becoming law in the coming month.
Regular readers of The Right Click are likely quite familiar with what the copyright bill will mean to Canadians: Bill C-11 would allow rights holders to include ‘digital locks’ on their content, which includes music, video, e-books and software. Users can make copies for personal backups, but all other duplication could result in fines for doing so.

Oh boy… a bunch of Canadians won’t be happy about this.

Business/Money
Super Size It: McMansions Making a Comeback
Reverting back to a “bigger is better” mentality, interest in mega-mansions 3,200 square feet and larger has almost doubled from a year ago, according to new data from real estate website Trulia. About 11 percent of today’s house hunters say they want their own McMansions, up from just 6 percent last year.

How can people afford houses like these? I can’t even begin to fathom.

Entertainment
‘Call Me Maybe’ Tops 100 Million Views
Thanks in no small part to numerous tributes, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” is up to 120 million views on YouTube. According to YouTube Trends, the video, which was released in February, has picked up momentum over the last few weeks as well, topping 100 million sometime this month.

Wow, that’s a lot of views.

Sports
Thunder face tough choices after loss in NBA Finals
The Thunder enter the offseason with coach Scott Brooks’ contract about to expire, Sixth Man of the Year James Harden and NBA blocks leader Serge Ibaka eligible for new deals and the future of veterans Derek Fisher and Nazr Mohammed up in the air.

It will be up to general manager Sam Presti to determine whether they all can still fit on a team where All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are already locked into expensive, long-term deals.

It doesn’t look good for the Thunder.

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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.