Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Now you know HOW MUCH I Love Nokia...

But I must be objective when I report that the Nokia 6133 has an issue with dialing... I'll allow others to leave their feelings about this.
Why, here's an example of a disconcerted customer (and loyal one @ that) of Nokia products:

Please leave your own thoughts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The new definition of a Hill-Billy

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong...

New phone device allows you to 'speak' through your ear

New phone device allows you to 'speak' through your ear
Dec 18 10:00 AM US/Eastern

A Japanese company Tuesday unveiled a new device that will allow people "speak" through their ear so they can use their mobile telephones in noisy places.

The device -- named "e-Mimi-kun" (good ear boy) -- doubles as an earphone and a microphone by detecting air vibrations inside the ear, developer NS-ELEX Co. said.

The earpiece and an accompanying device can be connected to a mobile phone, or wirelessly to a Bluetooth handset, so that users no longer have to cover their mouths when speaking in a loud environment, the company said.

Exterior noise is reduced six-fold by the earpiece, it said, while a chip developed by Sanyo Electric for the accompanying device reduces sound levels ten-fold, it added.

NS-ELEX believes the product would be useful for people working in places such as factories, restaurants and amusement parks.

Copyright AFP 2007, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium

Monday, December 17, 2007

Kids, Don't Try This: Snorting わさび

Wow... I've eaten large amounts of wasabi, but this takes the cake!


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Outside Phoenix store, border debate rages on

Outside Phoenix store, border debate rages on

Emotional protests at local battleground mirror national fight

Casey Newton
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 9, 2007 12:00 AM

On East Thomas Road in Phoenix, the national shouting match over immigration unfolds week by week in a neighborhood that has changed in the same ways Arizona has.

Sheriff's deputies patrol the parking lot at M.D. Pruitt's Home Furnishings each Saturday, ensuring that no day laborers trespass on the property. Day-labor advocates mount protests nearby, blaring Mexican folk music while children dressed in traditional garb dance on the sidewalk.

Pruitt's opened 57 years ago, but only recently did day laborers gather in large numbers to seek work on the sidewalks and parking lots of nearby businesses. The subdivisions that stretch back from Thomas Road have seen more and more Hispanic families arrive, changing the character of the neighborhood.
A compromise that would have given illegal immigrants a way to become citizens fell apart in Congress earlier this year amid angry protests.

Since then, the battle has only grown angrier. Citizens furious over government inaction have called for the border to be sealed and for more illegal immigrants to be deported. The battle lines have been drawn.

In Phoenix, those lines lead straight to 35th Street and Thomas, where the owners of a family furniture store say they struggle to understand how such a divisive battle ever erupted in front of their showroom.

After weeks of keeping his distance, Phoenix's mayor now says he's prepared to enter the fray. He wants to sit down with the Pruitt's owners and the laborers' spokesman to develop a solution to the escalating conflict.

But until a compromise is reached, some involved in the protests worry the conflict could boil over into violence.

A changing neighborhood

Milton Dewey "Dee" Pruitt, who had worked for J.C. Penney and Montgomery Ward, started his furniture business in his garage in 1950.

He took $64, bought two Serta mattresses and a two-wheel trailer to deliver them, and made his first sale through a classified ad in The Arizona Republic.

Later that year, as his business grew, Pruitt bought the lot on Thomas Road. Pruitt's grew into one of the largest home-furnishings stores in the Southwest, fueled by the state's explosive population growth.

Pruitt ran the store for 25 years before it was eventually sold to Roger Sensing, who had leased space inside Pruitt's store as a carpet installer and retailer.

Sensing and his son, Michael, have run the business since 1982.

The store thrived. But at the end of the last decade, some important moves by other businesses shook up the status quo.

The Home Depot on Thomas Road moved from 32nd Street to 36th Street, preserving the original Thomas location as a contractors' warehouse.

With two sources of ready employment located just blocks from each other, day laborers flocked to the neighborhood.

For a time, the jornaleros congregated mostly at the new Home Depot. When Home Depot cracked down on the laborers in 2005, they moved closer to Pruitt's.

In an interview Friday, Michael Sensing said the laborers frequently used the Pruitt's parking lot as a place to find work.

They would approach Pruitt's customers in their vehicles. Female customers shopping alone complained about feeling intimidated by the laborers, Sensing said.

When Sensing hired off-duty police to patrol his lot, laborer advocate Salvador Reza began staging weekly protests, accusing the Sensings of harassment. Reza insists that no day laborers trespassed at Pruitt's.

Gordon's staff worked with the Sensings and with Reza to broker a truce. On Dec. 6 of last year, after negotiations between the men, Pruitt's agreed to stop hiring the police patrols. In return, Reza agreed to work with the laborers to keep them off Thomas and pledged to help create a day-labor center.

For a while, the truce worked. But for a variety of reasons, which remain in dispute, the day-labor center never materialized.

This spring, the day laborers returned to Thomas Road, numbering around 140 a day, according to a log Sensing keeps. Although they stayed off Pruitt's property, they were close enough that the Sensings were concerned that past problems would re-emerge.

When Phoenix refused to send off-duty officers to the site, the Sensings turned to Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office.

Sensing said his father asked Arpaio only to patrol the area and enforce no-trespassing laws. But during the Sheriff's Office's first weekend on patrol, deputies arrested six illegal immigrants.

Reza felt the truce had been broken and resumed his protests. The Sensings hired off-duty sheriff's deputies, and since then they have worked only when Reza and his followers are protesting, Sensing said.

If Reza would stop protesting, Sensing said, he would happily stop hiring the deputies. Reza said Sensing has to quit hiring the deputies first.

After all, each deputy costs the Sensings $30 an hour,and with the housing-market slump and the hundreds of protesters outside Pruitt's each Saturday, the furniture business hasn't exactly been booming.

What really keeps Michael Sensing up at night, he said, is the thought that people may think of his family as racists.

"Even walking through the store, going out to lunch or dinner, if I'm passing someone who's Hispanic, I'm thinking, do they think I'm racist?" said Sensing, whose staff is about 55 percent Hispanic. "It's really sad. We feel like we've been a good part of this community."

Pruitt's new neighbors

Changes to the neighborhood around Pruitt's owed as much to changing demographics as they did to a new Home Depot.

Between 1990 and 2000, the square-mile area north and south of Pruitt's saw the Hispanic population jump from 17 percent to 45 percent, according to Census data. During the same time, the White population dropped from 76 percent to 45 percent.

The shift worried homeowner Tim Maes, who moved to Northeast Village in 1986.

The neighborhood, just southeast of Pruitt's, was characteristic of east Phoenix at the time. The homes were well made, centrally located and cheap - about $60,000 when Maes moved there with his wife.

The Maeses found themselves living among the neighborhood's original homeowners, who had mostly retired by then, and other young Anglo families just starting out.

Then the day laborers came. Once, he said, two laborers peeked through their front window, scaring their young son.

Later, small items began disappearing from nearby homes. A neighbor doing yard work would go inside to take a phone call and return to find his lawnmower had been stolen. Neighbors blamed the laborers.

At the same time, Maes' neighborhood became the laborers' neighborhood, too. He saw the jornaleros move into the houses once occupied by the retirees, whose children had turned them into rentals after their parents died. Other laborers moved into nearby apartment complexes.

Pruitt's customer base grew to about 25 percent Hispanic, according to Sensing, and he began marketing to them.

As more customers began speaking Spanish, so did the signs on the storefronts on Thomas Road. Nowadays, when Maes orders a pizza from a neighborhood restaurant, he relies on the Spanish he picked up on playgrounds growing up on Phoenix's west side.

It's no wonder, he says, that a cultural conflict has erupted.

"The neighborhood's changing," said Maes, now a network administrator. "There are some people who don't like that. And there are some things about it that I don't like. But I think change is inevitable. When the complexion of a community changes, there is going to be conflict."

For protesters on both sides, the conflict at Pruitt's has taken on an importance far greater than the fate of a single furniture store.

Reza, an immigrant-rights organizer with the nonprofit Tonatierra, said he organized protests initially in response to ongoing harassment of day laborers by local businesses. Laborers say Roger Sensing antagonized them, photographing them and chasing them away from businesses in the surrounding area. The Sensings deny this.

"He is a man with a mission," Reza said of Roger Sensing. "And the mission is to rid the whole place of jornaleros."

Reza said a day-labor center, like the one he runs at 25th Street and Bell Road, is the only long-term solution.

"The thing is, there's nobody willing to create a work center in the area," Reza said.

Reza takes pains to say he does not support illegal immigration. But he also notes with evident pride that of the 44 people Arpaio's deputies had deported from near Pruitt's as of last week, about half have already returned across the border illegally, some with friends.

Reza and his supporters share the sidewalks with counter-protesters.

To them, Reza and the laborers are flaunting the revolving door at the border. That has led to fiery rhetoric from those now descending on Pruitt's to demonstrate.

"The confrontation has now become essentially a do-or-die situation for both sides, with implications far beyond illegal day labor," wrote Danny Smith of the American Freedom Riders motorcycle club, in a recent message rallying supporters. "This is no longer a mere skirmish, it is a major battle which we cannot afford to lose. We have succeeded in taking it to a national level of visibility, and now there is no turning back - WE MUST WIN."

For the motorcycle club, a win would be Phoenix agreeing to eliminate police Operations Order 1.4, which prevents police in most cases from asking about a person's immigration status. Gordon proposed this last week, and the policy is now under review.

The mayor weighs in

From the start of the conflict, people hoping to resolve the dispute have sought the help of the mayor.

But since helping to broker the truce last year, Gordon has largely kept his distance. His perceived lack of action drew criticism from all sides, including threats of a recall by the conservative Washington think tank Judicial Watch.

The pressure to act was one of the factors that pushed Gordon to reverse himself last week on Operations Order 1.4. On Thursday, Gordon said he was prepared to enter the fray at Pruitt's as well.

"Enough is enough," he said.

Gordon told The Republic he would offer to meet with the Sensings and Reza jointly in an effort to hammer out a long-term agreement.

"I'm asking both sides to provide me, in advance, with a specific list of what it is that each of them want - what benchmarks we're working toward," Gordon said. "I will sit down with them as soon as they can get here and work long days, evenings and weekends to help them end this."

If the sides can't reach an agreement, Gordon said, he will ask them to enter into binding arbitration with an independent hearing officer.

As the conflict escalates, Gordon is determined to prevent Phoenix from experiencing the racial strife that has plagued New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and other major American cities.

"We're not going to end up with the history other cities have had," Gordon said. "We have to get through this. We have to do everything we can to remember that this is a caring city that doesn't tolerate hatred and extremism."

Ryan Konig contributed to this article.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Google v Wikipedia

Google to tackle Wikipedia with new knowledge service

by Rhys Blakely

Google is to go head-to-head with Wikipedia, the web's largest reference work, in a clash of two of the internet's most powerful brands.

A new Google service, dubbed knol, will invite "people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it", Udi Manber, a Google engineer, said.

Like Wikipedia, articles in knol (the name derives from "knowledge") will be free to read online. In a departure from the nonprofit Wikipedia model, however, knol's authors will be able to attach advertising to their work and take a share of revenues.

"The goal is for knols [individual articles] to cover all topics, from scientific concepts to entertainment," Mr Manber said. The project is the latest to distance Google from its roots in internet search and pitch it against well-established rivals in a new sector. The company recently squared up to the mobile phone industry by unveiling its own operating system for hand-held devices. It is also set to bid for a portion of America's airwaves that it could use to build a wireless broadband network.

The creation of knol, at present in an invitation-only test phase but likely to be open to the public within months, will set two of the web's titans against each other.

In October, Wikipedia, which relies on donations for funds, was visited by 107 million people, or a third of the "active global internet population", according to Nielsen Online, the analyst. That made it the eighth most-visited online destination.

Google's search engine was the world's most popular site, with more than 260 million users, although its own reference work, Google Scholar, was only fifteenth in its class, with about 4.5 million users. Google, which says that it exists "to organise the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible", suggested that knol was designed to stamp out the malicious entries that have blighted Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia that "anybody can edit".

"We believe that knowing who wrote what will significantly help users make better use of web content," Google said. The company noted that it "will not serve as an editor in any way and will not bless any content. All editorial responsibilities and control will rest with the authors." Contributors will retain the copyright to their submissions.

However, as well as being ranked by readers, content will be ranked by the Google search engine, which will be the most important access point to the site. Mr Manber said: "A knol is meant to be the first thing someone who searches for this topic for the first time will want to read."

Jimmy Wales, the Wikipedia founder, who recently launched a rival search engine to Google's, questioned whether knol would be able to generate enough "quality content". He also suggested that knol articles would lack balance. "They are not going to allow collaboration and aren't going to go for Wikipedia's neutral style," he said.

Where Wikipedia promotes collaboration between authors, knol looks set to foster rivalry. Contributors to knol will not be able to contribute anonymously and will not be able to edit each other's work, two defining characteristics of Wikipedia. Whereas on Wikipedia, readers find only one entry on, say, the First World War, on knol authors will submit separate pieces that will compete for advertising dollars.

Wikipedia, founded in 2001, has more than eight million articles in 253 languages, from Afrikaans to Zazaki. In contrast to Google, it has refused to alter its policies to operate in different countries, which has led it to being blocked in states such as China.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Have A Little Talk With Jesus

At this time of year, I thought I'd reflect upon the real meaning of
the season with a little story:

Many times when I am troubled or confused, I find comfort in
sitting in my back yard and having a Jack Daniels on the rocks
along with a quiet conversation with Jesus. Recently, this
happened to me again after a particularly difficult day and I want
to tell you about it.

I said, "Jesus, why do I work so hard?"

And I heard the reply: "Men find many ways to demonstrate the
love they have for their family. You work hard to have a peaceful,
beautiful place for your friends and family to gather."
I said: "I thought that money was the root of all evil."

And the reply was: "No, the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.
Money is a tool; it can be used for good or bad."

I was starting to feel better, but I still had that one burning
question, so I asked it. "Jesus,"; I said, "What is the meaning of
life? Why am I here?"

He replied, "That is a question many men ask. The answer is in
your heart and is different for everyone. I would love to chat with
you some more, Señor, but now, I have to finish your lawn."

;-) Best Wishes,

Brian Hund,