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Samsung Runs Out of Flip Covers, TecTiles in Facebook Promotion

January 1, 2013

Samsung Galaxy Note II

    How much is your privacy worth?

If you were willing to give up a little personal information – and give Samsung access to your Facebook timeline – the company had a fairly compelling deal for you. In exchange for taking your Samsung Galaxy S III or Note II smartphone and registering it on Samsung’s Facebook page, Samsung sent out free smartphone flip covers and six free TecTiles for all who participated.

Well, maybe not all.

Unfortunately, supplies for the two eligible phones in the promotion – Samsung’s Galaxy S III and Note II smartphones – ran out a day or so after the promotion was first announced, incensing some registrants who felt as if they were “suckered in” by Samsung’s promotion only to receive a coupon, at best, for their efforts.

“Why on earth would you not extend this to all who responded!? You can’t expect us to believe that more [quantities] are NEVER going to be available. Why not offer those who registered and got confirmation emails at least the tec tiles? This feels very spammy and makes those who REGISTERED and got confirmation feel tricked. If you wanted people to register why not just ask or better yet, why allow us to register if it’s supposedly too late!? Be FAIR,” wrote one Facebook commenter.

Cool Cases for Your Samsung Galaxy S III

Belkin EaseFit Plus
Belkin Grip Weave
Belkin Micra Folio
Boxwave Active Glow Case
All and all, Samsung’s deal was worth around $55 or so for those who managed to score themselves the free smartphone accessories. That’s a bit better of a deal than the 50 percent off coupon that Samsung now appears to be sending to those who register their phones on Samsung’s Facebook hub – depending on the parameters of the coupon and what one can use it for, we note.

Samsung’s offer – or new offer – is only applicable for those registering Galaxy S III or Note II smartphones.  Samsung hasn’t made any mention of why it’s only limiting its promotion to those two devices.  Perhaps the company didn’t want to unleash the floodgates when it came to handing out smartphone covers.  That, and there’s the simple fact that that Samsung only makes flip covers for these two devices at the moment.

As for TecTiles, however, these were the real gems of Samsung’s offer.  Not only could you get six of these little NFC-friendly devices for free, when a five-pack would otherwise set you back around $15 or so, but you could have gained the ability to place programmable prompts around your household, home office, or anywhere else you could think of.

In other words, a TecTile is an NFC tag that you can program with your phone to cover a wide range of activities.  And when you hold your phone to said TecTile after the fact, the activity occurs.  For example, you could use your Samsung device to program a TecTile such that it causes smartphones to automatically join a specific wireless network whenever their owners touch the MIFARE-supported devices to the tag.

Sure sounds a lot better than a half-off coupon, wouldn’t you say?  At least, that seems to be what a growing chorus of commenters on Facebook are indicating, with some going so far as to ask Samsung to at least send the promotion’s participants some free TecTiles for their efforts.


Oscar Nominations Voting Extended To January 4th

January 1, 2013

Working as a film critic/reporter you realize something about the movie industry: it never stops. At least one new feature, if not five, is put into theaters nationwide every week of the year, and that’s not even counting all of the indies, small releases, VOD, and international titles. Hundreds if not thousands of movies come out every single year and you just have to do your best to see as many as you can.
And it becomes a more serious matter when you start talking about the people who vote on the nominees for the big award shows. Because every movie out there deserves a fair shake for an Oscar, members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences not only have to see as many movies as they possibly can, but they must do so by a specific deadline. But this year voters are being given a bit of a break, as that deadline has been extended.
While Academy voters were originally supposed to have their ballots in by this Thursday, January 3rd at 5pm PST, the organization behind the Oscars has opted to move the date back a full 24 hours, to Friday, January 4th at 4pm PST. The reason behind the push is the new system that allows members to submit their nominations online instead of by paper ballot. To ensure that the system is secure, the Academy will be closing down its online voting system for two hours on January 3rd after the original deadline. After that period voters will be able to go back on to the site and submit their choices.
The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards will be announced Thursday January 10th at 5:30am PST and the 85th annual Oscars will be held on Sunday February 24th at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by Seth MacFarlane.

Kanye West Reportedly Surprised Kim Kardashian With Baby Announcement

January 1, 2013


If ever a firm and hilarious reminder was needed as to how comically long it has taken to Kris Humphries and Kim Kardashian to actually get divorced, we got it today in the form of the reality star announcing she’s knocked up by new boyfriend Kanye West.  It’s unclear how the impending bundle of joy might play in court when the NBA player no doubt uses it to argue she never loved him, but regardless, the reality star seems very happy with where she’s headed, even if she was a little surprised at her boyfriend spilling the beans.
Kim and Kanye talked about when they’d share the news publically and settled on after she started showing, but overwhelmed by the moment with Kim, her mother and some of his own family members in attendance, he impulsively went for it, causing her to start crying.  Given their prior decision to wait, those tears conceivably could have been angry ones, but by all accounts, she was actually touched by what happened.
Other than the fact that the test was positive, the only real detail known about the pregnancy is that Kim is about twelve weeks along.  More than likely, that would mean the baby was conceived during the birthday trip she took to Italy alongside Kanye.
Pop Blend’s sincerest congratulations go out to Kim and Kanye.  Having the child so early into their relationship might not have been the way they drew it up on paper, but with full hearts and plenty of excitement, they should still be wonderful parents.

Doctors Expect Clinton to Recover Fully From Blood Clot Near Brain

January 1, 2013

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s blood clot formed in her head, her doctors said on Monday, a potentially serious condition from which they nonetheless stressed they expect her to fully recover.

Mrs. Clinton was hospitalized Sunday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for the blood clot — in a vein between the brain and the skull and behind her right ear — and doctors said on Monday that it had not resulted in a stroke or neurological damage. They said they were treating her with blood thinners to try to dissolve the clot.

“She will be released once the medication dose has been established,” according to the statement from Dr. Lisa Bardack and Dr. Gigi El-Bayoumi. Clots like the one Mrs. Clinton has can be serious, said doctors not involved in her care. Dr. David Langer, a brain surgeon and an associate professor at the North Shore-Hofstra-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine, said that if this type of clot was untreated, it could cause blood to back up, and could lead to a hemorrhage inside the brain.

Mrs. Clinton’s doctors struck an upbeat tone in their statement. “In all other aspects of her recovery, the secretary is making excellent progress, and we are confident she will make a full recovery,” the statement said. “She is in good spirits, engaging with her doctors, her family and her staff.”

The sudden turn in Mrs. Clinton’s condition appeared to take members of her staff by surprise. As recently as Sunday afternoon, they thought she was on the mend and ready to return to work this week.

“Yep, she’s looking forward to getting back to the office this week and resuming her schedule (plan is Wednesday),” Mrs. Clinton’s close aide, Philippe Reines, replied to an e-mail inquiry.

But by 7:30 p.m. Sunday, all that had changed. Mrs. Clinton, who had been home for more than two weeks nursing injuries sustained after she fainted and hit her head, suffering a concussion, had been admitted at NewYork-Presbyterian with an ominous diagnosis: a blood clot stemming from the concussion, Mr. Reines said.

Instantly, the woman who, before even announcing, has been widely viewed as a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, someone who has spent the past four years keeping up a grueling schedule in which she racked up miles as the most-traveled secretary of state and visited 112 countries, was seeming uncharacteristically fragile.

Instead of talking about who might be her running mate, or how she had, even on Monday, again been named the most admired woman in America in a Gallup poll, the chatter on the Potomac shifted to talk about how, at the end of the day, she is a 65-year-old woman trying to recover after falling and hitting her head.

This being Washington, there was plenty of political finger-pointing. On Twitter, those sympathetic to Mrs. Clinton lashed out at Republican critics who had accused her of faking her illness. BuzzFeed helpfully chronicled the top “eight people who thought Hillary Clinton was faking her concussion” because she did not want to testify before Congress on the Benghazi attacks. They included The New York Post, which called her concussion a “head fake,” and the Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, who called her illness “acute Benghazi allergy.”

David Rothkopf, an acting Commerce Department under secretary in the Bill Clinton administration, strongly criticized the quick politicizing of Mrs. Clinton’s health, both by allies and foes.

“It’s a sign of the level of politicization that this woman could be lying in a hospital bed dealing with a serious issue and the first reaction of all these people is politics,” Mr. Rothkopf said. “There’s no politics in a blood clot.”

“The point is,” he added, “people should just stop and be human beings.”

Mrs. Clinton’s friends say they have become increasingly concerned about her since she fell ill in mid-December from a stomach virus that left her severely dehydrated. She was vomiting constantly, friends said, and fell forward, hitting her head and blacking out. The result, one friend said, was a contusion on her eye and on her brain. She was forced to cancel a trip to the Middle East and Africa that had been planned for the next week.

On Dec. 13, doctors diagnosed a concussion, and she had been kept since then to limited activity, according to a friend of Mrs. Clinton’s who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to discuss her illness publicly.

Mr. Reines said that on Sunday, during a follow-up exam, doctors found a blood clot and hospitalized her. “Her doctors will continue to assess her condition, including other issues associated with her concussion,” he said in a statement Sunday night.

Dr.Geoff Manley, vice chairman of neurological surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, said patients with this condition generally need to be treated in an intensive care unit, by specialists with expertise in this kind of clot. The treatment usually begins with intravenous blood thinning drugs, and scans to monitor the clot. After a few days, patients can usually be moved to a regular hospital floor and be gradually switched from intravenous drugs to pills. Barring complications, after a few more days they can usually go home. But the clot may take weeks or months to dissolve, and treatment will continue for even longer to prevent a recurrence.

This type of venous clot is more common in women than in men, Dr. Langer said, particularly with dehydration. But it is impossible to say exactly what caused it in Mrs. Clinton’s case — her head injury, the illness, some other factor or a combination. Given that she has had a blood clot in the past — in her leg in 1998 — she may be prone to form clots, and may need lifelong treatment to prevent them, possibly with low doses of aspirin or other blood-thinning drugs.

Apple Working With Intel On Smart Watch

January 1, 2013

 Apple and Intel may be working together on a Bluetooth-enabled smart watch, according to a report from Chinese site TGBus. The watch, according to the report, would launch in the first half of this year.


It would include a 1.5-inch OLED display from RITEK subsidiary RiTdisplay, and perhaps use Siri for greater integration with the iPhone.

Full details on Apple’s smart watch are unknown, but the report compares Apple’s project to Sony’s SmartWatch, although it notes that Apple’s Siri voice assistant will provide for greater integration with the iPhone in allowing users to take phone calls directly through the watch.

This wouldn’t be the first Bluetooth 4.0 watch to hit the market, following the successfully funded Pebble e-paper watch, which raised over $10 million on Kickstarter.  Sony also has a watch out in the market, simply called the Sony SmartWatch

World welcomes New Year with a bang

January 1, 2013

New Year’s celebrations from around the globe as people from Hong Kong to Kabul ring in 2013.

Sydney lights up 2013 sky

Hong Kong rings in the New Year

New Year 2013

New Year's Eve 2012

Fireworks explode over and around the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House.
 Lavish fireworks displays ushered in 2013 across the Asia-Pacific region on Tuesday as Europe held scaled-back festivities and street parties in the hope of beginning a new year that will be kinder to its battered economies.

    Asian cities kicked off New Year’s celebrations in style and an atmosphere of renewed optimism.

    Huge fireworks lit up skylines in Sydney, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and even the once-isolated country of Myanmar joined the countdown party for the first time in decades.

    Celebrations were planned around the world, including the traditional crystal ball drop in New York City’s Times Square, where one million people were expected to cram into the surrounding streets.

    In Russia, Moscow’s iconic Red Square was filled with spectators as fireworks exploded near the Kremlin to welcome in the new year. Earlier in the day, about 25 people were reportedly arrested in Moscow for trying to hold an unsanctioned demonstration, but President Vladimir Putin gave an optimistic New Year’s Eve address, making no reference to the anti-government protests that have occurred in his country in the past year.

    “We believe that we can change the life around us and become better ourselves, that we can become more heedful, compassionate, gracious,” Putin said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.

    In Australia, a balmy summer night was split by 6.3 tonnes of fireworks fired from rooftops and barges in Sydney, many cascading from the city’s Harbour Bridge, in a US$6.9 million (NZ$8.3 million) pyrotechnic extravaganza billed by organisers as the world’s largest.

    In Myanmar, after nearly five decades under military regimes that discouraged or banned big public gatherings, about 90,000 people experienced the country’s first New Year’s Eve countdown in a field in the largest city of Yangon.

    “We feel like we are in a different world,” said Yu Thawda, a university student who came with three of her friends.

    Tens of thousands of people lined Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor to view a US$1.6m fireworks display, said to be the biggest ever in the southern Chinese city.

    In North Korea, cannons boomed at midnight in Pyongyang as people crowded the streets of the capital to watch a fireworks show over the Taedong River. After being in mourning a year ago regarding leader Kim Jong Il’s death, North Koreans celebrated the end of a big year that included the rise of new leader Kim Jong Un and the recent launch of a satellite into space.

    Hotels, clubs and other sites in New Delhi, the Indian capital, canceled festivities after the death Saturday of a young rape victim touched off days of mourning and reflection about women’s safety. People were asked to light candles to express their solidarity with the victim. 

    In Indonesia, Jakarta’s street party centered on a 7-kilometre thoroughfare closed to traffic from nightfall until after midnight. Workers erected 16 large stages along the normally clogged, eight-lane highway through the heart of the city. Indonesia’s booming economy is a rare bright spot amid global gloom and is bringing prosperity – or the hope of it – to its people.

    In the Philippines, where many are recovering from devastation from a recent typhoon, health officials have hit upon a successful way to stop revellers from setting off huge illegal firecrackers that maim and injure hundreds of Filipinos each year.

    A health official, Eric Tayag, donned the splashy outfit of South Korean star PSY and danced to his YouTube hit Gangnam Style video while preaching against the use of illegal firecrackers on TV, in schools and in public arenas.

    “The campaign has become viral,” Tayag said.

    In austerity-hit Europe, the mood was more restrained – if hopeful. The year 2013 is projected to be a sixth straight one of recession amid Greece’s worst economic crisis since World War Two. In fact, the new year was starting with a 24-hour strike by  subway and train workers in Athens to protest salary cuts that are part of the government’s austerity measures.

    Still, in his televised New Year’s Eve message, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras promised Greeks that the worst of the crisis is past, and declared 2013 a “year of hope” that will see the beginning of the country’s rebirth.

    Celebrating New Year’s Eve with a vespers service in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI said that despite all the injustice in the world, goodness prevails. In his homily, Benedict said it’s tough to remember that goodness can win when bad news – death, violence and injustice – “makes more noise than good”.

    He said taking time to meditate in prolonged reflection and prayer can help “find healing from the inevitable wounds of daily life”.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s New Year’s message warned her country to prepare for difficult economic times ahead. Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, decided to cancel celebrations in light of the economic crisis. Nicosia said 16,000 euros saved from the cancelled event will be given to some 320 needy schoolchildren.

    In Spain, where a recession has left unemployment at a staggering 25 per cent, people are hoping for a better new year.

    “It’s been tough, but some celebrations are too deeply ingrained to let go,” said Olga Camino, 25. She said she would be celebrating in the streets of Madrid in fancy dress with a large group of friends. Camino said they would all eat 12 grapes as the clock in Madrid’s central Puerta del Sol struck midnight, a tradition observed throughout Spain.

    Scotland’s Edinburgh, which traditionally hosts one of the biggest New Year’s Eve parties in Europe, also planned good cheer. Festivities for the three-day Hogmanay -or year-end – celebrations began Sunday with a torchlight procession in the Scottish capital, and organizers said about 75,000 people are expected to line the streets for Tuesday’s fireworks.

Americans Desire Less of Kardashians, Lohan in 2013

December 31, 2012

The new year is typically a time when people try to say goodbye to the past and look forward to a bright new future. But for many Americans, a poll shows, it would also be a fine time to say goodbye to some celebrities whose faces have become all too familiar.
The interactive poll of more than 2,000 people was conducted by Harris International, which asked respondents which celebrities they would like to write out of their lives in 2013.
The most commonly offered answer was sisters Kim and Khloe Kardashian, the reality TV stars whose lives are chronicled on an almost weekly basis by the celebrity magazines sold at supermarket checkout counters. Fully 70 percent of American adults hope to see less of them in the coming year.
Coming in at number two in the survey was actress Lindsay Lohan, the former teen star whose frequent brushes with the law have lost their novelty. Sixty-eight percent of Americans say they would be happy to see less of her in 2013.

​​Alana Shannon, the six-year-old reality show starlet and beauty pageant contestant known as ‘Honey Boo Boo,’ has not been on the scene for as long as the others, but her act already is getting old. Two-thirds of those surveyed say they have had enough of her and her mother, June Shannon.
Others making the list include teen singing sensation Justin Bieber, R&B singer Chris Brown and Twilight movie actress Kristen Stewart, who made headlines for cheating on her boyfriend.
Taking aim at over-exposed celebrities was the idea of Zebra Pen Corporation, which makes pens. Chris Farley, the company’s marketing director, spoke to VOA via Skype.
“We thought it would be a fun twist, which celebrities you would like to ‘write off,’ a play on words with writing. And then which celebrities were stealing all the ink,” said Farley.
Not all of the targeted celebrities live in Hollywood. A few have connections in Washington, the nation’s capital, including war hero and former CIA director David Petraeus.
Petraeus is still highly regarded for reducing the violence in Iraq during his tenure as U.S. commander there. But now that details of his extramarital affair with his biographer have come to light, though, 20 percent of Americans say they have had enough.
And there also is real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who repeatedly has questioned whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States, a requirement for a president. More than half of those with college degrees told the surveyors they will like 2013 a lot better if they hear a lot less from Trump.