December 21: End of Mayan calendar, or end of the world?

CANCUN: Gonzalo Alvarez, who had just arrived in Cancun for two weeks of revelry linked to a major milestone in the Mayan calendar, seemed reasonably cheerful for a man about to swallowed up by the Apocalypse.

“We came to party and to get ready for the beginning of a new era,” said the 39-year old architect, as he gathered his luggage from a baggage carousel at Cancun’s airport.

Alvarez had travelled to Mexico from Florida to witness first-hand the beginning of a new Mayan era on December 21, 2012, which will be marked with celebrations throughout southern Mexico and Central America.

Mexico is one of five countries preparing to observe the date, which marks the end of a more than 5,000-year era, according to the Mayan “Long Count” calendar, which began in 3114 BC.

For many people in this region, December 21 will be a date for celebration.

The start of the new Mayan calendar also is big business in this region, with tourism offices in no fewer than five countries aggressively promoting the date.

Millions of tourists are expected to flood into the region for celebrations that will include fireworks, concerts and other spectacles held at more than three dozen archaeological sites.

In addition to Mexico, celebrations will be held in Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras, and at least two heads of state — President Otto Perez of Guatemala and President Porfirio Lobo of Honduras — have confirmed that they will take part in festivities in their respective countries.

But while some prepare for the end of the Mayan calendar, others fear with trepidation the date will usher in the end of the world.

Some New Age spiritualists are convinced of a December 21 “doomsday” foretold by Mayan hieroglyphs — at least according to some interpretations.

The prophesy they refer to is found in an ancient Mayan monument in Tortuguero, Mexico, and is believed to have been left by a Mayan ruler.

The Mayan leader, fresh from defeat on the battlefield, declared that the military setback was but one event in a larger cycle of time that would end in 2012.

Many scholars say the prophesy was misinterpreted, however, and was not meant to suggest the end of all time, but simply the end of the old Mayan calendar and the beginning of a new one.

Indigenous experts scoff at the faulty and sensational misreadings of the Mayan calendars.

“The Mayans had a cyclical concept of time, not one that ever focused on the end of the world,” Mexican archaeologist Jose Romero told AFP.

Romero based his conclusions on his studies of the carved stone known as the Tortuguero Monument, which now is broken into six pieces divided between Mexico and the United States, including one piece which is housed in a museum in New York.

Nevertheless, the current doomsday panic has spread far beyond Meso-America.

The trend has been fuelled in part by movies like “2012” by Roland Emmerich and books like the novel “The Mayan Testament” by Steve Alten that have cashed in on the fad.

Romero blames Hollywood for a rather fantastical interpretation of the hieroglyphs “without much knowledge of the facts” of Mayan history and culture.

Meanwhile, the belief that the world will end on December 21 has travelled to the far reaches of the globe.

In the Russian city of Tomsk, for example, a company is selling an “Apocalypse kit” that includes food and medicine with a bottle of vodka — or tequila if the customer prefers.

In the French Pyrenees, authorities have temporarily closed access to a mountain in the southwest of the country to avoid throngs of people fleeing from apocalypse.

Indigenous leaders in Mexico, critical of the way the date is being commercialized, have convened a Mayan Peoples Council to focus more on the cultural significance of the new era.

“Like native cultures throughout the world, we want to maintain our cultural identity and preserve our ways of speaking, thinking and seeing the cosmos,” said Mary Coba, a tribal council representative.

“Above all, we want to realize the possibility that, wherever we live, we are respected, and live free of discrimination, violence and poverty.”

She said native people have prepared dignified observances for the new Mayan era, and that ceremonies marking the date would be simple but profound.

“There are no real requirements,” she said, “We just ask that people arrive before five in the morning wearing white clothing and carrying a white candle.”

Nexus 7 Comes to India

Google’s Nexus 7 tablet has finally arrived in India.

With an official announcement by its co-manufacturer Asus, the long wait of the Indians has come to an end; but not without a bit of sadness. The 16GB version Nexus has come with a price tag of Rs. 19,999, which is a bit too high when compared to its original price in the US ($199).

While there is a 32GB model, and a 3G version tablet, presently only the 16GB, Wi-Fi-only version will be available in India. This tablet would be sold at ASUS showrooms and Chroma from November 20, 2012.

Specification: runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and has 7-inch screen with a resolution of 1280×800 pixels. It weighs about 340 grams, has 1GB RAM and Tegra 3 processor. It also has a micro-USB port, a 1.2MP front camera. The battery backup is of 9.5 hours.

Google says, the tablet has been designed with gaming in mind. There are about 675,000 apps and games, a large collection of eBooks, songs, thousands of movies and TV shows, and the latest magazines available on Google Play. With this tablet, one can make the best use of Google Apps like Gmail, Chrome, Google+ and Maps.

COMPETES WITH: Samsung Tab 2, Apple iPad Mini, Amazon KindleFire

Samsung Tab 2 is the immediate competitor in the Indian market, with the similar features and price range. Many people who waited for Nexus 7 since months have tweeted that they might go for Tab 2, because it has 3G.

However, with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Tegra 3 processor, Nexus 7 gives faster performance and better touch response than the Tab 2. The Samsung device has both front a facing camera and a rear camera, while Nexus 7 has only a front facing camera of 1.3-mega pixel.

Apple iPad Mini is yet to come to India, and the price of iPad mini Wi-Fi version would be far higher than the price of Nexus 7. The 16GB Wi-Fi version of the iPad mini is sold online for the price of about 26,990. The iPad mini is a bigger one with 7.9-inch display and has a resolution of 1024X768. It also has a 5-mp rear iSight camera.

Amazon’s Kindle Fire is not available in India, and will not be in the direct competition with Nexus 7. However, one can purchase it online.

There are many other budget tablets in the Indian market like Micromax Funbook, HCL ME, Akash and others, but we cannot compare them with the above said tablets. Nevertheless, it depends on the personal preference and usage.

Do you still want to wait?

Google Nexus 7 was named ‘gadget of the year’ at London’s T3 Gadget Awards 2012.

Though Nexus 7 has become one of the very successful tablets, its rivals Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and iPad are very popular and have a major share in the market.

With iPad Mini arriving in India, Nexus 7 might face a tough competition. At the same time, people may not buy either of these and wait for Nexus 7 32GB model with 3G to hit the Indian market.

Are you the one who wish to wait or go for one of these?

World’s first spaceport nearly ready in New Mexico

New Mexico Tourism Secretary Monique Jacobson says it will be New Mexico’s Sydney Opera House. Virgin Galactic Chairman Richard Branson has hinted it will host the first of his new brand of lifestyle hotels. And the eclectic hot springs town of Truth or Consequences has been anxiously awaiting all the economic development the nearly quarter-of-a-billion-dollar project is supposed to bring to this largely rural part of southern New Mexico.

But as phase one of Spaceport America, the world’s first commercial port built specifically for sending tourists and payloads into space, is nearing completion, the only new hotel project that has been finalized is a Holiday Inn Express here in Truth or Consequences, about 25 miles away. And three key companies with millions of dollars in payroll have passed on developing operations in the state.

The lagging development, along with competition from heavy hitters like Florida and Texas, is raising new questions about the viability of the $209 billion taxpayer-funded project – as well as the rush by so many states to grab a piece of the commercial spaceport pie. To date, nine spaceports are planned around the United States, mostly at existing airports, and another 10 have been proposed, according to a recent report from the New Mexico Spaceport Authority.

“Right now, the industry is not there to support it,” Alex Ignatiev, a University of Houston physics professor and adviser to space companies, said of the list of planned and proposed spaceports across America.

Andrew Nelson, COO of XCOR Aerospace, disagrees, saying “in the next couple to three years, there’s going to be a demonstrative reduction in the cost to launch stuff … so we are going to have a lot more people coming out of the woodwork.”

Currently, the Spaceport can count on two rocket companies that send vertical payloads into space and Virgin Galactic, the Branson space tourism venture that says it has signed up more than 500 wealthy adventurers for $200,000-per-person spaceflights. Other leaders in the race to commercialize the business and send tourists into space have been passing on New Mexico.

For example, XCOR Aerospace, which manufactures reusable rocket engines for major aerospace contractors and is designing a two-person space vehicle called the Lynx, has twice passed over New Mexico in favor of Texas and Florida. Most recently, it announced plans to locate its new Commercial Space Research and Development Center Headquarters in Midland, Texas.

Another company, RocketCrafters, Inc., passed over New Mexico for Titusville, Fla. And the space tourism company of SpaceX, is looking at basing a plant with $50 million in annual salaries to Brownsville, Texas.

Locally, officials blame the lack of new businesses on the legislature’s refusal to pass laws that would exempt spacecraft suppliers from liability for passengers should the spacecraft crash or blow up. When New Mexico was developing Spaceport in partnership with Virgin Galactic, it passed a law to exempt the carrier through 2018, but not parts suppliers. Colorado, Florida, Texas and Virginia have adopted permanent liability exemption laws for both carriers and suppliers.

The laws, called informed consent, are much like those that exempt ski areas from lawsuits by skiers, who waive their rights for claims when they buy a ski pass. Spaceport officials emphasize the carriers and suppliers would not be exempt from damage on the ground, or in cases of gross negligence.

“The issue is informed consent legislation,” said Truth or Consequences Mayor John Mulcahy. “We need to get that passed.”

Companies make no secret of the fact that the liability laws have played a role in their decision to go elsewhere. But they also cite Spaceport America’s remote location — 45 miles from Las Cruces and 200 miles from Albuquerque — and a failure by the state to offer competitive incentives as factors.

“We worked with (former Gov. Bill) Richardson’s people as well as (Gov. Susana) Martinez,” Nelson said. “They are all fine. They have been great. But they couldn’t deliver the package that was necessary to get across the goal line.”

Spaceport’s success is tied largely to Virgin Galactic, which signed a 20-year lease to operate its commercial space tourism business from the site. Over the next two decades, the company’s lease payments and user fees are expected to generate $250 million and more. But the terms of the lease or what penalties might be imposed if Branson pulls out are not publicly known. And the facility was planned with the idea that at least one new major tenant would move in by 2016.

“We are so happy we have Virgin Galactic as anchors,” said Christine Anderson, executive director of the New Mexico Space Authority, which is lobbying lawmakers to approve informed consent. “But we want to attract more tenants. … I think this is really a critical piece of legislation that New Mexico has to have.”

Nelson says his company hasn’t ruled out one day flying his Lynx aircraft in New Mexico. But he says the legislature’s wavering on the liability exemptions “sends a message that we cannot expect a consistent response,” he said.

Meantime, Branson’s estimate for a first manned flight has been pushed back until late 2013 at the earliest. And questions remain about the facility’s tourism draw.

Tourism and Spaceport officials have estimated as many as 200,000 people a year would visit the futuristic center. Branson told a national hotel conference in 2011 that he might put one of his still to be developed Virgin hotels in the area. But there has been no further word on that hotel, or others that have been rumored to cater to the space crowd.

Ignatiev estimates it will be 10 years before the commercial space business really takes off, “And I don’t know how many states or commercial entities can sit around for 10 years and wait for business to show up. They are going to have a problem staying viable.”

Happy Halloween! Google doodles a trick-or-treat surprise

Happy Halloween! doodle is Google’s Halloween surprise for visitors across the globe. Halloween is a yearly celebration observed worldwide on the last day of October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows, hence the name all-hallows-eve, which got shortened to Halloween.

The doodle shows a street with a series of houses. Visitors can trick-or-treat by clicking on the door of each house. Clicking each door reveals a surprise, just like in real-life trick-or-treating. In this case, there’s an octopus behind one of the doors, a spooky pair of eyes behind another, while yet another has a skeleton. Of course, no neighborhood, real or virtual, would be complete on Halloween without pumpkins carved into jack-o’-lanterns.

But in a year when Abraham Lincoln was depicted as a vampire hunter and zombies are everywhere, gory costumes that were once reserved for preteens and teens are now available in ever-smaller sizes.

“For the last couple of years, darker is where it’s been at,” says Melissa Sprich, vice president of Halloween merchandising for Party City. For babies and toddlers, Sprich says “darker” may mean dressing as a devil this year, rather than a cheerful dinosaur. But for all other ages, many parents are seeking vampires, zombies and “the Freddies, Jasons and Chuckys” even for kids too young to see those characters on screen.

David J. Skal, who has chronicled America’s fascination with horror since the 1990s in numerous books, including “The Monster Show,” says he’s surprised at the level of “monster-ization of children” we’re seeing this year.

He points out that for centuries, frightening masks and “scary stories have been used to pass on a kind of coming-of-age message to children that the world is not always a safe and welcoming place.” Perhaps, he says, this year parents are especially preoccupied with just how unwelcoming the world seems.

Of course, this year Halloween comes in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy, with celebrations ranging from non-existent in the severely effected parts of the US, to muted in others. Elsewhere in the world, some Catholic bishops in Poland say that Halloween is harmful because it promotes “diabolical” behaviour and are asking believers not to observe it.

Archbishop Andrzej Dziega in Szczecinsaid in letter to his parishioners that under the vestige of fun, Halloween can be “destroying the spiritual life.” The “tricks” hide “diabolical attitudes” by encouraging readiness to harm the others. He asked believers not to observe Halloween.

Lead Pay-Per-Click Programs

Unbeknown to many, there are hundreds of search engines out there, and many of them provide possibilities for you to publicize your corporation’s web site. Here are several of the top rated pay per click programs.

Naturally, the King of pay per click is Google Ad Words. Google makes it highly easy to set up an account and get your adverts running in just a few minutes. Google offers extremely radical tutorials and free tools to aid newbie’s to Google Ad Words. There’s a preliminary cost of $5 to create an account and the bids start at a penny.

Yahoo! Search Marketing has a very pro, good maintained site. Yahoo! essentially initiated the PPC search engine model in 1997, after discovering a necessity for a more targeted search engine. The company first operated as GoTo and after changed to Overture. In 2005, it was re-established as Yahoo! Search Marketing. Yahoo’s main product is Sponsored Search. This provides sponsored lists in search results on the internet’s lead portals and search engines, reaching over eighty percent of net users. At the time of this article, Yahoo! Offers a $25 free credit when you register.

Microsoft ad Center (MSN and Bing) is the newest player in the most highly rated pay per click platforms, but it if’s already making an impact and spending extra money on promoting than any of the other major search engines. You may sign up with just $5 and a few minutes of time. If you are expenditure $30 per day in search advertisements you may utilize one of the Microsoft Media consultants to help you plan, create, run, and analyze your 1st ad Center campaign.

7Search focuses on serving web site owners of ‘low net margin’ business categories that do not want to (or can’t) pay over 10 cents a visitor. 7Search now offers advertiser results for over 1.5 billion searches a month.

ABCSearch has been working since 2001 and makes a plea to be the world’s biggest privately held meta search site. The company oversees over three billion searches per month through out its web of specialized engines and smaller search engines that offer smaller budget online advertisers a reasonable means to expand their PPC traffic attempts.

MIVA is a network of partner websites accounting for over 2 billion queries per month. When you make an account with this business, your adverts can appear throughout the MIVA web, including websites like, Info Space and World News. offers web advertisers with a cheap, easily tracked method of generating sales leads. Search feed provides one of kind campaigns for advertisers of different types and sizes and might support advertiser lists for assorted global market.

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spherical glass solar energy generator by rawlemon

German born, barcelona-based architect andré broessel has sent us images of his latest development of a spherical glass solar energy generator. the project uses the advantageous strategy of implementing a ball lens and specific geometrical structure to improve energy efficiency by 35%. in contrast to its traditional photo-voltaic ‘dual-axis’ counterparts, the device incorporates a fully rotational weatherproof natural optical tracking device that is adequate for functioning on inclined surfaces and curtain walls, empowering any building surface. the new solar generating concept has capabilities that concentrate diffused daylight or moonlight for a more effective site context application.


Microsoft’s Mobile Moment: Will Consumers Buy In?

The technology industry is buzzing that Microsoft Corp. MSFT -0.20% could emerge a winner after Apple Inc.’s AAPL -0.13% big patent suit victory. But there’s a catch: Consumers must be convinced they want what Microsoft is selling.

The ruling against Samsung Electronics Co.—and the blow to Google Inc.’s GOOG +1.20% Android software that powers its phones—has given carriers and phone manufacturers a strong incentive to pursue an alternative mobile operating system.

Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft, introduces the Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system.

Yet while carriers have offered their marketing support and Microsoft has paid some developers to build apps, phones powered by the Windows Phone operating system haven’t yet fully resonated with consumers.

For wireless store manager Luke Connell, the problem with Windows phones is that he can’t play the popular game “Words With Friends.” For Swedish designer Jacob Ravn, the issue is that the Microsoft phone interface doesn’t match the iPhone’s ease of use. And for Ryan Matzner, a director at the mobile software consultant Fueled, there aren’t enough people using Microsoft phones for him to recommend clients build new games and services.

“I would love to develop Windows apps, but that ecosystem just isn’t there,” Mr. Matzner said.

Sales of Windows phones have disappointed Nokia Corp., which receives regular payments from Microsoft to develop phones using its software.

Nokia’s current high-end Windows smartphone, the Lumia 900, got a big marketing push from No. 2 carrier AT&T Inc. T -0.62% earlier this year. Behind the scenes, AT&T’s independent wireless dealers also have a strong financial incentive to sell the device.

Profits on a sale of the Lumia are $70 higher than on the iPhone and $15 higher than on the popular Samsung Galaxy S III, which runs Android, according to an independent AT&T retailer with a network of stores. The Lumia 900 accounted for only about 2% of those stores’ unit sales, this retailer said.

The results are similar at T-Mobile USA, the country’s fourth-largest wireless carrier. Saber Ammori, an independent retailer who owns 155 T-Mobile stores across the country, says Windows Phone devices account for just 3% of his sales.

“It just hasn’t taken off with a lot of people,” Mr. Ammori said.

Worldwide, Windows accounted for just 3% of global smartphone sales in the second quarter, up one percentage point from a year earlier, according to International Data Corp.

AAPL -0.13% Microsoft’s next attempt to win over phone buyers will come next week, when it is expected to unveil the first smartphone built on its newest Windows Phone software, in partnership with Nokia Corp. NOK1V.HE -7.82%

Many in the technology industry think the unique design of Windows Phone could give it an advantage in the mobile industry as Apple tries to crack down on copycats.

Rather than rely on a grid of iPhone-like square icons to represent applications, as Android’s interface does, Windows Phone presents the user with interlocking tiles of different sizes.

Mr. Connell, a manager in O’Fallon, Mo., at one of Mr. Ammori’s stores, said Windows phones are being considered by customers who are buying their first smartphone and aren’t looking to do much with it but check e-mail and browse the Web.

“The apps aren’t as rich on the Windows phones yet as you see in Google,” Mr. Connell said.

Microsoft faces a classic chicken-and-egg problem. The company is having a hard time winning over app developers because it lacks a large base of phone customers.

And it is struggling to win over customers in part because it is missing popular apps like photo-sharing service Instagram and game “Angry Birds Space.”

Imangi Studios, a small mobile-game studio that makes the popular “Temple Run” game available on iPhone and Android, says it has no plans to build a version for the new version of Windows phone software even though Microsoft asked them to do so.

The small software developer previously adapted its iPhone game “Harbor Master” for the current version of Windows after Microsoft paid it to do so. The version was released in March 2011 and sold for $2.99, but although it was a top seller on Windows it didn’t lead to many overall sales because the audience was so limited, Imangi co-founder Keith Shepherd said.

“It did not do great for us,” co-founder Natalya Luckyanova said. Imangi only has three employees, and the company would rather focus on developing and improving games than adapting games for new platforms, Mr. Shepherd said.

Microsoft said its Windows Phone Marketplace offers more than 100,000 apps and games, with hundreds more coming each day.

Nokia, which is using Windows to power all of its new smartphones, also pointed to the growing roster of apps, saying it has made progress “creating an alternative to Android and Apple.”

Among the new Windows Phone apps to be unveiled in the coming months are Zynga Inc.’s ZNGA +0.65% “Draw Something” and “Words With Friends”—popular games on Android and the iPhone.

Some developers, however, say Windows versions of apps can be inferior to those made for Apple and Google. Radio app Spotify has a rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 on iPhone, while the Windows version gets just three stars out of 5.

“Just because the app is on a platform does not mean that it is good,” said Mr. Matzner, the mobile software consultant.

Jason Goldberg, CEO of design website, which gets about 25% of its weekly sales from mobile, says it has no plans to develop for Windows this year even though the company is prioritizing mobile development over the Web.

The reason is it’s easier to make sales on the iPhone thanks in large part to the built-in iTunes billing system.

Mr. Ravn, a digital designer who lives in the southern Swedish town of Hammenhög, bought a Nokia Windows phone a few months ago after he heard rave reviews from friends. Within days, Mr. Ravn was back to using his iPhone.

“A lot of things weren’t as intuitive as they are on the iPhone,” Mr. Ravn said. “In order to try to somehow challenge Apple and be different, I think they just maybe went a bit too far.”