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Monday, March 25, 2013

Playing In The Gaming Industry

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA) saw its stock tank last week, falling as much as 8%, after CEO John Riccitiello announced plans to step down at the end of the month. The company also announced that its fourth quarter results could come in at the low end of its previous earnings guidance of $1.08 billion. But is this just a minor set back for the company?

Despite the stock's pullback on the news, the company is still up nicely year to date:

The push to online gaming

DFC Intelligence estimates that the online video grame market will grow from $19 billion in 2011 to $35 billion in 2017. By 2017 online gaming is expected to account for over 40% of the total video game revenues. Meanwhile, Gartner also has robust estimates for the industry, expecting that consumer spending on online gaming will grow at an annualized rate of 27% through 2015.

The good news is that EA has a strong online presence which presents solid growth opportunities for the company. The digital (online) business is expected to be an important growth driver for the EA as growth in packaged games appears to be declining.

For 2012, the digital business made up 54% of EA's total revenues and grew 47% year over year basis. The other big positive is that EA expects its digital business to grow by an annualized 20% over the next four years.

Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) is another major game maker, with a market cap nearly triple that of EA. Activision has also been making the transition to digital, with 57% of its revenues generated from the segment last quarter. Credit Suisse believes that the company's 4Q earnings beat was a result of higher-quality games -- including its Call of Duty series. The investment firm also believes that high-quality content will continue to be the drivers for long-term company growth. However, I think EA is the better value -- explained later (read about Activision's move to mobile gaming).

Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO) currently only derives 23% of its revenues from digital. Last quarter, Take-Two posted EPS of $0.67 compared to the $0.27 for the same quarter last year, and beating consensus of $0.56 handily. This was in large part thanks to its NBA 2K13 and Borderlands 2 games. Take-Two should be able to ride the coat tails of is upcoming game releases from its BioShock and Grand Theft Auto series through 2013, but I think the growth potential of Take-Two is not as pronounced as that of EA.

Industry headwinds include the emergence of online games on social networking websites, including Facebook (NASDAQ: FB). Facebook, however, does expect revenues via payments from the games platform to remain subdued. Facebook games are mostly desktop based and declining desktop usage in the developed markets is expected to hurt its top-line growth in 2013. Facebook is instead focused more on monetizing its mobile presence and breaking into the search industry (read about Facebook's search ambitions).

The other side of the coin

If online gaming is one side of the coin for gamings' future, then mobile is the other. Zynga (NASDAQ: ZNGA) has already recognized such a trend. The social gaming company is now transitioning from online gaming and Facebook to a mobile-focused strategy. This should be a big positive for the company as the number of people spending time on smartphones and tablets is rapidly growing.

Mobile will need to lead the future for Zynga, which reported flat revenues year over year last quarter, but a net loss of nearly $50 million and a 15% decline in bookings year over year. Although Zynga is looking to make its move into mobile never fear, EA has quite the presence here (in mobile) too; "EA Mobile is the world's leading publisher of mobile games."

Don't be fooled

EA appears to be one of the best positioned gaming stocks and the recent pull back could be a great opportunity to get into the stock. EA is also the best "value" from a valuation perspective. The company trades at a 1.4 price to sales ratio, compared to Activision's 2.2; meanwhile, their growth rates are very similar. Analysts expect the companies to grow at 14% (EA) and 13% (Activision) over the next five years. I would be remiss if I did not mention Take-Two, which trades at a mere 0.86 times sales. Yet, I think the stock warrants the low valuation multiple given its long-term expected earnings growth rate is only 9%

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Will Windows 8 Be The End Of Microsoft

With mobile technology often seen as the future of computing, investors and consumers everywhere have waited anxiously for news on Microsoft's recently launched Windows 8 platform.

Although numbers have been hard to track down, some of the data points that have emerged about Microsoft's big bet on mobile haven't been as encouraging as some had hoped. In the following video, our tech analyst, Andrew Tonner, sits down with Brendan Byrnes to break down how investors should look at these numbers amid a struggling PC market.

It's been a frustrating path for Microsoft investors, who've watched the company fail to capitalize on the incredible growth in mobile over the past decade. However, with the release of its own tablet, along with the widely anticipated Windows 8 operating system, the company is looking to make a splash in this booming market.

Will Windows 8 be the end of Microsoft?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

How Samsung Tried To Sabotage Google

Do you know that Samsung were running Google Android Operating System as a piggyback to be a very successful global smartphone player. Now after officiate the launching of Samsung Galaxy S4, the real Samsung intention were getting surfaced.

Samsung's goal in life is to sell hardware, and to it, Android is merely a means to an end. On the other hand, Google just wants more people on the Internet using its services and seeing its ads.

Over the years, Samsung has had countless software partners, and Google is just its latest flame. Samsung's rise to power presents a unique threat to Android and Google, one that Google has already taken note of. If the company wrangles even more sway in the Android ecosystem, it could leverage higher ad-sharing agreements or other bargaining chips at Big G's expense. Now-former Android chief Andy Rubin had internally voiced concerns over this distinct possibility.

To be clear, Samsung would greatly benefit from a forked version of Android, because it would be an important point of differentiation from other Android OEMs -- much more potent than the current practice of customized interfaces like TouchWiz.

There's no avoiding the fact that the Galaxy S4 is an Android device. However, what Samsung can and did do last night is highlight all of its new apps, services, and software features, while decidedly not emphasizing Google's popular services.

Instead of talking about Google Play and all the types of content available from the search giant's repository, it showed off Samsung Hub, an integrated storefront for digital content like music, videos, books, games, and more. The new S Translator is exactly what it sounds like, and can potentially replace Google Translate. Forget Google Now and spoken turn-by-turn directions in Google Maps, that's what the new Galaxy S Voice Drive is for.

That's not to say that Google's services are gone, just that Samsung is clearly pushing its own instead. These are just some of many examples where Samsung is actively replicating Google offerings (sound familiar?), and are the first signs that Samsung isn't exactly happy with the status quo and wants more control of the customer relationship and experience than it currently has.

At this rate, Samsung will eventually be able to strip Android to little more than the bare bones for its operating system platform, while it loads up its own features, services, and content on top. Google will always have search, but that's just one aspect of its broader Android strategy; Big G's other services are also crucial to its moat-building goals.

Samsung is also actively targeting enterprise customers with its new Knox security certification. The South Korean company is positioning Galaxy devices with Knox within its broader Samsung For Enterprise, or SAFE, initiative. That puts it in the same enterprise market with Apple and BlackBerry, while leaving the rest of the Android army behind. Samsung now characterizes its own Galaxy Nexus, "all other Google Nexus," and "all other Android tablets and phones" as "not safe for work"

Dr Jacquelin Perry Dies

For a polio patient worldwide, the death of Dr Jacquelin Perry were shocking.

In the 1950s, Perry developed spinal fusion surgery to help paralyzed polio patients regain some movement. Decades later, some returned with post-polio symptoms of pain and muscle weakness. Perry became an expert into their conditions.

Perry also was known as an expert in the human gait. Her research into helping people with walking difficulties led to practices that are still used.

Perry died Monday at her Downey home. Her death was announced by Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, where she worked for nearly 60 years.

Dr. Jacquelin Perry, which was a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon who pioneered treatments to help polio patients regain movement, has died at age 94 in California.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

MC Hammer Released From Charges

It appears that Dublin police did not want to touch the charges against rapper MC Hammer.

Taking to his Twitter audience to announce the news Friday, MC Hammer, whose birth name is Stanley Kirk Burrell, simply stated: "Thank You to all my friends and supporters. All CHARGES DECLINED. Dropped. Have A great Weekend. #OutOnBail."

Dublin police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hammer, 50, has kept his 3.1 million followers on Twitter up-to-date on his feelings and the goings-on in the bizarre case that began Feb. 23 when he was pulled over by Dublin police and subsequently arrested on suspicion of obstructing an officer in the performance of their duties and resisting an officer.

On Twitter, the artist best known for his 1990 hit "U Can't Touch This" lashed out at police, saying the arrest was unjustified and even suggesting he was accosted without cause by a "chubby elvis looking dude" who he said tapped "on my car window," and, when Hammer rolled his window down, the officer asked, "Are you on parole or probation?"

Dublin police have refuted Hammer's claims, saying the rapper was blasting his car stereo and was also driving a vehicle that was not registered under his name. When Hammer became uncooperative and argumentative, police said, they arrested him.

Electronic Arts (EA) Is In A Deep Shit

“To the executives at EA, from one of your employees

I am deeply embarrassed by the troubled launch of Sim City and I hope you are too. When I walk around our campus and look at the kind of talent we’ve collected, the amenities we have access to and the opportunities working at such a big company affords us, I can’t imagine how for release after release, EA continues to make the same embarrassing, anti-consumer mistakes. We should be better than this. You should not be failing us so badly.

Another thing I see when I walk around our campus are massive banners that display what are said to be our company values. They are on posters on every floor, included in company-wide emails and hanging above the cafeteria in bright colors. You even print them on our coffee mugs so we see them every day. But somehow when planning the launch of Sim City, you threw them all out the window.

Most important of the values you are ignoring is Think Consumers First. What part of the Sim City DRM scheme, which has rendered the game unplayable for hundreds of thousands of fans across the globe, demonstrates that you are thinking about consumers before you are thinking about yourselves? Does “first” mean something different in boardrooms than it does to the rest of us? Does the meaning of that word change when you get the word “executive” in front of your title?

You can’t even pretend that you didn’t know consumers would be angry about this. Common sense aside, consumers complained about this during your public betas. In fact, when one of them posted his criticisms on the forums, he was banned! You tried to silence your critics. The same thing is happening now as users write in to demand refunds. What part of this behavior aligns with our company value to Be Accountable?

What you’ve demonstrated with this launch is that our corporate management does not believe in our core values. They are for the unwashed masses, not for the important people who forced this anti-consumer DRM onto the Sim City team. This DRM scheme is not about the consumers or even about piracy. It’s about covering your own asses. It allows you to hand-wave weak sales or bad reviews and blame outside factors like pirates or server failures in the event the game struggles. You are protecting your own jobs at the expense of consumers. I think this violates the Act With Integrity value I’m looking at on my own coffee mug right now.

On behalf of your other employees, I’d like to ask you to fix this. Allow the Sim City team to patch the game to run offline. If Create Quality and Innovation is still a core value that you believe in, then this shouldn’t be a hard decision. Games that gamers can’t play because of server overload or ISP issues are NOT quality. Be Bold by giving the consumers what they want and take accountability for the mistake.

Finally I’d like to ask you to follow the last company value on the list in the future: Learn and Grow. When you made this mistake with Spore, the company and all your employees suffered for it. You didn’t learn from that mistake and you are making it again with Sim City.

So please, learn from this debacle. Don’t do this again. Grow into better leaders and actually apply our company values when you make decisions. Don’t just use them as tools to motivate your staff. With the money, talent and intellectual property available to EA, we should be leading the industry into a golden age of consumer-focused game publishing. Instead we’re the most reviled game publisher in the world. That’s your fault. Things can only change if you actually start following the company values and apply them to every title we launch.


A Disappointed But Hopeful Artist at EARS”

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Man Kills TV Host

The story a man who shot and killed a TV host before turning the gun on himself is making headlines in the UK.

Friday's Daily Mail headline read, "Married host of TV show A Rifleman's Journal 'is shot dead by husband of woman he was visiting who then turned the gun on himself'"

TV Host Greg Rodriguez

Police say a northwestern Montana man shot and killed TV host Gregory G. Rodriguez, as the popular TV personality was visiting the shooter's wife.

The alleged gunman, Wayne Bengston, 41, is accused of beating his wife before taking his 2-year-old son to a relative’s house. Police say that Bengston then drove 25 miles away to West Glacier, Montana, where he committed suicide.

Bengston’s wife told police that Rodriguez was in the area for business and stopped by to visit her at her mother’s house when her husband showed up sparking a violent confrontation. The shooting was the result of a dispute between the two men, but so far police are not saying what sparked the dispute.

The shootings sparked a manhunt for Bengston. Police found his truck parked in his driveway. A SWAT team was dispatched and tried to contact the suspect. Police eventually entered the home and found Bengston with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Rick Springfield Arrested

Former "General Hospital" star and singer Rick Springfield, who is scheduled to return to the soap in April, was arrested on a bench warrant in Malibu, CA this morning, Mar. 8.

Springfield posted about the arrest himself on his official Facebook page with a photo of the Lost Hills Sheriff's Station, stating, "my home away from home. Lost Hills Sheriff Station. Arrested this am on a bench warrant. I didn't know that I was supposed appear in court a few weeks ago. It was to do with the old DUI charge and it's been cleared up and I am free to go."

"General Hospital" airs weekdays at 1 p.m. PST on Riverside affiliate KABC channel 7.

The 61-year-old was arrested back in May of 2011 on suspicion of drunk driving when he was pulled over on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu for speeding in his 1963 Corvette. At the time, the officer noted signs of intoxication and administered field sobriety tests, which Springfield apparently failed, prompting his arrest. The musician had spent that day at the 16th Annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC, promoting his book "Late, Late at Night."

In August of 2012, the singer pleaded no contest to reckless driving in a plea deal, avoiding any jail time for the incident. Apparently, however, there were still some loose ends to wrap up which Springfield found out the hard way on Friday, though he didn't indicate how the arrest took place.

A Spy Named Nathan Safferstein

Nathan Safferstein, a counterintelligence agent on the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb during World War II, died Tuesday night at his home in the Bronx after a long illness, his family said.

He was 92.

The genial native of Bridgeport, Conn., was barely 21 when circumstances suddenly propelled him from his job as a supermarket manager into the stealth world of a special agent.

Wartime security of the atomic bomb project being paramount, he eavesdropped on phone calls of scientists and engineers in Los Alamos, N.M., to make sure no secrets were leaked, and delivered bomb-making uranium and top-secret messages. He also scrawled his signature on the first A-bomb, called "Little Boy," that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

A second atom bomb leveled Nagasaki on Aug. 9, and Japan surrendered six days later.

"We had that feeling right from day one that this was the instrument that was going to end this war," Safferstein said in a 2005 interview conducted by one of his sons, Michael, along with an oral history project moderator. "In my heart, I know that it saved us from the invasion of Japan and millions of casualties that would have come about."

The Washington-based National World War II Memorial online registry includes a photo of Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves, who ran the top-secret Manhattan Project at Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, presenting Safferstein with a Bronze Star medal after the war.

Safferstein had been working as a supermarket manager in Fairfield, Conn., when his life took an extraordinary turn. A customer at the supermarket told her brother — an Army intelligence commander — about a bright young prospect. Soon, paperwork was filled out, recommendations made.

Most of Safferstein's activities remained a mystery to his family and friends, including his future bride, Bernice Klein.

One day, he was ordered to join about 100 other men in New York City's Grand Central Terminal.

"It seemed like a thing out of a Bond movie," he recalled years later. "We were all dressed in our Adam hats and cover cloth coats. ... Ten or 12 agents would drop off: Syracuse, Buffalo, Chicago. The train kept going west."

Safferstein's group disembarked in New Mexico. Two cars took them to a wooded area where they met Maj. Peer DeSilva, the laboratory's commander.

"He explained to us for the first time this ultra top secret mission, that they were working on a bomb that would be able to dig a hole into the ground some 80 to a hundred feet deep and perhaps 5, 10 miles long. And that from this point on, you are in the Manhattan Project," Safferstein recalled.

Duty later called Safferstein to the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific, where U.S. forces had built airfields to launch long-range raids on Japan itself, and in mid-1945 the two bombs from Los Alamos had been secretly delivered by Navy ship.

About 12 hours before "Little Boy" was placed aboard the aircraft Enola Gay, a scientist appeared at a Quonset hut on the island of Tinian to make final adjustments. He "explained the whole function of this bomb," Safferstein recalled. "And then he left and here I am alone with 'Little Boy.' And so I walked over to it, saw that there were some initials on it ... and added my signature to the bomb."

Though "extremely proud" to be part of history, Safferstein was not impervious to the ravages of war.

After the bombs were dropped, Safferstein accompanied a team that included U.S. doctors who surveyed the damage in Japan. Deeply moved by its "beautiful people," he recalled thinking: "Let's ... never have to use it again."

He said that after the war, Groves urged him to remain in counterintelligence, but he decided on civilian life. He returned to supermarkets, became president of Storecast Corp., a merchandising and marketing company, then started Long Island based Supercast and its spinoff, In-Store Distributing.

In addition to Bernice and Michael Safferstein, survivors include another son, Dr. Don Safferstein; a daughter, Barbara Abramsky; and five granddaughters.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Worldwide Panic On New Deadly Virus

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday warned state and local health officials about potential infections from a deadly virus previously unseen in humans that has now sickened 14 people and killed 8.

A Generic Coronavirus
Most of the infections have occurred in the Middle East, but a new analysis of three confirmed infections in Britain suggests the virus can pass from person to person rather than from animal to humans, the CDC said in its Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Report on Thursday.

The virus is a coronavirus, part of the same family of viruses as the common cold and the deadly outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that first emerged in Asia in 2003. The new virus is not the same as SARS, but like the SARS virus, it is similar to those found in bats.

So far, no cases have been reported in the United States.

According to the CDC's analysis, the infections in Britain started with a 60-year-old man who had recently traveled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and developed a respiratory illness on January 24, 2013. Samples from the man showed he was infected with both the new virus and with H1N1, or swine flu.

This man subsequently passed the infection to two members of his household: a male with an underlying illness who became ill on February 6 and subsequently died; and a healthy adult female in his household who developed a respiratory illness on February 5, but who did not need to be hospitalized and has recovered.

The CDC said people who develop a severe acute lower respiratory illness within 10 days of returning from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries should continue to be evaluated according to current guidelines.

The health agency said doctors should be watchful of patients who develop an unexplained respiratory infection within 10 days of traveling from the Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries. The CDC has set up a special website with updates on the infections at .

Symptoms of infection with this new virus include severe acute respiratory illness with fever, cough and shortness of breath. Neither the CDC nor the World Health Organization has issued travel restrictions related to the virus.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Paul Bearer Dies

Pro Wrestling circle were mourn today due to 'Paul Bearer' dies. Bill Moody, 58, who entertained WWE fans for years as the spooky manager "Paul Bearer," died Tuesday evening.

Moody debuted in the WWE as Bearer in 1991, managing the supernatural Undertaker. Bearer was a former funeral director who guided Undertaker to the WWE title, until turning on him to start managing Undertaker's brother, Kane.

Moody left WWE as a full-time perfomer in 2002, but had returned sporadically since then. The cause of his death was not immediately known.

"WWE is saddened to learn of the passing of William Moody, a.k.a. Paul Bearer," the company said in a statement.

"Moody made his WWE debut in 1991 as the manager of The Undertaker and went on to become a memorable part of WWE over the course of the next 20 years. Our deepest condolences go out to Moody’s family, friends and fans."

Before coming to WWE, Moody was well known as wrestling manager Percy Pringle.

Moody is survived by two sons, Michael and Daniel.

The wrestling community has reacted swiftly and sadly to the news of the death of William Moody, who played the Undertaker's wrestling manager, Paul Bearer. A sampling of the reaction follows:

WWE star Triple H: "Rest in peace, Paul Bearer. You will never be forgotten. There will never be another."

WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart: "Goodbye to a good friend, Paul Bearer. Say hi to Owen for me."

Michelle McCool (Undertaker's wife): "You always made me smile. Great entertainer, even better man! We love you and will forever miss you! God bless."

WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels: "I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of Paul Bearer. Our prayers go out to him and his family. God Bless!!"

WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross: "Just informed via Paul Bearer aka Percy Pringle passed away earlier today. I have no other details. RIP old friend."

WWE Hall of Famer Edge: "Very sad to hear about William Moody/Paul Bearer. Such a sweet man, and my friend. My condolences to his family. I'll miss ya Uncle Paul."

WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley: "Seems like only yesterday, though it was almost 25 years ago, that I was baby-sitting Percy Pringle's children."

TNA superstar Hulk Hogan: "Very sad about Paul Bearer, he was a great person and one of the original boys, he was what made wrestling great, much love and respect."

WWE star A.J. Lee: "RIP Paul Bearer. When I first met Paul Bearer I completely marked out & he was kind enough to humor me. So sweet & humble. Such a legend."

Former WWE star Sean Waltman: "I'm so at a loss right now for words.... I've known him since 1995 and I can't get myself together enough to write anything at the moment.... I will miss you, William Moody. George Jones on the radio and Jack Daniels. His crazy sense of humor. I laughed more to him that just about anyone."

WWE star Ricardo Rodriguez: "Paul Bearer/William Moody, you taught me so much. It truly saddens me to hear about this! I love you, and I thank you eternally. RIP."

Former WWE star Kevin Nash: "RIP my friend. You will never be replaced. Not too late to add to the (Hall of Fame)."

WWE star The Miz: "Just found out Paul Bearer died tonight. He was always so nice when I talked to him. My thoughts and prayers are w/his family."

Former WWE star Eve Torres: "Just heard about the death of Paul Bearer. Thank you for your kindness and many years of entertainment. Sending my prayers to his family."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Roku Latest Box

Dear all... Do you own a IPTV Streaming box right now? It’s weird but true: of all the countless standalone Internet-TV-streaming boxes which have appeared over the past few years, just two have been unqualified successes. One is Apple TV. The other is Roku, which has thrived by offering a vast selection of stuff, driving prices down as low as $49.99 and otherwise not changing a whole lot. Its sheer simplicity is its strong suit.

But it also presents a challenge. When Roku’s box debuted in 2008, it was called the Netflix player and boasted a single channel of content. Today, it has more than 750 of them, including major movie channels, music, sports, a bevy of specialty stations and 50 games. The interface, however, hasn’t evolved much since it just had a handful of items to choose from. Though still pleasingly straightforward, it’s not scaled to the quantity of offerings at hand.


Enter the Roku 3, which is available online now and in stores next month. Replacing the current high-end version, the $99.99 Roku 2 XS, it’s not a radical departure from a hardware standpoint. The case, which is swoopier but about the same size, packs a faster processor and more robust 2×2 dual-band wifi for snappier performance and more glitch-free streaming. The wireless remote control still incorporates motion sensors for use in casual games such as Angry Birds; now it also has a headphone jack, letting you listen to TV in bed without annoying your spouse. (The box comes with earbuds in Roku’s signature purple, but you can also use your own; basically, it turns any headphones into wireless headphones.)

What’s most significant about the new Roku, though, is its new interface — and one of the most significant things about it is that it doesn’t set out to be an interesting new interface. For everything that’s new, which is an awful lot, it still looks like the overarching goal is to fade into the background rather than call attention to itself. (I got a bit of hands-on time with it during a recent briefing by Roku executives.)

Until now, the main Roku interface has featured a row of channels which only let you see five choices at a time. Now, it sports a 3-by-3 grid, which presents nine channels at a time and lets you scroll through additional ones at a much faster clip; it wraps around, so if you sail past your last channels you arrive back at your first ones. The Channel Store looks much the same as the main screen, but with a large spot reserved for promotional space for movies and channels.

Roku’s pan-channel search feature has also been spruced up. When you search for a show or movie, it lists any channels you already have installed first, and then other channels — and you can add a channel without leaving the search results.

The one aspect of the new interface that’s very slightly flashy? The new themes, which skin the interface with custom visuals. There are five of them, such as the cloud-oriented one shown here. And even they aren’t that fancy.

Here’s another plus of Roku’s new look: you don’t need to buy a new Roku to get it. In April, the company will be rolling it out to its other models — the Roku LT, HD, 2 HD and Streaming Stick — all of which remain available.

Roku is the most-watched streaming box in the McCracken household. (Several McCracken households, actually — my non-geek parents and non-geek sister also equipped their homes with boxes, though not at my urging, and seem to be fans.) It’s fun that a small company has figured out a product category that some big companies (coughcoughGoogleTV) have failed to nail. And from what I’ve seen of the Roku 3 and the revised interface, the company has done a good job of continuing the steady-eddie approach to product evolution which has served it well to date.

Here’s Roku’s own video about the new experience:

Samsung Galaxy S4 Unpacked

Dear all, are you ready to be shocked? Are you ready to look toward the future of a really smart phones? Are you ready for Samsung Galaxy S4? Are you ready to tossed away your Samsung Galaxy S3? Let see... what have we got here...

Unless the press invitations are deliberately misleading (see the photo above), Samsung will announce its Galaxy S4 smartphone in New York on March 14.

Aside from a teaser video that says absolutely nothing about the device, Samsung has been predictably tight-lipped. But that hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from chiming in with plenty of unconfirmed details. Below, we’ll try to paint the clearest possible picture of Samsung’s Galaxy S4 based on the last few months of leaks, rumors and speculation.


Pretty much the entire tech world expects the Galaxy S4 to have a 5-inch, 1080p display, making it Samsung’s largest Galaxy S phone yet. Korean media started reporting on this possibility back in November, and an official roadmap for Samsung Displays leaves even less doubt in our minds.

Despite the larger screen, the Galaxy S4 will likely have a design that’s similar to its predecessor. Though we’ve yet to see a credible image of the phone, there’s no shortage of spy shots and alleged press images that hint at a phone with gently-rounded corners and a large physical home button flanked by back and menu buttons. Much like the Galaxy S3, the S4 will likely be built from plastic, according to well-connected blogger Eldar Murtazin.

According to SamMobile, the phone will measure 0.3 inches thick, and weigh 0.3 pounds. That would make it roughly 0.4 inches thinner than the S3, but a teeny bit heavier.

Tech Specs

We’ve already mentioned the possibility of a 5-inch, 1080p display. Other specs for the Galaxy S4 may include a 13-megapixel rear camera, a 2.1-megapixel front camera and 2 GB of RAM, as reported by both SamMobile and Storage capacities could start at 16 GB, and go all the way up to 64 GB.

The main point of dispute seems to be the processor inside the Galaxy S4. While Samsung’s Exynos 5 octa-core chipset once seemed like a given, SamMobile claims that the new chip is off the table due to overheating issues. One analyst has speculated that the processor may vary by region, with the U.S. getting a quad-core Qualcomm chip, and European markets getting the Exynos 5.

The octa-core chip’s main benefit would be better battery life through the use of lower-power processing cores as needed. If Samsung is indeed swapping in a Qualcomm quad-core chip instead, hopefully the phone has a big enough battery to keep that massive 1080p display running.


The Galaxy S4 will likely run Android 4.2, according to the same tech spec sources mentioned above, but that’s only part of the story. As Samsung tries to differentiate the S4 from other Android phones, it will likely add even more unique features or build on existing ones such as S Voice and Smart Stay.

For instance, the New York Times reports that the Galaxy S4 will have an eye-tracking camera that can scroll down a page as you read. The S4 may also have a 360-degree panoramic photo feature called Samsung Orb, which would be similar to the PhotoSphere feature found on Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone.


Samsung is holding its debut event for the Galaxy S4 on March 14, so an April launch seems likely, at least in overseas markets. As for the United States, there have been murmurs of a launch on AT&T and Verizon at least, but we wouldn’t be surprised to also see the phone on Sprint, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular — all of whom currently offer the Galaxy S3. Wireless carriers tend to announce prices and release dates on their own, so don’t count on Samsung letting all those details out next week.

Armed Sulu Filipinos Went Missing

There is something missing here. The full battalion of Malaysian soldiers and police are scouring rugged terrain in Borneo for armed Filipino intruders who are hiding a day after being bombarded with airstrikes and mortar fire. But they find none. Where did the armed Filipinos were hiding. Who assisted them and give a safe route to eludes the blockade?

Malaysian citizen think that the capture of nearly 200 members of a Philippine Muslim clan would ease public nervousness in Malaysia’s resource-rich eastern state of Sabah, which has been shaken in the past week by the killing of eight police officers and 19 Filipino gunmen who slipped into neighboring Malaysia.

Malaysian security forces on Tuesday attacked the area with heavy bombardment including and air raid with 500kg bomb that the Filipinos have occupied for three weeks. But more than 24 hours after the assault began, authorities have not announced any arrests. There is nothing in the news that said any capturing has been succeeded.

Family members of the group’s leader said Wednesday in Manila he informed them by telephone that he and his followers remain unhurt.

Meanwhile there are rumors being circulated that said most of the armed Sulu Filipinos were getting help by their Malaysian descendant and the way they eludes the blockage easily because most of them got their own Malaysian original identity card.

26 Dead as Malaysian Police Raid Sabah

Royal Malaysian police on Tuesday morning raided the northern Borneo village stormed by a band of Filipino rebels in a bid to end a three-week standoff that had already claimed at least 26 lives. Two Malaysian commandos and a dozen members of the Royal Army of Sulu died in a previous police crackdown on the insurgent-held territory on Friday evening, with a further five Malaysian policemen ambushed and killed nearby the next day.

Another seven insurgents were reportedly slain in a separate incident on Saturday. While most of the remaining Sulu militants refuse to budge, police fear that some are planning further strikes in the surrounding coastal regions. The turmoil is causing domestic upheaval for the two governments involved: Malaysia has general elections due before the end of June, while Philippine President Benigno Aquino III could face renewed strife on home soil after he appeared to sanction the foreign use of deadly force against his defiant countrymen.

The situation, which was at first greeted with raised eyebrows within the international community, has deteriorated rapidly. On Feb. 9, more than 100 followers of self-professed Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, from the autonomous island province of Sulu in the southwestern Philippines, landed in the Malaysian state of Sabah to press their historic claim to the land. They seized control of the village of Lahad Datu only to be surrounded by the Malaysian security forces.

Aquino appealed for his compatriots to return home peacefully and even sent a navy ship staffed with Filipino-Muslim leaders, social workers and medical personnel to facilitate their withdrawal. However, he finally lost patience with the recalcitrant Sulu insurgents and said on Saturday that they must surrender “without conditions.” The rebels had previously snubbed two deadlines to vacate the land.

The President’s uncompromising stance may have far-reaching consequences. Mohagher Iqbal, chief negotiator of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed a peace deal with Manila in October after four decades of armed struggle, has already admitted that their own peace talks have been affected. The Philippine media has also been critical of Aquino’s stance.

“President Aquino and his officials were throwing to the Malaysian wolves Filipino Muslims digging in what they claimed was their legitimate homeland in Sabah,” says Rigoberto Tiglao in the Manila Times. “With that the president has driven the last nail on the coffin of the Philippine claim to Sabah,” read an editorial on Monday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer. “What he didn’t say to the sultan’s men was: If you get slaughtered by the Malaysians, that’s your fault. Condolences.”

Aquino used a televised speech on Monday evening to allege that “conspirators” were behind the standoff. “I am aware that certain personalities conspired and brought us to this situation — one that has no quick solution,” he said. The situation has undoubtedly been hugely embarrassing for Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who must call national polls by June.

Opposition groups have highlighted lax border security and allegations that citizenship was possibly given to hundreds of thousands of illegal Filipino and Indonesian migrants in Sabah during the 1990s in exchange for their votes. Some of these immigrants, sympathetic to the Sulu rebels and angered by the Malaysian assault on Lahad Datu, may now form a substantial anti-incumbent bloc for the looming ballot.

Najib, however, is fighting back. The news website Malaysia Today reported on Wednesday that he asked the Malaysian intelligence to investigate whether the opposition camp was behind the Sabah incursion.

Philippine diplomatic officials on Sunday appealed to the Filipino-Malaysian community in Sabah to remain calm. Meanwhile, the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Sunday released a statement advising against travel to the area around Sabah’s eastern coastline. The Moro National Liberation Front — from which the MILF broke away in 1977 — has urged the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the U.N. to intervene between Kuala Lumpur and the sultanate of Sulu, while insisting that Aquino’s administration should not get involved. The dispute also spilled online over the weekend with a raft of Malaysian and Philippine websites hacked and vandalized by opposing factions. It remains to be seen whether the raid on Tuesday morning will mark the end of the standoff or if remaining armed militants roaming the Sabah coastline will continue to cause havoc in the coming days.

Hugo Chavez - R.I.P Dear Comrade

President Hugo Chavez was a former paratroop commander and self-styled "subversive" who waged continual battle for his socialist ideals. He bedeviled the United States and outsmarted his rivals time and again, while using Venezuela's vast oil wealth to his political advantage.

Chavez led one coup attempt, defeated another and was re-elected three times. Almost the only adversary it seemed he couldn't beat was cancer. He died Tuesday in Caracas at age 58, two years after he was first diagnosed.

The son of schoolteachers, he rose from poverty in a dirt-floor, mud-walled house, a "humble soldier" in the battle for socialism. He fashioned himself after 19th-century independence leader Simon Bolivar and renamed his country the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

During more than 14 years in office, his leftist politics and grandiose style polarized Venezuelans. The barrel-chested leader electrified crowds with his booming voice, and won admiration among the poor with government social programs and a folksy, nationalistic style.

Opponents seethed at the larger-than-life character who demonized them on television and ordered the expropriation of farms and businesses. Many in the middle class cringed at his bombast and complained about rising crime, soaring inflation and government economic controls.

Chavez used his country's oil wealth to launch social programs that included state-run food markets, new public housing, free health clinics and education programs. While poverty declined during his presidency amid a historic boom in oil earnings, critics said he failed to use the windfall of hundreds of billions of dollars to develop the country's economy.

Before his struggle with cancer, the charismatic leader appeared on television almost daily, speaking for hours and breaking into song or philosophical discourse. He often wore the bright red of his United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or the fatigues and red beret of his army days — the same uniform he donned in 1992 while leading an ill-fated coup attempt that first landed him in jail and then launched his political career.

The rest of the world watched as the country with the world's biggest proven oil reserves took a turn to the left under its unconventional leader, who considered himself above all else a revolutionary.

"I'm still a subversive," Chavez told The Associated Press in a 2007 interview, recalling his days as a rebel soldier. "I think the entire world has to be subverted."

Chavez was a master communicator and savvy political strategist, and managed to turn his struggle against cancer into a rallying cry, until the illness finally defeated him.

From the start, he billed himself as the heir of Bolivar, who led much of South America to independence, often speaking beneath the 19th-century liberator's portrait and presenting replicas of his sword to allies. He built a soaring mausoleum in Caracas to house the remains of "El Libertador."

Chavez also was inspired by his mentor Fidel Castro and took on the Cuban leader's role as Washington's chief antagonist in the Western Hemisphere after the ailing Castro turned over the presidency to his brother Raul in 2006. Like Castro, Chavez decried U.S.-style capitalism while forming alliances throughout Latin America and with distant powers such as Russia, China and Iran.

Supporters eagerly raised Chavez to the pantheon of revolutionary legends ranging from Castro to Argentine-born rebel Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Chavez nurtured that cult of personality, and even as he stayed out of sight for long stretches during his bout with cancer, his out-sized image appeared on buildings and billboard throughout Venezuela. The airwaves boomed with his baritone mantra: "I am a nation." Supporters carried posters and wore masks of his eyes, chanting, "I am Chavez." In the battles Chavez waged at home and abroad, he captivated his base by championing Venezuela's poor.

"This is the path: the hard, long path, filled with doubts, filled with errors, filled with bitterness, but this is the path," Chavez told his backers in 2011. "The path is this: socialism."

On television, he would lambast his opponents as "oligarchs," scold his aides, tell jokes, reminisce about his childhood, lecture Venezuelans on socialism and make sudden announcements, such as expelling the U.S. ambassador or ordering tanks to Venezuela's border with Colombia.
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