- Alex Paul Menon Walks out Free
- Meet the Australian Lover of US President Barack Obama
- How to backup your data on Social World
- India promising a pension scheme for Citizens abroad
- World’s oldest blood found in 5,300-year-old body
- MIT and Harvard to offer Free Online Courses
- Nepal continues to lure Indian Tourists
- Bihar hires MBAs for Rural Livelihood Project
- Nokia to launch Tablets and Smart phones to woo Investors
- Osama offered no Resistance while Seal Attack
Posted: 03 May 2012 04:00 PM PDT
Menon, an IAS officer from Tamil Nadu, walked out of the Maoists hideout after 6.30 p.m. looking tired and exhausted. He was abducted from a forested area in Bastar region in Chhattisgarh April 21.
Asked if his health was fine, the asthma patient, who was wearing a blue shirt and carrying a black bag on his right shoulder, said he was ‘OK’.
Asked if he would serve as collector in Sukma district again, he replied in the affirmative. ‘If the state government wishes, I am ready to serve in Sukma district as collector,’ Menon said.
He was accompanied by one of the Maoist mediators – B.D. Sharma.
Asthma medicines had been sent to the 2006 batch IAS officer through Left leader Manish Kunjam.
Chief Minister Raman Singh welcomed the release and expressed his thanks to the media in the ‘campaign for the safe release of the collector’. He described the release as a ‘first step toward achieving peace with the Maoists in the state.’
Posted: 03 May 2012 02:48 PM PDT
The Love Life of US President Barack Obama has been quite glamorous. This dates back to 1983 when he was 25 and was just out of Law School when he had a 2 year long affair with Genevieve Cook,daughter of an Australian diplomat as quoted in Sydney Morning Herald.
This was all revealed in a book The Story by David Maraniss, published in Vanity Fair magazine.
In 1983 she was teaching primary school children when she met him at a Christmas party in East Village. She brought a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream. And kept a diary! Nearly 30 years later, some of it can be perused in an extract from a book, Barack Obama:
Genevieve Cook was a fairly unusual Australian. Her father, the Geelong Grammarian Michael Cook, was a career diplomat appointed by Malcolm Fraser as top spook – director-general of the Office of National Assessments – and who became ambassador in Washington.
Her mother, Helen Ibbitson, came from a Melbourne banking family and was an art historian. Soon after a Jakarta posting they divorced and their daughter went to the US where her mother had married Philip Jessup, counsel to the National Gallery of Art.
She completed secondary education at Emma Willard School, the gothic, private and academically rigorous prep school for young women in Troy, New York State, before attending college in Philadelphia and New York.
In 1983 she was an assistant teacher for second and third graders at Brooklyn Friends School when she met the POTUS-to-be. Maraniss’s book also traces Obama love letters written earlier to a classmate, Alex McNear. In his best-selling autobiography Dreams of My Father, Obama admitted to ”compressing” girlfriends. He wrote of a woman who ”had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes. Her voice sounded like a wind chime.”
Posted: 03 May 2012 02:32 PM PDT
Data Loss in Social World is very crucial these days. Imagine you have created a Facebook Page, amassed lots of followers and one day your Page gets deleted, or your account gets inaccessible.
Your page gets shut down. A bug wipes all your followers and deletes those you are following. You’ve lost all this valuable data and you’re going to have a tough time getting it back. Or it will take a long time to rebuild the community that you’ve taken years to build.
Or perhaps you don’t suffer from something so dramatic. Maybe, for legal reasons, you need to find a Twitter exchange between you and another person from way back in 2008. Or you just want to find a photo that you Tweeted five months ago. And what about all those snaps you’ve loaded on to Instagram? Is there a quick and easy way to suck them all out so you can use them elsewhere? Do you have a decent backup system for your social media?
We’ve all been indoctrinated into how important it is to backup our computer files and other data. Our IT advisers tell us to schedule regular backups not only on one external hard drive but two. Just in case.
But with more small businesses taking their activity online – from customer interactions and promotion of products – are you backing up your data, messages and interactions on social media?
There are various ways you can do this. But sometimes it can be a boring manual process where you’re trawling through pages and pages of old data in order to find what you want. There are various options to overcome this:
Backupify will back up everything from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Flickr. Starting at US$4.99 per month (A$4.80) for five accounts.
BackUpMyTweets, as the name suggests, backs up your Tweets. It’s free if you Tweet about it (and your data will remain in the cloud). However, if you pay US$12 (A$11.60) a year, you can download the data to analyse and manipulate yourself.
TweetBackup, is a similar service and is powered by Backupify. It runs a daily backup and asks that you follow @tweetbackup on Twitter
For Facebook, you can download a copy of your Facebook data by going to to your profile, click on “Account settings”, and then click on “Download a copy of your Facebook data”. This will reflect your data at that particular point in time.
Basically, there is no shortage of many different social media backup services to choose from, all offering didn’t levels of service. Some are easy to use, others more unwieldy. One of the most popular is Backupify.
However, one that has flown under the radar is SocialSafe. I have been using SocialSafe for five weeks now and have been very impressed.
Please note that I have no affiliation with SocialSafe.
I became aware of the service at I attended the South by South West Interactive Festival in March and decided to try it out.
However, unlike many platforms that I subscribe to, which then fall by the wayside, I find that I’m using SocialSafe more every week. While there is a free version, the Pro version is only US$6.99 (A$6.75) for the whole year. And, quite frankly, if your business uses social media and you are not currently backing up your activity, you’re mad not to do it.
The backup is done automatically and while some backup services will only backup activity from the point at which you subscribe to the service, SocialSafe will retrieve and backup data as far back as the Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Google+/Instagram API will allow. I can retrieve activity from my first post on Facebook in 2007.
Easy to use interface
This data is immensely valuable. It means you can easily identify your most influential followers, to sort them by geography, level of activity and even timezone (in case you want to determine whether it’s worthwhile to schedule Tweets while you are asleep for followers in another part of the world).
Like I said, there are various services available to backup your social media – all of which do a good job and all of which have merit. However, SocialSafe is certainly my pick in terms of ease of use, value for money and the ability to export meaningful data.
Posted: 03 May 2012 10:25 AM PDT
The Indian government is promoting a new Pension and Life Insurance Fund (PILF) scheme in a bid to provide financial security to poor Indians working abroad.
Indian embassies have been told to help those wanting to subscribe to PILF, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi said at Kochi while launching the pilot scheme Tuesday.
Non-resident Indian organisations have been urged to promote the scheme.
PILF is for Indian workers aged between 18 and 50 who have a work permit or employment contract and whose passports carry the ‘Emigration Clearance Required’ stamp.
The worker has to pay Rs.5,000 to become a member. The government will contribute Rs.2,000. If the person is a domestic help, the amount would be Rs.3,000.
“The pension will commence after age 60. This is a life insurance scheme. It will help people save for old age and save for resettlement,” said Ravi.
The PILF scheme was announced in January.
Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who spoke at the launch, said most of the poor working abroad generally returned minus savings.
There were 2.28 million people from Kerala working abroad in 2011, according to the Centre for Development Studies in New Delhi.
Nearly 40 percent of Kerala’s diaspora lives in the United Arab Emirates and 25 percent in Saudi Arabia.
Posted: 03 May 2012 08:24 AM PDT
Scientists have discovered the world’s oldest blood cells in the remains of a 5,300-year-old iceman found in Italy.
The scientists found traces of blood around an arrow wound that killed the man in the mountains of what is now the Alto-Adige region of northern Italy.
“Otzi the iceman” was discovered in 1991 at 3,200 metres in a glacier by hikers in the German-speaking region near the border with Austria.
His remains were so well preserved that scientists have estimated he was 45-years-old at the time he was killed.
A joint study was conducted at the Centre for Smart Interfaces at Darmstadt Technical University in Germany and the Centre for Nano Sciences in Munich, and published by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
The researchers extracted tissue samples from the arrow wound, and from another wound in the iceman’s hand.
After using a microscope to identify what appeared to be red blood cells, they confirmed the discovery by using an atomic force microscope which identifies molecules with a laser beam.
The mummified body is kept in the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, South Tyrol, Italy.
Posted: 03 May 2012 07:16 AM PDT
Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have joined hands to launch an ambitious USD 60 million initiative under which they will offer free online courses to students, a collaboration that will be headed by Indian-origin professor Anant Agarwal.
The new online education platform ‘EdX’ would be overseen by a Cambridge-based not-for-profit organization and be owned and governed equally by the two universities. MIT and Harvard have committed USD 30 million each in institutional support, grants and philanthropy to launch the collaboration.
Agarwal, who holds a PhD from Stanford and a bachelor’s degree from IIT Chennai, will be EdX’s first President. Director of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Agarwal led the development of the platform. At Harvard, Provost Alan Garber will direct the effort, according to statements from the two universities.
“EdX represents a unique opportunity to improve education on our own campuses through online learning, while simultaneously creating a bold new educational path for millions of learners worldwide,” MIT President Susan Hockfield said. EdX would draw on the faculty, research, and institutional backing of both universities to provide Harvard and MIT courses to users around the world.
MIT and Harvard expect that over time other universities will join them in offering courses on the EdX platform. The gathering of many universities’ educational content together on one site would enable learners worldwide to access the course content of any participating university from a single website, and to use a set of online educational tools shared by all participating universities.
Posted: 03 May 2012 06:14 AM PDT
Nepal has witnessed a sustained tourist inflow with visitor arrivals in April rising by 23.1 percent year on year, according to official figures released Thursday. Arrivals from India went up by nearly 45 percent.
Visitor arrivals by air totaled 207,961 in April, up by 23.1 percent from a year earlier, according to the Immigration Office at Tribhuvan International Airport, the only international airport in the country.
Arrivals from the South Asian region have shown a positive growth of 35.4 percent with mixed performance, Xinhua reported.
Arrivals from India and Pakistan went up by 44.5 percent and 14.8 percent, respectively, whereas arrivals from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka dropped by 12.9 percent and 41.2 percent, respectively, according to the Nepal Tourism Board.
Arrivals from the other parts of Asia – except the South Asian region – saw a rise of 16.7 percent. Except for Thailand that had a drop of 14.7 percent, almost all the markets have shown a positive trend with China up by 42.9 percent, Malaysia up by 16.8 percent, Singapore up by 5.7 percent and Japan up by 13.1 percent as compared to the same month last year.
Posted: 03 May 2012 04:08 AM PDT
For the first time, Bihar has hired hired 85 young professionals, all fresh post-graduates of India’s top ranking management and social sciences institutes, to help in implementing a livelihood project for the poorest sections living in rural areas, officials Thursday said.
Bihar Rural Development Minister Nitish Mishra said young professionals have been recruited by the Bihar Rural Livelihoods Promotion Society (BRLPS), an independent body set up by the government, to help in implementing the World Bank-supported Jeevika project in the state.
The BRLPS has recruited them at salaries ranging from Rs.25,000 to Rs.60,000 per month.
Besides, they would be given several other benefits at par with the corporate world, officials said.
The BRLPS has picked up 19 students of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), 15 from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, 12 from Xavier Institute of Social Sciences, 10 from KIIT (Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology) School of Rural Management, nine from Institute of Forest Management, and three from Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar.
The Rural Livelihoods Project has been designed to address rural poverty in Bihar through the collaboration of the poor, the Bihar government and the World Bank, he said.
Mishra said there were 1.26 crore below poverty line families in the state which formed 55 percent of its total population. “Ten lakh Self Help Groups would be formed in the state in the next five years to weed out poverty. As a first measure, five lakh SHGs would be constituted which would benefit 1.25 crore poor families,” he said.
Posted: 03 May 2012 03:51 AM PDT
Nokia will launch a range of tablets and ‘hybrid’ smart mobile devices, the companys chairman, Jorma Ollila, told the Financial Times on Thursday.
In an interview published on Thursday, Ollila told the Financial Times the Finnish company would launch a range of tablets and “hybrid” smart mobile devices, but did not say when.
Ollila, who will step down at the meeting after 27 years with the company, told the Financial Times that Nokia had been too slow at the start of the smartphone revolution, but said the combination of new products and Nokia services would help.
However, he said that the combination of new products and Nokia services would ‘make a difference’. ‘Tablets are an important one, so that is being looked into, and there will be different hybrids, different form factors in the future,’ he said.
Nokia is widely expected to unveil its first tablet computer later this year when Microsoft’s new Windows 8 operating system becomes available.
The company has lost out to Apple Inc and Google Inc in the smartphone business and is now pinning hopes of a turnaround on Lumia, a new range of smartphones which use Microsoft software.
Once hailed as a national hero in Finland for transforming Nokia from a toilet paper-to-rubber boots conglomerate to the world’s No 1 cellphone maker in 1998, Ollila has since come under criticism for neglecting the emergence of smartphones.
“Tablets are an important one, so that is being looked into, and there will be different hybrids, different form factors in the future,” he said.
Sales of Nokia’s new smartphone range have so far been slow and are yet to compensate for diving sales of previous products. Nokia also lost its position as the largest volume cellphone maker to Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) last quarter.
Nokia executives are likely to face a grilling on these issues at Thursday’s meeting. Investors have seen the value of their Nokia holding fall 90 percent in less than five years — two-thirds of that since its new chief executive Stephen Elop unveiled the company’s strategy shift to Microsoft in February 2011.
Most attendees are likely to be individual shareholders as institutional investors usually do not come to such meetings.
Ollila will hand over his role to Risto Siilasmaa after the shareholders meeting. In a poll published by national broadcaster YLE last week, around 40 percent of analysts following the company rated his 13 years’ work as chairman as ‘poor’ or ‘unacceptable’.
Posted: 03 May 2012 02:36 AM PDT
Al-Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden, who all his life boasted that he would go down fighting and would ask his bodyguards to shoot him if ever he came near Americans, offered no resistance when US commandos cornered him in his Abbottabad hideout a year ago, claims a new book.
“For all his bluster that he would go down fighting and his bodyguards would shoot him if he were ever found by the Americans, when the moment finally came, bin Laden went out not with a bang but with a whimper,” wrote Peter Bergen, author of the ‘Manhunt:
The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden – from 9/11 to Abbottabad’ that hit the bookstores this week. Director of New America Foundation a Washington-based think-tank and national security analyst of the CNN, Bergen in his new book provides fresh insight into the last few hours of bin Laden and the successful American operation that killed the most wanted terrorist of the world on May 2 last year.
“The 54-year-old bin Laden may have grown complacent or tired during his decade on the run; he had no real escape plan, and there was no secret passageway out of his house. Perhaps he expected some kind of warning that never came. Or perhaps he knew that a firefight inside the enclosed spaces of his house would likely end up killing some of his wives and children,” Bergan wrote in his book giving a detailed account of what happened when US commandos entered his safe house.
“On a shelf in his bedroom were the AK-47 and Makarov machine pistol that were bin Laden’s constant companions, but he didn’t reach for them. Instead, he opened a metal gate, which blocked all access to his room and could be opened only from the inside, and quickly poked his head out to see what the commotion was. He was immediately spotted by the SEALs, who bounded up the next flight of stairs,” he wrote
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