Saturday, March 28, 2009
World’s First Successful ViKY Robot-assisted Surgery For Pancreatic Tumors
ScienceDaily (Mar. 27, 2009) — This month Fox Chase Cancer Center performed the world's first successful minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy using the ViKY® system's revolutionary robotic, compact laparoscope holder. The technology, developed in France and tested on thousands of patients in Europe, made its debut in a cancer setting in the United States at Fox Chase.
"Fox Chase is among only a handful of institutions worldwide using robotics or laparoscopy to treat patients with nearly all types of cancer," says Robert G. Uzzo, MD, FACS, chairman of the department of surgery at Fox Chase. "The use of technology, like the ViKY system, reinforces our Center's commitment to excellence in minimally invasive surgical techniques for the care of patients with both benign and cancerous conditions."
Fox Chase surgeon Andrew A. Gumbs, MD, who specializes in minimally invasive hepato-pancreatic and biliary (HPB) surgery, explains, "This system is so versatile that surgeons like me are able to use it for many different laparoscopic procedures, including those in the gastrointestinal, urologic, thoracic and gynecologic regions."
Typically with minimally invasive procedures, like a laparoscopic distal pancreatectomy, surgeons use both hands to manipulate the surgical tools and need an assistant to manipulate the endoscope—a thin, lighted tube equipped with a camera that allows the surgeon to view the surgical field.
Gumbs performed this first ever ViKY assisted minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy on a 65-year-old man who was diagnosed with two pancreatic cysts, one of which is potentially cancerous. Pathologists are currently evaluating the cyst.
"The new ViKY robotic laparoscope holder acts as an extra hand during surgery, giving me stability and steadiness," adds Gumbs. "The view of the surgical field is critical, so ViKY's pinpoint accuracy helps me perform more complex procedures laparoscopically." Unlike typical laparoscope holders, the ViKY system's holder is lightweight, easy to set up and use, and takes no floor space.
Standard treatment for pancreatic cancer is surgery to remove the head or tail of the pancreas. When patients present with pancreatic cancer localized to the tail of the pancreas (instead of the head), they undergo a distal pancreatectomy, in which the surgeon removes the tail of the pancreas and leaves the head attached. The remaining portion can function normally by producing and releasing digestive enzymes and hormones. Patients with pancreatic cancer are typically treated with surgery followed by radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to reduce the risk of recurrence.
The ViKY system gave Gumbs precise control of the laparoscope while he performed the distal pancreatectomy. The endoscope moves according to the surgeon's orders, either through voice recognition or footswitch control.
Before the ViKY technology was available patients might have undergone open surgery. Depending on the complexity of the case, the surgeon may have considered open abdominal surgery, requiring a large incision and a lengthy recovery. Minimally invasive surgical techniques, like the surgery Dr. Gumbs performed, benefit patients in many ways, including a shorter hospital stay, faster recovery, quicker return to daily activity, less risk of infection and less scarring and bleeding.
Gumbs was the first American surgeon to complete a minimally invasive HPB fellowship at the Institut Mutualiste Montsouris in Paris, France. This is the hospital where the first published case of a single incision laparoscopic cholecystectomy in the world was done using the ViKY system. Gumbs is responsible for bringing the ViKY system to Fox Chase and will be training fellow surgeons on this technology.
The ViKY system is manufactured by Endocontrol Medical in La Tronche, France. Endocontrol is an innovative company offering robotic solutions for endoscopic surgeries. Endocontrol was created by Clement Vidal and Patrick Henri of Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble, France, a worldwide leader in computer assisted and robotic surgery.
Eat, Fart All You Want at SoCal Baseball GameLake Elsinore Storm understands dangers of all-you-can-eat promotions
"You can probably deduce that all-you-can-eat ballpark food might lead to substantial gas emissions, which is where corporate sponsor, Subtle Butt, enters the picture," Storm officials said in a news release.
Although it should be obvious from its name, Subtle Butt is a disposable cotton shield tucked into your undies to conceal the odor of flatulence.
Not everyone will be able to toot toot for the home team. Only the first 250 fans at the April 14 game will be able to get in on the Subtle Butt promotion.
If you miss the game, don't worry though. You can always spring for Subtle Butt ($9.95) on its web site.
rottentomatoes.com — Hellboy's Ron Perlman and Jon Malcovich star in Mutant Chronicles Red Band
By Imre Salusinszky
- Company likely to bid for private jails
- Director says inmates should get keys
- Says it would make jails safer
A COMPANY expected to bid for contracts to operate two jails has backed facilities in which inmates have keys to their cells and are on a first-name basis with their jailers.
Gary Sturgess, research director of the UK-based Serco Group, will tell a New South Wales parliamentary inquiry today that decency, not efficiency, is the main reason to privatise jails.
He says overseas experience shows that prisoners enjoy more privileges - including being given the keys to their own cells - in correctional systems where private and public providers compete, The Australian reports.
Prisoners in these systems spend more time out of their cells and have far greater interaction with their jailers - with whom they are frequently on first-name terms - than in systems where public providers face no competition, Mr Sturgess says.
The results are safer jails and lower rates of reoffending.
Serco is expected to bid for the contracts to operate Cessnock prison, in the Hunter Valley, and Parklea prison, in western Sydney, when the jails are privatised this year.
The company already operates one jail in Victoria and one in Western Australia.
Mr Sturgess's submission to the upper house inquiry links private jail services in Britain to the "decency agenda" pursued by former British prime minister Tony Blair.
"Contract prisons in the UK are more humane, partly because government demanded a higher standard when writing the original contracts, partly because price was not allowed to dominate the procurement process, and partly because the political and policy environment at the time when the market was first established was focused on the quality of prison life," the submission from Serco argues.
He said the inmates in low- and medium-security prisons in Britain had been allowed to hold duplicate keys to their own cells, which improved both efficiency and decency.
"If (the warder) is the only one with a key, then every time a prisoner wants to go in and out of their cell you've got to send somebody to look at it," he said.
"This way, the inmate has the dignity of having private space and a greater sense of security."
Read more at The Australian.
Why limit your on-the-go Web surfing to Wi-Fi hot spots when you can get online anywhere you can find a cell signal? Here's how to pick the right service and device to bring mobile broadband to your laptop.great article to long to post whole thing click below....
read more | digg story
Posted by gjblass at 8:32 PM
Minor transgressions? Lemme see. How about egging cars on Dolley Madison Boulevard in Virginia? Flipping off a military policeman outside the Yongsan Army Base in Korea? Patronizing "bar girls" at an Army camp town? Selling LSD at Honolulu's International Market Place? Smuggling an illegal alien across the Mexican border? Trespassing in a closed national forest in the company of radical environmentalists?
But everybody does that stuff.
Here's a good one: I had a few hours to kill. It was a beautiful day. So I ended up in a little park south of Hollywood Boulevard. It had palm trees and carpet grass and a few homeless men stretched out on sleeping bags. I sat down on a bench and felt the sun on my face, and all was right with the world.
Then a guy walked by and hissed, "Sess."
Sinsemilla? Dude looked kind of sketchy. Plus there was that solemn oath never to make another park buy.
"Is it good?"
"It's got the little red hairs."
Ten minutes later, the world became a picture of the world, slightly blurred at the edges.
But just when I began to enjoy it, two thugs appeared out of nowhere and I got turned and tossed and twisted and cold steel on my wrists went click-click-click. And humiliation and helplessness were my portion.
Then they found the dime bag in my pocket. "Where's the rest of it?" one demanded.
"That's it. That's all I got."
Bullshit, they said. This was a known drug park. Honest citizens bought their nickels and dimes and skulked away. Only dealers stuck around.
Betrayal was the price they put on freedom. So I got a fun ride in the back of a squad car, sitting hard against the handcuffs while we scanned the sidewalks for the guy who made the sale. I was lucky; I didn't see him, didn't have to choose between being a rat and a liar. So they put me in a cinder-block room to worry about the worst that could happen.
After two hours, on proof of my steady job, they gave me a hundred-dollar ticket and released me.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Not for the high, which was ruined along with the day, but for the principle of the thing — for a man's right to sit on a park bench on a sunny day, bothering no one, enjoying life in his own way.
You'll most likely be slapped with a fine of less than $500, but a nancy-pants judge could tack on probation, counseling, or community service.
March 27, 2009 (Computerworld) In the four years since the Mac Mini was introduced, the versatile little box has been updated four times, with the latest permutation finally showing up this month.
I say "finally" because the Mini -- Apple Inc.'s lone foray into the low end of the computer market -- has gained something of a cult status among its fans, and they were rather annoyed that their favorite Apple computer had been neglected since August 2007. In fact, a lot of them had given up on ever seeing a new Mini, assuming the diminutive machine had been left for dead.
Certainly, when I bought a Mini last August, I figured it was a mere matter of days before Apple either pulled the plug on the device or morphed it into something different. I was wrong on both counts. Apple didn't kill off the Mini; it simply waited another seven months before rolling out the latest version -- along with an updated line of iMacs and refreshed Mac Pros.
Since its debut in 2005, owners have found all kinds of uses for the little Mini, sticking it in cars for mobile computing of a different sort or hooking it up to their TVs as an inexpensive media center. Some have even used it as a computer.
Count me among those with a Mini hooked up to a high-definition television, where it dutifully serves as sort of a glorified Apple TV. Not only can I use it to surf the Web, but I can also watch videos, catch TV shows downloaded through iTunes and do big-screen video chats with iChat (and my own iSight Web cam). Versatile indeed.
More firepower, same shape
With the latest updates, Apple has added some solid firepower under the hood, while leaving the Mini's basic nature intact. The price still starts at $599 -- there's a $799 model, too -- but it now boasts better graphics, faster DDR3 RAM, a SuperDrive that's now standard in the lesser model, 802.11n Wi-Fi, five USB ports, a FireWire 800 port and a MiniDisplay Port. The stock processor is an Intel Core 2 Duo running at an even 2 GHz, though you can opt for a marginally faster 2.26-GHz chip if you want to spend another $150. (My advice: don't worry about the faster processor. The Mini isn't really about speed. It's about price and convenience and, as I said earlier, versatility.)
In other words, Apple has modernized the Mini so that it's on par with the rest of the lineup. The question is: Are these changes worth the price you'll pay?
Short answer: Maybe. It really depends on how you outfit the Mini and what you plan to do with it.
I'm not going to focus on performance here, as that's not the Mini's strong suit. It's fast enough for most tasks, and the addition of the Nvidia 9400M integrated graphics processor should be a boon -- especially once Apple delivers on Mac OS X 10.6 "Snow Leopard." That's because the next version of Apple's operating system, due out this summer, can offload some of the tasks normally performed by the CPU to the GPU. It's the same Nvidia chip that's offered in the MacBook and MacBook Air line and did a fine job displaying 30 Rock (bought through iTunes) in high-definition on the 1,920-by-1,200-pixel screen.
Expect the Mini to be marginally faster than the previous iteration, more so with tasks that hit the graphics processor. Apple cites overall performance that's five times better than the 2007 model, and the company notes that the Mini will now support one of its 30-in. displays. (It certainly did just fine powering the 24-in. LED display that Apple sent over with the review unit I've been using for the past couple of weeks.)
The Mini is about price, value
Given the Mini's place in Apple's hardware lineup, I'm focusing on price and value. It is, after all, the cheapest Mac available.
Given the economic downturn, every dollar counts, and it would have been nice if Apple acknowledged that with a price drop. But Apple's M.O. is to deliver more in hardware and keep its pricing intact -- and that's exactly what it did this time around. In fact, if price is the main consideration, the entry-level model offers a nice advance over the previous model in what you get for your money -- with one caveat. The $599 model comes with a paltry 1GB of RAM.
In this day and age when RAM is cheap, 2GB makes more sense. Sure, Mac OS X will run on 1GB of RAM, but you're selling the hardware short if you go cheap on memory. Spend the extra $50 Apple charges for 2GB. Of course, if you're handy with a putty knife and want to pry off the Mac Mini's case and add the RAM yourself, you can. You might save a few dollars, and maybe you can do the job without scratching your brand-new computer or breaking off one of the pins that keeps it together.
But really, who wants a scratched and dented Mac?
Your other alternative is to bring the price up to $649 for a built-to-order 2GB Mini. This one already has a dual-layer SuperDrive, so it can read and burn both CDs and DVDs. And by going with 2GB of RAM, you allow the Nvidia chip to use up to 256MB of video RAM. (It only takes half that amount if your Mini has 1GB.)
Next, you're going to have to figure out if 120GB is enough to hold your music collection and video library. If so, you're ready to buy. But wait! Given the just-announced ability to rent or buy hi-def movies through iTunes, that 120GB isn't going to last long if you're planning to go the Mini-as-Apple TV route.
So add another $100 for a 250GB drive, and you're looking at $749 for your new "entry-level" Mini. That's just a hop, skip and a jump from the $799 model, which boasts a 320GB drive and comes with 2GB of RAM standard. (All three drives are 5,400-rpm models, so don't expect to be burning any barns.)
The moral of the story? If you need extra storage space, forget about the $599 model. Your best buy is the $799 version -- assuming your wallet will allow it.
Watch the options
Now let's look at the cost equation from the other end. Start with the $799 model, opt for the 2.26-GHz processor and double the RAM to 4GB. You've just blown past the $1,000 mark -- $1,049, to be exact -- and you're pushing awfully close to the bottom of iMac territory.
No doubt that's exactly the plan on Apple's part. Because for $1,199, the entry-level price for the newly revised iMac line, you get a solid all-in-one computer/screen combo.
In other words, if there's still any money left in that wallet, you might want to stretch for the iMac.
When looking at the cost equation, it's best to think of the Mini as the anti-iMac. The iMac is a stylish all-in-one Mac. Everything you need is in the box. The Mini is a stylish, headless Mac. No screen. No keyboard. No mouse. To get the best value out of it, you're going to want to have at least a monitor already in hand.
I'll make it simple: If you buy a $799 Mini like the one Apple offered for this review and buy the cheapest Apple display -- it's not really cheap at $899 -- you'll spend $1,698. That's more than enough to buy a 24-in. iMac with money left over.
That said, you can certainly find a much cheaper display somewhere other than Apple -- just make sure it's a DVI monitor so you don't have to buy an adapter. (The Mini comes with an included MiniDisplay-to-DVI adapter in the box.) But even the cheapest monitor will push the bottom-line price toward $1,000 if the $799 Mini is your starting point, and that takes us right back to whether an iMac is a better buy if you can afford it. (It likely is.)
Or if you see the Mini as a media center, why not do what I did: get a cable that connects the Mini to your TV and use that as your monitor. Paired with a wireless keyboard and mouse, it makes quite the spiffy combo.
In short, the new Mini packs a moderate processing punch, much-improved graphic response, runs quiet as a mouse, offers plenty of ports for peripherals and still makes sense economically -- as long as you're judicious about which model you buy and which options you spring for. Just make sure you get 2GB of RAM if you're buying the $599 model, and if you need more room to grow, cough up the necessary money for the $799 version. Given Apple's decision to make high-definition movies available via iTunes, that's the model I'd get if I were buying from scratch.
Side-arming knuckleballer notches strikeout in pro debut
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
That's when Eri Yoshida, a 17-year-old with a wicked sidearm knuckleball, took her 5-foot, 114-pound frame to the mound to become Japan's first female professional pitcher, according to a report by The Associated Press.
Back in December, Yoshida signed a contract to join the Kobe 9 Cruise, one of four teams in Japan's newly formed Kansai Independent League, and made her first appearance Friday in the ninth inning of the first game of the season in Osaka, Japan.
The result? Not too bad.
Yoshida walked the first batter on four straight pitches, then gave up a stolen base, but struck out the next batter swinging before being taken out, as her club picked up a 5-0 win over the Osaka Gold Villicanes in front of 11,592 at the Osaka Dome, according to AP.
"I wasn't thinking about anything other than just going out there and giving it my all," Yoshida, who emulates Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, was quoted as saying by AP. "I think this was a bad result, but the stadium is great and the fans were really cheering me on. I want to be able to pitch more innings and become a pitcher who can be relied upon."
Yoshida, who started playing baseball while in the second grade, said she hopes to stick with the Cruise.
Until now, no woman had ever played against men in Japan, according to AP.
The Kansai Independent League is said to be more of a farm system for bigger teams, like the Yomiuri Giants. Yoshida's signing was originally looked upon as a publicity stunt in order to garner interest in the new league, AP reported.
Alden Gonzalez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Some uber creative folks have come up with ways to make $20 laptop stands out of IKEA BENJAMIN stools and wire mesh file organizers, but who has $20 to spare nowadays? Also, anyone with access to a pile of books, a shoebox, or a CD spindle is capable of turning these everyday items into super cheap laptop stands, but where’s the ingenuity in that?
Instead, check out the three creative and inexpensive laptop stand solutions offered below; all are cheap to build—less than $10 or free in some cases—and all can be used to help save your neck when it comes to proper home office ergonomics. Anyway, lets get down to business.
The DIY Cardboard Laptop Stand
Yale Student Tim Xu is a self-proclaimed dabbler and technophile. Not only does his cardboard laptop stand raise his MacBook’s screen to a comfortable viewing height, but it also sports a few integrated cutouts to help hide cable clutter. As far as the idea behind the stand, Tim states “No real inspiration, really, besides utility. I drew some plans up during lunch one day and I just went through with it.”
Creating your own stand from the photo above shouldn’t be too difficult; it appears all you need is four interlocking cardboard pieces sized to fit your laptop’s base and cut to your desired height, then arranged into an isosceles trapezoid.
- PROS: The design is simple and the material is cheap, especially if you utilize any extra cardboard you have lying around. Also, the stand should be pretty stable and sturdy as long as you use corrugated cardboard; a material that most shipping boxes are made of. Last but not least, cardboard can be composted and recycled depending on the recycling facilities in your neck of the woods.
- CONS: Aside from having some plain looking cardboard furniture in your workspace, I can’t really think of many drawbacks to this design.
The DIY Cheapskate Laptop Stand
I was inspired by Tim’s laptop stand and wanted something that could raise my laptop screen by 8″ and not show too much cardboard. The final result is a stand that is partially hidden by the laptop’s keyboard and takes up a small amount of desktop space. Although this stand has held up well under constant use, I wouldn’t recommend leaving your laptop on it unattended!
I’ve included some instructions below if you’re interested in building your own, or you can download a PDF of the instructions by clicking here.
UPDATE (11/18/06): I received a few requests from the commentators on Instructables.com to provide printable templates, so below you will find links to the PDF instructions and printable templates.
The templates are designed for an 8.5″ by 11″ sheet of paper; turn off any options that scale the PDF and print the templates at 100%. Also, only pages three through five of the PDF template need to be printed, and be sure to consider the environment by reusing scrap sheets of paper.
- DIY Cheapskate Laptop Stand PDF Instructions
- DIY Cheapskate Laptop Stand PDF Templates
- PROS: The stand has a small desktop footprint, provides decent monitor height, and is comprised of inexpensive corrugated cardboard. Also, the cardboard can be composted and recycled depending on the recycling facilities in your neck of the woods.
- CONS: It’s not the most robust or stable stand out there, and CD/DVD slots may be obstructed if they’re located on the front of the laptop. Also, if you consider cardboard to be ugly, then it’s ugly. Last but not least, it’s not advisable to type or mouse on your laptop’s keyboard when it’s sitting on the stand.
The Contemporary $10 Laptop Stand
This contemporary laptop stand was created by Flickr user lazymonster, and consists of an IKEA GRUNDTAL paper towel holder ($5.99) bolted to a piece of plexiglass. Luckily for lazymonster, he had a piece of plexiglass lying around but you can also try visiting a local glass shop or hardware store to see if they have any scrap pieces you can use. The instructions for this laptop stand can be found on lazymonster’s DIY laptop stand set on Flickr.
I asked lazymonster about the design and this is what he had to say,
I guess the only thing I would do to improve it - maybe remove the spring from the metal. It can be a bit bouncy if I bump it. I probably won’t get around to it though. I received a lot of encouragement to add vent holes, but that never happened either.
- PROS: It’s a great looking design, and the stand’s footprint is tiny. There is also plenty of space to store your keyboard under the stand when not in use.
- CONS: It’s not meant for typing on when your laptop is sitting on the stand, then again what laptop stand is? Also, you’ll need access to some tools that can safely drill through stainless steel.
There are plenty of items you can use to create a decent laptop stand, and I definitely encourage you to get a laptop stand whether it’s one of the inexpensive ones featured in this post, or one of the more popular stands like the Griffin Elevator, Rain Design’s mStand, or Ergotron’s line of laptop stands. By the way, I’ve included some additional inexpensive laptop stand ideas below that I didn’t have time to write about, so be sure to check them out too!
As always, feel free to share any inexpensive and creative laptop stand ideas you may have in the comments below!
The Closet Entrepreneur
More and more people have gotten hip to the power of Craigslist. Here's what you need to know to get the most out of this site, as a buyer or a seller.
Brennon Slattery, PC World
Craigslist, the online classifieds site that has all but destroyed its print brethren, has blasted past MySpace to become the number one Web search term in the United States. That means more and more people have gotten hip to the site's expansive resources.
Almost entirely text-based, Craigslist is one of the simplest sites on the Net: Anyone can find what they're looking for with a few clicks of the mouse. But with the help of a few advanced tricks and tools, you can cut through the clutter and discover precisely what's available, all the while avoiding scams and wasteful search software. Follow our advice, and you can use Craigslist with greater efficiency--and with style.
Here are 10 tips that will make your Craigslist experience a more rewarding one.
1. Use Google as the Middleman
2. Search on the Move, With iPhone Apps
One thing worth mentioning: CraigSearch does not display erotic or personal ads. But that's not what you're using it for anyway, right?
3. Dig Into Listings With Free Desktop Apps
CraigsList Reader is a free download that provides a deep search of Craigslist and has a friendly (to some) Microsoft Outlook style. The app is intensely thorough: You can search any listing anywhere, set up notifications, change and save parameter options, and more.
The program functions best for people who embark on epic searches of Craigslist's database rather than those who hope to pick out only a few tidbits. It lets you categorize results, and helps you establish a variety of updates and notifications. In my experience, though, the software complicated tasks that should be simple; for example, it incorporated many features that I found unnecessary for the basic search I conducted. Another drawback is that the app requires Microsoft's .Net framework, which takes forever to download. But heavy Craigslist users--and those who are obsessive about categorizing their searches--may find CraigsList Reader helpful.
4. Monitor Posts Through Paid Desktop Apps
CraigsPal is like CraigsList Reader, but pared down and easier to use. The $30 version, which features an Outlook-like appearance, comes chock-full of features. You can set up e-mail or SMS notifications or e-mail digests, create a favorites list, flag posts, and add posts to the 'Best of craigslist' section.
A free version is available, but it's a vicious tease of these great features--you can see, but you can't touch. If you have money to spare and you really want to dig your fingers into Craigslist, go with the $30 program, since the free one functions about as well as the original Web site does. Paying $30 can be hard to justify; but if you're intimidated by CraigsList Reader, spending money could be worth it.
5. Have Listings Sent to You via RSS Feeds
Why continuously check a site for updates when an RSS reader can do that for you? Make Google Reader do the heavy lifting. Simply set up the search you want to run constantly--personal-assistant gigs in Los Angeles, for example--and click the orange RSS button located on the far-right side of the URL bar. Google Reader will do the rest of the work, and all you need to do is check your Reader page, which you can do in any browser and on most mobile devices. If you're really motivated, you can also have RSS results texted to you.
6. Get the Lay of the Land When Apartment Hunting
People who are picky about where they live will love PadMapper, a great tool for apartment hunting. It uses the familiar Google Maps interface to show precise apartment locations. PadMapper works outside of Craigslist but is integrated with the site via Google Maps word balloons that open the respective Craigslist page--using it is like seamlessly flicking between two sites that have the same goal in mind. You can filter your search results, too, so you don't waste your time gaping at $3000 one-bedroom apartments. The one flaw of PadMapper is that it ignores Craigslist apartment postings that do not list an address, which can be a sizable number.
7. Search It All
Not satisfied with Google Advanced Search? Try a dedicated Craigslist search engine such as Search All Craig's, which scours hundreds of thousands of listings and displays them in a Google-style format. You can't specify search terms as categorically as you can with Google Advanced Search; but if your inquiry is general enough, or if you're comfortable using quotation marks to narrow down your desires, it won't matter. Search All Craig's is great for anyone with a devil-may-care attitude as to what city and state in which their results appear--it's especially useful for job hunters unafraid of relocating.
8. Avoid Bulky and Impractical Search Tools
Stay away from sketchy and redundant Craigslist search software. While you have lots of useful methods of navigating Craigslist outside of the actual site, there are also far too many programs that complicate the process rather than help it.
Search Tempest (formerly Craig's Helper) allows you to set a starting point, no matter how many miles away from your actual location, and search from there. This aspect of the free, Web-based Search Tempest is useful, but it's nothing you can't do with a higher-profile tool like CraigsPal. I felt like my computer was being slaughtered by spyware just looking at the site, and it's downright ugly. But you don't need it anyway: Search Tempest is mostly a rehash of other available resources.
Crazedlist.org also presents multicity searches, but it requires dismantling referrers in your browser. I tried to execute the procedure in Firefox, and the browser screamed that I was wandering into treacherous territory that may be harmful to its stability, security, and performance. Definitely not an app you'd want to tinker with if you value your online safety.
The home page of Anthony Damata's Global Craigslist Search Engine announces that it has undergone several crashes and unexplained blocks due to Craigslist interference. Again, I'm far too paranoid a Web surfer to want to play around with something that might harm my computer. Anyway, this search engine acts merely as a direct portal to Craigslist itself, so you might as well just go straight to Craigslist.
On the Net you can find many similar programs that all promise advanced Craigslist navigation, but you must weigh the negatives against the positives and craft an educated assessment of your situation. Personally, I found these programs more dangerous than helpful.
9. Sidestep Scams and Useless Add-Ons
A lot of people out there are seeking to take advantage of insecure and unknowledgeable Craigslist users. Make sure you're not one of them by watching out for methods commonly employed to grab your money, waste your time, and make you look foolish.
It sounds like common sense, but one of the first things you need to do is make certain that you're at the right site. A lot of sites try to make themselves look like Craigslist, so double-check, and ensure that ".org" is at the end of the URL.
Keep an eye out for messages that are longer than necessary. If someone responds to your Craigslist post with too much information, it could be a scam. For example, if you're selling your iPhone and someone in Kentucky wants you to send it to his niece but he's paying for it, sell it to the guy down the street instead.
Approach e-mail from Nigeria and other parts of Africa skeptically, as many scams originate from those places. Con artists typically offer more money than your advertised price, claiming that they want to cover the shipping or something along those lines. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Payment options also present dilemmas. Money orders pose a particular threat to unwary people. Although scammers may use a trusted source such as Western Union, they have also devised ways to create fake money orders that will slap you with fees. As always, whether you're dealing with checks or money orders, make sure the payment clears before you send any goods. Try to conduct all sales in cash.
The best way to avoid being ripped off is to deal exclusively with local buyers and sellers, approach all offers with caution, avoid people who want you to ship items to addresses that aren't their own (or who ask you to deal with "business partners"), and use common sense.
You might also encounter paid services that "train" you how to sell items on Craigslist. Avoid these. Not only will they inundate you with boring information readily found elsewhere, but you may find yourself digging further into debt rather than scuffling your way out. In my travels around the Web, I also found another paid service that promises to help create eye-catching advertisements. Craigslist functions on basic HTML, folks. With a few good photographs and detailed product descriptions, you won't need neon signs to become a successful seller.
10. Get There First
The best way to get the job, MP3 player, or apartment you have your eye on is to be the first in line. Using the tips above, you can easily organize your Craigslist hunt, scope it out while you're on the go, and sell like a pro. In a world where information whizzes past in the blink of an eye, it's critical to maintain the focus that will get you what you want.
| James Owen |
for National Geographic News
| March 25, 2009 |
Established in the 11th century, the military order was a key fighting force in the Crusades, a series of Christian military campaigns that originally had the goal of capturing Jerusalem. The Knights of Malta ruled the island from 1530 to 1798.
Photograph courtesy Claude Borg of the Valletta Rehabilitation Project
| For centuries it's been said that the crusading Knights of Malta constructed an underground city on the Mediterranean island of Malta, sparking rumors of secret carriageways and military labyrinths.|
Now a tunnel network has been uncovered beneath the historic heart of the Maltese capital of Valletta, researchers say. But the tunnels—likely from an ahead-of-its-time water system—may render previous theories all wet.
The newfound tunnels are said to date back to the 16th and early 17th centuries, when the knights—one of the major Christian military orders of the 11th- to 13th-century Crusades—fortified Valletta against Muslim attack.
The tunnels were uncovered on February 24 during an archaeological survey of the city's Palace Square in advance of an underground-garage project.
"A lot of people say there are passages and a whole new city underground," said survey leader Claude Borg of the Valletta Rehabilitation Project. "But where are these underground tunnels? Do they exist?
"We've now found some of them, at least."
First Sign of Subterranean Valletta
Experts think the newly revealed tunnels—though tall enough to allow human passage—formed part of an extensive water system used to pipe vital supplies to the city.
The tunnels were found beneath Palace Square, opposite the Grandmaster's Palace. Once home to the leader of the Knights of Malta, the palace today houses Malta's legislature and the office of the Maltese president.
First, workers found what's believed to have been an underground reservoir just under the paving stones of Palace Square.
Near the bottom of the reservoir, some 40 feet (12 meters) down, they discovered a large opening in a reservoir wall—the entrance to a tunnel, which runs half the length of the square and connects to channels, some of which lead toward the palace.
Efforts to follow these branches have so far failed, as they were blocked off at some later date, Borg said.
Restoration architect Edward Said, of the Fondazzjoni Wirt Artna (Malta Heritage Trust), describes the discovery as "just the tip of the iceberg."
Said suspects the tunnels formed part of a state-of-the-art plumbing system, complete with ancient passageways for access and maintenance.
Thousand-Year-Old Fighting Force
Also known as the Knights Hospitaller and the Order of St. John, the Knights of Malta, established in 1099, gained a formidable military reputation as enemies of Muslims during the Crusades, a series of Christian military campaigns that originally had the goal of capturing Jerusalem.
(Related: " Crusades, Islam Expansion Traced in Lebanon DNA.")
In 1530 Holy Roman Emperor Charles V offered the knights the island of Malta for the princely sum of one falcon a year.
The Christian order, though vastly outnumbered by Ottoman Turks, triumphed in the Great Siege of Malta in 1565.
The experience, though, inspired them to found the fortress city of Valletta on a high peninsula that was secure but lacking in natural water sources.
Water security was a major priority during the city's construction, the goal being to maintain the supply even during future sieges, according to Said.
"They soon realized that the rainwater and the wells they had were just not enough," he said.
Water was therefore transported to the city from valleys to the west via an aqueduct, the remains of which still stand.
The Palace Square location of the newfound tunnels supports the idea that the network was intended for water, the team said.
The tunnel apparently fed a grand fountain in Palace Square via the underground reservoir. The fountain was later moved when the British ruled the island, from 1814 to 1964.
"This fountain marked the very important achievement of getting water to the city," survey leader Borg said.
Centuries-old lead pipes and metal valves for operating the fountain have been found, according to Said. The tunnel's connecting branches may have included service passages used by the Knights' chief hydraulic engineer, or fontaniere.
"Together with his team, [the fontaniere] was in charge of monitoring and maintaining the fountains and conduits," Said added. "They were also responsible for switching off the fountains at night."
Knights of Sanitation
Other rumors of underground Valletta include a secret carriageway from the city to the palace of the Roman Catholic inquisitor—charged with rooting out heretics—under Valletta's harbor.
Such tales of secret military passages have more solid foundations, according to Said, since underground passages do run beneath the battlements protecting Valletta's landfront.
But Said suspects many of the subterranean legends spring from water-supply and drainage tunnels.
Valletta was hit by plague in the 17th century, when the 1340s Black Death epidemic still loomed in people's minds, he said.
"They wanted to make sure this problem never happened again," Said added.
In fact, the city's plumbing system was highly advanced for the 16th and 17th centuries, he noted.
By comparison, major cities like London and Vienna "were still wallowing in their own muck."
The Knights of Malta Today
In 1798 Napoleon banished the knights from Malta. Today, based in Rome but still called the Order of Malta, they are involved mainly in humanitarian enterprises.
Still, this month the Maltese government announced that, following the discoveries, the underground-garage plan has been shelved.
A new fountain, based on the original, is slated for the square, and Said is hopeful that the secret tunnels will eventually be opened to the public—one more reminder of the knights that still bear the island's name.
New Jersey teen may have to register as a sex offender
TRENTON, N.J. - A 14-year-old New Jersey girl has been accused of child pornography after posting nearly 30 explicit nude pictures of herself on MySpace.com — charges that could force her to register as a sex offender if convicted.
The case comes as prosecutors nationwide pursue child pornography cases resulting from kids sending nude photos to one another over cell phones and e-mail. Legal experts, though, could not recall another case of a child porn charge resulting from a teen's posting to a social networking site.
MySpace would not comment on the New Jersey investigation, but the News Corp.-owned company has a team that reviews its network for inappropriate images. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tipped off a state task force, which alerted the Passaic County Sheriff's Office.
The office investigated and discovered the Clifton resident had posted the "very explicit" photos of herself, sheriff's spokesman Bill Maer said Thursday.
"We consider this case a wake-up call to parents," Maer said. The girl posted the photos because "she wanted her boyfriend to see them," he said.
Investigators are looking at individuals who "knowingly" committed a crime, he said, declining to comment further because the case is still being investigated.
The teen, whose name has not been released because of her age, was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography and distribution of child pornography. She was released to her mother's custody.
If convicted of the distribution charge, she would be forced to register with the state as a sex offender under Megan's Law, said state Attorney General Anne Milgram. She also could face up to 17 years in jail, though such a stiff sentence is unlikely.
Some observers — including the New Jersey mother behind the creation of Megan's Law — are criticizing the trend of prosecuting teens who send racy text messages or post illicit photos of themselves.
Maureen Kanka — whose daughter, Megan, became the law's namesake after she was raped and killed at age 7 in 1994 by a twice-convicted sex offender — blasted authorities for charging the 14-year-old girl.
The teen needs help, not legal trouble, she said.
"This shouldn't fall under Megan's Law in any way, shape or form. She should have an intervention and counseling, because the only person she exploited was herself."
Called "sexting" when it's done by cell phone, teenagers' habit of sending sexually suggestive photos of themselves and others to one another is a nationwide problem that has confounded parents, school administrators and law enforcers.
Prosecutors in states including Pennsylvania, Connecticut, North Dakota, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin have tried stop it by charging teens who send and receive the pictures.
In northeastern Pennsylvania, a prosecutor recently threatened to file child porn charges against three teenage girls who authorities say took racy cell-phone pictures that ended up on classmates' cell phones.
The MySpace case may be a first, though.
"I'm not sure I've seen a prosecution like this coming out of a social networking site," said Seth Kreimer, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Milgram, the attorney general, could not recall another such case in New Jersey. She cautioned parents to get on those sites and monitor what their kids are talking about and posting.
"Unfortunately, youth don't have the same judgment as adults," she said, "and often, adults don't have the same technical savvy as the youth."
Exclusive Heads up: A few months ago, I asked Skype CEO Josh Silverman when was he going to launch the iPhone version of the P2P voice and IM service that has now been downloaded more than 405 million times. He smiled and said, “Stay tuned.” And so we did.
A tipster — a very reliable one — tells me that Skype is almost ready to launch that iPhone version, perhaps as soon as next week. CTIA Wireless, a large mobile industry trade event, kicks off in Las Vegas next Wednesday, so perhaps the announcement will be made there. I am working on getting more details, as well as screenshots of the service.
The biggest clue about Skype’s pending iPhone launch came when iSkoot decided to move on from its Skype-centric strategy. The company had been offering a client that allowed cell phone users to use Skype services. Skype already offers a Windows Mobile version of its client.
As I’ve said before, Skype will have to turn to mobile to keep its growth intact. In recent months, many services, among them Truphone and Nimbuzz, started supporting Skype in their communication clients. However, a standalone Skype client would get a lot of traction among the Skype faithful. In the meantime, I think Skype is slowly flexing its muscles and swatting away little VoIP players with some of its recent moves.
Scientists have made a breakthrough in understanding how HIV spreads through the human body after filming the process for the first time ever.
By Murray Wardrop
The study was made possible after experts created a molecular clone of infectious HIV and inserted a protein into its genetic code which glows green when exposed to blue light.
This allowed scientists to see the cells on digital video, and capture the way HIV-infected T-cells interact with uninfected ones.
They noted that when an infected cell came into contact with a healthy one, a bridge was created between them, called a virological synapse.
Researchers were then able to observe the fluorescent green viral particles moving towards the synapse and into the healthy cell.
The US study has broken new ground by revealing that it is the synapse through which the viral proteins are gathered and moved into uninfected cells.
The team, comprising scientists from UC Davis university in California, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, believe that this knowledge could help create new treatments for HIV and Aids.
Study author Dr Thomas Huser, chief scientist at the UC Davis Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology, said: "Our findings may explain why attempts to develop an HIV vaccine have so far been unsuccessful.
"The more we know about this mode of transfer, the better chance we have of figuring out how to block it and the spread of HIV and Aids."
For decades it was believed that HIV was mostly spread around the body through freely circulating particles, which attach themselves to a cell, take over its replication machinery and make multiple copies of themselves.
In 2004, scientists discovered that cell-to-cell transfer of HIV also occurred via virological synapses, but it was not understood why the process was so effective in spreading the virus.
Due to this, previous efforts to create an HIV vaccine have focused on priming the immune system to recognise and attack proteins of free-circulating virus.
The new video footage indicates that HIV avoids recognition by being directly transferred between cells.
Dr Huser said: "We should be developing vaccines that help the immune system recognise proteins involved in virological synapse formation and antiviral drugs that target the factors required for synapse formation."
Co-author Benjamin Chen, assistant professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, added: "Direct T-cell-to-T-cell transfer through a virological synapse is a highly efficient avenue of HIV infection, and it could be the predominant mode of dissemination."
Further research intends to discover what happens to viral particles once they are transferred into a newly infected cell.
The study's finding are published in the journal Science.
We want to respect other cultures and their unique tastes in food and drink. But sometimes, they're simply wrong. There are soft drinks on the market around the globe that are clearly unfit for human consumption and wrong on a deeply moral level.
Think we're over reacting? Then you've never heard of:
Also Known As:
If you've ever gotten the urge to stir some yogurt into your Pepsi, well, you're lucky to be alive because we're pretty sure that shit will make your stomach explode. Or maybe just turn into a super-powerful acid that eats you from the inside out (we aren't chemists). At best you'll wind up giving everyone the impression that you've ejaculated into your Pepsi.
So who would think to combine those two things and sell them commercially? Japan. Pepsi White emerged there last October just in time for their line of winter products. Because nothing screams "winter" like yogurt. Because it's white. Also, it's the first Pepsi beverage that might curdle on a hot summer day.
Only in Japan could Ice Cucumber flavor be the second weirdest Pepsi product on the market.
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Not just some kooky novelty beverage, Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray is a drink extracted from celery seeds that has been around since the 18-freaking-60s. We'd imagine the ads featured guys cracking open a cold can and rubbing it across their sweaty forehead after leaving the Civil War battlefield.
Since then, Cel-Ray has became a common item in the city of New York, and in Jewish delicatessens here and there, having totally captured the market in celery-flavored soda that, for some strange reason, no other beverage maker has even bothered to enter in a century and a half.
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Whether or not you felt a tinge of nausea at the name of this product depends entirely on whether or not you know what kimchi is.
Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish composed mainly of fermented spicy cabbage. The Kimchee Drink is the packaged, cloudy juice left from the fermentation process.
Now it's one thing to enjoy kimchi, which is probably an acquired taste but, hey, lots of Koreans love it. But the shit that's left behind in the tank after they've fished the food out? It's like McDonald's trying to sell us cups of used french fry oil. Just throw it away, you greedy bastards.
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Hey, you know how when you eat just a little bit of garlic your breath smells like it for eight hours afterward? And how you can't get the garlic smell off your hands for a solid week if you handle some?
Well, in South Korea they've got whole bottles of garlic juice you can chug on a hot day. Perfect refreshment when you're on a date with a girl you despise. Also, works as a Molotov cocktail when thrown at a vampire!
Also available in onion.
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Oh, hey, Japan's back. And with a brand of breast-enlarging soft drink.
And no, this is not some subtle thing like Enzyte's "male enhancement" nod and wink ad campaign. Okkikunare literally means "become bigger!" The boob enlargement thing is front and center. The ingredient that was supposed to bring forth a new glorious era for Japanese men, and a slightly more back pain for the women, is powdered arrowroot.
Unfortunately, actual scientific studies with a barrel of it and 20 brave female scientists proved that arrowroot does nothing for breast enhancement (clearly if such a substance existed, mankind would have discovered it about, oh, 10,000 years ago).
And while any country could get caught selling a boob-enhancing formula here and there, only Japan would stick a drawing of a toddler on the label.
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Switzerland has apparently produced several varieties of this stuff, which manufacturers claim is made from hemp resin but has no THC (the stuff that gets you high). We're assuming that kind of defeats the point for their target customers, especially considering the can above promises you'll "get the magic power" of hemp seeds.
In a bold move to help speed up the awareness of all these products, cans of the stuff turned up in the United Kingdom when a cafe started handing it out to school children at an event. That went over about as well as you'd expect.
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And back to Japan.
Produced by the NEEDS cheese factory in Hokkaido, the NEEDS liquid cheese drink comes in three flavors: Berry, Yuzu Citrus and Plain. But don't worry, special steps had been taken to cut down on their natural sweetness, securing you a naturally salty cheese sensation throughout the entire drink. Use it to wash down a nice bowl of cheese soup and a fondue.
The liquid cheese beverage has reportedly been produced to raise awareness of cheese in that country. Instead of showing everyone a delicious melty slice of pizza, they gave them this. The manufacturers note that like most refreshing beverages, the drink "... is also good as a salad dressing."
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The history of the Kombucha reaches as far as the Chinese Qin dynasty (that's 250 BC, folks). The Chinese even called it "The Immortal Health Elixir."
And what is "it"? Why, tea fermented with microorganisms called a "kombucha colony." Which is a fancy way of saying there's a big, slimy wad of fungus in your tea. The Fungus Brew can be bought off the shelf but it's also often home made (intentionally in China, and by accident at the bottom of gym lockers everywhere else).
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OK, no more from Japan after this.
We have to tell you, what really sells this carbonated curry drink from Japan is the freaking label. The text next to the name says: "A miraculous collaboration of curry and lemonade" and above that, the drink proudly exclaims "Even Indian people will be surprised."
Indian people may be surprised, but it will probably have more to do with the little racist picture of an Indian stereotype with the turban and the thick mustache.
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Help us pinpoint when exactly the recipe for this drink goes from interesting to bizarre: You take some sweetened condensed milk and a raw egg, you combine the yolk with the milk... and then you add club soda, mix well, drink and don't tell anyone about it. Congrats, you just made your first egg soda, a drink popular with Vietnamese people of questionable sanity.
If you think about it, it's kind of like they took the traditional (and disgusting in its own right) Egg Cream New Yorkers enjoy and, when trying to recreate the recipe, forgot that there wasn't supposed to be an actual raw goddamned egg in there.
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Yes, we realize the makers of Tentacle Grape soda are in fact fucking with us. This is not produced in Japan but in California, and yes, the product does appear to actually exist.
If you're new to the Internet, the name is a pun based on "Tentacle Rape," the staple of Japanese anime porn where they have tentacled monsters doing the raping since censors won't allow them to portray a penis on screen. So the fact that their wacky joke-soda relies on violent rape fantasies for their pun earns them a spot on the list and more free publicity.
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The "Surging Eel" fizzy pop is a carbonated yellow liquid containing extracts of eel head and bones, which can be bought in- oh... OK, we did have one more Japanese entry on here.
It's produced by the Japanese Tobacco Company, as a beverage "mainly for men who are exhausted by the summer's heat." Not one part of this sentence made any sense. Why men? Why only if they're exhaustion is caused by summer heat? We do realize that the eel is a delicacy in Japan, but bottling and selling it as a soft drink just makes us think of that old Saturday Night Live episode where Dan Aykroyd ground up a bass in a blender.
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The good ol' USA earned another spot on this list when, in 2003, quirky beverage makers Jones Soda released a Turkey & Gravy flavor for the holiday season. It sold out in two hours, with each bottle sold to a college kid who wanted to show it to people and say, "Can you believe this shit?!"
In 2004, they extended their offer to an entire Holiday Pack: Turkey&Gravy, Green Bean Casserole, Cranberry and Mashed Potatoes with Butter. All soda. All horrifying. It sold out in less than an hour.
Over the years the company has also produced such soda flavors as: Wild Herb Stuffing, Pumpkin Pie, Brussels sprout, Sweet Potato, Dinner Roll, Pea and Salmon, in an attempt to cash in on a market segment fueled entirely by irony.
We like irony, but not as much as we hate not knowing whether to put our soda in the fridge or the oven.
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There was apparently a time in one man's life when he looked at a bunch of pig placenta and said "You know what? I bet people would pay good money to drink this shit." It was probably just minutes before he took to the dark streets to start making his suit of human skin.
The inventor of the Placenta Drink kept the serial killer profilers off his scent long enough to bring this new Japanese (damn it) health drink to market. Available as peach flavored "Placenta 100000" Jelly Drink (with over 10,000 mg of the secret ingredient), or the... naturally tasting extract, Placenta 400000, the drink claims various beauty benefits thanks to the magical powers of pig placenta. The 400000 in the name, we assume, represents the number of hours you will spend huddled over a toilet, trying to forget you ever drank this shit. Which will no doubt contribute to a slim new physique!