Tsunami Love Stories

Israeli couple returns to Thailand for memorial services, gets engaged
Updated: 6:32 a.m. ET Dec. 27, 2005, MSNBC.COM
PHUKET, Thailand – In the chaos after Asia’s killer tsunami, a volunteer Israeli doctor and a badly injured survivor fell in love.

A year later, Israeli-born businessman Ron Bombiger held Dr. Dorit Nitzan’s hand and proposed on Tuesday in the Phuket hospital room where they first met.

“Dori, in front of all these people, will you marry me?,” asked Bombiger, 49, as beaming nurses looked on in the room adorned with red roses and petals on the bed in the shape of a heart.

She whispered in his ear, they kissed and exchanged engagement rings to loud cheers and applause.

The two met days after the tsunami shattered Bombiger’s hotel on Kamala Beach on the Thai tourist island of Phuket.

Thais gave Bombiger, who was visiting from Los Angeles, a blanket and rushed him to the island’s main Bangkok Hospital with a serious leg injury.

Nitzan, a member of the Israeli team sent to Thailand to help survivors, visited Bombiger as he spent the next few weeks in room 432, recovering from six operations on his right thigh.

They discovered they had lived as children in the same town in Israel.

“We call it the ’wave of love’”, Bombiger said of the tragedy that brought them together. “This wave came in and I found this girl I love and want to spend the rest of my life with.”


BY EMMELINE TAN, PICS BY K.T.GOH from thestar.com.my

SHE was just 22 days old, fast asleep on a mattress, when the tsunami waves hit the shoreline of Miami Beach in Penang.

Before her parents could do anything, she had disappeared from view.

But miraculously, the next round of waves brought her back.

This is baby Thulishi, who now just loves being in the water, under the watchful eyes of her parents, father Suppiah Alagappan and mother Annalmary Lurdu.

Statistically, Thulishi is just one of the many lives affected by the region’s most horrific natural disaster. But in her smile, she radiates hope.

“SHE must have been saved for a reason. Maybe she would be the next Mother Teresa or something,” said Alagappan of his miracle baby who celebrated her first birthday on Dec 4.

The tiny tot is now a chubby, curly-haired toddler who stares wide-eyed at visitors.

Her family has been given a unit at the tsunami transit homes in Batu Ferringhi and Thulishi spends most of her time in a white cot filled with toys from well-wishers at the cafe where she nearly lost her life a year ago.

Lulled to sleep by the sound of waves daily, Thulishi shows no fear of the water and loves playing in the sea.

“She keeps tugging our sleeves to take her for a walk on the beach when she wakes up. And she’s such an early riser!” said Alagappan, 57, who lovingly calls his daughter darling….


Intel’s Barrett shoots down $100 laptop

Intel’s Barrett says world’s poorest don’t want $100 laptops
They’re aimed at bringing computer access to areas that lack reliable electricity

News Story by Peter Apps

DECEMBER 11, 2005 (REUTERS) – Potential computer users in the developing world will not want a basic $100 hand-cranked laptop due to be rolled out to millions, chipmaker Intel Corp. Chairman Craig Barrett said Friday.

Schoolchildren in Brazil, Thailand, Egypt and Nigeria will begin receiving the first few million textbook style computers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) media lab run by Nicholas Negroponte in early 2006.

“Mr. Negroponte has called it a $100 laptop — I think a more realistic title should be ‘the $100 gadget’,” Barrett, chairman of the world’s largest chipmaker, told a press conference in Sri Lanka. “The problem is that gadgets have not been successful.”

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has welcomed the development of the small, hand-cranked lime-green devices, which can set up their own wireless networks and are intended to bring computer access to areas that lack reliable electricity.

Negroponte said at their launch in November the new machines would be sold to governments for schoolchildren at $100 a device but the general public would have to pay around $200 — still much cheaper than the machines using Intel’s chips.

But Barrett said similar schemes in the past elsewhere in the world had failed and users would not be satisfied with the new machine’s limited range of programs.

“It turns out what people are looking for is something that has the full functionality of a PC,” he said. “Reprogrammable to run all the applications of a grown up PC… not dependent on servers in the sky to deliver content and capability to them, not dependent for hand cranks for power.”


Prototype ‘could have been made with Lego’, says Trevor Baylis

Ken Young, vnunet.com 21 Nov 2005

Celebrity inventor Trevor Baylis has said he is “not convinced” that Nicholas Negroponte has got very far with the $100 laptop he is developing for the Third World.

Baylis, who invented the clockwork wireless radio, was recently invited to MIT Media Lab to meet Negroponte and see the prototype, but said that it “could have put together with a Lego kit”.

“Nothing worked. I was expecting him to show me the screen in action or the wind-up feature, but I saw nothing but a basic prototype,” he said.

“If Negroponte has done it, full marks to the guy, but I am not 100 per cent convinced. It was all something of a PR stunt.”

Baylis clearly has a lot to contribute to the project as he invented a wind-up radio that is now used widely in the Third World. He also lays claim to demonstrating the world’s first wind-up computer.

“A few years ago I was in Botswana seeing the radio in use and people from Apple were there,” he explained. “So for fun we hooked up my wind-up system to their eMate. We managed to get the screen to activate for a few seconds which amazed everyone.”

Baylis believes he could develop wind-up technology for the MIT laptop but questioned whether such technology is currently available.

“The hard part is not developing the wind-up technology but finding a low-power screen,” he said. “I would love to be involved in something like this. I have seen what an impact on lives my radio has had. This could be the same.”

But Baylis said he came away from Boston feeling non-plussed. “Negroponte did not ask me to provide the technology,” he complained. “He was more interested in looking at my wind-up torch, which I didn’t develop anyway. I bought it in China for £3.”

Baylis is keen for a UK initiative to make an attempt at a similar device. “HP has told me that the screen can’t be made yet, but you never know,” he explained. “Perhaps we can all get together and make it happen.”

Lee Felsenstein, designer of the Osbourne computer, is working on a similar wind-up computer project. The details are on his blog here.

Meanwhile the US National Science Foundation is funding the Technology and Infrastructure for Emerging Regions project at the University of California, Berkeley.

Michael Robertson, chief executive at open source firm Linspire, said that his company has researched the viability of the project and has deemed it inadequate.


$100 MUFFIN STUMPS by Michael Robertson
May 12th, 2005

Once a month an article comes out talking about a $100 PC. Most recently MIT, with a coalition of backers, is talking up an economical PC as a digital necessity for emerging markets. As you probably know, I’m a huge advocate of low-cost PCs, but the $100 computer as conceived today will be a failure. The specifications I’ve seen for an ultra-low-cost PC are woefully underpowered and unable to perform common computing duties and will be rejected by the intended beneficiaries.

It reminds me of a classic Seinfeld episode where Elaine has an idea for a bakery to sell only the tops of muffins. In a magnanimous gesture, she decides to donate the bottom halves to the local homeless shelter and here’s what happens:

Rebecca: Excuse me, I’m Rebecca Demore from the homeless shelter.
Elaine: Oh, hi.

Rebecca: Are you the ones leaving the muffing pieces behind our shelter?
Elaine: You’ve been enjoying them?

Rebecca: They’re just stumps.
Elaine: Well they’re perfectly edible.

Rebecca: Oh, so you just assume that the homeless will eat them, they’ll eat anything?
Mr. Lippman: No no, we just thought…

Rebecca: I know what you thought. They don’t have homes, they don’t have jobs, what do they need the top of a muffin for? They’re lucky to get the stumps.
Elaine: If the homeless don’t like them the homeless don’t have to eat them.

Rebecca: The homeless don’t like them.
Elaine: Fine.

Rebecca: We’ve never gotten so many complaints. Every two minutes, “Where is the top of this muffin? Who ate the rest of this?”
Elaine: We were just trying to help.

There’s a great analogy from the muffins to low-cost PCs. Well-intentioned advocates are offering a muffin stump of a computer to the “digital homeless”. Those with the top-of-the-muffin computers are expecting others to be satisfied with just email and other lightweight tasks.

Recently, Linspire did some research in several developing PC markets. We traveled around the globe to see how poor people are using PCs. The results were astounding. We saw homes without running water with a very capable PC in one corner that the whole family would use. This wasn’t a low-end PC, but a middle-of-the-road machine that the family used for surfing the Internet, playing games, watching movies, listening to music and educating their children.

To buy the computer, the family would take out a loan for $250-$400 and often assemble their own computer (or have it assembled by friends). They did not buy the cheapest computer available to them, but instead insist on getting a fully functioning computer. To put it another way, they are making a decision to take out a loan that takes several years to repay rather than have a computer “stump”.

They recognize all the benefits a computer can bring, and they want it all and are willing to make sacrifice to get it. They are not content with an email-only or feature-limited solution.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for ultra-low-cost computers (ULCC). Over the last few years Linspire, along with our OEM partners, has blazed a trail of low-cost computers. We started with the $299 PC, then the $199 PC and the $169 disk-less Webstation. On the laptop front it started with a $799 laptop and late last year culminated with a $498 laptop from Walmart.com. We continue to do great business through partners like Sub300, who offer low-cost computers without any rebate gimmicks.

Our experience with these initiatives has taught us a couple of things about ULCC:

1) Even poor people will hold out for a complete muffin, rather than a stump.
Although it’s tempting to try and hit a magic price point like $100 – which is really just an arbitrary number given the US dollar conversion – and ship a slow, memory-constrained computer, it is likely to be rejected by its intended beneficiary. Better to ship a reasonably performing computer, even at a slightly higher price. In our experience, this means a minimum of 800MHz computer with 256MB RAM with a 10GB hard disk.

2) Ease of use is critical.

A computer that is low cost but too difficult to use will disappoint customers. This is why Linspire has dedicated so much engineering to make the first version of Linux that does not require the command line to operate. (Of course you can still use it if you prefer, but it’s not required.) We’ve also made sure to include audio-assist interactive tutorials, a fantastic printed manual and self-running demonstration mode.

I look forward to the day when a $100 computer is a reality. And I believe that the MIT initiative and others can bring new innovations to the business that will cut the costs. (The display technology MIT is working on is fascinating.) But it would be a mistake to champion a computer stump when what the world needs and wants is a complete muffin.


8-year-old off to university

He set a record by completing elementary, junior-high and high school curricula in just nine months and now is being admitted as a freshman to the Physics Department of Inha University in Incheon, west of Seoul.

With no school record to rely on for screening Yoo-geun’s qualifications, the university interviewed him in October and he surprised professors by explaining the Schroedinger equation.

Song Yoo-geun, 8, wants to build flying cars and as Korea’s youngest university student he may very well realise that dream.

Father Song Soo-jin, 46, who is against prodigy schools said: “I believe, above all, the first priority in education is to make every child happy.”

“The single most important thing in education is to find a favourable, encouraging environment for a kid – in other words, let him be,” he concluded.


2005: Newspapers worst year

A Goldman Sachs report says this year has been the worst year in newspapers’ revenues since 2000-2001, and meaningful growth in 2006 is “very unlikely.”

National advertising was almost flat at 1.0 percent while the only bright spots are classifieds, both print and online, which was up 4-5 percent, and online newspaper revenues, which are projected to grow an impressive 25 percent in 2006.

Despite this, online still represents only 5.0 percent of total newspaper revenues.

The good news is newsprint prices are likely to fall slightly in 2006, as demand falls more quickly than production capacity. Even so, this good news is scant relief for an industry besieged by “flat ad revenues, falling stocks, and fleeing subscribers.”

Last week, Rishad Tobaccowala, chief innovation officer for Publicis Groupe, told a newspaper–the Chicago Tribune–“newspapers are at a tipping point,” in which online media will start to take more readership and more ad dollars.

He added that newspapers are in the worst situation of all news media for growth as “the least visually engaging and least youth oriented” medium.


Would you like some Flash drives with that, sir?

“What’s your personal computer, anyways?” says computing pioneer Bill Joy. “Your personal computer should be something that’s always on your person.”

Flash Drives Make Any Computer ‘Personal’
By BRIAN BERGSTEIN, AP Technology Writer

Students at Eastside Preparatory School in Kirkland, Wash., are getting class materials in a new way this year: on a tiny flash-memory drive that plugs into a computer’s USB port.

Small enough to wear on a necklace, this “digital backpack” can hold textbooks, novels, plays, study aids, the dictionary, graphing-calculator software — almost anything, really.

Falling prices in computer memory have made these little flash drives — also called pen, thumb or key drives — into enormously powerful tools that are on the verge of changing the concept of “personal” computing.

With a gigabyte of flash memory now available for less than $100, these inexpensive digital storehouses can hold not just important data but also entire software programs. The information they carry can be encrypted and accessed speedily, a benefit of faster microprocessors.

What this all means is that computer users are no longer at the mercy of the machine that happens to be nearby. Everything we need to interact with computers — even down to the appearance of our home PC’s desktop — can be carried with us and used on almost any computer.

A few years ago Jay Elliot was looking for a way to help doctors move medical information securely and decided that flash memory — which has no moving parts, unlike hard-disk storage — was the perfect solution.

But as memory prices kept falling, he realized there was room for more than just data. So he invented Migo, software that lets removable storage devices such as USB drives and iPods essentially function as portable computers.

Plug a Migo-enabled device into a computer and enter your password, and a secure session launches in which you can send and receive e-mail and work on documents, with the background desktop and icons from your own PC rather than the ones on the host computer.

When you’re done and remove the drive, all traces of what you did are removed from that computer. The next time you plug the drive into your home computer, data on each are synchronized.


George Bush Listens To Dogbert

From the BBC – President George W Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq – and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

In Elusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, a major three-part series on BBC Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, , and his Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath describe their first meeting with President Bush in June 2003.

Nabil Shaath says: “President Bush said to all of us: ‘I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, “George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.” And I did, and then God would tell me, “George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq …” And I did. And now, again, I feel God’s words coming to me, “Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.” And by God I’m gonna do it.'”

Abu Mazen was at the same meeting and recounts how President Bush told him: “I have a moral and religious obligation. So I will get you a Palestinian state.”


Why VoIP will not kill the mobile star

From a critique of an Economist article:

VoIP is a natural threat to the voice business of fixed operators. They are already severely under threat by new discount service providers in the long distance and international call business; the entries of cable TV operators into the voice telecoms business; and the migration of younger customers away from any fixed wireline phone connection whatsoever. VoIP will be the final nail to their coffins.

“Pure” mobile operators are actually the most insulated from cannibalization of VoIP. We have had 100% ability to use VoIP on mobile phones since 1998 when the first Nokia Communicator was released, and no such threat has materialized. For the very reason I explained above: that any “free” VoIP service on a mobile phone will still incure usage charges on the “data” side that totally wipe out any possible “savings” gains from the VoIP calls. Look at your own “internet” service on your mobile phone or laptop modem card – you are charged per megabyte or by minute, or if not, you have a monthly limit of how much “fair usage” you can have per month. There is no such thing as free internet on the mobile network. There is a natural resource scarcity that guarantees this.

(via Sumedh Mungee)


On small step for NASA, one giant leap for Google

NASA and Google have signed a MOU to cooperate on large-scale data management, massively distributed computing and bio-info-nano convergence.

Google will also develop up to one million square feet within the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field — sounds more like a stronghold, than a foothold.

Now that NASA has ceded all its precious information to the fastest-growing corporation in the world, can we hope that they will find alien life in there somewhere?


Negroponte pushes forward with nutty laptop idea

A notebook for every child at US$100 a pop? Sounds crazy? MIT Media Lab guru Negroponte is pushing forward with this idea.

It should be out in November, he says. The tail-end of this story addresses the real-world realities.

Negroponte says his team is addressing ways this project could be undermined.

For example, to keep the $100 laptops from being widely stolen or sold off in poor countries, he expects to make them so pervasive in schools and so distinctive in design that it would be “socially a stigma to be carrying one if you are not a student or a teacher.” He compared it to filching a mail truck or taking something from a church: Everyone would know where it came from.

As a result, he expects to keep no more than 2 percent of the machines from falling into a murky “gray market.”

And unlike the classic computing model in which successive generations of devices get more gadgetry at the same price, Negroponte said his group expects to do the reverse. With such tweaks as “electronic ink” displays that will require virtually no power, the MIT team expects to constantly lower the cost.

After all, in much of the world, Negroponte said, even $100 “is still too expensive.”

You got that right bro. And boy do you NOT get business realities.

The specs for the product is limp at best. 500MHz processor running on Linux with flash memory storage of 1 GB? Ho hum.

Negroponte expects his nonprofit One Laptop Per Child to get 5 million to 15 million of the machines in production, when “children in Brazil, China, Egypt, Thailand, South Africa are due to begin getting them.”

Great choice of countries. Watch China clone the machine in five minutes if there is a demand. And watch Thailand, Brazil and S. Africa ship half of it to other countries at profit.

In the second year — apparently — when Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney hopes to start buying them for all 500,000 middle and high-school students in this state — Negroponte envisions “100 million to 150 million being made.” He boasts that this would surpass the world’s existing annual production of laptops, which is about 50 million.

Yeah, and so Dell, HP, Apple, Toshiba, Acer, Lenovo, and every other major brand on this planet will just be sitting on their hands watching the carpet go from under their feet.

And we’re not even talking about horrendous service problems these machines may be faced with. Nice try Mr Negroponte, but this pig just won’t fly.

Sony’s chief asks 10,000 to walk, man

Sony’s Howard Stringer has done the American thing. When you can’t fix it, slash and burn. It was just a matter of time, as we suggested in March.


The new head of Sony, maker of Walkman portable music players and PlayStation game consoles, introduced a plan on Thursday for turning around the struggling Japanese electronics giant that will cut 10,000 jobs – about 6.5 percent of its work force – as well as shed unprofitable products and centralize decision-making in the sprawling group.

But in a possible sign of rough waters still ahead, Sony said it expected to post its first annual loss in more than a decade this year. The company said it now foresaw a loss of ¥10 billion, or $90 million, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2006, down from a previously forecast $90 million profit.

The chief executive, Howard Stringer, released his widely awaited turnaround plan in his first news conference since June, right after taking the helm at Sony. He promised to return Sony to profitability next year, saying the job cuts, product eliminations and other steps like factory closings would save almost $2 billion over the next two and a half years.

But he said that cost-cutting alone was not enough to ensure Sony’s future. The plan also included organizational changes aimed at improving communication between Sony’s notoriously autonomous divisions. Stringer said he hoped this cross-fertilization would lead to new products, allowing Sony to stay ahead of low-cost rivals in China and South Korea, which are quickly climbing up the technology ladder.

“We must be like the Russians defending Moscow from Napoleon, scorching the earth ahead of our competitors,” he told reporters.


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