Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dell XPS 10

If you think you need to carry all of your digital files (especially videos and multimedia) with you at all times, stop reading this and go read a review for a more power user-oriented system. Still here? Okay, the Dell XPS 10 ($679.99 bundled with keyboard dock) has one of the longest battery life test results we've seen. You can use this convertible tablet on the longest flight in the world, and still have battery power left over to check your email when you land. An even better use would be for a busy student or business corridor nomad who rarely has a chance to plug in: 20+ hours of battery life means that you can stay connected all day and well into the night. If "Office and the Internet" are your primary needs on a computer, then our new (and first) Editors' Choice winner for Windows RT tablets is the everyday computer you can carry everywhere.

Design and Features
The XPS 10 follows the now familiar hybrid tablet format. Primarily, it's a slate tablet, measuring a slim 0.36 by 11 by 7 inches (HWD) and weighing 1.36 pounds. Connected to its keyboard dock, the system grows to just under an inch thick (0.94 inch) while keeping its other dimensions, and the combo weighs in at 2.63 pounds.

Like other tablets, the XPS 10 is constructed from magnesium alloy and has a soft touch finish. The screen is covered by seamless Asahi Dragontail glass, and has a five-point touch capability. (Asahi Dragontail glass is a strengthened glass competitor to Corning's Gorilla Glass.) The tablet latches to the keyboard dock easily, and can be removed just as easily by pushing a sliding tab on the keyboard dock hinge. When the two are connected, the XPS 10 looks and acts like a small laptop, with a comfortable keyboard and one-piece multitouch trackpad.

Around the edges of the XPS 10 are the tablet's docking/charging connector, a micro-USB port (with included full sized USB port dongle), volume control, micro-SD card slot, and headset jack. The keyboard dock has a pair of USB 2.0 ports, a mini-HDMI port (with included mini-HDMI to full HDMI dongle), and charging port. You can plug the AC adapter into the dock or the tablet's docking connector for charging, one AC adapter is included with the tablet, and one with the keyboard dock ($180). Since you have both chargers, you can leave one at home and carry the other with you in your travel bag. If you're in a pinch, you can use a standard micro-USB cable and USB charger to recharge or power the XPS 10, albeit at a slow trickle rate.

One nicety we found during testing are the keyboard dock's built-in speakers. When the tablet is used alone, the sound is fine for Web surfing and alert sounds. When you connect the keyboard dock, the speakers in the dock work in concert with the speakers in the tablet to give you a louder, richer audio experience. The combo won't replace an external soundbar for critical viewing/listening, but with this combo you won't have to turn on closed captioning to understand what's going on (in dialogue-heavy movies), especially if you're sharing the screen with a friend.

The XPS 10's IPS screen measures 10.1 inches (diagonally), which matches the screen size of its other hybrid docking tablet rival, the Asus VivoTab RT. Both screens are physically smaller than the 10.6-inch screen on the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, even though all three screens sport a 1,366-by-768 resolution. The XPS 10's IPS screen is easily viewable from many angles, and its resolution supports 720p HD video. Any 1080p HD video can be downscaled for viewing on the system's screen, but it's a better viewing experience to watch 720p videos natively instead.

Accelerometers make sure the screen is always pointing "up" whether you are holding the system in portrait or landscape mode. Taps and swipes on the screen were responsive, as were the controls on the physical keyboard dock and trackpad. The responsive trackpad is an improvement over the VivoTab RT and even some ultrabooks like the Vizio 14-Inch Thin + Light (CT14-A4) .

There are two major drawbacks with Windows RT: compatibility and the closed ecosystem. Since the XPS 10 and other RT-based systems run a version of Windows over an ARM processor (the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4), older programs are not compatible with RT. The only source for programs is the Windows Store in the system's Start screen. You can't download and install your favorite browser, you can't buy programs from a third party site (like Steam or Origin), and you can't install many browser plug-ins either. The one plus on the program side is that the system comes with Microsoft Office 2013 RT (Home and Student) pre-loaded, and that the system is somewhat protected from viruses (through Windows Defender and the fact that x86 code won't run on it).

The system is bloatware free, since the only pre-loaded programs are Office, Skype, Dell Shop (physical products from Dell), Getting Started with Windows RT (a help program), and Dell dock settings. Getting Started with Windows RT is a good set of videos and documentation to help new users learn how to use Windows RT and the new user interface. When we pulled the XPS 10 out of its box, we noticed that it only has 15.9GB free out of a 23.8GB indicated. This means that you better view most of videos from online, as you won't have too much local storage unless you pop a microSD card into the XPS 10. Still, 16 GB should be enough for Office files like Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. You can also use Microsoft's SkyDrive for cloud storage.

When connected to the Web, the XPS 10 is an excellent tool. Internet Explorer starts up quickly, and websites load quickly as well. Programs like Netflix and Hulu+ work as you'd expect. However, as stated above, the number of Windows RT compatible apps is still severely limited compared with those for Android Tablets and iPads. About the only thing that RT tablets have over the other mobile platforms are the fully compatible copy of Office and the fact that the OS on RT tablets acts like a typical Windows OS. The XPS 10 comes with a one-year warranty standard with options for extending that warranty through Dell's ProSupport service.

Because of its ARM-based processor, the Dell XPS doesn't run our Windows benchmark tests like 3DMark 11 or PCMark 7. The test that we can run is one of the most important: battery life. The XPS 10 lasts a staggering 11 hours and 34 minutes alone, and tops 20-and-a-half hours (20:36) when connected to its fully charged keyboard dock. This is a phenomenal amount of battery life. It's certainly enough to last the whole flight between virtually any two nonstop points on the planet (currently the Newark to Singapore flight SQ21, at 18 hours, 50 minutes). This means the XPS 10 and dock last a lot longer than the Asus VivoTab RT with its dock (16:03) or alone (9:37). The XPS 10 also outlasted the Microsoft Surface RT (7:45). While all of the RT tablets outlast laptops and tablets with ultrabook-class processors like the Microsoft Surface Pro (4:58), Atom-powered tablets can give you full Windows 8 compatibility and long battery life like the Dell Latitude 10 (19:38 with extended battery).

Essentially, it comes down to what you need out of your tablet. If you need the ultimate in portability and don't care at all about compatibility with Windows, then grab an iPad or Google Nexus 7. If you absolutely, positively need legacy program support or Windows 8 Pro compatibility, then a full-blown Windows 8 tablet like the Editors' Choice Dell Latitude 10 or Microsoft Surface Pro is worth the added expense. However, if you need insanely long battery life and your critical "Windows compatibility" needs are limited to Office documents, then you can get a Windows RT tablet like the Dell XPS 10. It's one of the better RT tablets we've seen so far, and our new Editors' Choice for Windows RT tablets.

Compare the Dell XPS 10 with several other laptops side by side.

More laptop reviews:
??? Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
??? Dell XPS 10
??? Dell Latitude 10
??? MSI GT70 One-609US Dragon Edition
??? Microsoft Surface Windows 8 Pro
?? more



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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bentley says sequestration could cost Alabama 24,000 jobs; Huntsville would be hit hardest

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Finmeccanica defends helicopter deal with India

(AP) Italian company Finmeccanica said Saturday that it complied with the law in its $750 million deal to sell helicopters to India amid allegations that bribes were paid to obtain the contract.

India's Defense Ministry said Friday that it had put the deal to purchase the 12 helicopters on hold and sent a notice to Finmeccanica's AgustaWestland helicopter division seeking cancellation of the agreement. The company was given a week to respond to the notice.

AgustaWestland said in a statement Saturday that it would reply within a week. It also said it was "confident" it would demonstrate "full compliance" with the law.

India launched an investigation into the 560 million euro ($750 million) deal after Finmeccanica's chief executive was arrested in Milan on Tuesday on charges he paid bribes to obtain the contract.

India signed the contract with AgustaWestland in February 2010. Three of the helicopters were delivered in December.

Giuseppe Orsi, the recently removed CEO of Finmeccanica, and Bruno Spagnolini, chief of AgustaWestland, are being investigated on corruption charges involving business done in India.

Indian Defense Ministry officials have said the contract includes an integrity clause against bribery or the use of undue influence. Under the terms of the clause, if any person or the company is found to have bribed officials or made any kind of payoff, the agreement can be scrapped and the firm blacklisted.

This is not the first time that a defense deal in India has been mired in allegations that a company paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to Indian officials. In the 1980s, then-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's government collapsed over charges that the Swedish gun manufacturer Bofors AB paid bribes to supply Howitzer field guns to the Indian army.

Following the Bofors scandal, India banned middlemen in all defense deals.

Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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Saturday, February 16, 2013

New Mexico police seek man suspected of throwing semen at women

FARMINGTON - Farmington police are looking for a man suspected of either ejaculating or throwing semen onto at least two women at a local Walmart on separate occasions.

Police say the man, who investigators have not identified, appears to arbitrarily choose his female victims.

Read more on the suspect at the Farmington Daily Times.


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Friday, February 15, 2013

Baby, 10-Year-Old Pit Bull, Saves Family And Its Dogs From Fire ...

A 10-year-old pit bull named Baby rescued a family and its dogs not once, but twice, during a house fire.

On Tuesday, Rhonda Westenberger and her sister, Evelyn, were sleeping when their Wellston, Okla., home of 17 years began filling with smoke and flames, KOCO reports.

Immediately, their pit bull, Baby, began barking and pounced on them until they woke up.

"There were flames shooting down the hallway," Westenberger told KOCO in the video above. "If Baby hadn't woken Evelyn up, I don't think either one of us would have come out of it."

The sisters managed to run out, but five dogs were stuck inside the house. Baby rushed back inside and rescued them.

"There was one hiding underneath the bed," family member Charles Land told KOCO. "Baby actually went in there grabbed it by the neck and drug it outside."

Despite losing everything, the family says the pit bull is keeping them hopeful.

"It brings my spirit up a lot to see the dogs," said Westenberger. "I'm so proud of her. She is my hero. She's the hero for all of us."


Read the entire story on KOCO here.

H/T: Fark

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Exactly Why Is President Obama Going to Israel?

Both Israel and the United States seek to quash expectations that the visit will jump-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he and U.S. President Barak Obama have agreed that when the U.S. President visits Israel they would discuss ?three main issues ... Iran's attempt to arm itself with nuclear weapons, the unstable situation in Syria ... and the efforts to advance the diplomatic process of peace between the Palestinians and us," that?s not exactly what others are saying in either Washington or Tel Aviv.

As soon was announced that the President would be visiting the Middle East, supporters of the policies of the Netanyahu government went into overdrive in an effort to throw cold water on any idea that the diplomatic mission could achieve any breakthrough in the Israeli-Palestinian ?peace process.?

?While the US ambassador to Israel said today that Mr. Obama would visit the country with an ?urgent? mission to revive peace negotiations, Israeli diplomats said talks with Benjamin Netanyahu would focus on Iran,? reported the British daily Telegraph. ?The peace process may be the subject that is initially emphasized in public but there are other issues on the table that must be addressed before the summer,? one diplomat told the paper, alluding to Israel's spring deadline for Iran to stop enriching uranium. ?The deal they will have done may be on the subject of war, not of peace.?

?There are currently bigger and much more urgent issues to address than the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,? one Israeli official told the Telegraph.

To say the U.S. moved quickly to squash any expectation that the President?s visit to the Middle East might move toward resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be an understatement. At a press briefing February 6, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that ?this is a trip the President looks forward to making that is timed in part because we have here obviously a second term for the President, a new administration, and a new government in Israel, and that's an opportune time for a visit like this that is not focused on specific Middle East peace process proposals. I'm sure that any time the President and Prime Minister have a discussion, certainly any time the President has a discussion with leaders of the Palestinian Authority, that those issues are raised. But that is not the purpose of this visit.?

Writing in Foreign Policy magazine, national security and foreign policy commentator Josh Rogin quoted former Congressman Robert Wexler, the president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, as saying, "I don't think it would be prudent to raise expectations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The trip is about Israeli security in the face of Iran's nuclear program and in the context of the violence and conflict in Syria. Certainly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an important part of that, but I don't think it would be accurate to highlight the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over other aspects of the relationship."

All of this would seem to raise the question: why is he going?

In response to the demands of the Republicans and rightwing supporters of the Netanyahu government that he make such a pilgrimage? Not likely.

To bolster the standing of Netanyahu following the shellacking he and his Likud party suffered in the recent Israeli parliamentary elections? That has been suggested by Israeli critics of government policy.

To engage the embattled regime of Jordan?s King Abdullah II, with whom Obama will also meet after the visit to Israel, as some have suggested? That last suggestion is not farfetched. One element largely overlooked so far in the discussion about Obama?s visit next month is that he will also visit Amman.

?With the region already in flames ? Egypt no longer a reliable US partner, and Syria in utter chaos ? stability in the Hashemite Kingdom and the survivability of King Abdullah II is a crucial interest not only to Israel, but to the US,? wrote Keinon in the Jerusalem Post,? adding that Obama?s visit to Amman ?and the signal that sends of US support for Abdullah ? is not insignificant.? Evidence that Washington is concerned about the stability of the Jordanian regime has been around for some time.

Last October, the U.S. rushed troops to the Jordan-Syria border to bolster that country's military capabilities. One hundred military planners and others are already on the scene, operating from a joint U.S.-Jordanian military center, and the U.S. forces are said to be building another base for themselves. U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the move was prompted by developments in adjacent Syria.?

On January 28, Abdullah II met with Khaled Mashaal, leader of the Palestinian political movement Hamas for the third time in one year. Abdullah is said to have told Mashaal that direct negotiations with Israel and the creation of a timetable for the two-state solution are ?the only way to achieve security and stability in the Middle East.? Mashaal was reported to have said later that he and the king had discussed the inner-Palestinian reconciliation and examined the Palestinian issue and its future in light of the then upcoming U.S. and Israeli elections.

Mashaal, a Jordanian citizen, was exiled from the country in 1999, accused of being a risk to Jordan?s security.

During the meeting the king expressed his support of the inter-Palestinian reconciliation attempt, saying it forms the basis to bolster the Palestinian people's unity and that only through unity could they achieve their legitimate rights, including a Palestinian state's establishment.

Last year, Abdullah II met twice with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

On the other hand, there has been some speculation that there is, indeed, agreement between Washington and Tel Aviv on an approach to the Palestinian question. It?s called ?get Israel and the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.? That?s the way U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro put it last week.

Herb Keinon, diplomatic correspondent for the Jerusalem Post, wrote February 8 that the U.S. ?is looking for something from Jerusalem to dangle in front of the Palestinians and thereby bring the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table.?

It didn?t dangle long.

A headline two days later said it all: ?Israel approves new settler homes ahead of Obama visit.?

It?s hard to get more provocative than that.

In defiance of international law that bars an occupying power transferring citizens from its own territory to occupied territory ? and overwhelming world public opinion ?? the Netanyahu regime has decided to build additional 90 units ? the first of a planned 300 unites ? in the Bet El illegal settlement, just east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, the majority Christian capital of the Palestinian Authority.

?The advancement of this program could overshadow Obama?s visit,? said Yariv Oppenheimer, a spokesman for Peace Now, an Israeli group that opposes settlement construction to the media. ?This is a misguided and ill-timed decision.?

Misguided it was but there is little reason to think the timing was unintentional.

One idea being floated in the Israeli media (but so far disavowed by the government) is that Netanyahu has offered to suspend settlement activity in the West Bank, except in Jerusalem and around existing colonial blocks.

?While there are no guarantees, it is hard to believe that if Netanyahu made such an offer, and Obama and his new Secretary of State John Kerry pushed hard on Ramallah, PA President Mahmoud Abbas would reject it,? Keinon wrote February 8. ?And one of the arguments likely to be used in prodding the Palestinians is that a failure to accept the offer, a continued refusal to reenter talks, could have negative repercussions on an already precarious Jordan.?

?The Palestinian position is clear,? Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in response to the new Beit El construction. ?There can be no negotiation while settlement continues."

The Secretary-General of Palestinian People's Party Bassam al-Salhi told the news agency Ma'an that Obama?s visit may create the "illusion" of returning to negotiations, but would have no impact on the peace process. Jamal Muhaisen, a member of the Central Committee of the Palestinian political party Fatah, said negotiations can resume only when Israel fulfills its previous commitments under international law and stops settlement construction on occupied land.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official with the Palestine Liberation Organization and member of the Palestinian National Council, said she and other Palestinians would welcome Obama?s visit ?if it signals an American promise to become an honest and impartial peace broker?which requires decisive curbs on Israeli violations and unilateral measures, particularly settlement activity and the annexation of Jerusalem, as well as its siege and fragmentation policies.?

?Negotiating in good faith means you don?t place preconditions,? Netanyahu recently told a group of settlers. ?In the last four years, the Palestinians have regrettably placed preconditions time after time, precondition after precondition. My hope is that they leave these preconditions aside and get to the negotiating table so we don?t waste another four years.? Well, not exactly. The chief impediment to achieving a solution to the conflict has been and remains the Israeli governments continued colonial expansion. While Netanyahu?s rightwing Likud party didn?t do as well as it had expected to in the last election, gains were made by coalition partners even further to the right who oppose a Palestinian state and advocate outright annexation of major parts of the West Bank.

?Should we be happy or not?? Israeli writer Uri Avnery asked last week, concerning the upcoming visit of the U.S President. Writing from Tel Aviv in Counterpunch, he answered: ?Depends. If it is a consolation prize for Netanyahu after his election setback, it is a bad sign. The first visit of a US President since George Bush Jr. is bound to strengthen Netanyahu and reinforce his image as the only Israeli leader with international stature.

But if Obama is coming with the intention of exerting serious pressure on Netanyahu to start a meaningful peace initiative, welcome.

Netanyahu will try to satisfy Obama with "opening peace talks." Which means nothing plus nothing.

Yes. Let?s talk. "Without preconditions." Which means: without stopping settlement expansion. Talk and go on talking, until everyone is blue in the face and both Obama?s and Netanyahu?s terms are over.

?But if Obama is serious this time, it could be different,? wrote Avnery, a founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, who has been advocating a two-state solution for decades. ?An American or international blueprint for the realization of the two-state solution, with a strict timetable. Perhaps an international conference, for starters. A UN resolution without an American veto.?

Carl Bloice, a member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, is a columnist for the Black Commentator, where he serves on its editorial board. His writing can also be found at Left Margin.?


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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Perch exposed to human anti-anxiety drugs become isolated, aggressive - study

BOSTON (Reuters) - Wild perch living in water tainted with a commonly prescribed human anti-anxiety drug aggressively feed, shun other fish and become careless, according to the results of a study presented at a meeting of scientists on Thursday.

"We knew there was a pharmaceutical that was present in the environment that had behavioral-changing capabilities in humans, but what could this do to fish?" said chemist Jerker Fick of Umea University in Sweden.

The findings highlighted the potential ecological implications of even trace amounts of psychiatric pharmaceuticals that are excreted in human urine and survive wastewater treatment plant processes, scientists told a meeting in Boston of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

For the experiment, scientists divided 75 wild European perch into three groups. One group lived in clean water. The second group's water had low concentrations of Oxazepam, a commonly prescribed medication used to treat anxiety in humans.

The concentration was similar to what is found in waterways downstream from sewage treatment plants.

The third group's water had 500 times the amount of Oxazepam typically found in waterways. After a week, the fish were subjected to routine behavioral tests.

"Before we exposed the perch to the drug they were all very shy. They were not taking any risks at all basically. After exposure, they were swimming around much more, like they were unconcerned, and they were not as social. They just wanted to swim on their own. Some even avoided schools as much as possible," lead researcher Tomas Brodin, also with Umea University, told Reuters.

Fish exposed to Oxazepam also became more aggressive feeders, he said.

"I have no doubt that the behavioral effects we see are true and that they are potentially going on as we speak," Brodin said.

"This is a global issue," he added. "We find these concentrations (of psychiatric drugs) or close to them, all over the world."

The scientists plan to expand the study to look at the wider ecological effects of Oxazepam and to understand on a molecular level what happens to perch that are exposed to the drug.

The research appears in this week's Science magazine.

(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Tom Brown, Toni Reinhold)


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Trusted Shops: 38 per cent growth in sales in 2012 | Ecommerce ...

Published by David Russell on February 13, 2013

With more than 14,000 certified online shops in Europe, Trusted Shops has reinforced its position as the European trustmark over the past year and has expanded its market leadership in the online trustmark sector.?In the process,the company has recorded an above-average growth in sales in the core markets of the UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain and Poland.?Overall, the company has grown by 38 per cent year-on-year.?Founder and managing director Jean-Marc No?l has announced his intention to enter new European markets in 2013.

The consistent development of the international business and the continuous optimisation of internal processes are the key growth drivers here. For example, activities in Spain and the UK were expanded in 2012.?In the UK Trusted Shops has joined forces with IMRG, the industry association for British online retailers, and the associated ISIS trustmark (Internet Shopping is Safe). The assimilation of the entire ISIS customer base with the Trusted Shops Quality Criteria will be completed in July 2013.

Trusted Shops? road to success is also apparent in its workforce. The company has increased its number of staff to more than 160.?At the beginning of 2012, the staff numbered 120 but this has been increased by more than 30 per cent over the course of the year. Most of the new staff were recruited in the certification department. In this area, more than 30 business lawyers deal with the auditing and monitoring of the online shops.

Ulrich Hafenbradl,??founder and managing director, said:

?We have assembled a team of experts to help us guarantee the high standards of our quality criteria during the auditing process outside Germany as well. We intend to employ native speakers who have specialised in their particular country?s national e-commerce and consumer protection legislation for each of our markets.?

Success model to be rolled out further on an international level

Jean-Marc No?l added:

?Our goal is to establish Trusted Shops as the European e-commerce trustmark. This is the reason we intend to continue investing in new countries. This year will mark the launch of business in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands.?

Since 2013, Trusted Shops has also been carrying out audits in all other EU countries.?To this end, a criteria catalogue based on current EU legislation was developed. With this, Trusted Shops actively supports the efforts of the EU to promote cross-border purchasing on the internet through the harmonisation in consumer protection and e-commerce legislation.

A further building block for successful expansion within Europe is the acquisition of other internationally renowned trademarks.?In this respect, last year saw new customers such as limango, asos, Butlers and GAP, who joined existing customers Zalando, Bon Prix, redcoon and Topdeq.

Managing director Thomas Karst explained:

?Trustmarks are an integral part of digital brand management. Even major brands optimise their business model by implementing trust-building measures such as trustmarks, guarantees and seller ratings. They particularly need these elements in international online retail as they, too, are competing against the small niche suppliers.?


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About That Twitter Thing I Did That Has Tons of Techies Mad at Me

Finance journalist Teri Buhl writes about getting sucked into a blog war and about what is considered "fair use" when you post something on the internet.

Note: Comments may take a few minutes to show up on this page. If you go to the forum thread, however, you can see them immediately.


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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mad Catz F.R.E.Q. 5 Gaming Headset

Mad Catz has been making gaming headsets for a few years, but mostly products under its Tritton brand with products like the Tritton AX 180. Cyborg, previously known as Saitek Cyborg, was always a brand for PC and gaming peripherals, not audio products. The Mad Catz Cyborg F.R.E.Q. 5 is surprising not only because it's a Cyborg-branded gaming headset, but because it's a very well-made one with excellent bass response. At $149.99 (direct) it's expensive for a wired stereo headset for the PC and Mac, and its high-end suffers because of the powerful bass. But its great build quality, easy setup, and smartphone compatibility make it a solid choice if you don't mind spending some cash.

The headset is solid without feeling uncomfortable, consisting of "tough yet lightweight" (but unidentified) metal components, including a sturdy headband and light, matte arms connecting the cups. The white plastic shell and rubber and foam padding give the headset enough bulk to make it easy to handle without sitting too heavily on the head. The earcups turn to face flat and the microphone is flexible, but otherwise the headset isn't particularly portable. The earcups are vaguely pierogi-shaped, and fit comfortably around my large ears.

Like most other gaming headsets, the F.R.E.Q. 5 has controls on the earcups. The right earcup holds a volume wheel tucked on the lower side, and the left earcup holds microphone mute and equalizer buttons. The mute button turns on a light on the microphone itself so you know it's muted, which is slightly counterintuitive (you'd expect an active mic to have a light and a muted mic to be dark or blinking). The equalizer button toggles between Gaming, Music, and Chat equalizer presets.

For a gaming headset, the F.R.E.Q. 5 is easy to set up. It has a short cable with a mini USB connection on the end, which can then be connected to a two-meter cable with a full USB connection for hooking it up to your computer or a one-meter cable with a 3.5mm audio connection. The connector supports smartphones, and you can use the headset for phone calls as well as listening to music or playing mobile games. It doesn't work with game consoles, but the smartphone support on top of the PC support makes it a very useful headset.

Mad Catz Cyborg F.R.E.Q. 5The F.R.E.Q. 5 uses 50mm drivers in each earcup, quite large for gaming headsets. It's a stereo headset, so there's only one driver in each ear and you don't get any simulated surround sound. But this isn't a problem, as even surround-sound headsets with discrete drivers offer poor surround imaging compared to a speaker system. Without the acoustics to get directional audio sources to bounce around, you can't get a sense of direction that's particularly better than a well-tuned stereo headset.

I used the F.R.E.Q. 5 to play some Team Fortress 2, and I was generally satisfied with the sound quality. The three equalizer settings sound suitably different, with Chat bringing out dialog and Gaming bringing out bass. However, there's no easy way to see which equalizer setting you're on; the settings are flipped through with a button, and there are no visual or audio cues besides the game sounding slightly different in each mode. When playing, I tapped the button until I noticed the bass pump up to get a sense of the Gaming feature. Explosions sounded loud and full, but treble and dialog sounded a bit fuzzy. Chat and Music offered a flatter bass response, and more importantly a better sense of team chat thanks to more prominent treble (in Chat) and midrange (in Music). The microphone works very well for voice chat and phone calls. My voice came through clearly in a test phone call, and the mic picked up everything I said through the computer.

The equalizer settings don't seem to work with the 3.5mm cord and a smartphone, but the F.R.E.Q. 5 still sounds very good. Queen's "Seven Seas of Rhye" brought out very clear and natural piano sound in the intro, and while the vocals were overcome by the drums and guitar, it was still easy to make out the lyrics (and some equalizer setting changes on my phone brought them out further with some treble boosting). Our bass test track, The Knife's "Silent Shout," was reproduced with heavy bass that didn't distort at maximum volume, a credit to the headset's robust 50mm drivers. Overwhelming bass is unsurprising on a gaming headset, where explosions and action scenes are the emphasis over music playback. But the F.R.E.Q. 5 is still capable as a cell phone headset or media player headphones?if not $150 audiophile-quality headphones capable, if you were to spend as much on a dedicated, mic-free, non-gaming headset.

For a wired, stereo gaming headset, the Mad Catz Cyborg F.R.E.Q. 5 is a flexible and powerful-sounding accessory for your PC or Mac, with the added and rare benefit of being able to use it with your smartphone (even if it is too bulky to wear on the subway without looking ridiculous). Its $150 price tag is hefty, but justifiable if you want a high-quality PC gaming headset that doubles as a smartphone headset. If you don't mind taking a hit in audio quality for the convenience of wireless audio, the Skullcandy PLYR 2 headset is $20 less. For an even higher-quality, surround sound wired headset, the Editors' Choice Razer Tiamat 7.1 offers better sound quality and a semblance of 7.1-channel surround imaging thanks to its discrete drivers for each channel in each cup. It's not as good as a surround speaker system, but it gives at least some directional sense.

More Headphone Reviews:
??? Skullcandy PLYR 2 Gaming Headset
??? Mad Catz Cyborg F.R.E.Q. 5 Gaming Headset
??? Munitio SV
??? TDK BA100
??? Sennheiser HD 280 Pro
?? more


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Justin Bieber Fans Blame 'Bieber Fever' For Frying Live Stream

After Sunday's live-stream crash, loyal followers gush over new 'You Want Me' track.
By Jocelyn Vena

Justin Bieber
Photo: Alexander Tamargo/ Getty Images


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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How can I recruit top energy sector talent? |

[Editor's note:?Dear Shannon is a career advice column for sustainability professionals and wanna-be professionals. If you have a question for Shannon, send it to her at Let us know your thoughts on the column in the comments section below.]

Dear Shannon,

I am the new director of energy and carbon for a large telecom company and have quite a big team structure with an energy budget of around $50 million per year. I know that the jobs market is competitive right now, but I still have trouble recruiting top talent for energy roles. Part of the challenge is the required coordination with our HR department. Could you advise me on how to structure a tool and process to help HR help me recruit and hire up-and-coming leaders in the energy sector?

??Sandra, London

Hi Sandra,

You have a considerable budget, so it is clear you already have board level buy-in and a mature energy program to propel forward. Your relationship with your internal business partners is crucial to your success as a leader within your company???the most important asset you have to deliver is your people.?

Despite being seen as "overhead," HR departments hold a lot of power as they are the gatekeepers to finding, developing and keeping top talent. Your investment in creating a collaborative and personable relationship with HR will serve you well, far beyond the recruitment of new leaders in the energy sector.?

To be truly effective, however, I need to stress that it will take considerable time and resources from you and your team. Below I outline five steps that will help you maximize your long-term recruitment success.

1. Seek to synergize with HR?

As with any sustainability strategy or journey, being able to influence and negotiate are key skills for senior leadership. You need to create the time to build a longer-term relationship with HR, both with HR leadership and the HR team. Start with some time outside the office for lunch or a coffee to understand how that HR director or team member is hardwired on a personal basis. Turn him or her into your champion, your friend first.?

Then have a one-hour interactive planning meeting to map out and brainstorm what is important to HR in the process of hiring of top talent. To many HR staff, you are the (internal) client with a need that they are trying to meet, and they are likely to be under pressure with many balls in the air from other departments all at the same time. They may be surprised that you care about their priorities (to post jobs, shuffle through piles of resumes, schedule interviews) and this extra attention and care could give you a competitive advantage as a "preferred client" in the context of their competing priorities.

Next, help them to understand your top five drivers or needs in the recruitment process and communicate clearly that you would like HR to deliver actively with you, not for you.?

Maintain this casual, clear dialogue by keeping connected and communicating every few weeks. This will help HR staff keep your needs in the front of their minds, without you coming across as demanding.

Next page: Keep your ear to the ground


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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Karama organization in partnership with UN Women opens groundbreaking consultation on gender equality and human rights in Amman, Jordan

Leading women activists from Syria, Libya, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen and Egypt among those attending UN Women sponsored two day event calling for tolerance and solidarity.

Amman, Jordan (PRWEB) February 10, 2013

The Karama organization announced today it has chosen Amman, Jordan to hold its first regional dialogue of 2013 titled, ?The Arab Regional Consultation on Gender Equality: Freedom, Tolerance and Solidarity: A Call from the women in the Arab Region.? In making the announcement Karama founder Hibaaq Osman said, ?Events in this region continue to dictate the need for women?s voices to be included equally in the transitional process. Women make up 50 percent of society, but women are still not where they need to be in terms of key decision making and equal representation. In convening this meeting we are ensuring societies are more reflective of the mutual goals, respect and trust we all adhere to.? The three day consultation begins today, February 10th, 2013 and is being held in conjunction with UN Women.

During the consultation, participants will ascertain the precise indicators for more gender inclusive Millennium Development Goals [MDGs] in the Arab region, and in doing so formulate a body of shared goals and indicators that they will lobby for with their governments. The report will ensure national criteria?s and indicators for civil society organizations to monitor the proper implantation by government to follow up on the new MDG?s that are based on human rights and gender equality.

The UN Millennium Development Goals were first addressed in 2000, when member States resolved as part of the Millennium Declaration ?To promote gender equality and the empowerment of women?and to combat all forms of violence against women and elimination of all forms of discrimination against women? and established eight key goals, which range from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015.

Dr Sameera Al Tuwaijiri, Regional Director of UN Women said the conference is important as, ?The Arab region with its transitional status will need, more than ever, a sustainable path towards development that ensure equal rights and opportunities for its citizens. A path to sustainable development starts by a healthy, educated, economically empowered and politically represented woman who can and will contribute to the welfare of the current and future generations."

Women from nine different countries will gather in working sessions for brainstorming sessions with participants which include experts from civil society, academics, politics, business and other NGO?s with expertise in the gender quality and human rights fields. The outcome will be a report on how women in the Arab region see a gender perspective best apply to the upcoming 2015 MDGs. Issues being addressed include: complete gender mainstreaming in all public bodies; equal pay for women; application of international standards as stated in the UN and regional conventions; and the inclusion of women in sustainable development management committees.

Among those attending the conference are leading Syrian activists, who recently launched the ?Syrian Women?s Forum for Peace.? Jordan is currently home to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees.

For those wishing to attend or request media interviews please email NH(at)nicollahewitt(dot)com and visit

Nicolla Hewitt
Nicolla Hewitt Communications
Email Information


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Quvenzhan? Wallis In Talks To Do 'Annie' Remake

Black Film:

According to EW, Beasts of the Southern Wild actress and Oscar nominee Quvenzhan? Wallis in talks to do Sony?s upcoming remake of the Broadway musical Annie.

Read the whole story at Black Film

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Facebookmageddon: Apparent Bug On Facebook Brings Down Parts Of Internet

A Facebook bug that briefly brought parts of the Internet to its knees has been resolved, Facebook told The Huffington Post in an email on Thursday evening.

"For a short period of time, there was a bug that redirected people from third party sites with Facebook Login to The issue was quickly resolved," Facebook said.

But for about half an hour, lots of people on Twitter and several editors in the Huffington Post's New York office reported that, while surfing the web, they were suddenly re-directed to a Facebook error page. For example, clicking on stories on the HuffPost front page during that time bounced some people over to the Facebook page seen in the image below:


This was apparently happening from several websites, including, Reuters, Soundcloud and Business Insider, among others.

Buzzfeed reports that the issue affected only people who were logged into Facebook.

The Next Web speculates that the issue could have stemmed from Facebook Connect, which lets Facebook users connect their accounts with third party websites.

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cut the Rope celebrates the Chinese New Year with new Lantern Box

In celebration of the Chinese New Year, Cut the Rope has been updated with a new Lantern Box featuring 25 new levels. In these new levels, Chillingo has introduced new floating paper lanterns as the new gameplay element.

What do you think of the new levels? Have you earned 5 stars in all 25 of them, yet?


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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Video: Timbuktu comes back to life

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Hungry black hole spawns bizarre four-armed galaxy

Where most spiral galaxies have two twisting arms, a neighbor of the Milky Way is a four-armed monster. A new photo snapped by the Hubble Space Telescope, combined with observations by amateur astronomers, reveals these arms in stunning detail.

The galaxy Messier 106 lies about 20 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major (the Great Bear).?Hubble scientists released a?video of the four-armed galaxy?in addition to the new photo.

Beneath its pretty pink appearance, Messier 106 is harboring a monster black hole that is hungrily gobbling up matter at the galaxy's center.

This?black hole, scientists say, may be the key to the galaxy's mysterious extra arms.?

Spiral arms are bands of material that swirl out from the center of?spiral galaxies. Most spiral galaxies have two, but Messier 106 has four. In addition to its prominent pair of main arms made of stars, this galaxy has two thinner wisps of reddish gas spiraling from its center.

These extra arms are thought to be a result of the galaxy's central black hole, which produces two jets of material ejecting from the cloud of matter falling into it. These jets, in turn, disrupt and heat up the gas in the galaxy, causing the denser gas in the galactic plane to shine brightly. At the center of the galaxy, where gas is tightly bound, the arms appear to be straight, but on the outskirts, where the gas is held more loosely, it is blown above or below the main plane of the galaxy's disk, and curves outward.

These arms appear bright pink in the new photo, which combines images captured by Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys, Wide Field Camera 3, and Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, with ground-based observations taken by amateur astronomers Robert Gendlerand Jay GaBany. Gendler assembled his and GaBany's photos with archived?Hubble Space Telescope?data to create the new portrait.

Follow Clara Moskowitz on Twitter?@ClaraMoskowitz?or We're also on?Facebook?&?Google+.?

Copyright 2013, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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Monday, February 4, 2013

Amazing Video of Blind Skateboarder Wows the Web

Skateboarding is an extreme sport that takes a tremendous amount of skill, balance, coordination, and fearlessness. Now the world is being introduced to skateboarder Tommy Carroll who has all of that, and then some. Carroll was born with retinal cancer, which left him blind at the age of 2. His lack of sight didn't keep him from his passions, whether it is playing the drums or hitting the halfpipes. He spent hours honing his skateboarding skills and learning to assess his moves by listening to the sounds of his wheels on different surfaces.

A video of Carroll on Vimeo has been viewed more than 500,000 times. It's part of the Dutch retailer Perry Sport's "Be Brave Be Safe" campaign to bring awareness to the importance of wearing protective gear while skateboarding. Says Carroll, "Everybody should know that everything happens for a reason, and that there is always a way to overcome an obstacle if you really want it enough." He plans to take the initiative one step further by setting up a skateboarding club to promote protective gear at Northwestern University, where he is a sophomore.

Do you know anyone who has overcome a physical obstacle? Let us know on Facebook page or by following us on Twitter @YahooTrending


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Build It + Home Improvement - March 2013 (HQ PDF) Download All ...

Build It + Home Improvement - March 2013 (HQ PDF)

Build It + Home Improvement - March 2013
English | 180 pages | HQ PDF | 133.00 Mb

The publication gives its readers all the information they need to make their dream home covering self-builds, renovations, conversions, plus a range of home improvement extensions, loft conversions, upgrades and repairs. The magazine is unique because it gives readers the practical advice and guidance required to successfully undertake projects. The editorial demonstrates exactly what to do, provides expert tips from reputable industry insiders on how to do it and clear information on what to buy. Other magazines provide ideas and inspiration but when people graduate from thinking about a project to actually doing it, Build It + Home Improvement comes into its own.

Download: It + Home Improvement 2013-03.pdf




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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Looters steal $200K in coins after hoarder's death

Cars, debris and outbuildings rest on the property where an eccentric man known simply as Radkin lived in Alburgh, Vt., Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. It took months for anyone to discover that Radkin had died in an accident on his land. But four people ? Mark Mumley, Shawn Farrell, Ricky Benjamin and Jennifer Jarvis ? are facing charges for stealing more than $200,000 in gold coins and other items from the property. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

Cars, debris and outbuildings rest on the property where an eccentric man known simply as Radkin lived in Alburgh, Vt., Friday, Feb. 1, 2013. It took months for anyone to discover that Radkin had died in an accident on his land. But four people ? Mark Mumley, Shawn Farrell, Ricky Benjamin and Jennifer Jarvis ? are facing charges for stealing more than $200,000 in gold coins and other items from the property. (AP Photo/Wilson Ring)

In this booking photo released by Vermont State Police, 35year-old Ricky Benjamin of Alburgh, Vt. is seen. Police say more than $200,000 in gold coins were stolen from a vacant home after its eccentric owner died in a farm accident last year. Authorities say four suspects also stole a vehicle, antiques and other items from the home in Alburgh in the months after its owner's death. Benjamin, Mark Mumley, 52, and 41-year-old Shawn Farrell, of Swanton, were arraigned and held on $75,000 bail. (AP Photo/Vermont State Police)

In this booking photo released by Vermont State Police, 52-year-old Mark Mumley, of Alburgh, Vt. is shown. Police say more than $200,000 in gold coins were stolen from a vacant home after its eccentric owner died in a farm accident last year. Authorities say four suspects also stole a vehicle, antiques and other items from the home in Alburgh in the months after its owner's death. Mumley, Ricky Benjamin, 35, and 41-year-old Shawn Farrell, of Swanton, were arraigned and held on $75,000 bail. (AP Photo/Vermont State Police)

In this booking photo released by Vermont State Police, 41-year-old Shawn Farrell, of Swanton, Vt. is seen. Police say more than $200,000 in gold coins were stolen from a vacant home after its eccentric owner died in a farm accident last year. Authorities say four suspects also stole a vehicle, antiques and other items from the home in Alburgh in the months after its owner's death. Farrell, Ricky Benjamin, 35, and Mark Mumley, 52, were arraigned and held on $75,000 bail. A fourth suspect was released after being issued a citation. (AP Photo/Vermont State Police)

This booking photo released by Vermont State Police shows Jennifer Jarvis, 32, of Alburgh, Vt. Authorities said four suspects, including Jarvis, stole items including more than $200,000 in gold coins from a vacant home in Alburgh after its eccentric owner died in a farm accident last year. Jarvis was arrested on Jan. 24, 2013, on charges of burglary and possession and sale of stolen property. (AP Photo/Vermont State Police)

ALBURGH, Vt. (AP) ? It took months for anyone to discover that an eccentric man known simply as Radkin had died, crushed under a tractor-pulled horse trailer on his property on the shores of Lake Champlain in northern Vermont. But it didn't take long for looters to ransack the hoarder's dilapidated house, police say, hauling off antiques, a vehicle, scrap metal and more than $200,000 in gold coins.

Four people, including at least one who police suspect knew the 66-year-old Radkin, are facing charges of stealing the coins and cashing them in at coin and jewelry stores. Police expect to make more arrests.

"We've been watching the looters come and go," said John Fleury of Enosburgh, who has a camp across Route 2 from Radkin's property in Alburgh, which used to belong to the family of Fleury's wife.

He said no one called the police because no one was concerned.

The property includes a dilapidated brick house and outbuildings full to the brim with stuff.

"What it is is a hoarder's house," said Vermont State Police Sgt. Maurice Lamothe, who is investigating the burglaries. "The exterior is covered in outbuildings, cars, trailers and everyone one of them is full, I mean full to the top. I had never been in a hoarder's house prior to this. The rooms, you can't walk through them, you can't walk through any of them."

Charged are Ricky Benjamin, 35, and Mark Mumley, 52, both of Alburgh, and Shawn Farrell, 41, of Swanton, who have significant prior records, Lamothe said. Mumley is being held on $75,000 and Benjamin was released on bail. A fourth suspect ?32-year-old Jennifer Jarvis of Alburgh ? was released after being issued a citation.

Police said Thursday the defendants sold coins ranging in value from $350 to $1,800 to coin and jewelry dealers in another county after allegedly claiming they'd inherited the coins.

But the number of coins coming in was a red flag for one dealer, who called police in September.

So far, investigators say they've recovered $5,000 in coins, which are British sovereign coins.

A friend of Radkin wasn't surprised that he had the coins.

"I'm surprised by how much he had," said Van Powell, mechanical shop manager for the Shelburne Shipyard, where Radkin once worked and adjacent to where he used to live.

"Radkin was inclined to acquire stuff whether he needed it or not. At one point he had five or six MGs, none of them running," he said of the property on Shelburne Point, where Radkin had served as a caretaker. "He had multiple tractors, trucks. He had at least 20 or 30 vehicles; some of them would run, most of them didn't. He had at one point six or seven pianos and he just kept them in the front yard of his house covered with canvasses and I just thought that was odd because he was quite a good musician. He would play the trumpet and the piano."

His house was so full of stuff, a person couldn't really walk through it, Powell said. "You just had to turn sideways," he said.

People either loved Radkin or hated him, he said.

Neighbors had feuded with him in Alburgh, where he had been known to run around his property naked, Fluery said.

"Radkin was very, very rude," he said.

Born Richard A. Burgess in Greenfield, Mass., in 1945, he graduated from Deerfield Academy and later changed his name to just Radkin, and eventually lived as a caretaker on property on Shelburne Point. He worked at Mad River Glen ski area in Fayston at one point. He liked to go to auctions and flea markets and lived off the grid.

"He was an unusual fellow, that's for sure," Powell said.

Radkin had asked the owner of Shelburne Point, a prime piece of land on Lake Champlain, if he could keep his horse there and eventually built a house on wheels and asked if he could keep it there and live it in.

Willard Jackson said he agreed, with some trepidation. "For over 20 years, he was the self-appointed caretaker of Shelburne Point and in the process became a legend," Jackson wrote in an online memorial to Radkin.

Jackson's son said Radkin was told he needed to find another home when the family decided to subdivide the property. He moved 55 miles north to Alburgh, but it took him a number of years to leave the point, moving small amounts at a time, Van Powell said.

When a friend had not heard from or seen Radkin in a while, he called the sheriff's department. His body was found crushed under the trailer last March, in an accident that officials believe happened in December 2011. A memorial gathering was held in Shelburne Point in August.

"He was fiercely independent and, in his later years, lived like a pioneer or as Henry David Thoreau did at Walden Pond. He hardly ever bought anything and was content to make do with what no one else seemed to want. He was a farmer, mechanic, inventor, engineer, philosopher, concerned citizen and loyal friend," Jackson said in his memorial.

The property is now being handled by a lawyer. If the price is right, Fleury would consider buying it.

"I'm thinking I'm going to have quite a remodeling job on my hands," he said.


Rathke reported from Montpelier, Vt.

Associated Press


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Friday, February 1, 2013

The Sandwich Generation -

Old Yesterday, 11:46 AM ? #1

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The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation: Rising Financial Burdens for Middle-Aged Americans

The Sandwich Generation | Pew Social & Demographic Trends

"Nearly half (47%) of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent age 65 or older and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a grown child (age 18 or older). And about one-in-seven middle-aged adults (15%) is providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child.

When survey respondents were asked if adult children have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to an elderly parent in need, fully 75% say yes, they do. Only 23% say this is not an adult child?s responsibility. By contrast, only about half of all respondents (52%) say parents have a responsibility to provide financial assistance to a grown child if he or she needs it. Some 44% say parents do not have a responsibility to do this.

However, the survey suggests that adults in the sandwich generation are just as happy with their lives overall as are other adults. "

How many in this ER community are in the sandwich generation, and contribute substantively to BOTH the parents and grown children? Do you agree with the findings of the Pew study?

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Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old Yesterday, 11:54 AM ? #2

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I fit into all of the above as well as supporting a 30 y/o wife. However, If you ask this question again in a year (2014), I will be 60 and will not be able to respond in the affirmative.

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Old Yesterday, 12:08 PM ? #3

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I'm in that sandwich generation but have no kids and my mom is doing just fine. If my mom needed support I would help to a certain point but I can only do so much. My wife would probably want to help her parents much more but that's their culture.


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Old Yesterday, 12:20 PM ? #4



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Location: New Orleans

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My wife would probably want to help her parents much more but that's their culture.

Culture, and family culture, make a big difference in how we handle these matters. In my family, it is almost unheard of for a parent or grown child to ask for help. But, if a parent or grown child asked for help, we would never refuse.

So, I have never had to give financial assistance to a parent or grown child*. But the other side of that coin is that I never got any help for anything as a grown child, even to pay for college, and I will not ask for any help when I am older.

*other than paying tuition, books, and $500/month partial living expenses for my daughter when she was in college

"Already we are boldly launched upon the deep; but soon we shall be lost in its unshored, harborless immensities." - - H. Melville, 1851

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Old Yesterday, 12:46 PM ? #5

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Pour mustard on my head- I'm sandwiched.

I entered parenting later in life (was 39 and 41 when I had my boys) DH is 10 years older than me. So here I am - looking at balancing ER goals, college funding goals, and dealing with eldercare issues with my in-laws. I have a 10 year old, a 12 year old, and in-laws in crisis who are 86 and 89 years old.

My parents died in the last decade (fortunately they were solvent and lucid till the end.)
But my husbands parents are in need. So far we built a granny flat to help with caregivier needs for them. (FIL is in a wheelchair, MIL doesn't believe in nursing homes or in home help.)

She didn't like living in CA, so she moved them back to where they own a home.

(Fortunately - this frees up the nice little cottage as a rental income stream - helping ER budgets.)

We've already obtained emergency guardianship of FIL - because MIL refused to put him in a home and fired the in-home aides. DH is going for permanent guardianship of BOTH parents later this month. 2 of 3 "experts" (doctor and social worker) agree that MIL has dementia. We're still waiting on the psychologist report. And there is definitely expense associated with all this.

It's stressful. No question about that. Juggling kids needs, parents needs, and trying to navigate family politics as an in-law.

One advantage to being sandwiched... I felt we gave our kids a good role model when we actively helped with caregiving of their grandparents. Having grandparents live in a cottage in our back yard gave them lots of access - but also showed them that family takes care of family. A value I want to pass on to the boys.


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Old Yesterday, 12:51 PM ? #6

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I'm squarely in that demographic. DW and I have a 21 year-old son with more college to go and an 18 year-old son heading to college this coming Fall. Thay both have been full-blown teenage boys, and I will leave it to your imagination to fill in the blanks in terms of the challenges they have presented for DW and I.

We are blessed to have all four parents still in our lives - mine 89 and 86, DW's 83 and 80. They are getting needy. As I type, I am "babysitting" the in-laws while their primary caregiver (DW's sister) is out of town for a few days.

Both sets of parents are in good shape financially (so far). Honestly, they are consuming all the time we can give them though. Between teenagers and and needy elderly parents, DW and I sometimes don't feel like there is enough oxygen in the room, so to speak.........

"Time wounds all heels...." - Groucho Marx

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Old Yesterday, 01:44 PM ? #7

Recycles dryer sheets


Join Date: Nov 2012

Location: Dallas

Posts: 114

I just finished this process with the departure of my 87 year old mother. Tried everything I could in the last few years to get her to move in with DW and me. Even though we all get along great she would not do it. Thankfully, we raise two independent and successful children that have not been much of a burden once they flew away from the nest. Had that not been the case it would have been MUCH HARDER for us to accept a boomerang child than to care for a frail parent.

"A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do" --Bob Dylan.

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Old Yesterday, 03:16 PM ? #10

Dryer sheet wannabe


Join Date: Apr 2011

Posts: 21

Sandwiched but determined to RE anyway. We bought our retirement home early last year in our retirement destination and moved MIL into it. We will join her when I retire from my job this summer and she will stay with us. Four months after that DD boomeranged and is with us and will soon give us our first grandchild and will have to stay with us while she works to regain her independence. DS is doing well in college but lives at home with us to save on room and board.

Wow, not how I envisioned I would enter ER! But, it offers many other opportunities to experience. I read on this site a long time ago, and can't remember where, a post that stated that ER doesn't save you from the ups and downs of life, you just don't have to go to work while you experience them. I think that is great perspective, and I'll embrace ER as I embrace my expanded family -- and as it turns out, my retirement home isn't too big after all!

"Our lives are what our thoughts make them"

Marcus Aurellius

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Old Yesterday, 03:26 PM ? #11

Dryer sheet aficionado


Join Date: Jun 2012

Posts: 49

As my net worth increases my acceptance of the idea that my kids could live at home beyond college or be boomerang kids also increases. I hope that they do not pick up on this because do not think it would be good for them to know this is an option. My kids are pre-teen so I guess it may be a little early to worry about it. I expect to have to help my mom out financially one day and I am OK with that too.



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Old Yesterday, 05:23 PM ? #13

Thinks s/he gets paid by the post


Join Date: Feb 2010

Posts: 2,001

Just a suggestion for any who might benefit from it:

After my father died (in his late 70s), my mother (five years older than he was) decided she no longer had the energy to manager her own affairs, but still wanted independence.

She was still sharp mentally, just tired physically. So she gave me durable power of attorney over everything and put all her accounts in joint ownership with me (JTWROS).

For the rest of her life, she enjoyed not having to deal with any financial matters -- just told me what she wanted and told me to take care of it. She kept one credit card for restaurants and the like, but never saw a bill. When she wanted cash, she just asked me for whatever amount she wanted.

Since I had total control, I invested her money prudently and it was enough to cover her expenses until she died, fifteen years later.

The arrangement worked well. I had a little more work than merely managing my own finances, but I was spared the worry about what would become of hers.

Assuming you are on good terms with your parent(s), I think this is something you might consider bringing up at the right time. In my case, it was totally my mother's idea -- she just felt comfortable turning control over to me.


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Old Today, 07:00 AM ? #17

Recycles dryer sheets


Join Date: Jun 2012

Location: Austin

Posts: 133

I'm 52 with a 7 year old son. My mother is 71, owns her own home outright and lives on SS with a modest reserve in savings.

So I guess I'm a sandwich.


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