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Monday, October 17, 2011

Challenges loom as world population hits 7 billion

She's a 40-year-old mother of eight, with a ninth child due soon. The family homestead in a Burundi village is too small to provide enough food, and three of the children have quit school for lack of money to pay required fees.

"I regret to have made all those children," says Godelive Ndageramiwe. "If I were to start over, I would only make two or three."

At Ahmed Kasadha's prosperous farm in eastern Uganda, it's a different story.

"My father had 25 children — I have only 14 so far, and expect to produce more in the future," says Kasadha, who has two wives. He considers a large family a sign of success and a guarantee of support in his old age.

By the time Ndageramiwe's ninth child arrives, and any further members of the Kasadha clan, the world's population will have passed a momentous milestone. As of Oct. 31, according to the U.N. Population Fund, there will be 7 billion people sharing Earth's land and resources.

In Western Europe, Japan and Russia, it will be an ironic milestone amid worries about low birthrates and aging populations. In China and India, the two most populous nations, it's an occasion to reassess policies that have already slowed once-rapid growth.

But in Burundi, Uganda and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, the demographic news is mostly sobering as the region staggers under the double burden of the world's highest birthrates and deepest poverty. The regional population of nearly 900 million could reach 2 billion in 40 years at current rates, accounting for about half of the projected global population growth over that span.

"Most of that growth will be in Africa's cities, and in those cities it will almost all be in slums where living conditions are horrible," said John Bongaarts of the Population Council, a New York-based research organization.

Is catastrophe inevitable? Not necessarily. But experts say most of Africa — and other high-growth developing nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan — will be hard-pressed to furnish enough food, water and jobs for their people, especially without major new family-planning initiatives.

"Extreme poverty and large families tend to reinforce each other," says Lester Brown, the environmental analyst who heads the Earth Policy Institute in Washington. "The challenge is to intervene in that cycle and accelerate the shift to smaller families."

Without such intervention, Brown says, food and water shortages could fuel political destabilization in developing regions.

"There's quite a bit of land that could produce food if we had the water to go with it," he said. "It's water that's becoming the real constraint."

The International Water Management Institute shares these concerns, predicting that by 2025 about 1.8 billion people will live in places suffering from severe water scarcity.

According to demographers, the world's population didn't reach 1 billion until 1804, and it took 123 years to hit the 2 billion mark in 1927. Then the pace accelerated — 3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1998.

Looking ahead, the U.N. projects that the world population will reach 8 billion by 2025, 10 billion by 2083. But the numbers could be much higher or lower, depending on such factors as access to birth control, infant mortality rates and average life expectancy — which has risen from 48 years in 1950 to 69 years today.

"Overall, this is not a cause for alarm — the world has absorbed big gains since 1950," said Bongaarts, a vice president of the Population Council. But he cautioned that strains are intensifying: rising energy and food prices, environmental stresses, more than 900 million people undernourished.

"For the rich, it's totally manageable," Bongaarts said. "It's the poor, everywhere, who will be hurt the most."

The executive director of the U.N. Population Fund, former Nigerian health minister Babatunde Osotimehin, describes the 7 billion milestone as a call to action — especially in the realm of enabling adolescent girls to stay in school and empowering women to control the number of children they have.

"It's an opportunity to bring the issues of population, women's rights and family planning back to center stage," he said in an interview. "There are 215 million women worldwide who need family planning and don't get it. If we can change that, and these women can take charge of their lives, we'll have a better world."

But as Osotimehin noted, population-related challenges vary dramatically around the world. Associated Press reporters on four continents examined some of most distinctive examples:

___

THE ASIAN GIANTS

It's 6 p.m. in Mumbai, India's financial hub, and millions of workers swarm out of their offices, headed to railway stations for a ride home. Every few minutes, as a train enters the station, the crowd surges forward.

For nearly 7 million commuters who ride the overtaxed suburban rail network each work day, every ride is a scramble. Each car is jam-packed; sometimes, riders die when they lose their foothold while clinging to the doors.

Across India, the teeming slums, congested streets, and crowded trains and trams are testimony to the country's burgeoning population. Already the second most populous country, with 1.2 billion people, India is expected to overtake China around 2030 when its population soars to an estimated 1.6 billion.

But even as the numbers increase, the pace of the growth has slowed. Demographers say India's fertility rate — now 2.6 children per woman — should fall to 2.1 by 2025 and to 1.8 by 2035.

More than half of India's population is under 25, and some policy planners say this so-called "youth dividend" could fuel a productive surge over the next few decades. But population experts caution that the dividend could prove to be a liability without vast social investments.

"If the young population remains uneducated, unskilled and unemployable, then that dividend would be wasted," says Shereen Jejeebhoy, a Population Council demographer in New Delhi.

Population experts also worry about a growing gender gap, stemming largely from Indian families' preference for sons. A surge in sex-selection tests, resulting in abortion of female fetuses, has skewed the ratio, with the latest census showing 914 girls under age 6 for every 1,000 boys.

Family planning is a sensitive issue. In the 35 years since one government was toppled for pursuing an aggressive population control program, subsequent leaders have been reluctant to follow suit.

For now, China remains the most populous nation, with 1.34 billion people. In the past decade it added 73.9 million, more than the population of France or Thailand.

Nonetheless, its growth has slowed dramatically and the population is projected to start shrinking in 2027. By 2050, according to some demographers, it will be smaller than it is today.

"It's like a train on the track that's still moving but the engine is already off," says Gu Baochang, a professor of demography at Beijing's Renmin University.

In the 1970s, Chinese women had five to six children each on average. Today China has a fertility rate — the number of children the average woman is expected to have in her lifetime — of around 1.5, well below the 2.1 replacement rate that demographers say is needed to keep populations stable in developed countries.

Three decades of strict family planning rules that limit urban families to one child and rural families to two helped China achieve a rapid decline in fertility but the policy has brought problems as well.

Before long, there will be too few young Chinese people to easily support a massive elderly population.

Also, as with India, there's a gender gap. The United Nations says there are 43 million "missing girls" in China because parents restricted to small families often favored sons and aborted girls after learning their unborn babies' gender through sonograms.

"China is always so proud of how quickly we brought down fertility from high to low, and how many births were avoided but I think we did it too quickly and reduced it to too low a level," says Gu. "I wish that India can learn this: 'Don't make it too quick.'"

___

WESTERN EUROPE AND THE U.S.

Spain used to give parents 2,500 euros (more than $3,000) for every newborn child to encourage families to reverse the country's low birth rate. But the checks stopped coming with Spain's austerity measures, raising the question of who will pay the bills to support the elderly in the years ahead.

It's a question bedeviling many European countries which have grappled for years over how to cope with shrinking birth rates and aging populations — and are now faced with a financial crisis that has forced some to cut back on family-friendly government incentives.

Spain and Italy, both forced to enact painful austerity measures in a bid to narrow budget deficits, are battling common problems: Women have chosen to have their first child at a later age, and the difficulties of finding jobs and affordable housing are discouraging some couples from having any children at all.

In 2010, for the fourth consecutive year, more Italians died than were born, according to the national statistics agency. Italy's population nonetheless grew slightly to 60.6 million due to immigration, which is a highly charged issue across Europe.

Italy's youth minister Giorgia Meloni said earlier this year that measures to reverse the birth rate require "millions in investment" but that the resources aren't available.

Unlike many countries in Europe, France's population is growing slightly but steadily every year. It has one of the highest birth rates in the European Union with around 2 children per woman.

One reason is immigration to France by Africans with large-family traditions, but it's also due to family-friendly legislation. The government offers public preschools, subsidies to all families that have more than one child, generous maternity leave, and tax exemptions for employers of nannies.

Like France, the United States has one of the highest population growth rates among industrialized nations. Its fertility rate is just below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman, but its population has been increasing by almost 1 percent annually due to immigration. With 312 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country after China and India.

___

AFRICA

Lagos, Nigeria, is expected to overtake Cairo soon as Africa's largest city. Private water vendors there do a brisk business in the many neighborhoods that otherwise lack access to potable water.

The drone of generators is omnipresent, at offices and markets, in neighborhoods rich and poor, because the power grid doesn't produce enough power. Periodic blackouts extend for hours, days, sometimes weeks.

Such is daily life in Nigeria's commercial capital, where the population is estimated at 15 million and growing at 6 percent or more each year. Problems with traffic congestion, sanitation and water supplies are staggering; a recent article in UN-Habitat said two-thirds of the residents live in poverty.

The rest of Nigeria isn't growing as fast — estimates of its growth rate range from 2 percent to 3.2 percent. But it's already Africa's most populous country with more than 160 million people.

Ndyanabangi Bannet, the U.N. Population Fund's deputy representative in Nigeria, notes that 60 percent of the population is under 30 and needs to be accommodated with education, training and health care.

"It is a plus if it is taken advantage of," he said of Nigeria's youth. "But if it is not harnessed, it can be a challenge, because imagine what hordes of unemployed young people can do."

In Uganda, another fast-growing country, President Yoweri Museveni used to be disdainful of population control and urged Ugandans, especially in rural areas, to continue having large families.

Recently, the government has conceded that its 3.2 population growth rate must be curbed because the economy can't keep pace. Earlier this year, anti-government protests by unemployed youths and other aggrieved Ugandans flared in several communities, and nine marchers were killed in confrontations with police.

"The government has been convinced that unless it invests in reproductive health, Uganda is destined to a crisis," says Hannington Burunde of the Uganda Population Secretariat.

Among those who are struggling is John Baliruno, 45, of Mpigi in central Uganda, a father of nine.

"I never intended to have such a big number," he said. "I with my wife had no knowledge of family planning and ended up producing one child after another. Now I cannot properly feed them."

Looking ahead, he's pessimistic.

"The environment is being destroyed by the growing population. Trees are being cut down in big numbers and even now we can't get enough firewood to cook food," he said. "In the near future, we will starve."

Another of the fastest-growing countries is Burundi. With roughly 8.6 million people, it's the second most densely populated African country after neighboring Rwanda.

Omer Ndayishimiye, head of Burundi's Population Department, said continued high growth coincides with dwindling natural resources. Land suitable for farming will decline, and poverty will be rampant, he said, noting that 90 percent of the population live in rural areas and rely on farming to survive.

The government has been trying to raise awareness about the demographic challenges among the clergy, civic leaders and the general public.

"We are suggesting couples to go to health clinics to get taught different birth control methods," Ndayishimiye said. "But we are facing some barriers ... Many Burundians still see children as source of wealth."

At her modest house in Gishubi, Godelive Ndageramiwe ponders the changes that have made her regret her large family.

"Children were a good labor force in the past when there was enough space to cultivate," she said. "Today I can't even feed my family properly. My kids just spend days doing nothing."

After her fourth child, she began to worry how her family could be cared for.

"But my husband was against birth control and wanted as many children as possible," she said. "It was delicate because he could marry another wife.

"My friends advised me to go to a nearby clinic, but I was told I must come with my husband. Now I have laid the issue in the hands of God."

Steve Jobs and the 7 Rules of Success

Steve Jobs' impact on your life cannot be underestimated. His innovations have likely touched nearly every aspect -- computers, movies, music and mobile. As a communications coach, I learned from Jobs that a presentation can, indeed, inspire. For entrepreneurs, Jobs' greatest legacy is the set of principles that drove his success.

Over the years, I've become a student of sorts of Jobs' career and life. Here's my take on the rules and values underpinning his success. Any of us can adopt them to unleash our "inner Steve Jobs."

1. Do what you love. Jobs once said, "People with passion can change the world for the better." Asked about the advice he would offer would-be entrepreneurs, he said, "I'd get a job as a busboy or something until I figured out what I was really passionate about." That's how much it meant to him. Passion is everything.

2. Put a dent in the universe. Jobs believed in the power of vision. He once asked then-Pepsi President, John Sculley, "Do you want to spend your life selling sugar water or do you want to change the world?" Don't lose sight of the big vision.

3. Make connections. Jobs once said creativity is connecting things. He meant that people with a broad set of life experiences can often see things that others miss. He took calligraphy classes that didn't have any practical use in his life -- until he built the Macintosh. Jobs traveled to India and Asia. He studied design and hospitality. Don't live in a bubble. Connect ideas from different fields.

4. Say no to 1,000 things. Jobs was as proud of what Apple chose not to do as he was of what Apple did. When he returned in Apple in 1997, he took a company with 350 products and reduced them to 10 products in a two-year period. Why? So he could put the "A-Team" on each product. What are you saying "no" to?

5. Create insanely different experiences. Jobs also sought innovation in the customer-service experience. When he first came up with the concept for the Apple Stores, he said they would be different because instead of just moving boxes, the stores would enrich lives. Everything about the experience you have when you walk into an Apple store is intended to enrich your life and to create an emotional connection between you and the Apple brand. What are you doing to enrich the lives of your customers?

6. Master the message. You can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can't communicate your ideas, it doesn't matter. Jobs was the world's greatest corporate storyteller. Instead of simply delivering a presentation like most people do, he informed, he educated, he inspired and he entertained, all in one presentation.

7. Sell dreams, not products. Jobs captured our imagination because he really understood his customer. He knew that tablets would not capture our imaginations if they were too complicated. The result? One button on the front of an iPad. It's so simple, a 2-year-old can use it. Your customers don't care about your product. They care about themselves, their hopes, their ambitions. Jobs taught us that if you help your customers reach their dreams, you'll win them over.

There's one story that I think sums up Jobs' career at Apple. An executive who had the job of reinventing the Disney Store once called up Jobs and asked for advice. His counsel? Dream bigger. I think that's the best advice he could leave us with. See genius in your craziness, believe in yourself, believe in your vision, and be constantly prepared to defend those ideas.

Carmine Gallo is a communications coach, a popular keynote speaker and author of several books including The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs. His latest is The Power of Foursquare (McGraw-Hill, 2011).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When the Customer Is Wrong: Restaurants

It's one of the oldest adages of the retail world: "The customer is always right."

Of course, very often the customer is wrong. Every day customers behave in ways that make the lives of waiters, cashiers, customer service reps and other retail workers miserable. And in many cases, these customers don't even realize how annoying they're being.


To rectify this, we've decided to talk to the people on the other side of the cash register to find out what sort of customer behavior gets on their nerves. To kick things off, we got some veterans of the restaurant industry to dish on their secret pet peeves and give some advice to diners.

Great Expectations

Think about the last time you cooked dinner. How long did it take? Forty-five minutes? An hour? More?

We're guessing the answer wasn't "15 minutes." Yet that's about how long most restaurant patrons expect their dinner to take, and they get irked when it takes any longer. Sometimes diners need to tone down their expectations, says Michael Gordon, a restaurant industry veteran who has spent about a decade as a cook and waiter.

"A steak needs time to cook, and fish needs time to be brought up to temperature," says Gordon. "There's a lot of prep work."

And if you're in a big party, expect it to take even longer.

"The bigger the party, the longer it's going to take," he says. "I can't give one person a plate and not give everyone else theirs." In other words, the table will only be served once all the meals are finished, so if one dish takes 25 minutes to cook, that's how long it will take before anyone sees their food.


Trust the Chef

Gordon says cooks don't mind people sending their food back if it isn't cooked as requested. But he estimates that nine times out of 10 the dish was cooked just fine -- the customer just doesn't know what constitutes "medium rare" or understand how a dish is supposed to be cooked.

"Everybody has a degree in something or other, but when they get to a restaurant, everyone thinks they have a doctorate in cooking," he says.

If you really think the people in the kitchen screwed up your steak, by all means send it back. But consider for a moment that the professionals know better than you do how to prepare a meal. (And if you're not sure whether you're on the same page with the kitchen, you might clarify beforehand how they define the varying degrees of doneness.)

This Isn't 'Top Chef'

Of course, just because they're professionals doesn't mean that cooks are capable of producing any dish on Earth. While some substitutions and special requests will be fine with the kitchen, you can only expect so much improvisation from a kitchen with limited time and ingredients.

"We get people walking into a restaurant and asking for a vegetarian or vegan plate, and unless we've specifically got a menu for that population, you're out of luck," says Steve Dublanica, author of the Waiter Rant blog. "You're asking the chef to make something they're not used to."

Dublanica, who's also authored two books based on his experience as a waiter, recounts the story of a woman who came into a Northern Italian restaurant and asked for sushi; when she was informed that the kitchen was incapable of producing sushi dishes, she retorted that it should be possible given that the restaurant had tuna on the menu.

There's nothing wrong with asking if the kitchen can make something that's not on the menu, but don't get all worked up when the answer is no.

Don't Snap at the Waiters

Everyone knows it can be frustrating to try to get your waiter's attention during a busy dinner shift, but there's a right way and a wrong way to flag down your server.

"Raise your hand or make eye contact; don't snap [your fingers] and don't wave," says Dublanica. And don't even think about physically grabbing a waiter as they walk by, especially if they're carrying something.

If it's a special night and you want truly exceptional service, he says you can try slipping your server some cash at the beginning of the meal and requesting special attention. But there's generally one surefire way to ensure the server keeps coming back to your table, and it doesn't require you to pay out a bribe.

"The best thing is to be polite, be nice, and say 'please' and 'thank you'," he says.


Proper Groupon Etiquette

Groupon, the popular group deals site, can be a boon for restaurants looking to attract new customers, but it can also be a pain in the neck for the waitstaff, says Dublanica.

"A party of twelve will come in with their Groupons and they'll request separate checks [so they can each use their Groupon]," he says. "You can't do that."

Indeed, many Groupons for restaurants will stipulate that you can only use one per table, but that apparently doesn't stop thrifty diners from trying to game the system.

And while we're on the topic of Groupon, Dublanica also observes that some diners are guilty of tipping only on the after-coupon price.

"When you come in with a $50 Groupon or gift certificate and run up a $100 tab, tip on the whole check, not just the $50," he says.

They're Waiters, Not Accountants

If there's one thing people hate about going out to dinner with friends, it's figuring out how to split up the check fairly. But that doesn't mean you should force your server to do the math for you.

"When you have two, three, or four people all paying with credit cards, that's a no-brainer," says Dublanica. That's especially true if you just split it evenly -- if someone bought a more expensive entree than everyone else or ordered more drinks, you can square up later.

But asking your server to itemize meals and drinks by requesting separate checks is a very different story.

"When you all want separate checks, that's a pain," says Dublanica. "If you're going to torture your waiter that way, you have to tell him at the beginning." Waiting until the end of the meal and then asking the server to go through the check and calculate each diner's individual price isn't fair, especially on a busy night.

Just Show Your ID

When a bouncer, bartender or waiter asks to see your ID, they're not trying to give you a hard time. A single underage drinker can be devastating for a restaurant, so it's important for establishments to be diligent about who they let drink.

"The big driver of any establishment's ability to make money is their liquor license, and that can get pulled or sanctioned very easily," says Drew Trombly, who has worked as both a bartender and general manager of a large restaurant. "It's essential that these places protect themselves."



So if you're 40 years old and get carded at the door, don't roll your eyes -- just take it as a compliment.

Closing Time

"Don't come in five minutes before closing," pleads Dublanica. "The guys in the back have been there for 12 hours."

Likewise, Trombly singles out patrons who "stay really late when they're clearly the last people there."

While you may love the idea of having a restaurant all to yourself with that special someone, consider that your midnight meal is preventing the staff from getting home to their families. If you must show up right before closing, at least be considerate enough to finish your meal quickly.

After all, waiters and cooks are people, too. Treat them with the same respect you would like to be shown yourself.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The incredible legacy of Steve Jobs: From the mouse to the iPad

Apple's former CEO made furthering technology his passion

Steve Jobs died Wednesday at the age of 56. The former Apple CEO was a visionary in the world of computing and is largely responsible for the level at which computers are integrated with our everyday lives. There's a very good chance that you're reading this story on a computer, tablet, or smartphone that Jobs either invented or inspired, and that's something that is unique to his legacy.

The original Macintosh mouse

How it all started
Jobs — along with Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne — founded Apple in 1976. The first computers were simplistic but revolutionary for their time. Then in 1984, the company introduced the Macintosh 128K, the first computer that abandoned text-only commands in favor of a graphical user interface. Along with it came the mouse, a device which is so crucial to modern computing that it hasn't changed in nearly three decades.

In 1986, during a brief hiatus from the company he helps created, Jobs snatched up a little-known division of film studio Lucasfilm. He renamed this computer animation company Pixar, after the expensive computer imaging technology that his team created. Shortly thereafter, he negotiated a deal with Disney to produce Pixar's first full-length feature, Toy Story. After a string of record-breaking films, he sold the company to Disney for approximately $7.4 billion.

The iMac changed everything

Return to Apple
When Jobs eventually returned to Apple, the company was in shambles. Competing manufacturers held Apple software licenses and were making clones of the company's hardware, undermining the brand. Jobs immediately cancelled the program and brought all Apple development back under one roof.

From there he slowly built up Apple's credibility amongst computer users and eventually oversaw the launch of the iMac and iBook, two of the most iconic Apple products in the company's history. The somewhat unusual look and candy-colored combinations of Apple's hardware began to give the company an edgy appeal, and consumers ate it up. Apple's stock seemed to have no ceiling, as each new product brought new customers into the company's dedicated fan base.

Jobs revolutionized mobile computing

iPod, iPhone, and iPad
Apple launched the iPod in 2001, and along with the iTunes software, Jobs' company revolutionized the way we listen to music. Digital music players can be found in every corner of the globe, and the iPod line is by far the most popular of them all. Apple made purchasing and listening to music so affordable and easy that over 220 million iPod devices have been sold since its introduction.

In 2007 Jobs launched what is undoubtedly the best-selling Apple product to date: the iPhone. His vision of a smartphone was far different than what most wireless consumers were used to, but now it's hard to imagine a world without it. As competitors did their best to catch up, Jobs stayed the course, always standing by his promise to create useful products on Apple's terms, and without influence from the rest of the tech world.

Once the iPhone was firmly a market leader, Jobs took his dream of mobile computing one step further by introducing the iPad — a tablet that didn't try to be a computer. Both the iPhone and iPad product lines have seen massive success and after 4 versions of Apple's smartphone and two iPads, the company is the most valuable brand name in consumer electronics, and has flirted with being the most profitable company on earth.

We'll never forget
Through it all, Steve Jobs gained millions of fans. His relaxed appearance and style during the frequent Apple keynotes is legendary, and even as new CEO Tim Cook takes over, we can't help but miss the black shirts and blue jeans we were used to seeing for so many years.

Wednesday, pancreatic cancer claimed his life, a disease which he first announced to the public 2004. Through various treatments, Jobs continued to perform his duties at Apple, promising only to step down when he felt the time was right. Just a few short months ago, on August 24, Steve Jobs officially walked away from his post as CEO, and today he is no longer with us.

As the face of Apple for so many years, Jobs became part of the very fabric of the company's products. His legacy will live on with every iPod, iPhone, Mac, and iPad that graces a desk or coffee table around the globe. The next time you power on your smartphone, tablet, or computer, spare a moment for Steve Jobs, one man who made advancing technology his life's work.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fed Govt to build three new refineries

President Jonathan President Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan says his administration is building three new refineries and revamping the existing ones to transform the country from an importer of petroleum products.
The President made this known on Saturday in his address to the nation on the occasion of its 51st independence anniversary.
He said his administration was committed to transforming Nigeria to the hub for exportation of value-added petroleum and petrochemical products, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
The President also said his administration was partnering with the private sector in the construction of world-scale petrochemical and fertiliser plants.
He said such would lead to effective utilisation of the nation’s abundant natural gas resources and boost employment generation.
In the efforts aimed at diversifying the economy, Jonathan said his administration had set out agricultural transformation action plans and policy measures to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of rice, cassava, maize, sorghum and other staple foods.
He said the agricultural transformation plan would generate 3.5 million jobs and produce 20 million tonnes of food.
In achieving all these, the President appealed to Nigerians to take pride in farming and consume locally produced agricultural products.
``We should eat what we produce. The increasing popularity of local products, like ‘Ofada rice’, ‘Badegi rice’, and ‘Abakaliki rice’, attest to the fact that the populace will readily embrace locally-grown produce.
``We must also take pride in our scientists. This week, Nigeria released eight new high yielding cocoa varieties.
``This will help to transform cocoa production across the 14 cocoa-producing states in the nation,’’ he remarked.
The President also emphasised his administration’s determination to ensure that Nigerians have reliable electricity to grow the economy.

Monday, August 29, 2011

IBM building largest drive ever, can hold 24 million HD movies

Fusing 200,000 hard drives creates one spectacular storage center

It wasn't that long ago that desktop and notebook computers came with just enough hard drive space to get you by. These days, however, most new systems come with ample storage space for the majority of the population, but power users still might find their drives filling up quite quickly with music, movies, and games. But fear not, media lovers, IBM can build you a data drive with 120 petabytes of storage to hold every music, movie, and picture you've ever seen — and all you need is a deep bank account and a team of computer scientists to build it.

The ambitious project is currently underway at IBM, where researchers are working with 200,000 individual hard drives to create the single largest digital storage space known to man. When complete, the drive will have 120 million gigabytes of capacity, which is enough room to store roughly 24 million feature length HD movies. The epic drive also allows old or broken components to be swapped out without losing any data or requiring costly downtime.

IBM is crafting the custom storage center for an unnamed client that needs to perform massive simulations. The company hasn't revealed the cost of the project, but with IBM engineers taking on the task, you can bet it's not being built for a home office.

Usain Bolt’s shocking DQ ends three-year reign in 100

Video: Usain Bolt’s shocking DQ ends three-year reign in 100

Usain Bolt had another stunning performance in the world championships. This time, it didn't involve him crossing the finish line in the fastest time ever recorded.

The world's fastest man broke out of the starting block early in Sunday's 100 meter final in South Korea and was disqualified from the race, providing an abrupt end to the dominance he's maintained in track's biggest event since the Beijing Olympics.

An angry Bolt refused to talk about the disqualification with reporters. "Looking for tears?" he said to a group of them following him around the track. "Not going to happen."

In 2008, Bolt broke the world record in the 100 three months before the Beijing Olympics. At that year's Summer Games, the brash Jamaican became the star of the second week, crushing competitors and showboating down the track during dominant performances. At the 2009 world championships in Berlin, Bolt ran what was considered a perfect race. His 9.58 still stands as the world record and likely won't be challenged until the lead-up to London.

At that time, a new false start rule may be on the books. A minor uproar ensued after Bolt's DQ on Sunday and could lead to changes in track's awful false start rule. The "one and done" rule has been on the books since 2010 and has led to a number of high-profile athletes getting kicked out of races before they begin. (Runners used to get two false starts. In 2003, the rule was changed to assign the first false start to the entire field.) The rule is made for television and fans, neither of whom, it is thought, want to see countless false starts and the delays that accompany them. That may be true. But what fans really don't want to see is a 100-meter final without Usain Bolt.

Imagine the marquee event of the London Olympics, a matchup between Asafa Powell, Tyson Gay and Usain Bolt, ruined by a false start. It's a disaster scenario for track & field, a sport that thrives on star power more than any other at the Olympics. The IAAF has to ask itself whether it's worth running the risk of seeing a race without Usain just to prevent a two-minute false start delay. Granted, going back to the old rules wouldn't assure a clean start by any of the three. It would, however, diminish the possibility of another fiasco in London.

American runner Walter Dix, who would eventually finish with the silver medal in Sunday's race, was confused about the process. "I didn't really think they were going to kick him out," Dix said. "How can you kick Usain out of the race?"

Next time, hopefully they won't have to.

Beyoncé Confirms Pregnancy On VMA Red Carpet

After years of denying endless pregnancy rumors, Beyoncé finally has some good news to share.

The "Single Ladies" singer is pregnant.

Beyoncé held her belly as she arrived at the Video Music Awards Sunday wearing a long, red dress, quite the opposite of her normal midriff-baring stage costumes.

When addressing photographers on the red carpet, Beyoncé said, "I have a surprise!" People reported.

Beyoncé's rep later confirmed the news to the magazine. "I'm happy to say it's true," the rep said, according to People.

Beyoncé also acknowledged that she was with child during her performance of "Love On Top." During the intro of the song she said she wanted the audience to "feel the love that's growing inside of me." And after she finished singing the song, she dropped her microphone, popped open her purple sequined tuxedo jacket, poked out her stomach, then rubbed it and smiled. Onlookers, Jay-Z and Kanye jumped up and down in excitement (see video below).

In a June interview special on "Piers Morgan Tonight," Beyoncé said she looked forward to parenthood.

"I always said I would have a baby at 30," said the singer whose 30th birthday is September 4.

Apparently, Beyoncé's husband Jay-Z has also had children on his mind. He and Kanye rapped about fatherhood on "New Day" from their new album, "Watch The Throne."

Beyoncé and Jay-Z wed in April 2008.

Buzziest Moments From The 2011 Video Music Awards

The MTV Video Music Awards is one of the few award shows where wacky antics are expected and encouraged. This year was no exception. Among the standout moments: Beyonce's baby bump rub, Justin Bieber's appearance with his pet snake and a Lady Gaga-Britney Spears kiss, with Gaga dressed as a man.

To present Spears with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, Lady Gaga dressed as her drag king alter-ego Jo Calderone. When Spears walked on stage, the two shared a polite smooch. A few minutes later, Gaga tried to recreate Spears' infamous 2003 Madonna liplock, but Spears pulled away saying she had already done that. Gaga looked disappointed.

Singer Selena Gomez, who helped host the pre-show, had one of the most anticipated interviews with her own boyfriend, Justin Bieber. As she tried to interview him, Bieber (who sported specs) tried to throw her off by holding a small snake in his hand (which he said is named "Johnson"). After she was done asking questions, he sweetly kissed her on the cheek.

As for weird outfits, Nicki Minaj set the bar, sporting a Japanese Kawaii raver-meets-Hannibal Lecter look, with a geometric metal armored dress and graffiti face mask. She also had a creepy accessory: A monster doll.

Chris Brown delivered a memorable performance, during which he covered the 1993 Wu-Tang Clan classic "Protect Ya Neck," as well as Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." He was then elevated high above the crowd on a wire and did back-flips and splits in the air.

Another weird moment occurred when Gaga (still in drag) went to accept "Best Female Video." She was presented with the award by the Jersey Shore ladies and actress Cloris Leachman. Gaga inexplicably put the 85-year-old Leachman in a headlock before giving her speech.

But the night belonged to Beyoncé, who had announced her pregnancy on the red carpet. During the middle of the show, she belted out "Love On Top." At the end of the performance, she rubbed her belly as her usually-serious husband, rapper Jay-Z, jumped out of his chair and cheered in the audience with Kanye West.

Katy Perry took home Video of the Year for "Firework" and donned what looked like a giant cheese square on her head to accept the award. Paired with Lady Gaga's 2010 meat dress, Perry's get-up might've made a nice appetizer tray.

Demolishing a Vegas Hotel Before its Grand Opening

Las Vegas CityCenter's Harmon Hotel tower (center), may be razed before it ever opens.
Photo: flickr | Vrysxy















Th e days of the Harmon Hotel tower in Las Vegas may be numbered -- even before the hotel welcomes a single guest. Begun during the Las Vegas high-rise condo boom, the hotel tower -- first proposed as a 49-story mixed-use condo and hotel project -- is an empty, if flashy, shell that its owner, MGM Resorts International, seeks to demolish.

The building's downfall has been blamed on massive construction defects and the market downturn. MGM and the building's general contractor, Perini Building Co., are embroiled in litigation over the building's problems -- and the outcome may ultimately decide its fate.

Originally conceived as a 400-room nongaming tower with just over 200 residential condo units, the Harmon was part of the larger CityCenter development on the Las Vegas Strip.

When MGM put the planned condo units on the market in early 2008, buyers -- mostly owner-occupants -- put down 20 percent deposits on nearly half of the units within a two-month period, said Robert Hamrick, who served from January 2006 to March 2011 as senior vice president and broker at CityCenter Realty Corp. He is currently chairman and CEO of Coldwell Banker Premier Realty in Las Vegas.

Harmon tower (center) and CityCenter during construction.
Photo: flickr | Lars Plougmann

"It was a very emotional building. The physicality of it, (the) appearance, the architecture. It was going to be a very high-end luxury building, kind of appealing to the nouveau riche, perhaps. Upscale, classy and a somewhat young environment," Hamrick said.

But structural defects were discovered in the building, and in January 2009 MGM announced that the Harmon's finished size would be cut down to 28 stories, from the 49 stories originally slated. This eliminated the planned condo units entirely. Perini finished the Harmon's core and shell in December 2009.

The Aladdin Hotel on the Vegas strip imploded in April, 1998.
Photo: AP

The building currently sits unfinished as MGM and Perini debate the extent of construction defects in the courts. Neither MGM or Perini responded to requests for comment by publication time.

According to a July engineering report, repair of the building may not be possible, and if it is, it could take up to three years to fix from start to finish.

The Perini company fired back in a statement that "MGM is seeking to implode the building to hide the fact that the Harmon is not a threat to public safety and to avoid having the repairs made that Perini and its third-party structural engineers have offered to do."

The New Frontier had seen better days when it imploded in July, 2007.
Photo: AP

Perini also accused MGM of "buyer's remorse" due to the downturn of the real estate market. "MGM is now attempting to blow up the Harmon to avoid adding the Harmon as additional glut to its other vacant properties in CityCenter under the guise of 'public safety,'" the company charged.

The proposed plan is subject to approval from the county's building department. If approved, MGM would also seek to lift a court order that prevent alteration or destruction of the building while the litigation with Perini is unresolved. There have been at least a dozen buildings imploded in Las Vegas since 1993, five of them since 2006, according to an implosions page on travel website Vegas.com. The most recent was the New Frontier hotel, the second-oldest hotel on the strip at the time, on November 13, 2007. On May 9, 2006, the precursor to CityCenter, the Boardwalk hotel, was imploded to make way for the new development.

Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy sitting in a tree

Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy, sitting in a tree …

... K-I-S-S-I-N-G. Well, technically it wasn't in a tree, it on a tennis court in front of the Yale football team and thousands of fans who watched Wozniacki advance to the finals of the New Haven Open. That doesn't rhyme as well though.

Golf's reigning U.S. Open champion gave his new girlfriend a kiss on Friday night that must have had some good luck; the 21-year-old Dane went out the next day and won her first tournament since she and the Nothern Irish star began dating after Wimbledon.

That is the happiest I've ever seen a group of guys over a kiss involving other people. I've looked at wedding photos where the groomsmen have less of a smile than the Yale football players have plastered on their faces in this shot.

Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy, sitting in a tree …

A lot of couples have to deal with differences in religion or race or finances or education or upbringing. I worry about the day when Caroline and Rory have their first adidas/Nike argument. Rory doesn't have a deal with the Oregon athletic giant yet though I'd imagine the site of him wearing a swoosh on that Yale jersey has some hearts in Beaverton aflutter.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Crude oil discovered in Kwara

The discovery was first highlighted by a farmer who discovered crude oil spouting from his farm and seven other adjoining sites
Article |

The Kwara State Government says it is set to join the list of oil-producing states following the discovery of crude oil in Ara Orin in Irepodun Local Government.

Governor AbdulFatah Ahmed said that the discovery came as the state identified solid minerals development and mining as key sources of internally- generated revenue to fund its development programmes.

The elated governor explained that the discovery was first highlighted by a farmer who discovered crude oil spouting from his farm and seven other adjoining sites and alerted the state government.

He said geologists from the state Ministry of Industry and Solid Minerals were subsequently directed to confirm whether the substance was indeed crude oil and if so, identify the blend.

According to him, the ministry officials did not only confirm the substance as crude oil but also identified the blend as Bonny Light, a high-grade of crude oil preferred by European and American refineries due to its unique properties.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications to the governor, Dr Muyideen Akorede, disclosed that the find was subsequently verified through independent analysis by a private oil company which also confirmed the government’s findings.

Ahmed said further tests were being carried out to determine if the crude discovered in Ara Orin is in commercial quantities, and pointed out that the finding was a welcome boost to the state’s economy and Kwara’s emerging reputation as one of Nigeria’s most conducive investment destinations.

The governor identified solid minerals development and mining as one of his administration’s key policy thrust for driving development in the state. He said the sector would go a long way in boosting Kwara’s internally-generated revenue by attracting foreign and indigenous investors to the state.

He added that the Ministry of Industry and Solid Minerals had been directed to catalogue all mineral and mining sites in the state with a view to regulating the sector and effectively managing the state’s resources.

The Biggest A-List Celebrity Homes for Sale

From Harrison Ford to Sean “Diddy” Combs to the late Elizabeth Taylor, there are true mega-star homes on the market right now, and these incredible properties reflect the success of their owners. You can own a piece of A-list real estate as long as you're able to pay the price.

Interestingly, when it comes to the most famous celebrities, real estate may be one of the few non-inflated things you can buy. You can buy a mid-1970s Rolex Submariner 55XX series for under $5000, but the same watch, except that it was worn by actor Steve McQueen, went for over a quarter of a million dollars.

Likewise, JFK’s cigar humidor fetched more than half a million dollars at auction, and it takes up about a square foot of real estate. So in a world obsessed with celebrity, where provenance can increase values hundreds or thousands of times, celebrity homes, which get only slightly inflated by their history, might seem like a bargain in comparison. Of course, when you go to sell, you’ll find the same lack of celebrity appreciation disappointing, but in the meantime, at least you can throw great parties in a mansion where one of the most famous people on the planet once threw parties.

Celebrity homes are on the market all the time, with plenty to choose from, and compared to the recent rash of high eight and even nine-digit billionaire homes, they can be surprisingly affordable, even for the true A-Listers. Of course, some are plenty expensive.

Here is a look at some of the homes of the ultra-famous currently on the market according to TopTenRealEstateDeals.com:

Harrison Ford
Price: $16,000,000
Location: New York, NY

Harrison Ford's NY apartment is for sale.
Photo: The Corcoran Group

The leading man of our lifetime, Harrison Ford has homes in Los Angeles and Jackson, WY, and is jettisoning this penthouse apartment in New York’s Chelsea for $16,000,000. The 11-room, 5,664-sqaure foot apartment has concrete floors boasting radiant heat throughout, secured elevator, gourmet kitchen, and private roof deck.

Christina Aguilera
Price: $13,500,000
Location: Beverly Hills, CA

Christina Aguilera's Beverly Hills home is available.
Photo: Trulia.com

If you’re in the business of owning a slice of celebrity, this listing’s a two-for-one deal. Before the pop diva called it home, the Osbourne family—of MTV’s The Osbournes fame—took root in the 10,000-square-foot Mediterranean dwelling before selling it to Aguilera in 2007. The sprawling single-family home features six bedrooms, nine bathrooms, grand staircase, beauty salon and recording studio. The outdoor grounds house a pool with water slide, grotto spa and custom-made Pagoda.

Sean "Diddy" Combs
Price: $13,500,000
Location: Alpine, NJ

Puffy combs' NJ estate is on the market.
Photo: Friedberg Properties & Associates

Music impresario Sean “Diddy” Combs recently listed his 3-acre Alpine, N.J. estate for $13,500,000. The 17-room main house is a whopping 26,000 square foot, plus there is a guest house, pool, tennis court, and putting green.

Billy Joel
Price: $16,750,000
Location: Sagaponack, NY

Billy Joel's Hamptons house awaits a buyer.
Photo: The Corcoran Group

Singer Billy Joel’s 4-bedroom beach house on 145-feet of sandy shoreline in Long Island’s Sagaponack was previously owned by actor Roy Scheider of Jaws fame. Recently renovated, it is in turn-key shape and the price has been reduced from a high of $22,500,000 to the current $16,750,000.

Katherine Hepburn
Price: $28,000,000
Location: Old Saybrook, CT

Kate Hepburn's former estate is for sale.
Photo: William Pitt Sotheby's International

The greatest actress of all time, Katherine Hepburn lived in this estate that was in her family for the past century until her death at 96 in 2003. The 8,400-square foot 6-bedroom home is beautiful, but the $28,000,000 price tag reflects the one of a kind seaside setting on the shore of Long Island Sound in Old Saybrook, CT. Occupying 3.5 acres, it has nearly 700 feet of waterfront with a private dock and beach, as well as a pond.

Hackers protest BART decision to block cellphones

This screen shot taken from myBART.org shows a page from the website after it was hacked by the hacker's group Anonymous on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011. Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) district officials said they were attempting Sunday to shut down the hacker's group website that lists the names of thousands of San Francisco Bay area residents who are email subscribers of a legitimate BART website. (AP Photo/myBART.org)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — San Francisco's mass transit system prepared for renewed protests Monday, a day after hackers angry over blocked cell phone service at some transit stations broke into a website and posted company contact information for more than 2,000 customers.

The action by a hacker group known as Anonymous was the latest showdown between anarchists angry at perceived attempts to limit free speech and officials trying to control protests that grow out of social networking and have the potential to become violent.

Anonymous posted people's names, phone numbers, and street and email addresses on its own website, while also calling for a disruption of the Bay Area Rapid Transit's evening commute Monday.

BART officials said Sunday that they were working a strategy to try to block any efforts by protesters to try to disrupt the service.

"We have been planning for the protests that are said to be shaping up for tomorrow," BART spokesman Jim Allison said. He did not provide specifics, but said BART police will be staffing stations and trains and that the agency had already contacted San Francisco police.

The transit agency disabled the effected website, myBART.org, Sunday night after it also had been altered by apparent hackers who posted images of the so-called Guy Fawkes masks that anarchists have previously worn when showing up to physical protests.

The cyber attack came in response to the BART's decision to block wireless service in several of its San Francisco stations Thursday night as the agency aimed to thwart a planned protest over a transit police shooting. Officials said the protest had been designed to disrupt the evening commute.

"We are Anonymous, we are your citizens, we are the people, we do not tolerate oppression from any government agency," the hackers wrote on their own website. "BART has proved multiple times that they have no problem exploiting and abusing the people."

Allison described myBART.org as a "satellite site" used for marketing purposes. It's operated by an outside company and sends BART alerts and other information to customers, Allison said.

The names and contact info published by Sunday came from a database of 55,000 subscribers, he said. He did not know if the group had obtained information from all the subscribers, he said, adding that no bank account or credit card information was listed.

The BART computer problem was the latest hack the loosely organized group claimed credit for this year. Last month, the FBI and British and Dutch officials made 21 arrests, many of them related to the group's attacks on Internet payment provider PayPal Inc., which has been targeted over its refusal to process donations to WikiLeaks. The group also claims credit for disrupting the websites of Visa and MasterCard in December when the credit card companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

BART's decision to shut down wireless access was criticized by many as heavy handed, and some raised questions about whether the move violated free speech.

The problems began Thursday night when BART officials blocked wireless access to disrupt organization of a demonstration protesting the July 3 shooting death by BART police who said the 45-year-old victim was wielding a knife.

Activists also remain upset by the 2009 death of Oscar Grant, an unarmed black passenger who was shot by a white officer on an Oakland train platform. The officer quit the force and was convicted of involuntary manslaughter after the shooting.

Facing backlash from civil rights advocates and one of its own board members, BART has defended the decision to block cell phone use, with Allison saying the cell phone disruptions were legal because the agency owns the property and infrastructure.

"I'm just shocked that they didn't think about the implications of this. We really don't have the right to be this type of censor," Lynette Sweet, who serves on BART's board of directors, said previously. "In my opinion, we've let the actions of a few people affect everybody. And that's not fair."

Laura Eichman was among those whose email and home phone number were published by the hackers Sunday.

"I think what they (the hackers) did was illegal and wrong. I work in IT myself, and I think that this was not ethical hacking. I think this was completely unjustified," Eichman said.

She said she doesn't blame BART and feels its action earlier in the week of blocking cell phone service was reasonable.

"It doesn't necessarily keep me from taking BART in the future but I will certainly have to review where I set up accounts and what kind of data I'm going to keep online," Eichman said.

Michael Beekman of San Francisco told the AP that he didn't approve of BART's move to cut cell phone service or the Anonymous posting.

"I'm not paranoid but i feel like it was an invasion of privacy," he said. "I thought I would never personally be involved in any of their (Anonymous') shenanigans."

The group Anonymous, according to its website, does "not tolerate oppression from any government agency," and it said it was releasing the User Info Database of MyBart.gov as one of many actions to come.

"We apologize to any citizen that has his information published, but you should go to BART and ask them why your information wasn't secure with them," the statement said.

___

Associated Press writers Terry Tang and Bob Seavey in Phoenix also contributed to this report.

Hilary Duff Is Pregnant With First Child!

Story photo: Hilary Duff Is Pregnant With First Child!

Hilary Duff's first wedding anniversary is extra sweet: she and Mike Comrie announced they are expecting a baby!

"This weekend, Mike and I are celebrating our one year anniversary! In memory of the special day, we decided to post some of our favorite pictures from our wedding!" she wrote on her official website Sunday.

"I can't believe it has already been a year. Time really flies when you're having fun! We also want to share the exciting news that baby makes three! We are extremely happy and ready to start this new chapter of our lives. Thanks to everyone for the continued love and support throughout the years!"

Duff, 23, wed pro hockey player Comrie, 30, on August 14, 2010 in an intimate sunset ceremony at a $29 million estate near the San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, Calif.

"We both love kids and we're really excited," Duff told Us Weekly Wednesday at the Kendra Scott jewelry event in L.A., just days before sharing her pregnancy news with the world. "It was a big deal for us because we had a year to be married."

Biggest Businesses Run by College Dropouts

Ever wonder where the chief executives of some of the world's most successful companies went to college? Well, don't tell your kids, but some CEOs never graduated college—and some never even bothered to apply.

From computers to cruise lines, these 10 CEOs made it to the top without a college degree and defied the idea that to be successful you have to have a diploma.

Ralph Lauren

CNBCralphLauren.jpg
Photo: Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images
Position: CEO, Polo Ralph Lauren
Market Cap: $11.9 billion

Ralph Lauren, the chief executive of Polo Ralph Lauren , established his company in 1967 as a line of men's ties and developed the company into a global fashion empire. Lauren's successful clothing line came from his unique, classic style that went against conventional fashion of the time.

According to the Ralph Lauren website, Lauren said, "I never went to fashion school—I was a young guy who had some style. I never imagined Polo would become what it is. I just followed my instincts."

With only a high school diploma in hand, Lauren followed his instincts. His decision to ditch college and focus on running his business lead to a series of breakthroughs in the fashion world, including the first shop-within-a-shop designer boutique for men in Bloomingdale's department store in 1969. Lauren continued to build his empire, expanding it to include women and children's fashion, fragrances, and home furnishings.

Today, Polo Ralph Lauren is one of the most successful fashion companies in the world.

Richard Branson

CNBCbranson.jpg
Photo: Karim Jaafar | AFP | Getty Images
Position: CEO, Virgin Group
Company Worth: $18 billion
Virgin Media Market Cap: $8.1 billion

Forget graduating from college, this chief executive didn't even finish high school. Richard Branson, the current CEO of Virgin Group , dropped out of high school at age 16 to start Student Magazine . Four years later, Branson founded Virgin Group as a mail-order retailer. He opened his first record shop in London and two years later built Virgin's first recording studio. In 1977, Branson signed his first big name group, the Sex Pistols, and continued to sign popular artists such as the Rolling Stones and Culture Club.

In 1984, Branson developed Virgin Atlantic and the brand began to grow. Today, Virgin Group provides mobile, broadband, TV, radio, finance, health, tourism, leisure, and travel services.

Michael Dell

CNBCDell.jpg
Photo: Justin Sullivan | Getty Images
Position: Founder/CEO, Dell
Market Cap: $30 billion

Most 19 year olds would spend a thousand dollars on a spring break weekend, or a put it toward buying a new car, but Michael Dell spent his $1,000 founding Dell .

The founder and CEO of Dell expanded his company with the idea that "technology is about enabling human potential." In 1992, he became the youngest chief executive to earn a ranking on Fortune magazine's "Fortune 500" list. His staff also grew from a one-man operation to 100,000 employees in just eight years.

Today, the company provides information-technology services for global corporations, governments, health care providers, small and medium businesses, education institutions, and home computing users.

Dell is not the only company this CEO has had a hand in creating. Dell founded MSD Capital in 1998 and a year later launched the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, a philanthropic organization for global issues.

Bill Gates

CNBCgates.jpg
Photo: Sean Gallup | Getty Images
Position: Co-Founder/Chairman, Microsoft
Market Cap: $226.2 billion

College dropouts such as Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz are not the only successful business founders who attended, and then left, Harvard University.

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft , enrolled at Harvard as a freshman in 1973. Gates, who lived down the hall from Microsoft's current chief executive, Steve Ballmer, created BASIC, a programming language for the first microcomputer, during his first year of college.

Gates dropped out of Harvard in his junior year to concentrate all his efforts on a company he called Micro-soft with his childhood friend Paul Allen.

As if founding Microsoft wasn't enough, Gates went on to found Corbis , one of the world largest resources of visual information. He also earned a seat on the board of directors for Berkshire Hathaway , an investment company engaged in diverse business activity.

Steve Jobs

175jobs.jpg
Photo: David Paul Morris | Getty Images
Position: Founder/CEO, Apple
Market Cap: $362.4 billion

As a young boy, this college dropout showed an early interest in computers.

When he was 12, Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple , called Bill Hewlett, co-founder of Hewlett Packard , after finding his number in the phonebook. When Hewlett answered, Jobs said, "Hi I'm Steve Jobs. I'm twelve years old and I'm a student in high school. I want to make a frequency counter. I was wondering if you had any spare parts I can have?"

Hewlett gave Jobs the spare parts and hired him that summer to work on the assembly line at his company. During this time, Jobs formed a friendship with Stephen Wozniak, a soon-to-be dropout from the University of California at Berkley.

Jobs enrolled at Reed College after high school, but he later dropped out. He connected once again with Wozniak and the pair quit their jobs to start production on a computer in Jobs' garage.

There are different versions of how the pair came up with the name for Apple. The best-known story comes from Jobs summer spent working on an apple orchard and his love for the fruit. The bite in the side of the apple is said to be a play on the computer term "byte."

In a biography, Jobs said he was worth more than $1 million when he was 23, $10 million when he was 24, and $100 million when he was 25.

Apple went from a garage-based operation to a multibillion-dollar, worldwide corporation, and it all started with two college dropouts tinkering in a garage.

Today, Gates serves as Microsoft's chairman and as an advisor on key development projects.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Real Madrid signs 7-year-old Argentine named Leo

A lot is made about the professionalization of young athletes in America, but young U.S. phenoms have nothing on their Spanish and South American counterparts. If there were ever any doubts about that, they could safely be dispelled on Monday, when it was announced that Spanish soccer giants Real Madrid signed Argentine 7-year-old Leonel Angel Coira to a youth development contract.

7-year-old Argentine Real Madrid signing Leo Angel Coria

"(My) dream is to meet Messi, play in the first division with Madrid and for Argentina in the World Cup," Coira told the Spanish newspaper ABC shortly after signing with his new club.

Of course, there are a number of reasons behind Real Madrid's rather surprising signing of Coira, who is pictured above. First, Real had learned of interest in the second-grader by crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid. That, in itself, is sometimes enough to push Real to make a premature move.

Then there's the 7-year-old's nickname: Leo. It goes without saying that the similarities with Barcelona superstar Leo Messi -- widely regarded as the current greatest player in the world -- don't stop there, either. Coira openly idolizes Messi, who also hails from Argentina but didn't leave the South American country until his teenage years.

Like Messi, Coira wears number 10. And like Messi, he dreams of starring for the Argentinian national team. They both already sport their own Facebook fan pages, too. They even look more than a little bit similar (if you imagine Messi as a 7-year-old, of course). Really, the only thing that does clearly separate Messi and Coira are the spelling of their first names -- Leo Messi is Lionel whereas Leo Coira is Leonel -- and Messi's well-stocked trophy case.

In short, if you think that Real Madrid officials weren't positively terrified by the thought of this young Argentine Leo eventually ending up at Barcelona's famed La Masia Academy, the breeding ground which groomed Messi's talent and helped transform it from potential to genius, you're kidding yourself.

Still, the Coira family insisted that the precocious youngster spent time at both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in brief tryouts and came away feeling much more comfortable with the youth program at Real Madrid. Coira's father, Miguel Coira, also insisted that the family will not receive any compensation for sending their younger son to Real Madrid, though he did acknowledge that the club would pay for transportation to and from Argentina.

To put the entire episode in American context, the Coira signing is essentially like the Red Sox signing an elementary school student from Kalamazoo, Mich., named Derek Jeter Jones (or any other last name), who happened to go by the nickname "Jeter." Needless to say, it just wouldn't happen.

Of course, no American professional franchise would sign a 7-year-old from another country to begin with, even for a designated youth development setup. That's precisely what makes this story all the more incredible, and head scratching when you try to make sense of it all.

Yet officials at Real Madrid insist that there is nothing puzzling about what sparked their interest in Coira. According to club spokesman Juan Tapiador, the 7-year-old is simply a unique talent.

"They only have to be a standout," Tapiador told the AP of Real Madrid's reason for signing Coira at his young age. "We look for something different, that quality or talent that makes them stand out from the rest."

The elder Coira is confident that his son will achieve great things with the Spanish giants, even if they don't come until his idol has finished his playing days with Real's biggest rivals, Barcelona.

"I trust the club a lot," Miguel Coira told ABC. "I know they will take good care of him."

UK PM recalls Parliament for London riot crisis

A bus is set on fire as rioters gathered in Croydon, south London, Monday, Aug. 8, 2011. Violence and looting spread across some of London's most impoverished neighborhoods on Monday, with youths setting fire to shops and vehicles, during a third day of rioting in the city that will host next summer's Olympic Games. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)