Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tech Lab: Day after's a good time to grab gadget-related deals - The Boston Globe

It's 24 hours later. Santa has safely cleared US airspace, and the blizzard of ripped wrapping paper has been shoveled away. Mission accomplished.

But what's a technology buff to do on the day after Christmas?

There's football, of course. Who can resist the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl? But learning how to use your new tablet or smartphone might be a better use of time. Besides, the stores are open, and there are still some decent deals to be had. You might even consider whether to get a little extra warranty protection for your costly new gadgets.

There will be the usual spate of after-Christmas sales, including a few technology bargains. For example, the electronics retailer Best Buy is giving away iPhones - specifically, the iPhone 5c, the plastic-sheathed little brother of apple christmas cards Inc.'s flagship, the iPhone 5s. Sign a two-year service contract with any of the major phone carriers, and you get the 5c at no charge. The deal, which runs through Dec. 28, confirms those rumors that few people are buying the 5c. But it's basically Apple's excellent iPhone 5 in a cheaper case, and that makes this Best Buy offer a very good deal, indeed.

Meanwhile, Apple itself is handing out freebies to its loyal customers. For 12 days after Christmas, the company will give away one goodie - a song or a movie, an e-book or an app. Each free item is available for just 24 hours.

To get in on the fun, download Apple's 12 Days of Gifts app for free at the App Store.

Digital gifts almost never include all the little accessories you'll eventually need - extra batteries, cases for the new smartphone or tablet, flash memory cards for the camera, spare cables. Find them at the mall, if you must. But if you can afford to wait a few days for delivery, such simple items are best purchased online, where prices are lower. is a good place to look for cheap accessories. Never mind its reputation as an auction site; these days most eBay products are sold at fixed prices, and pretty good ones, too.

But there's another great place to shop for digital accessories. has created a service called Amazon Basics that specializes in this kind of thing. A standard Lightning cable for connecting an iPhone to a computer costs $19 at an Apple store, but the Amazon Basics version is $14. A six-foot HDMI cable for plugging game machines into your HDTV sells for $15 to $20 at a retail store; Amazon Basics sells them for $5.79.

You should also consider buying an extended warranty on your devices, to make sure you're covered in case of loss or damage. I generally frown on paying extra for such coverage. Electronic devices tend to be very durable, and if they don't break down during the first year, they will probably last a lot longer.

But my faith in this principle was shaken quite a bit this year when our four-year-old Samsung flat-panel TV suffered a major malfunction. It goes to show that even reliable machines like TVs can go south without warning. My wife insisted on paying about $180 for a five-year warranty on our new set, and I didn't have the heart to argue.

Besides, I've bought such warranties myself, for my smartphones. I've always made exceptions for portable devices because it's so easy to lose or break them. So my HTC One phone carries a three-year insurance policy issued by SquareTrade, the biggest and best of the online warranty sellers. I used to insure Apple iPods with them, and filed two claims on damaged devices. I got paid promptly and cheerfully. You can buy SquareTrade protection for all kinds of electronic devices, including items received as gifts.

If your digital gift isn't working quite right, get help. The best first move is to run a Google search to find others who had the same problem. This gets me the right answer about 90 percent of the time.

But if you must phone the manufacturer's customer service hot line, the best way is on a smartphone equipped with Zappix, a free app developed by a Burlington company. Zappix, available for iOS or Android devices, includes the correct phone numbers for dozens of retailers and consumer products companies.

Instead of wading through a tiresome menu of choices - press "1" for sales, "2" for repairs, and so on - Zappix is preprogrammed with the right choices for many customer service lines. Having a problem with that new iPad? Launch Zappix, look up Apple, and touch the iPad tech support menu item.

While Zappix makes it easy to track down tech support, it can't reduce the time spent on hold.

But at least you'll have something to do while waiting for the next bowl game.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Celebrities Celebrate Christmas: The Best Cards, Photos

<burgoyne christmas cardsp>We've already laughed at the Kelly Clarkson Christmas card.

And danced along with the Christmas Jammies family while singing along with this holiday-themed remix of We Can't Stop.

But plenty of other celebrities are celebrating this December, releasing a variety of cards and photos via the Internet.

There's Diddy and his many children... Stephen Amell and his adorable newborn... Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart with a very famous friends... and a lot more!

So click around below and get into the holiday spirit before it's too late...

Christmas ghost stories: Repossession by Lionel Shriver

On first viewing the two-storey semi-detached on Lansing Close, Helen Rutledge dismissed outright the absurd but overpowering impression that she was not welcome here. She was a sensible young woman - all right, no longer all that young - who routinely privileged the should over the was. This should be the perfect house for her; ergo, it was. Three bedrooms, for herself, a study (perhaps in time a nursery?) and guests: . Not one of those decrepit Georgian headaches whose renovations were hogtied by preservation orders, the structure was at least postwar: tick. Granted, the nondescript semi of yellow brick was located in deep south London, but any property whose purchase someone in Helen's income bracket could swing was bound to involve a hefty commute to a job in NW1. Indeed, that was the clincher: the house was a steal. Tick, tick, tick!

As for whether she harboured any reservations about 21 Lansing Close having been repossessed, the answer was certainly not. A tax accountant, Helen held rules in high esteem, second only to those who followed them. She had no sympathy for people who didn't exert control over their circumstances - who allowed their lives to go all higgledy-piggledy and so created messes for responsible citizenry to clean up. For Helen, the prospect of being unable to pay any bill slipped through her letterbox was mortifying. If the previous owner had purchased a property beyond his or her means, such culpable foolhardiness ought rightly to be punished, and that's all there was to it.

Given the paltry asking price, or paltry in London terms, she was surprised to face no competition, and the estate agent acting for the bank accepted her offer with a hastiness that more seasoned house hunters might have found alarming. But as a first-time buyer, Helen wasn't about to look a gift house in the mouth. She would continue to rent her flat in Dulwich for a month after completion in order to do a spot of sprucing up. The persistent unpleasantness that imbued the interior - nothing that you could put your finger on, nothing that you could explain, and therefore nothing - could surely be ameliorated with a few licks of paint.

Handy for her gender and generation, Helen spent her first Saturday as a landholder covering the sitting room walls in a vibrant, nervy colour that she'd found in the Guardian Weekend's interior design pages: a dazzling aqua popular for plastic toys. By late afternoon, a beaming second coat had obliterated the sombre underlying shade, a light grey with a queasy purple undertone, as if the room had been bruised. Even if the new paint job hadn't, somehow, settled - the panels of blue-green seemed to float slightly forward of the plasterboard - she'd introduced a splash of vivacity to the ground floor.

She returned the following morning to have a go at the skirting boards. Yet her key simply would not turn the upper lock, though she jiggled it this way and that for a solid 10 minutes. Whoosh up the homeowner's learning curve: when it was your property, you couldn't ring the landlord to come and fix it, and Helen fought an urge to cry. The house didn't like her and didn't want her inside.

The sensation of personal rejection being flagrantly ridiculous, she got a grip and located a locksmith on her mobile, then sat on the step to wait. It was autumn, and she noticed too late that a scraggly tree growing at a deranged angle overhead had dropped stinky violet berries on to the step. The seat stained with purple blotches that would never wash out, now her jeans looked bruised as well. Worse, once the locksmith rocked up, he tried the key once and the door swung wide, open sesame. He still charged a call-out fee, quite a packet to part with for the privilege of feeling like a dunce.

In the entryway, the quality of the light glooming from the sitting room doorway was inexplicably dingy and sulking, when the south-facing front windows still had no curtains and the weather was fair. Helen ventured in to admire yesterday's daring makeover, only to find the walls a colour that would never be employed for a toy. The shade was still blue, of a sort, but sullen. Rather than refract the sunshine shafting through the windows, this hue consumed the light, sucking every photon thirstily from the rays like a child slurping the last of a soda. When she came closer, it was clear the paint hadn't dried to speak of, either, or just enough to have grown mucky and thick. The surface was bubbling as well, making creepy little pipping sounds, and in long vertical streaks the old purplish grey glowered through. Since obviously the whole job would have to be done again, she touched the paint that had looked so jaunty and dashingly modern when she locked up on Saturday, and it stuck to her finger, stringing like bubblegum when she pulled away. There was simply too much of this guck, too, as if the outrageously defective product that she'd slathered on her sitting room was actually dissolving earlier layers of paint beneath.

Which was the only explanation for what rapidly emerged on the far wall. At first she thought it was a trick of the queer light, or an accidental arrangement of streaks and blisters. But no, those were letters - in black, crudely formed and dripping, as if slashed with a wide, over-laden brush, and underscored for good measure:

So spiteful were some delinquent homeowners, it was said, that they vandalised their own homes before being evicted. The bank would have arranged for any damage to be tidied before putting the house on the market. And now her warped poor luck with a bad batch of paint - she might as well have covered the room in battery acid - had exposed some ghastly deadbeat's defiant parting graffiti.

"It's not your house any more!" Helen announced aloud - though the walls ate the sound as voraciously as the light, and her voice sounded terribly tiny.

She returned the remains of the paint in a state of righteous indignation, but the salesman at B&Q was sceptical - even more so once she'd described the burbling horror show in gory detail. "Never heard of that, love. Sure you didn't just apply the second coat before the first was dry?"

"If I can execute the directions in 11,520 pages of Her Majesty's tax code," she huffed, "I can follow the back of a tin." But he clearly delivered her refund only to get this incompetent crackpot out of his hair.

By the time she stopped back by Lansing Close midweek, it was evident that the paint would never cure. The sticky mess couldn't be called "Island Breeze" now, for it had churned into a vomitty miasma of a colour so ambiguous that it wouldn't have a name. So Helen was obliged to hire a contractor to replace the plasterboard. When it came time to choose a colour for the sitting room again, she found she'd lost her nerve, and opted for an innocuous hue the contractor recommended called "Moonlit Sky", which turned out to be light grey with a queasy purple undertone.

For her second home-improvement project, Helen fancied ripping up the nubbled carpet of a bland beige in what would be her bedroom and refinishing the floorboards. All the magazines indicated that carpet was naff, and chic Londoners now opted for burnished wood accented with arty throw rugs.

But even tearing up the old wall-to-wall was exhausting. The carpet had been fanatically tacked, and the nails pierced her work gloves until her hands were sore and swollen. Slicing the carpet into the short widths that the council required for pickup entailed more than one slip with the box cutter. The nicks made her hands more painful still, so slowing her typing of spreadsheets at work that her colleague at the next desk needled her for regression to hunt-and-peck.

Once she rented the sander, the real frustration began. She knew you had to remove any nails from the flooring, and numerous tacks had pulled through the carpet and remained behind in the wood. So she had fanatically smoothed her puffy bare hands over the boards to search out even the smallest bit of metal, countersinking stray spikes with a hammer and using pliers to tug out the tacks with heads. Yet whenever she started the machine - a deafening, unwieldy monster that was honestly rather frightening - it shrieked immediately on a raised nail, which shredded the sandpaper. The belts were pricey as well as bothersome to replace, and by the day's end she must have gone through a dozen - even after repeatedly caressing the whole floor on her hands and knees, checking every square inch for extrusions.

That night, at her wit's end and having ruined yet another sandpaper belt within 60 seconds, Helen Rutledge drew the kind of conclusion that the more collected rendition of her character would have found an anathema: the floor was obviously growing nails. It was growing nails as surely as her fingers did. As a demented experiment, she meticulously traced a little patch at one corner, then turned her back. By now, she wasn't even surprised: when she returned to the patch, it sported six or seven fierce, snag-headed tacks a good quarter-inch high, which had popped up like toadstools.

"Have it your way, then," she told the floor. Sanded fitfully in small, disconnected sections, the surface had a mangy quality, like diseased urban foxes. So she was at a loss to comprehend how it still managed to look smug.

When choosing a replacement carpet, she erred on the side of caution, selecting a sample of nubbled beige. The whole tedious operation dispatched, the bedroom looked exactly the same. So far, after much expense and effort, Helen the new homeowner had made no impact on this property whatsoever.

"Say, aren't you brave!"

Helen was on the pavement, keeping an eye on the removal men, making sure they didn't scratch her antique sideboard with mother-of-pearl inlay. An older woman had leaned over the picket fence between their adjoining properties. She had the stout build and burst-capillary complexion of this "transitional" area's pre-gentrification residents. Before she could stop herself, Helen thought reflexively, Probably on benefits.

"I don't know how 'brave' I am when they're doing all the work," Helen said, trying to sound friendly to cover for her uncharitable assumptions.

"I mean taking that place on," the woman said. "Has quite the reputation round here, that house."

"Oh?" Helen's tone cooled. She'd hitherto nursed an aggressive lack of interest in her property's history, especially in whatever loser had lived here who was feckless enough to face foreclosure.

"Your last owner, Judith. Determined to go down with the ship, she was!"

"Except the ship," Helen nodded at her front door, "is still afloat."

The woman mistakenly imagined that the new owner was desperate to hear the story. "There's not many what realise it, but Judith weren't all that far from paying off the mortgage free and clear. But her husband had died a way back - something with the kidneys - and Ron'd brung in the bacon. Bus driver, if I recall rightly. Your bereavement payment is a one-off, your bereavement allowance last only a year, and Judith weren't old enough to draw a pension. So money got well tight. Kids were wasters. Which didn't keep her from slipping them two boys the odd tenner when she had it to spare. Only reason they ever called round, if you ask me. Judith was a generous soul. Just had her limits. She'd a long fuse on her, but she did have one fearsome temper once she was riled. All that dosh pitched to the bankers for donkey's, she weren't about to let 'em take that house off her."

"But apparently they did." With every new scrap of superfluous information, Helen's heart had steadily sunk. The last thing you wanted was a next-door neighbour who was a motor-mouth. This woman could make simply getting out the door for the smallest trip to the shops take 40 minutes. But Helen was under the misimpression that keeping her own comments to a minimum would discourage chat, when in truth terseness simply left her neighbour all the more conversational leeway to let fly.

"Not without a fight! Soon as Judith get that summons, she start hammering. A proper racket for me, you can imagine, and I come out to see she's banging up big plywood sheets over the windows, like you do for rough weather - but these boards is on the inside. They say she padlock the doors from the inside as well, top and bottom, front and back. She'd a great towering stack of food and drink in the cellar, the way them religious nutters ready for the end of the world. May not be much to look at to some - no offence intended - but to Judith it were her house, where she spend most of her marriage, where she raise her boys."

"Sounds a pity, then," said Helen, who powerfully disapproved of any such illegal sit-in. If you had to make payments, you raised the money from somewhere or accepted the consequences. Irked that her curiosity about how the story ended had been piqued despite herself, she apologised that she had to mind the removal men and fled inside.

That night, surrounded by cartons, Helen flopped into bed without having flossed. Nothing was more exhausting than moving house, and before dropping off she made the commonplace vow (as commonly broken) that she'd never pull up stakes again.

Her slumber might have been deep and dreamless, were it not for the persistent strains of Jerusalem chorusing over and over from the direction of the party wall. She'd once found the tune rousing, until a workmate at Manson & Ross had started using the first three bars as a ringtone, after which she'd found its pompous strains unbearable. She didn't want to make enemies of this woman when their properties were attached at the hip, but some laying down of ground rules was in order.

The following Sunday morning, Helen relished the Christmas sensation of unwrapping treasured keepsakes from their newsprint swaddling. Unpacking was like being given everything you owned all over again. Perching her trove of CowParade figurines and smaller "mini-moos" atop the antique sideboard felt akin to sticking a flag in the summit of Mount Everest, for the familiar bovine art reproductions made a declaration of sorts: (Helen wasn't a natural collector, but a single gift of a brightly striped resin cow had triggered a cascade of presents from the same series. It seems one's personality wasn't always of one's own making, but could be a joint effort.) Maybe the previous owner had been on to something, too, and defacement was the ultimate form of possession, since pounding picture hooks into the plasterboard was strangely exhilarating; Helen would never have dared to drive holes in the walls of her rental flat in Dulwich. The framed photo of the whitewashed cottage where her family had always holidayed in the Cotswolds pleasingly linked where she had been to where she was. Even if she hadn't exactly read them, her embossed classics from the Folio Society marked her new digs as a household of taste, education and refinement.

So contented by festooning her first proper home with the dozens of touches that turned mere quadrants of space into rooms - rooms with character, rooms that had been mastered - for most of the morning she managed to ignore the insistent smell. A piercing odour of ammonia suggested that whoever had tarted up the house for sale had gone overboard with violent cleaning products, although the ammonia was contaminated with an undertone of diesel, and laced with a burnt singe. Residual wafts of detergent should have begun to dissipate; this pong was growing stronger.

If only to escape the mysterious reek, Helen took a break and headed out to her local Sainsbury's; switched on for a full day, the fridge should be cold by now. But of course she didn't make it to her front gate before the busybody next door popped out to ask how she was getting on, and to finally introduce herself as Gertrude.

"So you're a fan of Jerusalem, I gather." Helen had to force herself to bring it up.

Gertrude reared back. "Quite the opposite! Had to hear it again, I might top myself."

Helen frowned. "But I heard quite distinctly..."

"Judith, now. Couldn't tell if she specially fancied it or specially despised it, but either way that carry-on made for a fiendish weapon. Once the authorities get heavy - no surprise the bank bring in the council, and the council the police - Judith blast that song on her stereo nonstop, all hours. Never sure what she mean by it, but for me, by the end, you could shove your green and pleasant land right up England's arse."

It wasn't clear what Gertrude's game was, but at least the woman had been put on notice about her sound system.

Helen returned with an enormous shop, from which she immediately extracted the honeysuckle air freshener and sprayed the kitchen until the aerosol was half exhausted. But poorly masking the stench with artificial scent just made the room smell nauseously like a petrol station toilet. After hastily stocking the fridge-freezer, she retreated to the sitting room with chamomile tea to settle her stomach.

The photo of the Cotswolds: it was turned to the wall. The Folio Society hardbacks as well were now facing backwards, presenting a bank of adult christmas cards deckle-edged pages. The cows on the sideboard had vanished. On a hunch - British burglars weren't known for eccentric reshelvings of Moby Dick - she opened the sideboard's top drawer, and there were her kaleidoscope cows, seemingly unharmed, but on their sides, shoved out of sight.

Sheer mischief! Might that Judith woman have provided Gertrude a spare key for emergencies? Yet, if so, why would her neighbour sneak inside when Helen was at the supermarket and mess with her things? Nothing seemed to have been taken, so the lady might simply have been snooping, but didn't most stealthy nosey parkers make a point of leaving everything as they found it?

Still, the ploy, whatever it was for, was oddly effective. As Helen righted the photo, reversed the Folio books and restored the resin cows to their rightful place on the sideboard, she felt more unnerved than she had been by the hostile front lock, the boiling paint job, the nail-sprouting floorboards, the bombasts of William Blake, or even that awful smell - though as she recited it, she realised that there was a list, and that it kept getting longer.

Running late for work that Monday morning, still underslept from more penetrating strains of Jerusalem, Helen whitened the coffee that would have to suffice for breakfast, only to watch the milk resurface in bobbing curds. That semi-skim wasn't a day old! But when she checked, the fridge was warm; the frozen food was melting. Surely she'd heard the comforting hum of the appliance as she unpacked dishware the day before. But now the socket was switched to the off position and everything she'd bought at Sainsbury's was ruined.

There was nothing for it but to switch the socket back to "on" and deal with the disaster after work. Perhaps she'd imagined the hum, and neither she nor the removal man who'd connected the white goods had remembered the outlet switch.

Yet when she returned from work that evening, the switch was back off. Chicken juice from the freezer pooled on the floor. Furiously, Helen pitched the breast fillets, venison burgers, sausage rolls, lamb chops, smoked salmon and packets of pre-washed baby lettuces into a bin liner. After dumping the bag of costly foodstuffs into her wheelie bin, she marched round the picket fence and pounded on Gertrude's door.

Alas, her neighbour's expression of affable innocence looked so genuine that Helen's consternation crumbled to embarrassment. If she accused this near stranger of barging into her property solely in order to turn off the refrigerator, she would sound unhinged. For that matter, confronted with the problem of a malicious intruder who must have possessed a spare key, why hadn't a capable woman like herself simply changed the lock right away?

Because when an inanimate CowParade collection freakishly transports itself from surface to drawer, safeguarding a rational explanation was tantamount to safeguarding one's sanity. So long as she didn't change the lock, she could always blame Gertrude. In the event that any further goings-on might require a logical attribution, she didn't want to change the lock.

"Sorry, I - forgot to switch on the outlet for the fridge, and now all my food's spoiled. I wondered if you might have a bit of bread and cheese, to tide me over." It was all she could come up with on the spot, though half a dozen takeaway menus had already been shoved through her letterbox.

"We can do better than that, hon. You come right in."

Gertrude's house was cluttered, laid with clashing patterned carpets and lined with hokey ceramic pigs, whose old-lady ambience might in time worrisomely confer itself on Helen's avant-garde cows. Still, the gas fire was lit, and it was a relief to feel welcome somewhere.

"Sure that outlet's being switched off was your fault?" Gertrude fished, slipping a ready-meal lasagne into the microwave.

"Who else's fault could it be? I'm on my own."

"And why would that be? Such a fine-looking girl. Don't fancy a body to keep you warm at night?"

"Oh, I've had my share of boyfriends," Helen exaggerated. "But right now I'm concentrating on my career. Enjoying my independence."

Gertrude glanced at her guest askance as she delivered a glass of lager (Helen would have preferred wine). "But what about a family? Getting late for you, I wager."

"Oh, I'm not sure children are on the cards. But they've never been a priority for me, really." The feisty assertion was undermined by a forlorn note.

As they sat down to their meal, Helen raised tentatively, "That face-off, with Judith. When she boarded the windows, and padlocked the doors from the inside. How did it end?"

"Badly, of course," Gertrude said, sorrowfully. "All manner of nasty notices pile up at the door. Officers pounding to be let in. Finally, didn't they drive up in a lorry with a battering ram, and bust through the entry. Don't know if you notice, but that front door of yours? It's spanking new. The old one was splintered to bits, like."

The old lock would have been done for as well. So much for the theory that Gertrude had a spare key. "So did they arrest her, or fine her? Say, for contempt of court?"

Gertrude sighed. "Too late for that. They found Judith collapsed in the kitchen. Probably dead a day or two. She build one of them fertiliser bombs, if you can credit it. Researched the how-to on the internet; cops found the searches on a computer she'd used down at the library. Hadn't researched it too good, mind, since heaven be praised the contraption was duff. Poor wretch were overcome by the fumes when she try to set it off. Troubled me Judith didn't take into account how blowing up her house might of taken me own with it, but she couldn't of been in what you'd call a considerate state of mind."

"It was her house," Helen filled in. "If she couldn't keep it, then no one else was going to get it either."

"Figure that's about the sum of it."

Nevertheless, sensible Helen Rutledge couldn't countenance hocus-pocus, and throughout the following several years the should continued to take precedence over a great deal of was. A washer-load of whites would come out a sickly pink, having been fouled by a pair of red socks, and Helen didn't own red socks. The dimmer switches in the breakfast room developed a constant tremble; the nervous sensation that the quavering halogen spots provided her evenings soon translated to her left eye, whose chronic twitch made clients at Manson & Ross worry that she was untrustworthy or hiding something. Electrical wiring began bulging from the plasterboard, branching in disquieting varicose veins, as if the whole house had high blood pressure.

Over time, mildew rose in a blighting speckle beside the shower stall, and to Helen the dusty pixels always formed a face - with beady, resentful eyes, frazzled hair and pressed lips - much as a vision of the Virgin Mary will appear to the devout on a piece of burnt toast. When Helen tried to wipe off the spores, she simply smeared the expression from grimace to smirk. Disrobing under the mouldy stare made her self-conscious, and alone at home with the shades drawn, Helen would bind a towel tightly under her arms to hide her breasts.

Trying to rejuvenate the dishevelled back garden, Helen planted a row of forget-me-nots, in the hope that the sheer helplessness and aching vulnerability of the tiny periwinkle blooms would protect the charming cover from harm. No such luck: the pretty little plants all withered and blackened within the week, while the garden suddenly reeked of ammonia and diesel, the smell to which she'd long before grown inured indoors.

Other misfortunes were more ruinous. During one workday, the bath spontaneously ran for hours and soaked the sitting room ceiling, which saved its collapse of soggy plaster for the moment of her return. Following some routine masonry repairs, both sinks backed up. When she swore herself blue that she would never pour wet concrete down her own kitchen drain, the plumber asked the obvious: "So who else did it?"

Even entertaining never went right. Guests spilled things, ate quickly and left early. Perhaps the sense she'd had on first entering these quarters affected others as well: they didn't feel welcome.

When she finally invited a proper date round for a summer supper - Alan was a new hire, and rather dashing, for an accountant - he seemed ill at ease from the start, having been ridiculously unsettled by the peculiar shelving of her Folio classics, which she'd given up standing spine out. "She doesn't care for Jane Austen," Helen dismissed distractedly, basting the roast. While the two chatted awkwardly in the sitting room, the meat burnt to a cinder anyway, since somehow the oven dial got nudged up to gas mark 9, and Alan had made a point of preferring his beef rare. But never mind the food, as once they sat down to a candlelit dinner on the little back porch the decking collapsed, breaking Alan's collar bone and ending their romantic evening in A&E.

Sadly, Helen's resolve not to be defeated by mere bricks and mortar came at a cost. She developed an anxious, jumpy disposition, and workmates began to avoid her at lunch. Her appearance suffered; weight loss was aging, and due to a phobia about the shower, which got scalding with no warning, as if suffering from menopausal hot flushes, her hair was often greasy and flat. Proud independence slid without her noticing to loneliness. That forlorn note that had sounded at Gertrude's about not giving "priority" to children became a dominant chord. Professionally, too, she felt increasingly perverse: despite the smorgasbord of careers from which she might have chosen when younger, she had willingly plunged up to the eyeballs into the most odious aspect of modern life.

In the office, she'd once been a notorious stickler, insistent that expenses be entered in precise amounts to the penny. Yet now her decimal points were wont to migrate willy-nilly two or three places. She would forget to include investment income, or neglect an inheritance. Consequently, one client in arrears with HMRC seemed to qualify for a substantial refund. After the client had blown his windfall on a lavish holiday in Mallorca, he returned to face an audit and then criminal prosecution. Helen was sacked.

She tried mightily to find another position, but she'd left the firm without a reference. Months went by. Formerly substantial savings depleted by stamp duty, abortive DIY and unanticipated bills from tradesmen, she soon fell behind on her mortgage payments.

Helen imagined herself a reserved person, but 21 Lansing Close had taken its toll. When the foreclosure notice from Barclays arrived, she was incandescent. Was it her fault that the job market was so anaemic? Had she not arranged monthly direct debits for year upon year? It was sheer thievery - the compulsory forfeiture of countless interest payments, a fair whack of principle, and her deposit to boot! Was it fair, for slackers to get housing from the state for free, when responsible taxpayers who fell on hard times were thrown on the street? True, she hated this house, but mutual loathing had locked them into the embrace of lovers, and it was her house to hate. Indeed, no one would ever revile this property with the ferocity of Helen Rutledge, who was not about to abdicate its deed to anyone for whom her ultimate foe, her bete noire, her personal nemesis, was merely an affordable bottom rung on the UK's most worn-out metaphor.

Dear Gertrude having passed that autumn, and the council having yet to install another tenant in the adjacent semi, Helen searched the internet with a clean conscience. Moreover, she was still capable of calling up the exactitude and attention to detail that had once distinguished her performance at Manson & Ross. Only after exhaustive cross-reference and thorough perusal of shadily inquisitive threads on and Yahoo did she settle on what appeared a foolproof recipe. So when Helen detonated her own toil and trouble, cauldron bubble, accompanied by the rousing chorus of Jerusalem, it worked.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

the IRISH NEWS: Published 18/12/2013 - Airport is geared up to cap off busy year

The George Best Belfast City Airport says it is geared up to transport more than 100,000 passengers over the Christmas and New Year period to cap one of the busiest years in its 30-year history.

It comes as figures from the Civil bulk christmas cards Authority (CAA) showed passenger numbers for the 12 months to the end of October were up more than 2.5 million (14.1 per cent) on the previous year.

"This has been a particularly busy year for Belfast City Airport, with over 1.65 million passengers being transported through the terminal in the summer months alone, an increase of nearly 22 per cent on the same period last year," the airport's chief executive Brian Ambrose said yesterday.

"As Northern Ireland's sole link with London heathrow, the BA route has been particularly strong and no doubt continue throughout the festive period, with passengers from across the world using the London hub to arrive home for Christmas.

"Domestic routes operated by Flybe, our largest and longest-serving airline, have also performed well throughout the year and will be extremely busy getting our passengers where they need to be for the holidays."

"Continued private investment at the airport, which has exceeded £15 million in the last four years, ensures that we have the capacity to welcome both business and leisure passengers into Northern Ireland through a modern airport with state of the art, efficient facilities."

Belfast lord mayor Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, on a visit to the facility yesterday, said: "It's encouraging to see the airport continue to thrive in what still is a challenging economy.

"The tourism sector, especially Belfast traders, benefit directly from the City Airport, and I'm delighted with the record numbers of passengers coming to visit our great city."

North Down mayor Andrew Muir said: "Belfast City Airport is one of our most valuable transport assets, particularly for business passengers.

"This vital transport hub ensures businesses across Belfast and north Down are a flying success and I'm determined to work with the airport and key stake-holders to provide a more stable and secure future for this valuable economic gateway."

"Northern Ireland's economy still faces many difficulties, but by bringing people and businesses together, we can facilitate collaborative solutions to promote growth, develop skills and retain talent."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

BIZ ROUNDUP: New Sears Outlet in Cherry Hill, tax deductions, more

A sears outlet has opened in the Garden State Pavilions on Route 70 in Cherry Hill. The outlet — next to Burlington Coat Factory — offers merchandise at 30 to 70 percent off regular retail prices.

The store features home appliances, furniture and apparel. The clothing can be marked down as much as 90 percent.

Some of the fridges, stoves and washer/dryers might have a little scratch or dent, but you might get a great deal.

Store hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.


Evesham's Hill International, a global construction management firm, announced last week it received a contract from the Iraq Ministry of Youth and Sports to provide services for the construction of the Al Samawah Olympic Stadium in Samawah, Iraq.

The 28-month contract has an estimated value of about $2.2 million.

Construction of the 20,000-seat stadium, designed to comply with FIFA standards, will cost about $61 million. This is the third sports stadium project in Iraq managed by Hill.


A security company owned by a former Evesham police officer set up shop in Camden last week.

Signal 88 Security provides services to a variety of commercial and residential settings, including apartment complexes, business and government buildings, shopping centers and malls, hotels, hospitals, and special events, says owner Jeff Gural, who served on the Evesham force for 27 years.

The company's customized security services include patrol and guard services, virtual camera monitoring, online real-time tracking and measurable results reporting.

For more information, go to


I recently received an email from the U.S. Department of Labor that talked about seasonal employment spikes.

The release stated there are many workers and employers in the South Jersey area who are not familiar with temporary and part-time employment rules.

To help guide both workers and employers, the release provided a link to the department's Wage and Hour Division fact sheet that addresses some of the most frequently asked questions.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New And Exclusive Micro-Site Content

ePHOTOzine's Micro-Site Roundup - Find out what's been happening on our five Micro-Sites.


Here's a roundup of the exclusive content we've got for you to have a read of on our five micro-sites this week:

On PENTAXPORTAL this week, you can take a look at some top tips for photographing seals with your Pentax camera, and check out some top Pentax sunset photos. Plus, the brand new K-3 DSLR has been reviewed on site this week, and there's news of new images from Ricoh Imaging brand ambassadors.

Over On EIZO ColorZone, you can learn how to perform a monitor viewing angle check and find out why ColorNavigator software is a great tool for aiding calibration. Plus, there's news of a new 3D CG colour management handbook that's now available.

Meanwhile, on Olympus Image Space this week, there are techniques on how to use blur creatively, and there's news on Olympus workshops taking place over the coming months with Damian McGillicuddy and Steve Gosling. Plus, news on the Olympus Impressions 'Fall' competition, and £100 accessory cashback when you buy an Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera have also gone live.

On Totally Tamron this week, you can learn some top tips for taking better photos of ice with your Tamron lens, plus there are some top Tamron portrait photos for you to take a look at. Don't forget to take a look at David Pritchard's blog the days zoom past, too, as he's been out-and-about with his newly acquired Tamron 24-70mm lens.

Last but not least, on Nikon Nation this week, you can check out some ideas and tips for on location portrait shoots, get creative with colour balance and lots more. Plus, don't miss the Nikon D5300 Black Friday Deal DSLR review and news of ono-to one training with Nikon School in December.

Make sure you check back to the Micro-Sites regularly, as new and exclusive content is posted weekly!

Source: Ephotozine

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nikon D5300 hands-on review

Nikon Nikon D5300 Buy Cheap at a glance:

  • 24.2-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
  • 1.037-million-dot, 3.2in, 170° LCD screen
  • Expeed 4 image processor
  • 39-point AF system with nine cross-type sensors
  • ISO 100-25,600
  • Price £730 body only
  • See product shots of the Nikon D5300

Nikon D5300 - Introduction

While the serious enthusiast is unlikely to be swayed into buying a Nikon DSLR over a Canon model purely because the Nikon camera is newer, the reality is that at the non-premium end of the market this is how some people make their buying decisions. 'Newer' must mean 'better'.

This demand for the 'new' explains why we see such short product cycles in the camera market, and why manufacturers feel the need to introduce even small advances in technology or feature sets in cameras with completely new names - rather than a 'Mark II' type of naming format.

Those familiar with Nikon's range of DSLRs may not see the sense in the company's introduction of the new D5300, especially as Nikon will maintain the D5200 alongside this model in the range - new and old together. By doing so, though, Nikon expands the number of cameras it has on offer and the number of price points it can cover, while also being able to have a model that can carry a 'New' sticker, and which introduces new features to the price band in which it will sit.

That's not to say that the Nikon D5300 isn't different to the D5200, though, as a new processor, new body design and the integration of wireless communications do genuinely bring additional benefits to the photographer.

Nikon D5300 - Design and handling

Nikon is very pleased that it has achieved a new way of constructing camera bodies, which it describes as a 'monocoque'. Instead of there being a chassis, onto which the components and the body shell are attached, the D5300 is designed to have everything screwed to the insides of the body form itself: exoskeleton, rather then the usual endoskeleton.

Image: The top of the camera houses only a few control points, keeping the layout simple and unintimidating for newcomers. A stereo microphone lives in front of the hotshoe

The D5300's body shell is also made of a new material, although Nikon won't say what that new material is - just that it is new. The upshot is that the body is less heavy than it might have been, and is 25g lighter, including the battery, than the camera it doesn't replace, the D5200.

I'm not entirely sure that when I used the camera I could appreciate the exact weight loss that has occurred, but I was able to enjoy the fact that this is truly a lightweight DSLR, of the type that we might not mind carrying all day, over the shoulder, in a bag or in a large pocket. The body is very small too, although it is balanced with a reassuringly large grip for the right hand. It seems ironic that a small and light camera should need a large grip, but I found it allowed me to be aware I was carrying the camera, and should a larger lens be attached it will help to support the forward pull of such a weight distribution.

Image: The body styling will be familiar to those used to the Nikon 5000 series, as will the standard menu. The 3.2in flip-out screen has impressive visibility

The buttons are arranged much as one might expect, with all the principal controls falling easily to the finger or thumb. The rear 3.2in LCD is very nicely bright and clear, with its 1.037-million-dot resolution. Nikon has set the viewing panel into the glass screen, so there are no gaps or internal reflections, which produces good contrast and a clear view from a quoted angled of up to 170°. I am impressed.

In live view, the screen works well when the camera is held low or high, and I found the AF quick enough and seemingly accurate. The response of the shutter in live view also seems good.

Image: Nikon has retained its choice of layouts for the rear-screen display, with text-based and graphically expressed options to suit personal preferences

Nikon D5300 - Still to test

The principal changes in this model are of the sort that will only be proved in testing, but at this stage their potential is worth pointing out. Using the higher-capacity Expeed 4 processor, Nikon claims it has been able to reduce noise in its images through the use of more complicated calculations. A related benefit is that now noise levels are lower the company is comfortable offering a higher ISO setting - the Nikon D5300 allows ratings of up to ISO 25,600. More complex calculations also provide the potential for better white balance assessment in automatic modes via a more comprehensive assessment of the scene, and a better rendition of colour overall.

Lower noise should also lead to better resolution of detail from the 24.2-million-pixel sensor, as should Nikon's decision to do without the micro-blurring effects of a low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter. Leaving the low-pass filter off the sensor has become very fashionable, and I suspect it will be a great draw for many photographers. Moiré in images created by a sensor with 24 million pixels, even an APS-C-sized sensor, is still something that is quite likely to occur, but there is also plenty of software to correct it after the event.

The other thing to note is that this model sees the introduction of a new battery cell, which Nikon says increases capacity from 500 shots to 600 compared to the cell used in the D5200. It annoys me when companies change their battery forms, but on this occasion the new cell and that used in the D5200 are interchangeable.

Obviously, I couldn't test the battery life of the camera, but we should take the increase as good news. I will also have to wait to test the Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities of this new model, but neither can be held as negative points just for their inclusion. The Wi-Fi integration means users will be able to control the camera from an Android or iOS device, and will be able to wirelessly transfer images for viewing, editing and sending while on the go.

Image: The new battery, which is backwards compatible with the D5200, offers a longer life. There is no low-pass filter on the sensor, for extra resolution

Nikon D5300 - Conclusion

It would be easy to dismiss the Nikon D5300 for being too similar to the D5200, but that really isn't the point. There is not much wrong with the D5200, and the changes that this new model brings can only make it better. Perhaps Nikon could have called it the D5200 ll, but I'm not sure it matters one bit.

The Nikon D5300 will cost around £730 body only and be available from 14 November.

Source: Amateurphotographer

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nikon D5300 price and specs

<Nikon D5300 Dealsp> Date : 23 Ekim 2013 Çarşamba - 03:29, Category : TECHNOLOGY

Nikon D5300 price and specs

Nikon D5300 price and specs

Camera maker Nikon's D5300 has made quite a few heads turn with its latest specifications. It's a mid-range model, the D5300, designed for consumers looking for an everyday interchangeable-lens camera with good performance and solid image quality. The camera is also Nikon's first capable of shooting 1080p video at 60p, an important improvement for anyone looking to record quick movements.
This camera replaces the D5200, adding a new 24.2-megapixel sensor without an optical low-pass filter, an EXPEED 4 processor for 1080/60p video and 5 fps stills and boosted battery life, letting you capture about 700 shots per charge, compared to 500 with the previous model.

The D5300 is expected to hit stores later this month in black, red and grey for $1,400 with an 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens or $800 body-only. Nikon is introducing its first DSLR with built-in Wi-Fi and GPS, the D5300. The new camera is an update to the D5200, and will take its place as Nikon's top-of-the-line camera for the beginner DSLR market.

Though Nikon says that the D5300′s overall improvements are iterative, they should add up to something quite meaningful: it also includes a larger, 3.2-inch articulating display; a new image-processing engine; and no low-pass filter on the camera's DX-format sensor, which should result in sharper images. Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS are a first for Nikon DSLRs

The D5300 will be able to pair with Nikon's existing Android and iOS app, allowing them to view and share photos. It's not the most robust tool for remotely controlling a camera, but it's something that's easy to see as a handy option. Aside from connectivity, the D5300′s other big improvement over its predecessor should be in image sharpness.


Related Posts

Source: Usprocyclingnews

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Capture, Create, Connect: The Nikon D5300 D-SLR Lets Photographers Do It All With Confidence

<Nikon D5300 Discountp>Related:

MELVILLE, N.Y., Oct. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ Today, Nikon Inc. announced the latest addition to its legendary digital SLR lineup, the Nikon D5300. Offering the benefits of SLR performance with the versatility of wireless connectivity, the D5300 allows users to easily capture and share amazing images and videos. Though compact and lightweight, the Nikon D5300 packs an enhanced 24.2-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor, EXPEED 4 image processing and the convenience of built-in Wi-Fi 1. Users now have the power to take both frame-worthy and share-worthy photos and HD videos with one device no matter where they are.

"With the Nikon D5300, we are continuing our commitment to delivering unparalleled performance and image quality while addressing the importance of staying connected and sharing images with ease," said Masahiro Horie, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc. "By answering the need to share high quality photos, the Nikon D5300 allows photographers to capture their memories in astounding clarity and share them with family and friends moments after they happen."

Advanced Performance for When it Matters Most
Making memorable moments even better, the Nikon D5300 offers stunning image quality with sharp, crisp detail to preserve life's precious memories. The enhanced 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor delivers stunning images and HD videos with heightened clarity and detail due to the removal of the optical low pass filter (OLPF). From planned family portraits to candid moments, the D5300 has the performance, along with easy and intuitive features, to help users capture photos confidently, including:

  • Amazing Low Light Performance For clean, sharp details even in the most challenging lighting conditions including night games and dimly lit restaurants, the Nikon D5300 covers a wide ISO range of 100-12,800 and is expandable to ISO 25,600.
  • EXPEED 4 Image Processing Nikon's most recent image processing engine drives the rapid response and swift performance of the D5300, while maximizing energy efficiency, reducing image noise and delivering true-to-life colors.
  • Scene Recognition System To further help users capture the image they intend, the Nikon D5300 features Nikon's Scene Recognition System and 2,016-pixel RGB metering system to analyze and recognize the scene. Utilizing these systems results in adjustments to exposure, AF and white balance to deliver the best photo possible, whether it's a landscape or portrait.
  • 39-Point AF System Nikon's quick and precise 39-point AF system works with the Scene Recognition System to accurately acquire and track subjects throughout the frame, resulting in tack-sharp images. Kids too active to pose for a photo or pets chasing after a toy are easily captured in brilliant sharpness for memorable photos.
  • 5 Frames-Per-Second While using the optical viewfinder or in Live View, capture great moments that would have otherwise been missed with the D5300's 5 frames-per-second (fps) rate.

Share Like Never Before
The D5300 is Nikon's first D-SLR to feature built-in Wi-Fi, allowing the user to share high quality photos instantly. The Nikon D5300 sends images to the user's smart device, allowing them to share their D-SLR quality photos through e-mail and social media. From a winning touchdown to a surprise proposal, friends and family can now see these important moments clearly captured right after they happen. The Nikon D5300 also includes built-in GPS, another first for Nikon D-SLRs. Now the user can geotag images and allow others to see where life has taken them.

Features for Creativity and Versatility
Compact and lightweight (16.9 oz.), the Nikon D5300 can easily be packed for a day trip or a planned getaway. The small body of the D5300 affords the photographer the freedom to travel while still being easy to handle and comfortable to use. In addition to being able to capture amazing images anywhere, the D5300 is also packed with additional features to promote creativity and versatility, including:

  • 3.2-inch Vari-Angle LCD monitor Whether shooting above a crowd or getting low to capture the details of a flower, users can explore new shots from a dramatic point of view with the large 3.2-inch Vari-angle LCD monitor. This super sharp (1,037K-dot) screen allows photographers to easily make camera adjustments and read menus, while also allowing them to compose the photo they want clearly when shooting from high or low angles. The rotating LCD makes it easy to capture "selfies" at an arm's length away or frame creative perspectives when capturing still photos and HD video.
  • Full HD 1080p Video Capture Create movies fit for the big screen with Full HD 1080p video capture at 60p with built-in stereo, wide ISO range for high quality videos in any light and improved full-time AF to keep the subject in focus.
  • NIKKOR Compatibility The Nikon D5300 is compatible with Nikon's legendary NIKKOR lenses and powerful system accessories, further adding versatility and creativity.

October 2013 for the suggested retail price (SRP) of $1,399.95*. To complement consumers' preferences, the Nikon D5300 will be available in Black, Red and Gray. For more information on the new Nikon D5300 and other Nikon products, please visit Price and Availability
The Nikon D5300 kit with the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens will be available in

Press Release, News
Source: Broadwayworld

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dr. Seuss App Teaches Kids to Read

I do not like green eggs and ham.

But served up as an app? Kids seem to find them pretty tasty.

Dr. Seuss (a.k.a. Theodor Geisel) and his books for children date back more than 75 years. For nearly 60 of those years, his characters stayed mainly on the printed page.

In 1997, I wrote about some Seuss titles that had made it onto the computer screen, "Green Eggs and Ham," and "The cat stencil book in the Hat" among them.

Sound and animation helped children develop eye-hand coordination by using a mouse; words that changed colors as the computer's voice sounded them out - or even turned into the objects that they spelled - helped children learn to read.

Dr. Seuss had entered the computer age.

So it is appropriate that on the 75th anniversary of the publication of "The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins," that an app by that title has appeared for iPad/iPhone and Android devices (as well as Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook Color tablets; about $5).

It's an interactive picture book, designed for children in the 6-to-12 age group. The picture book is nicely done, too, with black-and-white renditions of the Seuss artwork that appeared in the 1938 original. Bartholomew's hats, and there are plenty of them, are all red, making them numerous and notable.

There are 31 pages for children to explore. They can either read the pages themselves, or have the story read to them.

And here's a very nice feature of this and some of the other titles from Oceanhouse Media: It allows parents, grandparents, siblings or the children themselves to record their own voice, so the app can read the story back to them instead of using the prerecorded voice. (The company's website notes that this feature is only available for Apple devices.)

The company's website has dozens of titles by Dr. Seuss. Two or three are offered free in a "lite" or "sampler" version. The company also offers reading apps for other brands, including the Berenstain Bears, Five Little Monkeys, and Little Critter.


Pumpkins abound this time of year. Once the seeds are removed and the insides taken out (an ice-cream scoop is perfect for the task), the pumpkin is ready for carving.

Better Homes and Gardens has devoted part of its website to pumpkins. There are videos on how to clean them out, how to pick one for carving, and how to use stencils for carving. One section shows a stencil, then show how the carved pumpkin turned out. There are dozens of stencils from which to choose, ranging from traditional Halloween themes to dogs and cats.

Don't want the mess and time of pumpkin carving? There are no-carve ideas as well. Pumpkins can be painted as well. And festooned with ribbons. There are plenty of decorating tips available by clicking on the "Halloween Fun" link on the page.

To get to the webpage, use this link:

[ Lonnie Brown can be reached at ]

Source: Theledger

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Unofficial iPhone 5s tracker helps customers find gold

Summary: An inventory tracker was developed by an enterprising Apple developer looking for the fabled gold iPhone 5s iphone ipad cases for kids otter.

Remember the rumor that Apple was going to update its Apple Store app to include real-time iPhone inventory status? Well, it never came to pass, at least the way I imagined.

In 2008 a developer built an iPhone 3G tracker by scraping the Apple Store's JSON data feed (Apple quickly pulled the feed). Then in 2009 Apple posted an official iPhone 3GS tracker that was updated hourly and linked to its sales system.

Unfortunately, it's 2013 and the current implementation is incredibly obtuse and difficult to use. There's no simple chart that simply shows where to find an iPhone 5s in stock. It's a huge step backwards from 2009.

To find an iPhone 5s near you, you need to go to Apple's buy page, click on the configuration you want, then click on the tiny blue "check availability" link in the right navigation bar. From there, you can enter your zip code to see availability at five stores at a time, for that configuration. If you want to check another color or configuration, you need to start over.

Enter iPhone-Check by Mordy Tikotzky (@Tikotzky), an Apple Developer from NJ.

Frustrated with not being able to find a gold iPhone 5c for his wife he build a slick iPhone tracker that scrapes for the most up to date iPhone 5s inventory information.

According to Tikotzky iPhone-Check started as a little project running on his local computer and then he decided to share it with the world. Tikotzky wrote it in an hour (using on top of with the support of his employer (@homeandstone) who let him do it on their time. He spent another two hours tweaking it in the evening.

iPhone-Check must be scratching an itch. The site broke 100k unique visitors Wednesday and has topped 1 million page views since it was launched less than a week ago. It's a shame that Apple couldn't offer a proper iPhone tracker, because clearly there's demand.

Now where all these gold iPhones I keep hearing about?

Source: Zdnet

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A not-so-scary Mickey's Halloween Party returns to Disneyland

<halloween party kitp>The initial pitch to transform the Haunted Mansion attraction with a Halloween overlay based on "The Nightmare Before Christmas" didn't receive a warm reception from the Disneyland brass.

Tim Burton's quirky stop-motion animated musical fantasy seemed too dark and twisted of a holiday theme for the classic Disneyland dark ride.

Thirteen years later Haunted Mansion Holiday is the cornerstone of Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland, with hour-plus lines throughout the season.

Photos: Mickey's Halloween Party at Disneyland

The transformation of the Haunted Mansion takes three weeks every year with crews adding decorations, animations, props and large set pieces inspired by the 1993 movie. Each year a few new elements are added -- from the pumpkin mountain to the ballroom tree to the gingerbread house.

Disneyland takes the same approach with the annual Halloween festivities, incorporating a couple new elements to an event that largely stays the same from year to year. This season the Monsters U dance party at the Tomorrowland Terrace joins the lineup with a "family-friendly frat party" hosted by scare students Mike and Sully.

The up-charge event is the one time of year when visitors can wear costumes while trick or treating at candy stations located throughout the park.

Other attractions returning this year to Mickey's Halloween Party include:

* "Halloween Screams" fireworks spectacular hosted by "master of scare-omonies" Jack Skellington, star of "The Nightmare Before Christmas."

* "Mickey's Costume Party" parade with Disney characters dressed in Halloween costumes.

* Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, which adds ghostly special effects and a creepy soundtrack to the indoor roller coaster.

* The Cadaver Dans singing quartet performing on a graveyard-themed raft on the Rivers of America.

* A Dia de los Muertos tribute with a traditional skeleton display and brightly colored altars festooned with marigolds and sugar skulls.

* Disney villains posing for photos while strolling along Main Street U.S.A.

* Halloween crafts and pumpkin carving in Big Thunder Ranch.

Tickets for the evening-only event range from $59 to $74. Mickey's Halloween Party dates include Oct. 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30 and 31.

Related theme park stories and photo galleries

Disneyland: Fantasy Faire | Mickey & the Magical Map

Universal Studios Hollywood: Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Six Flags Magic Mountain: Full Throttle

Knott's Berry Farm: Timber Mountain | Coast Rider

SeaWorld San Diego: Aquatica

U.S. parks: Top 13 for 2013 | Disney World | Cedar Point | Top 10 water coasters

International parks: Top 13 for 2013 | Shanghai Disneyland | Disneyland Paris | Top 20 water parks

> Follow the Los Angeles Times Funland theme park blog on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

Source: Latimes

7 Snack Ideas for a Hauntingly Healthier Halloween Party

Halloween is a candy-crazed free-for all once the sun goes down and trick-or-treating begins. I catch my kids halloween gloves digging into their treat bags and chowing down between houses, and there's no use stopping the wild animals that have taken over the children.

That's why each year I host a healthy start halloween party for the neighborhood. All the kids come over in costume and parade around comparing the different ensembles (last year we had five spiderman's of adorableness!) and acting out their characters - all while feeding on healthy snacks to fuel them for the long night running around on a sugar high.

I like to keep things simple and easy and fun for kids. Here are some great recipes and idea's for a healthy start to your Halloween.

Disney Online Mom & Family Portfolio

The Walt Disney Company supports Babble as a platform dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent and open conversation about parenting. However, the opinions expressed on this site are those of individual parents/writers and do not reflect the views of Disney. In addition, content provided on this site is for entertainment or informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or safety advice.

Source: Babble

Saturday, September 28, 2013

March Networks Integrates Sony IP Cameras With Its 8000 Series Hybrid Network Video Recorders


March Networks, a global provider of intelligent IP video solutions, is pleased to announce the integration of its 8000 Series Hybrid Network Video Recorders (NVRs) with Sony Electronics, Inc.'s IPELA ENGINE EX and PRO IP cameras. The March Networks-certified integration makes it easier for 8000 Series customers and systems integrators to deploy Sony cameras for high-quality video surveillance. It also provides Sony customers with greater flexibility when selecting a recording platform, allowing them to take advantage of the exceptional reliability, centralized management and 100 percent IP camera support provided by the 8000 Series platform.

March Networks is committed to providing customers and partners with open, standards-based products. All 8000 Series hybrid recorders are ONVIF-compliant, which enables them to operate seamlessly with more than 2,000 third-party cameras. In addition, the company works with best-in-class manufacturers like Sony to ensure support for an expanded set of capabilities. The certified integration with the Sony IP cameras ensures out-of-the-box support for features including audio capture, H.264 video compression, motion alarms, physical alarms and switches, and PTZ control.

"Video surveillance customers are looking for broader product choices and deployment options," said Mark Collett, General Manager, Sony Electronics' Security Systems Division. "This integration with March Networks' hybrid recording systems is a direct response to that demand and is particularly advantageous for organizations seeking more detailed, high-definition surveillance video."

March Networks' 8000 Series Hybrid NVRs deliver the high-performance customers need for advanced surveillance and business intelligence applications now and in the future. Available in 32, 16, 8 and compact 4-channel models, the recorders support multiple hybrid camera combinations as well as all-IP video streaming, enabling organizations to transition from analog to 100 percent IP video on the same platform. The 8000 Series employs optimized H.264 video compression to provide detailed, HD video and noticeably sharper analog camera images without increasing storage requirements. The recorders also maintain the unparalleled reliability, centralized video management and scalability that have made March Networks the No. 1 supplier of enterprise video recorders in the Americas and a leading provider worldwide.

"We are pleased to add Sony's well respected IP surveillance cameras to our growing list of 8000 Series integrations," said Net Payne, Chief Marketing Officer, March Networks. "This combination of products frees customers and partners from time-consuming - and often frustrating - deployment issues, affirms our commitment to open standards and broadens the addressable market for both of our companies."

March Networks is demonstrating its certified integration with the Sony cameras in Booth 2052 at the ASIS International Annual Seminar and Exhibits, September 24-26 in Chicago, IL. For more information, visit

About March Networks
March Networks, an independent subsidiary of Infinova, is a leading provider of intelligent IP video solutions. For more than a decade, the company has helped some of the world's largest commercial and government organizations transition from traditional CCTV to advanced surveillance technologies used for security, loss prevention, risk mitigation and operational efficiency. Its highly scalable and easy to use Command video management platform incorporates a browser-based client interface to enable rapid system deployment and complete system control. It is complemented by the company's portfolio of high-definition IP cameras, encoders, video analytics and hybrid recorders, as well as outstanding professional and managed services. March Networks systems are delivered through an extensive distribution and partner network in more than 50 countries. For more information, visit

SOURCE: March Networks

Source: Bsminfo

Health care reform scams popping up in South Dakota

The South Dakota Division of Insurance has issued a consumer alert warning people of scammers posing as insurance agents or federal government representatives.

State Insurance Director Merle Scheiber said scam artists may be trying to sell fraudulent policies or obtain sensitive information like Social Security and bank account numbers.

Fake exchange websites are one common problem, along with claims the person's new "Obamacare" insurance card will be issued if he or she provides additional personal information.

"Don't be misled," said Scheiber through a news release. "Scammers may use pressure by saying their offer is only good for a limited time or you will go to jail if you don't have health insurance, but this is not true."

For more information, call the insurance division at 605-773-3563

Source: Aberdeennews

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Kansas looks to bounce back in front of its home crowd whenthe Jayhawks welcome Louisiana Tech to Memorial Stadium for an 11 a.m. game onFox Sports 1 (FS1) Saturday. A bowl team and the nation's highest scoringoffense a season ago, the Bulldogs (1-2) dropped their conference opener toTulane last Thursday and are also looking to get back on track under new headcoach Skip Holtz.

Kansas (1-1) has been among the nation's leaders in pass defense, havingallowed just one passing touchdown with three interceptions through two games.Kansas running back JamesSims continues his climb up the career rushing charts and moved intofifth place with another 100-yard performance in KU's loss to Rice lastweekend. The Jayhawks and Bulldogs will be meeting for the fourth time, withKansas leading the all-time series 2-1, all in Lawrence.Â

This Day In Kansas Football History

Kansas is 4-3-2 all-time in games played on Sept. 21st, withthe first game dating back to an 1895 match-up against Midland in Atchison,Kan., which KU won 28-0. Most recently, Kansas dropped a 39-16 decision toBowling Green in Lawrence during the 2002 season, Mark Mangino's first year ashead coach. Kansas had won two straight on Sept. 21st, with wins over IndianaState (1985) and New Mexico State (1991).Â

Kansas-Louisiana Tech Connections

The Jayhawks and Bulldogs have both dipped into the Texashigh school and national junior college ranks and share a number of potentialconnections in both areas. Kansas junior right tackle ZachFondal is among the most connected, as a former teammate at NavarroJunior College to LA Tech's Mitchell Bell (OL), Eddie Johnson (WR) and ThomasMcDonald (WR). Bell and Fondal were one-time Arkansas commits and both visitedKansas last fall. Kansas junior defensive lineman KeonStowers went to Georgia Military Academy, as did LA Tech's Tre Carter(OL), Kevin Gary (WR) and Terome Grant (WR). Bulldog corner Josh Ross and KUoffensive lineman NgaluFusimalohi both played at City College of San Francisco. LouisianaTech defensive lineman Devon McKinney played at Pierce College in California,as did Kansas players Brandon Holloman (DB), MarquelCombs (DL) and MarcusJenkins-Moore (LB). Current Jayhawk defensive quality controlassistant TyGreenwood was previously the defensive coordinator at Pierce.

In the high school ranks, there's an age gap, but KU's AlexMatlock and LA Tech's IK Enemkpali are both from Plugerville (Texas)HS. Bulldog offensive lineman Jens Danielson is from Wichita, Kan., and went toAndover Central High School. Although he went to high school in Houston, KUredshirt freshman DB GregAllen grew up in New Orleans. Among other connections, Kansasassistant defensive backs coach ScottVestal was a graduate assistant at Louisiana Tech.

Scouting the Louisiana Tech Offense

Louisiana Tech scorched opponents at the rate of 51.5 pointsper game during the 2012 season, but is breaking in a new coach and startingquarterback in 2013 and haven't yet been able to match that pace. Gone areSonny Dykes, who took the head coaching job at California, and Colby Cameron,the 2012 WAC Offensive Player of the Year who graduated, and in their place arenew leader Skip Holtz and Texas Tech transfer Scotty Young. This year's team isaveraging 18.7 points per game, with Young throwing for nearly 150 per contest.He's been efficient at quarterback, completing 52.9 percent of his passes andhasn't thrown an interception in three games. Young left last Thursday's gamewith an injury and freshman signal caller Ryan Higgins was his replacement.

The favorite target early in the year has been Sterling Griffin, a graduatetransfer who played for Holtz at South Florida. The Bulldogs lost their topthree receivers from a year ago and Griffin has attempted to fill part of thevoid with 11 catches for 103 yards. In all, Young has hit 12 differentreceivers for at least two catches through the first three games. Running backKenneth Dixon averaged nearly 100 yards per game last year, while running formore than 1,000 yards as a freshman All-American, but has seen his per-gameproduction cut in half during the early portion of the 2013 slate, whilebattling a knee injury. Tevin King was the Bulldogs' starter in 2012 beforesuffering an injury of his own and has led the Bulldogs with 96.3 yards pergame and 7.0 yards per carry. Â Â

Scouting the Louisiana Tech Defense

The Louisiana Tech offense took the biggest hit in theoff-season with eight starters lost, but the defense wasn't far behind withseven starters lost. Among this year's leading tacklers, only defensive backLe'Vander Liggins, was among last year's top-10 tacklers and he's fifth among2013 tackling leaders with 17 through three games. Liggins is tied for the teamlead as one of three Bulldogs with an interception this season. Graduatetransfer Daniel Cobb, who played for Texas Tech in KU's overtime loss to theRed Raiders last year, has set up shop in the opposing team's backfield with ateam-leading eight tackles for loss. IK Enemkpali, a 2012 First Team All-WACselection, has been equally disruptive for opponents with a team-best 4.5 sacksand an interception from the defensive line. The Bulldogs recorded six sacks intheir Conference USA debut against Tulane last Thursday but gave up 370 yardsin the process. Sophomore defensive back Kentrell Brice is the Bulldogs'leading tackler with 26 total stops. Â

Louisiana Tech Head Coach Skip Holtz

Holtz is in his first season as Louisiana Tech's head coachfollowing a three-year stint at South Florida and previous head coaching stopsat East Carolina and Connecticut. Holtz has participated in 15 postseason gamesin his coaching career, including seven as a head coach and eight as anassistant coach. Of the seven games as head coach, five occurred in theFootball Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and two occurred in the Football ChampionshipSubdivision (FCS). Holtz and Kansas head coach CharlieWeis share Notre Dame as their alma mater.Â

Top Performers - Offense: JamesSimsTop Performers - Defense: BenHeeneyTop Performers - Special Teams: TrevorPardulaIt's Not You, It's Me ,P/K, Jr., 6-5, 212, San Jose, Calif. Turningthe Tide on Defense ,LB, Jr., 6-1, 230, Hutchinson, Kan. Fearthe Beard ,HB, Sr., 6-0, 200, Irving, Texas Developinga Pass Rush

Sims recorded his 12th career 100-yard rushing game as heput accumulated 109 rushing yards on 19 carries at Rice. With his 109 yards,Sims now has 2,685 yards for his career which ranks No. 5 all-time in Kansashistory. He passed David Winbush (2,608) and Kansas greats John Riggins (2,659)and gale Sayers (2,675) on the KU all-time rushing chart in KU's outing atRice. Sims' 12th 100-yard game moved him into a tie with Jon Cornish on the KUall-time list for 100-yard games. Sims also had three catches for 14 yards inthe game.


Heeney was all over the field for the Jayhawk defense as heset a new career-high with 18 tackles at Rice. Heeney tallied 11 solo stops andalso had 2.5 TFLs for a loss of 12 yards, one sack for a loss of eight yardsand a career-best two pass breakups. The 18 tackles marked Heeney's sixthdouble-figure tackling game of his career. His sack for a loss of eight yardsmarked the third-straight game he has recorded a sack.Â


Pardula punted six times for 278 yards, turning in a 47.8yards per punt average. He recorded a career long punt of 59 yards and alsodropped two punts inside the 20-yard line. Additionally, Pardula kicked off forthe Jayhawksâ€"notching touchbacks on all three of his kickoffs. Â

Kansas junior cornerback DexterMcDonald has made breaking up look easy â€" passes anyway. Throughtwo games the Kansas City, Mo., native has five break-ups, including three atRice. Coupled with his first career interception against the Owls, McDonaldleads the Big 12 Conference and is tied for the national lead with San JoseState's Bene Benwikere in passes defended with 3.0 per game. McDonald has beena key component to the Jayhawks' pass defense, which ranks third nationally inpassing yards allowed per game (122.5) and second in team passing efficiencydefense (75.70).Â

Kansas'pass defense comparison to two-time defending National Champ Alabama didn'tlast very long, but it wasn't the Jayhawks moving down the list. Kansas wasrunner-up a week ago in the national rankings for fewest passing yards allowedper game and remained in the top five while the Crimson Tide fell to No. 92.Kansas hasn't faced a Heisman contender, but the Jayhawks are a much improvedunit and rank third at 122.5 yards per game, behind Washington State (99.7) andVirginia Tech (106.3). KU limited South Dakota to 67 yards through the air inthe season-opener, the best passing defensive effort since allowing just 66yards passing to K-State on Nov. 7, 2009. Kansas' pass defense continued tolook sharp in game two as the Jayhawks picked off two passes and combined fornine pass break-ups, while limiting Rice to 178 yards and no touchdown passes.Last season, KU surrendered a program worst 289.2 passing yards per game andhas allowed 220 yards per game or more in each of the last nine seasons.Kansas' largest, single-season improvement in pass defense was 85.4 yards from1973 to 1974, a little more than half of the difference (166.7) from last yearto the current tally through two games.Â

BenHeeney'scareer-best 18 tackles against Rice helped push the junior up the Big 12 andnational tackling charts. Heeney's 11.0 tackles per game are tied for the Big12 lead and rank tied for 12th nationally. The 18 tackles were the most sincecurrent Denver Broncos linebacker Steven Johnson recorded 18 tackles againstTexas Oct. 29, 2011, and earned Heeney honorable mention among linebackers bythe College Football Performance Awards on Monday. Heeney, KU's top returningtackler and 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award watch list member, burst onto the scenein 2012 with 112 tackles in his first season as a starter for the Jayhawks. Histally included 66 solo stops and he led KU with 12.0 tackles-for-loss with onesack. Heeney earned second team All-Big 12 honors following the 2012 seasonfrom the conference coaches, the Associated Press and Phil Steele Magazine. Hewas listed as a preseason first team All-Big 12 member entering the 2013 seasonby Athlon, Lindy's and The Sporting News. Additionally, Heeney was named to theCollege Football Performance Awards watch list for the top linebacker in theNCAA.

Kansashas recorded back-to-back games with three sacks and reaching back to the finalgame of 2012, the team has logged three sacks in three consecutive games. Thatnumber ties the team's single game high from the last two seasons. Linebacker BenHeeney has a sack in each of the first two games and Buck MichaelReynolds got to the quarterback twice against Rice. The last time KUrecorded three or more sacks in consecutive games was the end of the 2010season when KU sacked Missouri four times, then opened the 2011 campaign withthree sacks against McNeese State. The last time it happened in the same seasonwas 2009, during a three-game stretch to open the season against Northern Colorado (3 sacks), UTEP (6 sacks), and Duke (5 sacks). Â

TheJayhawks have received some much needed relief in the area of special teamswith the emergence of redshirt freshman kicker MatthewWyman and junior college transfer punter TrevorPardula. Wyman nailed a 45-yard field goal in the season opener - thelongest by a Jayhawk kicker since Jacob Branstetter's 46-yard make at KansasState on Nov. 7, 2009. Pardula, who serves as KU's kickoff specialist, has sixtouchbacks through two games and needs just one more to match last season'sentire total. Pardula booted a career-best 59-yard punt against Rice and ranksninth in the nation in punting at 45.7 yards per punt.

KUsenior running back JamesSims had an outstanding 2012 season as he ranked first in the Big 12and 17th in the NCAA in rushing yards per game. Sims also ranked third in theBig 12 and 33rd in the NCAA in all-purpose yards. Sims rushed for 100 yards ormore in six games last season. After missing the first three games of the 2012campaign, Sims eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in six-of-seven outings vs.Big 12 foes. In 2012, Sims recorded a career long rush of 64 yards (vs. Texas),a career-long reception of 51 yards (vs. Oklahoma) and a career-long TD run of59 yards (vs. Baylor). Additionally, he logged his career-best rushing gamewith 176 yards vs. Texas. Last weekend, Sims notched his 12th career 100-yardrushing effort at Rice to tie Jon Cornish on KU's career 100-yard games listand moved past Gale Sayers and John Riggins into fifth on the Kansas careerrushing totals chart. With two touchdowns this season, Sims also moved intosecond on the KU career rushing touchdowns list. Here's a look at where heranks on those three charts:Â

Source: Koamtv

Lindsay Hassett, born on August 28, 1913, was one of the greatest Australian batsmen. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the career of the man who defied the concept of the archetypical Australian.

It would be wrong to think that Arthur Lindsay Hassett did not want to win. Of course he did; everyone playing any sport at any level does; he was as much a professional as any of his colleagues. The War heroes - Denis Compton, Keith Miller, Godfrey Evans, Hassett - had also probably seen death too closely to give a sport a larger-than-life image.

Few cricketers have matched Hassett's skills as a batsman. Despite the fact that he had played in the golden era (well, golden era) of Australian cricket alongside a few Who's Who of the sport he managed to create a niche of his own. He was one of those batsmen who made strokeplay look incredibly easy: "his [Hassett's] superb timing, nimble footwork and strong wrists enabled him to make batting look a simple matter," wrote Wisden. "A master of nearly every stroke," added the almanac.

There was another Hassett as well - the quintessential team-man. Don Bradman mentioned that Hassett was "capable of taking charge at critical moments and always willing to risk his wicket his wicket in the interests of the match." The great man was also impressed by Hassett's technique, mentioning that "a sound defence made him [Hassett] at home under any conditions."

When it came to facing quality spin Hassett has been one of the greatest batsmen Australia has produced, being one of the few men in the history of the sport who could face Bill O'Reilly confidently. The wily leg-spinner had admitted that few batsmen had mastered him the way Hassett had: he could always read O'Reilly's googlies, and stepped out to hit them over leg. O'Reilly wrote of Hassett: "nobody has kept me out like that little bastard [Hassett]."

Ray Robinson wrote in On Top Down Under about the rather amusing spectacle of watching the two great men of contrasting structure pitted against each other. He wrote that the huge O'Reilly "towered nine inches above him [Hassett]; it would have looked more apt for Hassett to sell him a newspaper than contend with his bowling."

It was O'Reilly who brought the best out of Hassett. He was also probably the only batsman to needle the great leg-spinner on a consistent basis. When O'Reilly found Hassett's edge consistently in a match the leg-spinner asked the batsman whether his bat contained a middle. Hassett's response was spontaneous: "I don't need one with you."

Then there was Hassett's fielding capabilities with equally capable in the outfield and at short-leg (with Sid Barnes, or when the latter wasn't playing). Additionally, he was a shrewd reader of the match. "His [Hassett's] knowledge of the game and views on tactics [were] extremely sound," Bradman mentioned.

Of his fielding and (limited) bowling The Canberra Times wrote: "To see [Lindsay] Hassett field was to see balanced crispness; not for him the goalkeeper's dive with flannels at the end of the day looking like camouflage trousers. He was known to bowl, approaching the wicket with small measured steps, his hands clasping the ball as a mouse grasps a piece of cheese."

Hassett had acted as Bradman's deputy for three series and eventually succeeded him as the national captain. As a leader he was the complete antithesis; no longer was Australia was led by a man who sent out a message of incessant ruthlessness to the opposition. Hassett was typically expressionless with the faintest hint of smile; the opposition never had any idea of what was going through his mind.

He was the perfect ambassador for his country, playing a role more than the average player's on overseas tour, often emerging as the most knowledgeable one on the tour. His dry sense of humour won him many an admirer overseas. Neville Cardus wrote of him: "Australia has sent to these shores no captain of cricket who shared [Lindsay] Hassett's secret into our English ways, knowing it without any surrender of Australia's own related yet not entirely similar ways." Evan Gray remarked that he "always had a twinkle in his eye, he cast a shadow little longer than his bat, and he was a true sportsman."

With a jovial attitude and commendable diplomatic skills Hassett emerged as an excellent leader of men. Following Bradman at the helm was no mean feat (one must keep in mind that this also meant that the captain would be left without Bradman the batsman), but Hassett did not disgrace himself or his country at any point of time, emerging as one of the most successful Australian captains.

Most successful Australian captains (Qualification: 20 matches):

In 43 Tests Hassett scored 3,073 runs at 46.56 with 10 hundreds and 11 fifties, which gave him a 47.6 per cent conversion rate. Among Australians with over 10 hundreds he comes next to only Bradman (obviously), Matthew Hayden, and Arthur Morris. In all First-Class cricket, Hassett had 16,890 runs from 216 matches at 58.24 with 59 hundreds.

Hassett ranks fourth among all Australians and fifth among all non-Indians in terms of batting average, the other four being Bradman, George Headley, Bill Ponsford, and Bill Woodfull (it is to be noted that with a 50-innings cut-off 11 of the top 16 are Indians, which includes five current cricketers).

Early days

Lindsay Hassett grew up in a family of enthusiastic budding cricketers at Geelong. Edward, his father, was a competent club cricketer. Lindsay was the youngest of nine children, and had grown up playing three-a-side cricket with his five brothers in their backyard.

Lindsay's brother Richard went on to play for Victoria; another brother VX Hassett played for Victoria County; their nephew John Shaw also played for Victoria as well, while a grandnephew Richard Xavier played for Victoria Second XI. Lindsay was, however, the best of the crop.

Hassett studied at Geelong College like his brothers, and was considered a prodigious sportsperson right from his college days: he captained his college in cricket, football, and tennis, and set up a record aggregate for Victoria Schools and won the Victoria Public Schools Combined Tennis Championship. Later he also went on to become, to quote Wisden, "a golfer of considerable ability".

At college he was coached by the grade player PL Williams who had also coached Ross Gregory and Ian Johnson. At 17 he scored a brilliant 147 against the visiting West Indians. The innings, however, went largely unnoticed as Wisden called him Bassett.

In the early 1930s, Hassett ran into a terrible run, scoring seven consecutive ducks for South Melbourne. On his eighth outing he was out plumb leg-before (but not given) and was dropped twice on nought; he went on to score 150. When Douglas Jardine's men were pelting the Australians with the red ball, Hassett made his debut against South Australia at MCG scoring four and nine. He failed against Tasmania as well and was shelved for three years.

He exploded a year after his comeback scoring seven consecutive fifties. Despite not scoring a single hundred he scored 503 at 71.85 that season as Victoria won the Sheffield Shield. The elusive century came next year, when Hassett scored 127 not out against the visiting New Zealanders at MCG. He ended the season with 693 runs at 53.30 and was selected for the Ashes tour that summer.

The first Ashes

Hassett startled everybody on his first Ashes tour with a deluge of runs in May. He began the tour with 43 against Worcestershire at New Road; this was followed by 146 against Oxford University, 148 against Leicestershire at Aylestone Road, 220 not out against Cambridge University, 57 against MCC at Lord's, and 98 against Surrey at The Oval.

Suddenly, with two matches to go, Hassett stood on 712 runs - 288 short of reaching a thousand by May. Against Hampshire at Southampton, however, Australia scored 320 for one as rain ruled out the first day's play (Bradman did reach a thousand that match), but Hassett did not get a chance to bat. In the last match before the turn of the month Hassett scored 27 against Middlesex at Lord's, once again in a rain-affected match (Bill Edrich reached a thousand here).

His stupendous form meant that he could not be kept out of the side for long: he failed on debut, scoring one and two at Trent Bridge as Australia managed to save the Test despite following-on. It helped that Bradman was in extraordinary form (even by his standards) as he would score six hundreds in six Tests (he wouldn't bat in the seventh, and then score two more in the next two).

Bradman kept faith in him, especially after his 118 against Lancashire at Old Trafford, 94 against Yorkshire at Bramall Lane, and 124 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. In the next Test at Lord's, Hassett came to his elements: as Bill Brown famously carried his bat Hassett scored a 99-ball 56 to help him add 124.

It was in the second innings, however, that Hassett announced himself to the world: Wally Hammond set Australia 315, and they were soon reduced to 111 for three. Hassett walked out to join Bradman. In an exhilarating display of strokeplay, Hassett scored 42 in 45 balls, hitting seven fours and a six, outscoring Bradman heavily in a 64-run partnership. The innings showed the class of Hassett, and prepared the world for many more to come.

After the third Test at Old Trafford was washed off, Australia ran into England on a turning track at Headingley. O'Reilly's 10-wicket haul allowed Australia a target of only 105. The tourists seemed to be cruising at 50 for two when Hammond brought on Doug Wright. The erratic Kent leg-spinner struck almost immediately, removing Bradman and Stan McCabe in quick succession.

It was anybody's match from there. The ball was turning viciously, and despite Wright striking twice England had in their ranks a champion in Hedley Verity. Bradman described the panic that had set in the Australian dressing-room:

"O'Reilly sat with his pads on, hoping and praying he would not be needed, was walking up and down on one side of the centre-table. On the other side I was doing the same, but, to prevent my teeth chattering in the excitement, was consuming copious amounts of bread and jam augmented by a liberal quantity of tea. We relied upon our colleagues to give us a running commentary of the play."

Hassett, however, kept his cool, and used his nimble footwork to counter-attack against Hedley Verity and Wright on a dangerous pitch. Five times the ball reached the boundary, and he eventually scored 33 in 36 balls. Eye-witnesses rank it among the greatest innings played by the Victorian.

Bradman wrote of the innings: "The imperturbable Victorian midget, who in a crisis has always been such a masterful player, lofted his drives and threw caution to the winds in a race to beat the weather."

Australia sunk in the last Test at The Oval by an innings and 579 runs. Hassett scored a breezy 41-ball 42 with five fours, but it was a too one-sided a contest as England, despite unable to regain the Ashes, managed to level the series.

Hassett finished the series with 199 runs at 24.87 (though he scored heavily in the tour games, finishing with 1,589 runs at 54.79) - but he had showed what he was capable of. It was not the greatest of starts, but he showed he had the talent and that rare ability to win Tests. What he lacked in was patience. That would come with time.

Wisden wrote: "He never quite fulfilled the promise of a sensational start... He appeared to make his strokes very late and, although adopting almost a two-eyed stance, had, so far as could be seen, no technical faults... there was a good deal of surprise that he did not come off in the big matches although it must not be forgotten that his second innings at Leeds counted a lot in Australia's victory."

It was in this tour that Hassett's image as a prankster first surfaced: Australian camps would never be the same. Hassett somehow managed to acquire a "wet, muddy, and complaining" mountain goat from the Grindleford Hills of Derbyshire and sneaked it into McCabe's room (some sources suggest that he even put a waistcoat on the goat).

Albany Advertiser (Western Australia) wrote: "The goat, with a goat's extraordinary taste in food, reduced McCabe's bedroom to a remarkable condition, much to the delight of the rascal Hassett." Jack Fingleton, in Cricket Crisis, had more to add: "The next night everybody locked their doors, which was just as well because Hassett found a hedgehog."

He was 25 then. Thanks to the warmongers he would not play another Test till he would turn 32.

Hassett had three domestic seasons before World War II broke out: in these three seasons he scored 2,248 runs at 70.25 with nine hundreds from 20 matches. It was evident that he was approaching his prime. In January 1940, Hassett scored 122 in each innings against New South Wales at SCG. In the process he became the only batsman to score two hundreds in the same match against O'Reilly, as mentioned by Jack McHarg in Lindsay Hassett - One of a Kind.

Hassett joined the Second Australian Imperial Force, and was posted at Haifa in the British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel). His amicable nature meant that he remained a very popular character in the army. He kept on playing cricket, leading AIF teams in Egypt and Palestine before he was sent to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea to fight the Japanese Army.

After the War was over the Australian Services visited England for a hard-fought tour. It was a welcome break after the War and the cricket played was also of a more positive nature than the 1938 Ashes. There were survivors of the War on either side. Hassett later wrote: "These games have shown that international cricket can be played as between real friends - so let's have no more talk of 'war' in cricket".

An India tour followed: though Australian Services did not have a great time, Hassett found his old touch with the bat, scoring 187 and 124 not out against Prince's XI (which was almost the Indian XI) at Delhi. The match against East Zone at Eden Gardens saw a riot break out.

As the men approached the pitch Denis Compton pointed them to Hassett, mentioning that the fielding captain controlled proceedings. When the rioters approached him, the calm Hassett asked their leader: "You wouldn't happen to have a cigarette, would you, old boy?" The match got under way.

Though the tourists did not win a single match, Hassett finished the tour with 769 runs at 85.44 with four hundreds and followed it with a 57 against Ceylon at Colombo.

Australia resumed post-War international cricket with a one-off Test against New Zealand at Wellington. Hassett was overlooked as captain and Brown led Australia in Bradman's absence (Hassett was not even vice-captain; the role went to O'Reilly). The tourists romped to an innings victory, bowling out the hosts for 42 and 54.

Hassett was appointed the Victorian captain the next season and looked in fine form against MCC at MCG, scoring 57 in each innings. Bradman defied medical advice to return to Test cricket. With Brown injured and O'Reilly having retired, Hassett was named deputy to Bradman for the Ashes.

The first Test at The Gabba saw a completely modified Hassett: gone was the carefree strokeplayer of the yesteryears; Hassett's focus had now shifted to long innings. Coming out at 46 for two he added 276 with Bradman and 106 more with Miller before falling for a 395-minute 128 with ten fours and a six.

It was a completely metamorphosed Hassett - the sort the pre-War spectators had never thought of witnessing. Not everyone was impressed with the dismissal of the carefree Hassett; RC Robertson-Glasgow complained that his new approach was a "narcotic prudence begotten of the solemn occasion."Harvey.

He recalled the pace of his innings in a typical Hassett fashion: "It fell on the day that one of my brothers got married. I was at 92 and he was due at the church for the ceremony, but thought he would wait a minute or two for the other eight runs. After 10 minutes I got four runs, so he rushed away and duly got married. When he arrived home he turned on the wireless and heard I was at 97. I can assure you, gentlemen, that I got my century before he went on his honeymoon."

He played another gem at Adelaide after Australia were 18 for two following England's 460. Coming out after Bradman had been bowled by Alec Bedser for a duck, Hassett and Arthur Morris added 189 for the third wicket, the vice-captain eventually falling for a 227-ball 78. England were duly thrashed 3-0 in the series, and the Ashes was retained.

The Indians visited Australia for the first time next season, and Hassett celebrated the occasion with a 198 not out in 305 balls. This would remain his career-best. However, despite India losing by an innings, this Test is generally remembered for Vijay Hazare's twin hundreds on consecutive days.

The third Ashes: The Invincibles

Ten years after his debut tour Hassett was back in England as vice-captain. A tight schedule meant that the players were rotated, and Hassett ended up leading the tourists in nine matches. As things turned out, Australia remained unbeaten, but played two of their closest matches on the tour under Hassett - against Yorkshire at Bradford and against Hampshire at Southampton.

Of the second match Brown reminisced: "We couldn't even get 200 and trailed on the first innings. Due to some very fine bowling from Big Bill Johnston we got them out again and went on to make the necessary runs. But it was tight and in the dressing-room, Lindsay [Hassett] sat down and said, 'Thank you gentlemen, thank you. But why is it always me?'"

Hassett found form against Surrey at The Oval, scoring 110. Against a strong MCC at Lord's, he scored a 51. Fingleton was all praise of the innings in Brightly Fades the Don: "It was the prettiest half-century we saw in the whole summer. There was no effort in his [Hassett's] play. The ball sped quietly and quickly in all directions."

Hassett grew in stature as the Australian juggernaut marched on: he came out to bat at 185 for four in the first Test at Trent Bridge; he scored 137 in 354 minutes with 20 fours - his first Test hundred on English soil - and helped Bradman add 120 and then went on to add 107 more with Ray Lindwall.

The Canberra Times wrote that "In that Test he [Hassett] prudently decided to get out one short of Bradman's score of 138," thereby pulling off a Sid Barnes in the previous Ashes.

Though he did not do too well in the next Test at Lord's Hassett hammered Northamptonshire for 127 at Northampton and followed it up with another hundred against Surrey at The Oval, this time opening batting and scoring 139.

Hassett finished the Test series with 310 runs at 44.28. On the tour he scored 1,563 runs at 74.42 with seven hundreds from 22 matches, scoring three consecutive hundreds - 200 not out against Gentlemen of England at Lord's, 103 against Somerset at Taunton, and 151 against South at Hastings. He was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year.

His idiosyncrasies were in full flow. As Ian Peebles wrote in Talking of Cricket: "The clearest sidelight on his personality was his diverting behaviour on missing (unaccountably) a couple of ballooners during the Manchester Test match, a reverse which might well embitter and nonplus a man. Lindsay merely turned to the policeman behind him and asked if he might borrow his helmet for the next occasion."

On another occasion, during a night-out (some versions said they bribed and hijacked the team coach) with Miller, Johnson, and Johnston, Hassett entered a random house in London. The window at the top floor opened and a bemused voice was heard.

Voice: What the hell are you doing?

Hassett: Just thought we'd pop in.

Voice: Are you Hassett?

Hassett: Indeed I am.

Voice: Wait there.

The quartet ended up spending two hours at the house. He also brought a toy duck to the dressing room to scare his superstitious teammates and hid the ball in sawdust to stop a tour match.

He led his side against Don Bradman's XI in the latter's testimonial match at MCG and top-scored with a 141-minute 102 in the second innings as the match ended in a tie (though it should have been recorded a draw as per the law changes earlier that year).

He was eventually elected to the post of the Australian captain ahead of Arthur Morris by a 7-6 margin, decided by the casting-vote by the Board Chairman Dr Allen Robertson. In the process he became only the second Catholic to lead Australia since Percy McConnell in 1888.

Hassett's first assignment was a tour of South Africa. Other than Bradman the side also missed Barnes, Don Tallon, and Ernie Toshack, and Miller was mysteriously left out. However, Miller later joined the squad as Johnson got injured, and both of them ended up playing all five Tests.

Hassett kept the Invincibles tag going: Australia won the series 4-0 and won 14 of the 21 matches on tour. Hassett himself scored 112 at Johannesburg and 167 at St George's Park, finishing the series with 402 runs at 67.00. On the tour he scored 889 runs at 68.38 with four hundreds.

The innings at Johannesburg deserves a special mention: with both openers gone without opening their accounts Hassett walked out. After ages the world of cricket witnessed Hassett at his best. He outscored Miller (21) in a partnership of 69 and Neil Harvey (34) in a partnership of 92. The hundred spun the match on its head before Miller and Johnston bowled out the hosts to an innings defeat.

Not only did Hassett emerge out of the tour as a champion batsman and a fine captain, he helped enhance the bonding between the two countries. Hassett's team mixed freely with the local tribals, dancing and singing with them, and reaching out to the children. The Australian High Commission called him the most effective diplomat to have visited South Africa.

The sense of humour remained intact, though. When there were rumours that a certain teammate of Hassett's had spent a night with three women, the captain welcomed him at the breakfast with the words: "Congratulations. You're the only man ever to achieve a hat-trick with two balls."

The home Ashes began with a Test involving the strangest of scorecards at The Gabba: "On the first day at Brisbane, England surprised even themselves by dismissing Australia for 228 on a good pitch," wrote Wisden. However, when play resumed after two days of rain England found themselves caught on a 'sticky'.

Freddie, Brown declared at 68 for seven the next morning. Australia lost their first three wickets without a run on the board, and Hassett declared at 32 for seven with wickets falling like ninepins to make sure England batted before the conditions improved. A confused Freddie Brown rushed to Hassett.

Brown: What's happening, old boy?

Hassett: I'm declaring.

Brown: Oh, I see, you want us in on that again.

Hassett: It's your move, old chap!

Jack Iverson picked up four wickets Australia won the Test by 70 runs despite England reversing their batting order and Len Hutton scoring a 62 not out from number eight.

In the next at MCG, his home ground, Hassett top-scored with 52 in the first innings. Once again it was a Test-defining innings and proved crucial as Australia won by 28 runs. Australia eventually won the series 4-1; England won only the final Test of the series at MCG despite Hassett's 92 and 48. He eventually finished with 366 runs at 40.66, finishing next to only Hutton in a low-scoring series.

It was the first Test Hassett lost as the captain of Australia after winning eight Tests and drawing one. However, the Ashes was retained thanks to Hassett's "astute captaincy", and more importantly, as Wisden wrote: "The friendship between the captains, Hassett and Brown, extended throughout both teams. The keenest rivalry on the field was not allowed to interfere with sincere good-fellowship. To cricketers that happy blend is the essence of the game".

On a side note, Hassett was up against a weird experience in the farewell function at the Sydney Harbour as recalled by Eric Hill in Wisden Cricket Monthly of December 1980. Hill was in a conversation with O'Reilly and Hassett when a woman entered the scene.

Hill described her: "She was approaching 45, as Groucho once put it, from the wrong side and was dressed outrageously in a bikini and rainbow-coloured half jacket which would have delighted on a slender young gazelle."

Woman: Are you the great Mr Hassett?

Hassett: Yes.

Woman: My two little boys would love your autograph.

Hassett: Have you got a pen?

Hill wrote: "All saccharin and treacle she produced the pen, as Hassett invited her to sit alongside him with an interested and growing group gathering round. Timing his moves to absolute perfection, Lindsay signed his autograph twice - one on the inside of each fat, sun-burned, overgenerous thigh of that very surprised Australian lady."

The West Indian series at home followed next. With both sides having defeated England this series was declared as the "unofficial cricket championship of the world".

Australia somehow managed to win the first Test at The Gabba by three wickets, followed by an emphatic seven-wicket victory at SCG, Hassett scoring 132 and 46 not out. Hassett missed the third Test at Adelaide due to a strained muscle. Morris led the Test, and in a quirky bureaucratic move Hassett was replaced by a bowler Geff Noblet. Frank Worrell bowled out Australia for 82, a blow from which they never recovered.

Hassett was back for the fourth Test at MCG: set to chase 260 Hassett was not aptly supported by his teammates, who followed one another to the pavilion against the wiles of Ramadhin and Alf Valentine. Hassett scored a marathon 323-minute 102 (nobody else scored more than 33) before being eighth out for 218. Gil Langley fell with the score on 222, leaving Doug Ring and Johnston to score 38 off the last wicket.

It was a tense 35-minute phase as the pair helped Australia inch towards the target: it is rumoured that Harvey was so transfixed by Ring and Johnston that having taken a shower immediately after his dismissal he watched the rest of the partnership in the nude from the dressing-room. The pair managed to pull it off.

An excellent performance by the Australian fast bowlers earned them a 202-run victory at SCG. The hosts won the series 4-1. Hassett finished the series with 407 runs at 57.42 with two hundreds. At this stage Hassett's record as captain read 14 Tests, 13 won, one lost.

The South African tour was scheduled to be such a low-profile one against the soaring Australians that South Africa had to offer a guarantee of £10,000 in case of a loss. Things seemed fine when Australia won the first Test at The Gabba by 95 runs. The slide began after that.

The low-profile South Africans pulled off an 82-run upset victory under Jack Cheetham at MCG as Hugh Tayfield spun out the hosts with figures of 13 for 165. It was Australia's first defeat against South Africa since their 38-run loss at Adelaide in 1911-12.

The fifth Ashes: the surrender and the farewell

The hosts promptly regained control at SCG, Harvey scoring 190 and Lindwall taking eight wickets as Australia won by an innings. After a high-scoring draw at Adelaide (Hassett scored 163) South Africa once again beat Australia at MCG as they chased down 295 in the fourth innings. It was the first time since Bodyline that Australia had failed to win a home series.

The 40-year old Hassett had declared before the 1953 Ashes that it was going to be his last series. His genial presence in this series has often been dismissed as "too soft" compared to the ruthless Hutton by contemporaries. Additionally, the squad had only two specialist openers, and following Colin McDonald's injuries Hassett himself volunteered to open. Too soft? One wonders.

The tour set off to a poor start as Johnston broke down with a severe knee injury in Australia's first tour match at East Molesey. Hassett did not get to the best of starts, and scored his first hundred against Sussex at Hove in his sixth match: he scored 108 not out and added an unbroken 140 with Harvey.

The first Test at Trent Bridge is usually remembered for Bedser's 14 for 99. Hassett scored 115 out of 249 in the first innings and the match was washed off. Opening batting in the second Test at Lord's Hassett scored 105 in another draw. Of the Lord's innings, Cardus wrote: "four and a half hours of cricket so fashioned that the watchmaker's eye was required to detect a loose screw or loose end here or there."

The next two Tests at Old Trafford and Headingley did not produce a result either. In the fourth Test at Headingley, Australia needed to chase down 177 in 105 minutes and were on track from the very beginning. The match seemed to be Australia's as Graeme Hole and Alan Davidson accelerated at a rapid pace, with only 66 required from the last 45 minutes.

Hutton then asked Bailey to bowl outside the leg-stump to cut down the tempo: the umpires did not call wide and the Australian batsmen stood helplessly as time ran out with the score on 147 for four. This led to protests from the cricket fraternity with even English wicket-keeper Evans coming to the support of the Australians.

What was more, for once Frank Chester erred in quite a few decisions that went against the Australians. Upon Hassett's requests, however, the English cricket authorities agreed to replace Chester for the final Test.

After two more draws in the series the teams proceeded to The Oval for the final Test. Hassett scored 53, but the hosts took a vital 31-run lead and regained the Ashes for the first time since Bodyline. Hassett had left out Ring and saw helplessly as the two local spinners, Jim Laker and Tony Lock, spun out the tourists for 162 in the second innings with nine wickets between them.

Hassett, always circumspect of Lock's action, tried to put pressure on the Surrey spinner by shouting 'Strike One', 'Strike Two', etc when Lock bowled to him. Even after the Test was over Hassett said "It wasn't bad, considering Tony Lock chucked half the side out."

When all seemed over with only nine runs to go, Hassett came on to bowl what turned out to be the second-last over of the Test. He later said, "England deserved to win, if not from the first ball, at least from the second-last over!"

Hassett's post-match reaction was as quirky as things went. Gray recalled: "At the post match celebrations on the Oval balcony [Lindsay] Hassett toasted the English side with champagne, and in a never to be forgotten moment, turned round and smashed his glass on the Oval clock."

Thereafter he was impeccable in his post-series speech. Wisden mentioned in praise: "When he finally lost the Ashes, he made a gracious and humorous speech, having been introduced as 'The Happy Warrior'." The Cricketer wrote: "Appropriate little speeches were made and Hassett, the chief theme, which being the excellent spirit which has prevailed between the two rival teams."

As always, Hassett's tour involved numerous anecdotes - this time involving a hotel. While dining at the Park Royal Hotel in London a waiter spilled Peach Melba on Hassett's jacket. While taking it off on repeated requests by the waiter Hassett observed a small, unrelated mark on his trousers. He promptly took them off as well, and - an Australian captain went on to complete a dinner in his shirt, tie, and underpants.

Hassett signed off with a flourish, scoring 148 against Somerset at Taunton, 65 against Kent at Canterbury, 106 against South at Hastings, and 74 and 25 against TN Pearce's XI at Scarborough. In all he finished the tour with 1,236 runs at 44.14 with five hundreds.

In his benefit match Hassett top-scored in the first innings with 126 against Arthur Morris' XI, adding 205 with his old mate Miller. He failed in the fourth innings, his side lost by 121 wickets, but he picked up Tallon's wicket, and more importantly, left MCG £5,503 richer.

Hassett had married Tessie Davis in 1942 and had two daughters. He had opened a sports equipments store in Melbourne after the War. After retirement he eased into the ABC commentary box and worked from 1956 to 1981. With his dry, self-deprecating humour Hassett became a very popular name in the commentary box, perhaps most remembered for his "I'm glad I wasn't up here when I was down there."

The Canberra Times wrote: "Reticence has always been Hassett's way. It is said that he gave up his ABC radio cricket commentating because he became increasingly appalled at the conduct of the ugly Australians. If it is so, then he gave little indication of his distaste on the air. The listener skilled in interpreting the nuances of Hassett's oblique comments might have discerned an occasional pursing of the lips at what Australia's best cricketers of their generation were doing, but compared to Alan McGilvray's Laudator temporis acti act, (combined with a dash of O tempora, or mores!) Hassett was akin to a mute."

Hassett also worked on the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria with Laurie Nash and lost when he contested for the post of South Melbourne's delegate to the VCA election in 1953. In his last days, he moved to Batehaven in the New South Wales coast to give in to his lifelong love of fishing.

Lindsay Hassett passed away on June 16, 1993.

Hassett was among the few who had realised that.

Miller wrote that Harvey made "more genuine friends in all walks of life than any other cricketer."

Richie Benaud wrote in Hassett's Wisden obituary: "There are others who have made more runs and taken more wickets, but very few have ever got more out of a lifetime."

(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components - cricket and literature - though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at He can be followed on Twitter at

Source: Cricketcountry