Wednesday, January 27, 2010

At $499, The New Apple iPad Makes Netbooks Instantly Obsolete

Today, Apple revealed the truth behind the rumors by presenting its new tablet to the world, called the iPad. Probably the worst kept rumor in Apple's history, it's a half an inch thick and just 1.5 pounds, lighter than any netbook. The display is a 9.7-inch LED-backlit touchscreen with a 178-degree viewing angle and a 1024X768 pixel resolution display at 132 pixels per inch making for a wonderful viewing experience, but it's the similarities with the extremely familiar iPhone experience that make it so much more attractive.

Giant iPhone / iPod Touch

Like the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad has an orientation sensor, which switches between portrait and landscape view automatically. It also sports the same intuitive multi-touch features we've all become so accustomed to using. Wi-fi is standard and 3G network access is an extra feature. It's this last which was pleasantly surprising, not because it was included, but because they chose to offer pre-paid, pay as you go payment plans for the 3G use at $14.99 per month for 250MB and $29.99 per month for the unlimited data. So far, only AT&T is offering the plan, including access to its nationwide Wi-Fi hotspots, but the iPad will not be locked like the iPhone and will use GSM micro-SIM cards so that anyone can use it with their preferred carrier should they use compatible technologies.


All iPhone applications are 100% compatible with the iPad, and can be viewed in iPhone size or in a stretched 2X. Developers are rushing to update for the larger screen utilizing the just released iPad SDK. That means that all 140,000 applications on the App store including your current, favorite iPhone apps will be available instantly for you to use on your iPad.

Goodbye Netbooks

At its amazing starting price point of $499 for the 16GB solid state model, and with its amazing screen and features, it's definitely superior to any netbook on the market, but Apple decided to clearly show in its announcement that it was serious about the tablet being more than an iPhone by offering a specially-designed for iPad version of their excellent and popular suite of office applications called iWork.

The software normally includes Pages, Numbers and Keynote ($79) but each can be bought individually at just $9.99 for iPad. You can use an intuitive touch interface and the large touchscreen keyboard on the screen to work with the apps, but you can also use the available keyboard dock accessory which holds your iPad like a normal display, charges it, and provides a full size keyboard to work on. The apps can synchronize easily with your Mac and other versions of iWork.

Its simplicity, size, speed, graphics and overall power and usefulness certainly puts other tablets and of course, netbooks to shame, but the iWork and iPhone/iPod connection is what definitely closes the deal in making this a useful and highly desirable, portable product.

Watch out E-readers

In the announcement, Apple also introduced a new application called "iBooks", an e-book reading application and accompanying store. Though Steve Jobs gave kudos to Amazon when it came to its pioneering Kindle efforts, he said the iPad and iBooks experience intends to improve upon the Kindle model. The software sports iTunes like navigational features making it instantly familiar and accessible. You can touch on the right of the page to turn to the next page, or left to go back. You can skip chapters, and all the expected stuff that goes along with it, but unlike the Kindle, it's fast, and has features only a computer-like display can offer, like color and video integration (E-ink promises color soon, but speed is still lacking), though if it's better to read on than dedicated e-readers remains to be seen.

By applying the weight of their iTunes and App store to the E-book market, Apple is definitely going to make a dent upon Amazon's Kindle store and present strategy, particularly considering the accessible price point at which the iPad is starting. This will allow you to do everything the Kindle, the iPod touch, and some of what a laptop can do in a single, light, and easy to carry device with a friendly and efficient interface connected to the world's most successful online stores to fill it with content.

Out of the park

Though skeptical at first of what Apple would announce as a tablet, and still, questions abound about its inner workings, particularly when it comes to document handling with the work apps and how it will perform in real life, the iPad seems to be an impressive piece of work, a merging of the benefits of a laptop and an iPhone/iPod Touch. At that price point, it definitely surprised every single journalist watching the announcement, as most were expecting something at $1000. The 10 hours of battery life (and days of standby time) were another pleasant surprise (perfect for long flights). With that, the price, and the technical specs, Apple is certainly poised to hit it out of the park.

A real winner

Will it be as ubiquitous as the iPod or iPhone remains to be seen, but considering the functionality, it will certainly be attractive to road warriors and students, much more than crappy netbooks and Windows-based tablets. It could even replace some ultralights for some users. This will depend of course on the needs of the users, but for the majority of users, the iPad is the glove they've been waiting to wear for years.

And Yet, Still Missing

Multitasking is one of the main features that is unfortunately missing as well as the great oversight of not including a camera for one to do videoconferencing through Skype. The former is mostly inconvenient, but the latter is more of a major downer. Perhaps Apple was thinking that including a camera would hurt laptop sales, and if you ask me, that could very well be true. These two items are the only things keeping the iPad from being the perfect portable device in my opinion, but as I mentioned before, considering what it offers, it certainly seems to be an amazing piece of equipment which will serve the needs of the majority of users in a simple, elegant, intuitive, familiar, useful, and relatively affordable package, an enlarged iPod Touch / iPhone.

Technical specifications:

• Size
• Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
• Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
• Depth: .5 inch (13.4 mm)
• Weight: 1.5 pounds (.68kg) Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds (.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

▪ 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
▪ 1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)
▪ Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
▪ Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously
▪ Support for 1024 X 768 with Dock Connector to VGA adapter; 576p and 480p with Apple Composite A/V Cable, 576i and 480i with Apple Composite A/V Cable
▪ H.264 video up to 720p

16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive

Wireless and Cellular
Wi-Fi model
▪ Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
▪ Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology
Wi-Fi + 3G model
▪ UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
▪ GSM/EDGE (850, 900,1800, 1900 MHz)
▪ Data only2
▪ Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
▪ Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology

▪ 1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip (courtesy of Apple's purchase of PA Semi)

▪ Support for playback of closed-captioned content
▪ VoiceOver screen reader
▪ Full-screen zoom magnification
▪ White on black
▪ Mono audio

Battery and Power
▪ Built-in 25Whr rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
▪ Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
▪ Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

Input and Output
▪ Dock connector
▪ 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
▪ Built-in speakers
▪ Microphone
▪ SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + 3G model only)

Default applications:
▪ Safari
▪ Mail
▪ Photos
▪ iPod
▪ Calendar
▪ Contacts
▪ Notes
▪ Maps
▪ Movies
▪ YouTube
▪ iTunes Store
▪ App Store
▪ iBooks

All available worldwide in 60 days (except for the 3G which will come 30 days after that).
Get more information including the full specs at:

keywords: apple, ipad, apple ipad, netbook, iphone, ipod, ipod touch, computers, portable, portability, apple computer, tablet, apple tablet, tablet computer

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

James Cameron's Avatar True to Its Name

They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and in this way, James Cameron's visual masterpiece, Avatar, flatters and flatters away. Taking the American soldier turns native and fights back story from previous films such as Dances with Wolves and The Last Samurai, it represents a science fiction homage to a number of films and works, manifesting many of their principal elements and inserting his own sensitivities into a visual tour de force.

In Dances with Wolves we saw the natives versus the U.S. government's expansionist agenda and its war against the native americans. In The Last Samurai it was the Americans helping the Japanese corporate/government interests to suppress the traditional way of life of the "native" Samurai. In Avatar, it's corporate miners accompanied by mercenary, military protectors playing the role of outside invaders trying to profit on the planet's superconducting mineral, unobtanium, at the cost of the native wildlife and indigenous people, the Na'vi. That main idea is intertwined with many of Cameron's recurring themes, such as corporate greed (or military interests) over ecology, humanity, and/or common sense as seen in his own previous works (Aliens, The Abyss).

In Avatar, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a marine corporal paralyzed from the waist down, is thrust into the world of a moon circling a gas giant planet in the Alpha Centauri system called Pandora, to serve as a replacement for his dead, twin brother who was an Avatar "driver", someone who controls or "drives" a representation of themselves (hence the name of the film), this one a living creature of the native, humanoid species called the Na'vi. The film opens with him waking up from cryopreservation or "cryo-sleep" nearing arrival at the moon, but he soon gets thrust into the stereotypical battle between corporate / military interests and ecological / scientific advancement and protectionism through his interaction with the Na'vi. At first he serves the military, feeling uncomfortable amongst his brother's scientist colleagues and promised by the chief security officer, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), that his invaluable service would be rewarded with a restoration of his real, human legs – in the year 2154 we've finally achieved the medical restoration of the spine –, but soon he finds himself using his Navi Avatar's legs and living amongst their people, learning their ways, and falling in love with their culture and of course, with one of their own women, Neytiri, a sultry, blue version of Zoe Saldana . It all ends, logically, as one would expect: he becomes Navi and joins the moon's native wildlife in fighting against the corporate military.

Though the story is true to its Avatar name, a manifestation or representation of someone else, the presentation makes up for whatever predictability or lack of originality in the story. The predictability or familiarity doesn't detract from the experience of the film, and instead at times, adds to the enjoyment. It's a truly slick package whether experienced in its optimum 3D or the more traditional 2D.

Visual Tour de Force

The visual presentation is where Avatar surpasses all expectations and excels beyond any other film before it. James Cameron made a wise decision when he chose to wait an additional ten years for technology to catch up before making this film. Its level of realism is beyond anything else before it. His use of 3D technology (some of it which he himself helped develop for use in this film) is actually worth watching. It doesn't have any of the gimmicky use of more traditional 3D films (remember the constant sticking something at the camera from those wonderful gems of the past - think Jaws 3D, Friday the 13th 3-D), and therefore gives an amazing sense of depth and realism, adding to the overall immersive effect of the film.

Most of the film is computer generated, utilizing the actor's live performances to animate the Na'vi creatures through special capture technology (similar to that used in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, though more advanced) pioneered by Cameron on this film. I must admit that when first confronted with the computer generated creatures, one can suffer a bit of the uncanny valley effect, but that is quickly overcome as the film dives into the Navi's world and life fully. The world of Pandora is simply put: Spectacular. James Cameron has outdone himself. The moon feels alive and absolutely real. There's truly a seamless interaction between the real life elements and the animated surroundings.

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When presented with such a visual spectacle, it's easy to get lost in its beauty and miss some of the slightly disappointing details. I may be nitpicking, but the dog-like animals (Viperwolf) and dangerous, panther-like creatures (Thanator) seemed a bit too shiny-plasticky, and more akin to a lesser, more artificial looking animation and therefore out of place in such an elaborate, realistic world. One could easily argue that the plasticity of their skin is due to their alien nature, this being Pandora after all and not Earth, but in terms of the design and animation of the film, it was probably the only part of the impressive visuals that I found lacking.

Overall, this film was made for a theater viewing experience. When they say Real3D, Avatar is what they're talking about. This film is such a showcase for the technology, that you have the entire technology industry racing to bring it's 3D shine and luster to their products. It's definitely a new benchmark, a reference film that everyone will have difficulty catching up to.

Let the awards roll in

Avatar is an impressive achievement. Despite its occasional and easily overlooked flaws, it's something akin to the game changing nature of films like Star Wars, Terminator 2 (another equally impressive James Cameron film), Jurassic Park, The Matrix, and Lord of the Rings, just to name a few. It redefines film with its new and effective use of new technologies, of 3D, its overall visual presentation, integration of digital actors, etc. It's certainly worth the 10 to 15 dollars/euros/pounds to see it in its full theatrical splendor, something proven by its title of second highest-grossing film of all time worldwide and second highest-grossing film of all time domestically (in the U.S.).

Having already captured the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Director, it's already gathered a striking number of awards and nominations on its way to the Academy Awards, where it's expected to receive nominations for the top spots as well as some of the more technical and specific achievements. Avatar is an unstoppable machine that more than deserves the accolades given to it and to James Cameron, who continues to surprise and impress us with his creative and pioneering efforts, taking risks and making it worthwhile to suffer the lines, the cost, and the annoying guy behind us who won't shut up, to see it in a properly equipped cinema.

Be it in IMAX 3D, Real3D, or in good old 2D, Avatar certainly impresses and is the must see film of the season. If you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for? Go see it!

Related links

Avatar Official Movie Site: The official site for everything Avatar.

Avatar Official Flickr Site: Here you can find official promotional images.

Avatar Store on (USA)

Avatar Products on (UK - English Europe)

Avatar on Wikipedia

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UPDATES: Updated highest-grossing film titles to reflect new records.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Now Open! The bNowhere Signature Store at CafePress

Now you can wear or use products that show you belong to everywhere and nowhere with the bNowhere Signature Store at CafePress. CafePress is known for its quality products printed with custom designs, so I have chosen them for the blog store. Check it out HERE.

You'll be able to find article related designs as well as products with the bNowhere logo. If you enjoyed my latest article on Nudists: The Frontline of Defense, you'll certainly enjoy the four available product designs related to and in support of nudists. You don't have to go nude, but you can support our nudist warriors with one of these products:

The Nudist Warrior
design products - Three different tag lines available. Choose the one that fits you best or wear them all.

Vatican Approved Go Nude
design products - Vatican Art showing full nudity. Who says god is against nudity.

Nude Femme Glyph
design products - The simple code that communicates the female form. Variations available.

Nude Homme Glyph
design products - The simple code that communicates the male form. Variations available.

All kinds of products are available with each design, including Flip Mino high definition miniature video cameras, pet products, office products as well as all types of shirts, t-shirts, polos, caps, etc. More designs will continue to be added soon as well as some custom variations. I really hope you like them, and thank you all in advance for your continuing support of this blog and all my other little projects. :)

So, what are you waiting for? Start shopping right NOW!

Keywords: bnowhere, store, products, designs, sale, for sale, shop, shopping, custom designs, nude, nudists
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Nudists: The Frontline of Defense

Paradise - photo: copyright©2005 by bFrancoEarly this past summer, I went down to a paradisaic beach at a famed resort destination in Europe, laid out my towel and suddenly noticed the hairy, nude ass next to my face thinking that perhaps, that was not how I had envisioned my paradise beach moment. This kind of thing is obviously not common in the U.S., as it can only be done in the privacy of one's home or specialized, controlled locations (read PRIVATE), so it's not something I'm used to. Of course, on occasion one might find oneself on a U.S. beach looking at practically the exact same thing, except for the dental floss between the cheeks, but never totally nude.

As my eyes and mind adjusted to the reality next to me, I began to study my surroundings more carefully. It seemed I had stumbled upon and chosen to bathe at a nudist beach. Bare bodies were everywhere. As they were born, there they lay, swam, walked, and played. For a moment, I contemplated whether I may have been overdressed for this particular location, but I wasn't the only bathing suit clad being at the beach. Here we found ourselves mingling unabashedly and uncaring of each other's presence or chosen attire. There were all types of people, wearing every level of coverage, from full to none. Why didn't anyone care? Why didn't anyone stare or gawk at those who dared to play so freely? Why are we so shocked by nudity, by our own birth clothes? by our own bodies? Worse still, why are we offended by it? In a country that prides itself on liberty and freedom of expression, why are we so repressed?

Other countries obviously don't see it the same way, considering my experience at that beach. There seemed to be some informal segregation at other beaches though, where you had the nudists mainly sticking to one specific section of the beach. This seemed to be more because of the nudists' own preference than that of the clothed bathers. Is our nudity such a bad thing? Are we so wretched a creature in our own skin that we must not allow anyone to be seen in it? If this is so, if this is so immoral, then why are we born this way?

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo: Vatican approved pornography or a statement on its true stance on nudity? If the Vatican approves this, what's wrong with a wardrobe malfunction?I've heard a number of so called christians in the U.S. claiming the immorality and sinful nature of nakedness, and yet, their holy books, their word of god, says nothing about clothing or nakedness being wrong. The Vatican, the Catholic Church's own bastion of holiness, is covered in nakedness. Naked bodies cover many of its walls, ceilings, and hallways. Many of its images are naked. So what's all the fuss about? Where's the offense? Did their god not create them naked?

I was watching a news broadcast where they interviewed a woman who was in favor of banning nudists entirely in Europe. She said that it was offensive to her children, to their sensitivity. Were her four year old and six year old children no longer innocent at that age that they saw the nakedness as sexual, immoral and offensive? How did they become this way at such a young age? Who took away their innocence? Their nakedness? They see breasts as food. They're still discovering themselves, the world. Their parents fight with them to clothe them. Their awareness of nakedness and its corresponding offense is a learned behavior.

The woman was adamant about it and her neighbors were clamoring to start a ban at their local beach, which everyone shared freely for as long as anyone could remember, clothed and unclothed, with no complaints. Sure, not all naked bodies are what one would call attractive, but in this age of political correctness, do we dare hold it against those who were unfortunately born with a not so favorable figure? Perhaps the naked folks reminded this woman of her own ugliness, of the darkness of her thoughts, her lost innocence. Shouldn't someone have called social services and removed her children away from her corruption, her disgusting view of our own natural state?

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The U.S. is repressed enough. Hell, look at all the hoopla about a "wardrobe malfunction". But if Europe begins to head in a similar direction, will we then be all wearing burkas in a distant future, offended by our image in the bathroom mirror, offended by our having been born naked? Perhaps someone will develop a condom like apparatus to cover our bodies as we exit our mother's womb. I'm sure that would please quite a few people, especially the woman in the broadcast or some other "religious" folk. We need not be offended by how we are born. We need not be offended by our nakedness. One should really look at the reason why one feels this offense before trying to repress other people's freedom and lack of insecurity about their bodies. Those who dare go out naked in public are normally outside society's definition of perfection, so one can't claim that they're sure of themselves because they have perfect bodies. How can they have such a sense of security about their bodies, about themselves? How can they dare to show themselves to the world?

The U.S., that great bastion of freedom, loves to control that so called freedom and box it into locked spaces where no one can see it or experience it beyond what society (and the government) dictates. Its nudists, like native americans and other classifications before them, exist only in "reservations", called nudist colonies, camps, areas. Society boxes them in, labels them perverts, immoral, pedophiles, sinners, corrupt, pornographers, etc. It's a crime. You commit a crime, which means you are a criminal, should you find yourself "exposed" (read in your own natural skin, your body, something you can't get rid of or away from) in public. Who is the corrupt, sick, pedophile, immoral pervert? A person who walks around naked? or the one who looks at him and whose mind is dirty and judges him as such? Are you a pervert because you're naked? because you're unashamed about what your god decided you should be born with? Perhaps it's the one who saw the person's nakedness as something sexual, sick, dirty, corrupt and sinful. It is that person who would take away your liberty and your freedom to cover up his/her own mental illness.

The Nudist Warrior - Our Freedom Fighter on the Frontline of Defense - photo: bFrancoFreedom is something that is very hard to come by and very easy to lose. If you take one out, others follow quickly and with great ease. So as I pondered upon those people on the beach, I couldn't help but look at them in a new way. I couldn't help but see them and think of them as something much more than nudists enjoying paradise. I began to see them in a new light. Their nakedness was their weapon. Their nudity was their bullet. They were fighters in a grand war, a war that has been fought since the beginning of time, a war for freedom. Their quiet statement, as small as it may seem to many, is a major battle for our bodies, for society, for the freedom to exist as we are, for the freedom to live freely beyond the simple nakedness of ourselves. In Europe, if nudity goes, toplessness will follow, and the government will soon be telling you how you can dress on the street, in your yard, in your house. In the U.S. we're not that far off from that (though improving in some areas), but should their freedom to be naked disappear, should nudists be unable to find themselves nude in the openness of even those separate "reservations", it will be one freedom closer to losing another, and another.

It's bad enough as it is with Big Brother keeping such a close eye upon our lives, we don't need to give in our bodies and ourselves to further scrutiny, to further repression. The nudists are our unsung heroes, our warriors on the front lines. They fight when we dare not. We dare not go naked into the night, into the fight. They dare. They go. They live… free. They're free so we can be.

So I looked around the paradisaic beach and thought that perhaps this was my paradise beach moment after all. Perhaps I should make their freedom mine. I stood up, undid my bathing suit, and as I was ready to bare it all to the world …

…I decided to thank every one of them instead, our heroes, our frontline of defense: the nudist.

Nudist Organizations - Fighting for all of us and improving our freedom in the U.S. and beyond

You'll find accurate information about going nude in America (and around the world) in any of the following websites:

*AANR: American Association for Nude Recreation - AANR is the oldest and largest organization of nudists in North America with 50,000 members and more than 200 private clubs, RV campgrounds, travel clubs, and resorts, each offering a wide variety of recreational activities.

*The Naturist Society: The Naturist Society has been a leader in promoting body acceptance through nude recreation for more than 15 years. During that time, the 20,000-member organization has also been a staunch supporter of our right to use appropriate public lands for clothing-optional activities.

*AANR West: The Western Region website of the American Association for Nude Recreation, serving the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

*AANR FLORIDA: American Association for Nude Recreation for the Florida region. Areas covered are Florida, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

*British Naturism: The UKs only International Naturist Federation (INF) member and in existence since 1964, it exists to unite and support naturists, to protect naturist places and provide more, make social nudity more acceptable across the UK and to provide comprehensive information on naturism and naturists around the world.

*International Naturist Federation: The International Naturist Federation is an organization consisting of members in over thirty countries. Together with other interested parties involved in naturist activities, the INF-FNI works to enhance and improve the naturist experience and the naturist business climate by promoting the benefits of naturism to the general public.

*The Fig Leaf Forum: A site specifically designed for Christian naturists/nudists. Their information is both general and focused for those who are religious and are curious or wish to go nude but don't know whether or not that is in conflict with their beliefs.

More information:

*The World's Best Nude Beaches and Resorts: The long-awaited sequel to New York Times bestseller The World Guide to Nude Beaches and Resorts. This guide unveils the top 1,000 places where bare skin is simply the most fashionable thing to wear. More than 50 countries are explored in depth, including the US and Canada, the Caribbean, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Croatia, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America. Don't get undressed without it!

*Naturism: Wikipedia entry on the subject of Naturism, the cultural and political movement advocating and defending social nudity in private and in public.

*Nudity & Christianity: Jim Cunningham's magnum opus about naturism and christianity.

*Nude News: Enjoy the clothes free lifestyle with links to clubs, articles, organizations, even nude flights.

*True Nudists: True nudists is a FREE online community for naturists worldwide. We are the number 1 resource for nudist resorts, nude beaches or nudist friends in your area.

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