Saturday, 4 June 2011

Review: Red Faction: Armageddon

There are few things more satisfying than planting explosive charges around the base of a massive structure and then stepping back a safe distance, before detonating them. The resulting chaos -- the crumbling of steel and concrete, bathed in a cloud of smoke and ash -- is nothing short of orgasmic.

Voliton's Geo-Mod technology, used in 2009's Red Faction: Guerrilla was kind of like the Kama Sutra of in-game destruction. A sprawling open-world playground of pure destruction, Volition provided gamers with the tools (and the sandbox) to cause bedlam that few games had before (or since) been able to deliver.

With Red Faction: Armageddon, Volition attempts to control that chaos, delivering a more linear experience that drives players through a story wrought with near-relentless action. While the result is in many ways a more refined experience, Armageddon's restrictive nature may leave many gamers wondering: "When do I get to blow s**t up again?"

Red Faction: Armageddon (PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [Reviewed])
Developer: Volition, Inc.
Publisher: THQ
Release date: June 7, 2011
Price: $59.99 (PS3, Xbox 360), $49.99 (PC)

Set 50 years after the events of Guerrilla, Armageddon picks up the story of Darius Mason, who's been tricked into awakening an army of Martian monsters. The game's relatively short campaign follows Mason through a series of underground caverns, as he's relentlessly harassed by nightmarish creatures hell bent on mauling him to death.

Fortunately, he has an assortment of weapons at his disposal, which is easily Armageddon's biggest strength. We're talking about 14 different weapons, ranging from standard assault rifles to classic explosives to more colorful alien technology like plasma beams to a rifle that evaporates anything you hit it with.

The star of the show may very well be Mason's Magnet Gun, a weapon capable of snapping together most any two targets in the game's environment. Let your mind wander with the possibilities, and you'll get the idea. Snap your first shot onto one enemy, the second to another -- watch them slam into one another like some kind of science-fiction-themed Three Stooges act. Or more satisfying, snap your first magnet to a large structure and your second to an unfortunate target. Sit back then and delight as part of (or all) of a building comes crashing into the maw of a slobbering alien menace.

Mason also has a number of "Nanoforge" abilities at his disposal, special powers that have various uses, both in battle and in defense. The reconstruction ability is particularly fun to see in action, rebuilding any damaged man-made item, from staircases to entire buildings. Another, called "Impact," sends out a pulse that tears through anything in its path, from walls to enemies.

The game's third-person shooting feels good, and Volition's generous "lock on" targeting (by pressing and holding the controller's left trigger) makes killing effortless. Once you're snapped on an target, you can adjust your reticule for more precise shots (to the head, for example), but it's mostly not even necessary.
On the game's default difficulty, I found I could just snap onto targets -- one after the other -- taking them out with relative ease. With no real cover system to speak, I spent more time out in the open raining fire on enemies and rolling about to avoid fire than carefully thinking about my attack. Yes, you can duck behind structures (and the game repeatedly reminds you that you can repair destroyed objects to use as cover with the Nanoforge), but it's probably not necessary. That kind of unabating action isn't the worst thing you could get from Armageddon, however, especially if you go into it hoping to turn your brain off and to make a mess of alien guts.

Despite the wild alien-vs-Mason skirmishes, it's hard not to feel like you're on a guided tour of the Mars underground throughout the entire adventure. Volition holds your hand every step of the way, pushing you through tiny corridors and confined spaces; it simply doesn't lend itself to the environment devastation most players will be looking for.
I almost always felt like my back was up against a wall, a few feet from a building or cavernous obstacle. So many of the game's areas are uncomfortably claustrophobic, with a ceiling a few inches from Mason's head or walls on all sides, forcing you straight ahead. My gamer instinct in these small areas was always "don't use the rockets, don't use the explosives," because you're bound to take damage. The game does open up into some larger spaces, and there are a few areas where you hop into wild vehicles and aimlessly destroy everything in sight. Still, those areas are too few for a game that should be priding itself on and highlighting its destruction tech.

With a laser focus on moment-to-moment action and linearity, Volition was also able to more tightly guide Armageddon's narrative. Unfortunately, it never elevates itself above the level of a low-budget science-fiction/action picture. Sure, the game's characters are well-acted and the cut-scenes (of which there are many) are mostly entertaining on a base level. But some of the game's dialogue will have you raising an eyebrow, with humor that falls flat or feels out of place.
There's also at least one key plot element (one that I can't mention without ruining the game's story) that's such nonsense that it nearly pulls the rug right out from under the entire production. But like the gameplay, it's just entertaining enough that it never really becomes offensive.

Folks banking on having a long relationship with the single-player campaign will be disappointed to hear that I completed it in just under six hours on normal difficulty (this according to an in-game timer). Finishing the game will unlock a "New Game+", though, and gaming's most ridiculous and powerful weapons: a unicorn that farts rainbows. While that alone may make the experience worth it, Volition has included a ton of unlockable cheats, as well.

There's also an extensive upgrade system for your in-game abilities that can be carried over into the game's multiplayer mode, of which there is one, called "Infestation." Volition has ditched the competitive action for a cooperative wave-based experience, leaving this in its place, which comes as a bit of a disappointment. To this mode's credit, there's a ton of content here, with eight missions featuring 30 waves a piece. Some have objectives that are simply surviving waves of enemies; others have you defending a critical area.

In all cases, what it really boils down to is killing aliens as they hop around a map. Fortunately, what this affords you is time (and in some cases, room) to really experiment with the game's expansive weapon set. The magnet gun, for instance, saw almost no use for me in the single-player campaign. While playing "Infestation," I was more comfortable using it, and had a blast screwing around. This also means opening up my arsenal to explosives, and using the Nanoforge more frequently to rebuild cover from rubble to survive waves of baddies.

Armageddon also features a destruction mode called "Ruin." These timed and scored challenges are literally all about causing as much destruction as possible in a given time frame. It's easily the best demonstration of what makes Red Faction and Volition's Geo-Mod tech so great. These one-off challenges are fun and a great way to blow off steam, it's just unfortunate Volition couldn't have woven this kind of chaos into the single-player campaign where it really belongs.

In many basic ways, Armageddon is a superior game to Guerrilla. It makes strides in a number of key areas that are hard to ignore, including more polished visuals and a broader range of spectacular weapons and abilities. But ultimately, it manages to miss the mark when it comes to the core elements that made the open world game so great: freedom and ample opportunities to simply trash the game's world. Armageddon isn't a terrible game by any stretch, it simply falls short of its potential.

Russellville to celebrate its own Ray Charles Singer

On June 6, at 12 Noon, the West Kentucky African American Heritage Museum in Russellville will kick off the Mary Ann Fisher Summer Concert Series and celebrate the acquisition of artifacts from friends of Miss Fisher.
Fisher, a blues singer, who recorded with such legends as Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye lived in Russellville, Kentucky for several years. In her memory, the West Kentucky African American
Heritage Museum created a series of summer blues concerts. This year’s festival will begin Saturday, June 11, 2011 with a performance by South Carolina blues singer, Miss Wanda Johnson, along with a band featuring harmonica legend, William Howse of Nashville.
Close associates of Miss Fisher will present evening gowns and jewelry to the museum for an exhibit which will open during the August 8th African American Emancipation Celebration.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Nutrition Plate Unveiled to Replace the Food Pyramid

First lady Michelle Obama on Thursday relegated the government’s well-known food pyramid to the sands of history, unveiling a new, simpler image of a plate divided into basic food groups.

The new design was conceived as a crucial part of Mrs. Obama’s campaign against obesity, by reminding consumers about the basics of a healthy diet.

The plate is split into four sections, for fruit, vegetables, grains and protein. A smaller circle sits beside it for dairy.

Mrs. Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Surgeon General Regina Benjamin unveiled the new healthy eating icon at a press conference in Washington.

Officials said they planned to use the plate in a campaign to communicate essential dietary guidelines to consumers, emphasizing one message at a time for best effect.

The first part of the campaign will encourage people to make half their plate fruit and vegetables. Later phases of the campaign will instruct consumers to avoid oversize portions, enjoy their food but eat less of it and to drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Nutritionists often criticized the food pyramid, which was first released in 1992, for being either misleading or hard to understand. They gave the plate cautious praise.

“It’s better than the pyramid but that’s not saying a lot,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University.

She praised the plate for being generally easy to understand, But she said that labeling a large section of the plate “protein” was confusing and unneccesary, since grains and dairy also are important sources of protein and most Americans get far more protein than they need.

But she said the emphasis on fruits and vegetables was a significant step.

“Americans aren’t used to eating this way so this is a big change,” Ms. Nestle said.

The plate was created by the Department of Agriculture with input from the first lady’s anti-obesity team and federal health officials. The agriculture department said that it conducted focus groups with about 4,500 people, including children, as they developed the new icon. Developing the icon and creating a website and other educational materials to go along with it cost about $2 million. That money will also help pay for an educational campaign centered on the plate icon over the next year, officials said.

10 Hidden Features in Windows 8

Editor's Note: Microsoft's Windows President, Steven Sinofsky, is speaking this week at the D9 Conference. It is rumored that he will show off the new tablet UI and the long-awaited cloud integration of Windows 8. We will update this article accordingly.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer finally confirmed what tech pundits knew all along: the next generation of Windows will be out in 2012. In the meantime, Microsoft is half-way done with Windows 8 -- it's in the Milestone 3 stage right now -- and is prepping up the first beta for this September's "Windows Developer Conference" in Anaheim, California.
But you don't have to wait until then to get a look at some of Windows 8's best new features. I've closely examined a pre-beta leak and dug up 10 great features and improvements you can look forward to. While these pre-beta builds have been covered left and right, I've chosen to focus on the lesser-known, but noteworthy improvements.

Windows 8 facial recognition moves closer to reality
Windows 8 portable workspace lets you take it with you
Looks pretty much like Windows 7: This early Windows 8 prototype hides many of its features. Some hidden gems are already accessible (via some registry tweaks and DLL hacks), others require a yet to be unearthed "Red Pill" from Microsoft. (Click here for a full-size image.)

1. Windows Store
Microsoft enters the lucrative app market, no surprise here. While "Windows Store" (which is the company's name for the online app shop) obviously doesn't work in this early build, the related DLLs and XML resources are already in place and ready to be examined by a variety of tools, such as PE Explorer or Resource Hacker.

Windows Store file details reveal feature set. (Click here for a full-size image.)
All the basic features of any app store are also present in Windows Store -- such as the ability to browse through categories, make in-app purchases, rate apps, download trials and so forth. New, however, is the ability to "stream" apps to your PC, which could lead to a couple of scenarios: 1) an app could be launched instantly after the purchase -- no need to wait until it is fully downloaded; 2) apps could be hosted in the cloud so that users stream only the part of the app they need at any given moment. That would be convenient for someone who'd like a larger product, say an Office suite, on a tablet with limited disk space, or who'd like to access the app from another machine.
Windows 8 collects all apps in its own "Application Explorer" and categorizes each app as either an "Immersive" or a traditional "Desktop" application (see below for more on that):

This ribbonized "Application Explorer" is a gathering place for all traditional applications and tablet apps. (Click here for a full-size image.)

2. Two-class society
Windows 8 will come in two separate interfaces flavors -- one traditional UI that resembles Windows 7's Aero and one touch-friendly UI specifically tailored to tablets dubbed "Immersive UI". The latter isn't fully implemented (or is too well hidden) in the early Milestone build, yet some specific tablet applications have already been unlocked:
Internet Explorer Immersive: A touch-centric version of Microsoft's IE browser that includes just an address bar (which auto-hides), a browser history and a tabbed view.

Modern Reader: Microsoft's own implementation of a (basic) PDF viewer that has only bare navigation and bookmarking support. (Still, Adobe likely won't be too happy about this.)
System Settings: A touch-optimized "Control Panel" that caters to mobile needs, such as connectivity, time zone settings or device management.

These few tablet apps are literally the tip of the iceberg -- the entire UI has yet to be revealed. While digging through Windows 8's various files, I found hints suggesting that users will be able to switch between the traditional Windows 8 UI and the tablet UI, through what's codenamed the "UIPicker". Also, we've found traces of a "Dock" that is supposed to hold built-in Windows features (such as a search box) and 3rd party apps.

3. Boot in under 20 seconds?
Windows 8 sports a new Hybrid Boot mode which drastically reduces (cold) boot time and will most likely be the default boot option going forward. In essence, it's a combination of "Log Off" and "Hibernate" -- the moment users click on the shutdown button, Windows closes all running applications, logs off and then goes into hibernation mode. Instead of booting up regularly, which usually involves loading hundreds of files and initializing services, drivers and so forth, Windows 8 simply loads the single hibernation file into memory and presents you with the log on screen. I've benchmarked the results on two machines and came away impressed:

On two of my test rigs, Hybrid Boot cut boot time in half
However, Hybrid Boot works only if users actually shut down their machines. If a user restarts his or her machine, it boots up cold.

4. Automatic Maintenance
Microsoft puts a heavy emphasis on optimizing and increasing overall stability of Windows 8: A new "Automatic Maintenance" regularly checks for solutions to problems (via Windows Error Report), runs the .NET Optimization Service and defrags all hard disks automatically -- all of this happens while the PC is on idle, of course.

Automatic Maintenance tries to fix Windows problems, runs a disk defrag and an optimization service for .NET applications.

5. Disk Defragmenter
Speaking of defragmentation, the new Disk Defragmenter is finally capable of handling SSD drives and allows users to perform the TRIM command much easier than in Windows 7.

Disk Defragmenter with SSD ("Trim") support
In addition, I've found a new Windows service called "Spot Verifier". According to its descriptions and its related DLL files, it checks for bad sectors in real-time and marks them as "bad" in order to avoid data loss or damage. I've also dug up traces of some underlying file system changes that I couldn't quite make sense of, such as an entirely new file system driver called "NT Protogon FS driver", which looks like a kernel mode driver for some sort of (yet unknown) file system called Protogon. It's unclear, whether this is a major new file system or just some minor subsystem.

6. Performance boost
In the performance department, Microsoft has also made some serious improvements: After four weeks of productive use (and even putting it under the load of dozens of applications), Windows 8 somehow manages to perform snappier than an identically configured Windows 7 installation. The log on/off process, launching applications, doing heavy multitasking and performing day-to-day tasks is just a tad quicker -- Microsoft managed to reduce any delay there was and improve responsiveness.

7. Usability goal: Click reduction
Neither the traditional nor the classic Windows UI are anywhere near finished. Yet, Microsoft's usability department is busy simplifying the user interface and reducing overall complexity.
For example, once you connect to a public Wi-Fi, Windows 8 offers a new dialog to enter the user name and password to get online access:

Windows 7 users would need to connect to the Wi-Fi, open up a browser and then wait for the online provider's landing page to pop up.

8. Windows Explorer
Windows Explorer is the next tool that received (quite) a UI overhaul and a perfect example of where Microsoft reduces the steps necessary to perform tasks: Like it or not, Windows 8 is likely to come with a ribbonized version of Windows Explorer, as first revealed by Windows experts Paul Thurott and Rafael Rivera. While actually working with this explorer for a couple of weeks we have to admit that, despite its hideous look, it's absolutely wonderful to work with. Day-to-day file tasks are simpler and the ribbon adapts to the file contents (for example, "Music Tools" below. Click here for a full-size image).

9. ISO mounting
Additionally, Windows 8 sports its own ISO mounting tool, thus eliminating the need to go and download 3rd party tools, which are often riddled with annoying toolbars and ads.

10: Windows Time Machine
Last but not least, Microsoft finally managed to give its "Restore Previous Versions" (Volume Shadow Copy) feature a usable and intuitive interface: History Vault lets you go back in time and restore earlier versions of a folder - just in case you accidentally made some unwanted changes or deleted some of its contents, which is pretty similar to Apples Time Machine in Mac OS X. Click here for a full-size image

This is the kind of stuff that'll make all the usability fanatics go wild: Technology that has been there before, but which is (for the first time ever) actually easy to use and accessible to beginners.
More to come?
Windows 8 won't be available next year, but even this early build looks promising and we believe there is still tons of hidden stuff to be discovered. We'll keep you posted on our findings and Sinofsky's predictions.

SilkRoad technology Named Finalist in 2011 American Business Awards

SilkRoad technology, inc., a leading provider of talent management solutions, announced today it was named a Finalist for the “Customer Service Department of the Year” in The 2011 American Business Awards, the nation's premier business awards program. This is the fifth consecutive year SilkRoad has been recognized by the American Business Awards for its customer service.
This year's Stevie Award winners will be announced during the annual gala on Monday, June 20 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. More than six-hundred executives from across the U.S.A. are expected to attend. The event will benefit Camfed (, which fights poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa by educating girls and empowering women to become leaders of change. The ceremonies will be broadcast on radio nationwide by the Business TalkRadio Network.
More than 2,800 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in more than 40 categories.
“We pride ourselves on providing our customers with the best customer service around,” said Andrew J. “Flip” Filipowski, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of SilkRoad technology. “Our team makes tireless efforts on behalf of our clients and it's a real honor to have the American Business Awards recognize our unparalleled service for the fifth year in a row.”    
Finalists were chosen by business professionals nationwide during preliminary judging in April and May. Stevie Award winners will be selected from among the Finalists in each category next week by members of 10 specialized final judging committees. More than 150 executives will have participated in judging this year.
Details about The American Business Awards and the list of Finalists in all categories are available at
About SilkRoad technology, inc.
SilkRoad technology, inc. provides software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions that significantly improve the talent within its more than 2000 customers across the globe. Through SilkRoad's Life Suite™, an integrated talent management solution, companies are able to hire better employees, identify high and low performers, drive a pay-for-performance culture and improve employee tenure. The SilkRoad Life Suite™ solution set includes: OpenHire™, for recruiting management; RedCarpet™ for employee onboarding and life events; WingSpan™ for flexible employee performance management; GreenLight™ for learning management; Eprise™ for employee intranets and content management; and HeartBeat™ for core HR. SilkRoad is headquartered in Chicago, IL with offices in Winston-Salem, NC; Bedford, MA; Red Bank, NJ; Jacksonville, FL; San Francisco, CA; Edmonton, Canada; Singapore; Sydney, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; Hamburg, Germany; Paris, France; London, England; Hong Kong; and Tokyo, Japan. More information is available at or by phone: U.S. toll free at 866-329-3363 or internationally at +1-336-201-5100. Follow SilkRoad technology on Twitter at
About the Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in four programs: The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about The Stevie Awards at
Sponsors and partners of The 2011 American Business Awards include Infogroup, IBM Netezza, American Support, Citrix Online, Epic Media Group, High Performance Technologies Inc., iolo technologies, LifeLock, Merisel, PetRays, SDL, SoftPro, and Vérité, Inc.

Ricky Rubio to Join Minnesota Timberwolves for 2011-12 Season

Ricky Rubio declared for the NBA draft after spending four seasons playing for the DKV Joventut in the Spanish ACB League. Two months after making his announcement, the Minnesota Timberwolves traded for the fifth pick in the 2009 draft and chose the point guard, assuming that the dynamic player would lead the franchise as Kevin Garnett had earlier in the decade.
Fast forward to 2011 and Rubio has yet to play a single game for the T'Wolves due to monetary concerns regarding a potential buyout. According to Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, though, it appears that Rubio will finally be in uniform for Minnesota for the 2011-12 NBA season.
Rubio, who was under contract with Joventut when drafted, had a buyout clause worked into his DKV contract. Considering Rubios apparent desire to stay in Spain and the Timberwolves' legitimate inability to pay the buyout -- the buyout was rumored to be worth $6-8 million; the NBA prohibits teams from spending more than $500,000 on buyouts -- the young guard ultimately played with FC Barcelona, who could afford the buyout, from 2009-2011.
"The reason leading me to [stay in Spain] is to have a period of preparation to better take the challenge of the NBA in better conditions as a player," Rubio said at the time, "The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to be my first option and I wish to play with them in the near future."
"Of course there’s disappointment," Minnesota general manager David Kahn had said, "but I don't think that disappointment should overshadow the big picture, which is, he's still so young. It appears now we will have a two-year wait. But if you frame it as he'll be 20 years old and he'll have two more years to develop, I can think of a lot worse things to happen to us a franchise."
As Wojnarowski reported, there was a Tuesday deadline for Rubio to sign with Minnesota under the current rookie scale of the current CBA. It was not clear whether Rubio literally signed any contracts, but under the current CBA, Rubio will still be subject to a rookie salary.
"It's unclear whether Rubio signed agreement on Tuesday, or merely promised to exercise his Spanish buyout on July 1 and then sign with Minny," Wojnarowski said in a tweet, "Nevertheless, Ricky Rubio has committed to joining the NBA and playing for Minnesota in the 2011-12 season."
Rubio would join All-Star big man Kevin Love on a young, talented roster that also features former No. 2 pick Michael Beasley and No. 4 pick Wesley Johnson. Current starting point guard Jonny Flynn, who was taken by Minnesota one pick after Rubio in 2009, has been rumored to be on his way out.
Rubio, who turns 21 in October, averaged 6.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 1.6 steals in close to 23 minutes per game for Barcelona in the Euroleague this past season.

Shaquille O’Neal tweets retirement

In the same breath, Shaquille O’Neal’s announcement that he is retiring makes perfect sense — and it makes none.
According to NBA sources, while Shaq was telling everyone publicly that he was giving the Celtics [team stats] two years, he was saying at times to others that this was to be his last season in basketball.
Yesterday via Twitter, Shaq said “im retiring,” and included a link to a short video of him saying, “We did it; 19 years, baby. Thank you very much. That’s why I’m telling you first: I’m about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon.”
But the fact he bought in so heavily to the Celtics situation, in terms of both franchise history and the desire to win with the current veterans, makes it seem odd that he will leave before playing one last song with Paul Pierce [stats], Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
The Big Sentimental Journey cried real tears as the Celtics were in the process of being eliminated from the playoffs. When he tells you he was upset and that he believed his absence let a lot of people down, he’s not just speaking for show.
O’Neal wanted another championship, and he wanted it here. Badly.
While others have dived into the local scene, Shaquille O’Neal did a cannonball off the 10-meter platform. He enjoyed the hell out of Boston, and he wanted to give the area an even better reason than his personality to hug him back.
Accordingly, Shaq went through all manner of rehab treatments to make it back from, first, a bruised knee (kicked by Amare Stoudemire), then a strained Achilles tendon and, last but certainly not least, a torn calf muscle.
In his attempt to come back from the knee issue, he pounded down the anti-inflammatory medication to the point at which he began defecating blood and had to back off. In the last weeks of the Celtics run, O’Neal was receiving treatment at all hours.
That makes it a bit difficult to fathom why he would bid adieu on June 1, when training camp isn’t scheduled to start for four months and, in reality, is probably several months away because of the expected lockout.
Word is that while surgery would help his Achilles, it isn’t necessarily required. Rest is the best medicine for now, and Shaq could have all he wants. If there is a shortened season, he and his more veteran friends would be in a very good position to make one last run together on a team that figures to make a few changes.
But no one knows how any of that — his health, the collective bargaining negotiations, the Celtics’ trade and free agent chances — will work out. Shaq himself can’t be certain.
So while he may well be at peace with his decision to retire and even looking forward to stoking his myriad business interests, this may not be the last announcement regarding his basketball career.
Doc Rivers and Danny Ainge were certainly not caught off-guard by this latest news. The two had even said after the loss to the Heat they expected it. But neither will be unhappy in the least if Shaq has a change of his big heart before next season, whenever it may be. O’Neal brought a joy to the dressing room whose spirit had been waning. And in simple basketball terms, he made those around him better — Garnett and Rajon Rondo [stats], in particular.
If Shaq is able to get up and down the floor, he will remain an inside force on offense that the Celtics will embrace for however many or few minutes he can offer.
It can be hard to understand how a 39-year-old guy finishing his 19th season can be so important to a team with three other guaranteed Hall of Famers and a fourth on that road. But there isn’t anyone around the Celtics who doesn’t believe the team wouldn’t still be playing if Shaquille O’Neal could go 25 minutes a night.
That is, of course, asking a great deal from a man with his mileage, and the Celtics [team stats] were aware last summer when they signed him that he wouldn’t be playing wire to wire.
Shaquille clearly doesn’t have another NBA feature length film in him, but to leave the stage now before waiting to see how he feels in the fall is like saying goodbye to Hollywood after “Kazaam.” Better he should take his temperature a few months from now.
He owes us nothing. He owes that to himself.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

'Jets is a fine name,' Winnipeg franchise's co-owner says

MAKE that one vote -- one very big vote -- in the "Winnipeg Jets" corner.
David Thomson, Canada's richest man and newly minted co-owner of the new NHL franchise in town, weighed in on the moniker debate Tuesday.
"I think the Jets is a fine name," Thomson said. "(The team's name) is something we will have to think hard about. And swiftly."
Growing up in Toronto, Thomson said he played hockey and aspired to one day play in the NHL.
"I had dreams. It was always a deep connection, not just to the sport but to the country. My father (Ken) was a passionate hockey fan. I used to go to (Toronto) Maple Leafs games with him," he said.
Thomson's business relationship with True North Sports & Entertainment and its chairman Mark Chipman goes back to 2001, but he said he first started to connect with Manitoba more than three decades earlier.
"Our company acquired the Hudson's Bay Company on April 4, 1979. I moved through the business in 1980. It was a hardened baptism. I went all across the country and developed friendships throughout all the provinces, particularly in Manitoba," he said.
Thomson said buying the Atlanta Thrashers and moving them to Winnipeg was "the right thing to do."
"Who would have imagined such a confluence of circumstances? The opportunity makes sense. Mark and I share the same values. We've weathered some storms. When you do things for the right reasons, everything else seems to flow," he said.
"We felt there might a moment when the team might come back. It's felt right for a few years. You have to be patient."
Thomson said he didn't direct his energies to securing a particular franchise for Winnipeg.
"It's a tempestuous situation with the owners and the league," he said.
Even though Leafs stars such as Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald and Borje Salming got all the media attention in the 1970s and early '80s, Thomson said he was well aware of the Jets and their stars.
"(Dale) Hawerchuk was a great player in Winnipeg, and of course, Bobby Hull," he said.
It was the players, not the teams, with whom Thomson connected as a young hockey fan.
"When the Leafs traded Bobby Pulford to Los Angeles, I switched allegiances to the L.A. Kings (prior to the 1970-71 season), long before Wayne Gretzky arrived there," he said.
Other favourites from his youth included Bobby Orr, Wayne Cashman and Brad Park of the Boston Bruins, Dave Keon and George Armstrong of the Leafs and Vic Hadfield of the New York Rangers.
Thomson was coy about his role with Winnipeg's new team.
"Mark (Chipman) leads the organization. I'm just delighted to play a part," he said.
When asked to elaborate, he smiled and said: "I'll leave that up to you to imagine."

Hip hop fashion designer, 34, who founded multi-million dollar company found dead

A hip hop fashion designer who founded a multi-million dollar company when he was barely out of his teens has been found dead in California home aged 34
Jonas Bevacqua launched the popular street clothing brand LRG in 1999 and presided over its rapid rise as a major fashion force.
Orange County sheriff's officials said his body was found in his Laguna Beach home.
‘There were no obvious signs of the cause of death,’ said sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino. He added that the county coroner would conduct an autopsy on Wednesday.
Mr Bevacqua and his business partner, Robert Wright, founded Lifted Research Group, known to customers as LRG, with start-up capital raised in part from friends of Mr Bevacqua's adoptive father.
By 2006, LRG had annual sales of $150 million and was named by Entrepreneur magazine as number five on its list of that year's 500 fastest growing companies.
Among its popular clothing lines are Luxirie, which targets 18- to 30-year-old women, offering clothing with Western and military themes, and items such as crystal-covered jeans.
Initially a clothing company, LRG has since branched out to include sales of electronic devices and music, releasing compilation CDs with artists such as Kanye West and Raekwon.
It described itself as a ‘creative lifestyle’ company that attempts to reflect its founders' interests, not only in fashion but also environmental causes and other activities.
‘The company is also involved in the promotion of underground recording artists and sponsors a skateboarding team,’ according to its website.
In a 2009 interview with the Orange County Register, Mr Bevacqua described a passionate but casual work ethic that he said drives LRG, whose headquarters includes a basketball court and skateboard half-bowl and ramp.
‘No one is really a suit-and-tie-guy,’ he said of LRG's employees. ‘If anybody wears a suit, it's because he wants to, not because he has to