Friday, 30 December 2011

Apple's Jonathan Ive gets knighthood in honours list

Mr Ive has been behind many of the iconic gadgets of the last 15 years

Mr Ive, who can now style himself Sir Jonathan, has been made a Knight Commander of the British Empire (KBE).
Raised in Chingford, Mr Ive began working for Apple in 1992 and since then has been the brains behind many of its products.
He described the honour as "absolutely thrilling" and said he was "both humbled and sincerely grateful".
Mr Ive added: "I am keenly aware that I benefit from a wonderful tradition in the UK of designing and making.
"I discovered at an early age that all I've ever wanted to do is design."
Team work
Mr Ive has been lauded for the tight fit between form and function seen in Apple gadgets such as the iPod and iPhone.
Born in February 1967, Mr Ive inherited a love of making things from his father, a silversmith, and reportedly spent much of his youth taking things apart to see how they worked.
From the age of 14, he said, he knew he was interested in drawing and making "stuff" and this led him to Northumbria Polytechnic - now Northumbria University - where he studied industrial design.
On graduation he started work as a commercial designer and then, with three friends, founded a design agency called Tangerine.
One of the clients for the agency was Apple which was so impressed with the work he did on a prototype notebook that it offered him a full-time job.
Mr Ive was apparently frustrated during his early years at Apple as the company was then suffering a decline. Everything changed, however, in 1995 when Steve Jobs returned to the company he helped found. 
"What's made him so outstandingly successful is the relationship he's had with Steve Jobs and Apple," said Deyan Sudjic, director of The Design Museum.
"He's been working there for 19 years and has built up the kind of relationship that's very rare."
Mr Jobs described Mr Ive as his "spiritual partner" in the recent biography of the Apple co-founder written by Walter Isaacson. However, it also said that Mr Ive was "hurt" by Mr Jobs taking credit for innovations that came from the design team.
Mr Ive's eye for design combined effectively with Mr Jobs' legendary attention to detail and the products that have emerged from the company since the late 1990s have turned Apple into the biggest and most influential technology company on the planet.
Mr Sudjic said Mr Ive's talent was to help people stop worrying about technology and just get on with using it.
There have been some mis-steps along the way. Most recently, Apple's iPhone 4 was criticised because many people said signal strength dropped when their hand touched the phone's metal case. This was thought to be because the antenna for the handset formed part of the device's metal shell.
In contrast to many other design celebrities, said Mr Sudjic, Mr Ive had not cashed in on his fame but had let what he and his team created speak for itself.
Mr Sudjic said: "He has a very determined sense of getting things right."
The knighthood is the second time Mr Ive has been recognised in the honour's list. In 2005 he was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Government austerity has undermined growth and caused a great deal of anger around Europe

Government austerity has undermined growth and caused a great deal of anger around Europe 

The vast majority of leading economists polled by the BBC believe recession will return to Europe next year.
One fifth said the eurozone would not exist in its current 17-member form, while the majority put the possibility of a eurozone break-up at 30%-40%.
The poll also found that most economists expect UK interest rates to remain at 0.5% throughout next year.
It was conducted among 34 UK and European economists who regularly advise the Bank of England.
Of the 27 who responded, 25 forecast recession for Europe next year.
Closer union
Growth in Europe has slowed in recent months as the eurozone debt crisis has forced governments to rein in spending and has undermined confidence in global financial markets.
The eurozone economy grew by 0.2% between July and September, while the 27 economies of the European Union grew collectively by 0.3%.
Politicians have attempted to resolve the crisis, including an agreement to forge closer ties between EU members, but markets have yet to be convinced the measures they have taken are sufficient.
The longer the debt crisis rumbles on, the more likely Europe will return to recession, economists believe.
'Deficit pain'
Growth in the UK during the third quarter was 0.6%. However, growth in the previous three months was flat.
The CBI business group said that 2012 could be the beginning of a more prosperous future if the "pain" of deficit reduction passed quickly.
In his New Year message, the CBI's John Cridland said the eurozone crisis posed a "significant threat" to the British economy, because 40% of UK exports were sold there.
Mr Cridland added that the faltering recovery and the continuing debt crisis were stark reminders of the need to rebalance Britain's economy away from household and government debt.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Retailers 'face tough time' as consumers cut back

Christmas sales may not be enough to save some retailers, claims the report

The UK retail sector faces another tough year in 2012 as consumers continue to cut back, according to a report by Verdict Research.
It claims consumer spending will grow by 1.2% next year, the third slowest rate in 40 years.
Food sales are expected to rise strongly, the report claims, as more consumers will cut back on going out.
It comes as insolvency firm Begbies Traynor predicted that the retail sector would struggle most in 2012.
Maureen Hinton of Verdict said: "The first three months of 2012 will be the most difficult period for retailers as consumers cut back severely after the expensive Christmas period.
"Conditions will ease slightly with events such as Easter, the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics improving consumer sentiment, but overall confidence will still be low."
Gloomy outlook Begbies Traynor's Red Flag Survey claims the sectors most at risk in 2012 are retail, travel, leisure, property and construction and manufacturing.

Retail outlook  
Ishfaq Anwar: "Worst Christmas trading in 22 years"

"Profit warnings from big High Street names are only the tip of the iceberg," according to Julie Palmer, a partner at Begbies Traynor.
"Beneath the large retail chains there is a raft of small to medium sized retailers that are struggling to maintain their businesses and don't have the resources to turn things around - they will be the companies more likely to fail in 2012."
Analysts Experian say the predicted £10bn plus spend for the whole of this week will be 2011's most lucrative for retailers, beating the pre-Christmas rush.
Consumers are expected to have spent at least £22.8bn by the third week of January.
High Street struggles
However, in Slough, retailers have told a different story about Christmas trading.
Ravi Hansra, owner of AB Superstores in Slough High Street said: "You can now go into lots of shops and buy Christmas decorations - we used to sell pallets and pallets of wrapping paper; now it's a pallet.
"Our daily pre-Christmas takings were down 15% a day compared with last year.
"I think trading will be a struggle for the foreseeable future - I don't see the High Street being around in 20 years' time."
"Ten years ago, people would walk to wherever was convenient to do their shopping - now they drive to wherever's convenient.
Ishfaq Anwar, 48, is owner of clothes shop Denim & Hide in Slough's town centre.
"We've just had the worst Christmas in 22 years of trading.
"We sell a lot of designer names - Armani, Polo Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss - but people are just looking, not buying.
"About 60 to 70% of people who came in before Christmas were asking: "When does your sale start?"
"It has been a real struggle this last two years - the shopping centre next door had a big HMV store which was a draw for lots of people, but that closed down.
"I remember trading through the last recession, but this time things are different as everyone is affected."
'Manic' Christmas However, some consumers in Slough told a very different story.
Sophie Flynn, 19, works for a large department store in Slough.
She said: "I did try and work out a budget this year but I didn't stick to it.
"I saw some things and simply got them because I know people would like them.
"The shop where I work has been absolutely manic - we haven't seen any sign of the consumer slowdown before or after Christmas."
Michael Page, 25, is a telecoms buyer who lives in Reading and works in Slough.
"I didn't think any differently in terms of spending, in fact, I probably spent more this year as my financial circumstances have improved.
"I know times are tougher and things like food and petrol are more expensive, but people still want their families to have a great Christmas despite the gloom."
For Rizwan Ahmad, 28, a factory worker, planning has been the key to affording a good Christmas.
He and his wife have three children under the age of eight.
He said: "We probably spent between £1,500 and £2,000 this year, but we planned things as we knew things were going to go up in price.
"We know things are difficult for people and we wanted the kids to enjoy Christmas.
"We didn't spend any less this year than in 2010 - but we have seen prices go up this year."

English alcohol prices set to soar?

Make the most of any celebratory drinking on New Year's Eve. It might never be so cheap. That's because David Cameron wants to ban any sale of alcohol that is cheaper than the 40-50p threshold, a move likely to cost English drinkers an extra £700m a year. If introduced it's claimed more revenues will flow towards the NHS - and help prevent at least 1,000 deaths per year.


The proposal is likely to be dogged by concerns that such a change might be illegal under European rules, as well as claims that the Coalition government is morphing into Nanny State. But it's understood David Cameron is determined to push on with radical structural reform on the sale of alcohol. What could it mean, apart from a more expensive glass or two?

It's unclear whether change would come in the guise of Scottish proposals - a simple ban of any alcohol that costs less than 45p a unit, or a more complex arrangement based on the number of overall alcohol units in a drink. Or, proposals might simply target supermarkets and local grocer stores so the move would not damage the pub industry.

Large price hikes

Some English councils - Greater Manchester, for one - are already mulling bylaws to put in place minimum alcohol prices. Price rises would hit certain types of drink very hard.The Telegraph estimates a bottle of "own-brand gin with around 37.5% alcohol content would go up from £6.95 to £11.85. A two-litre bottle of own-brand cider would more than triple in price from £1.20 to £3.75." Huge price leaps.

It also thinks the cost of a £12 bottle of whisky would climb to £12.60. Bottles of cheap plonk would go up from around £3.75 to £4.20 and a four-pack of beer with more than 5% alcohol content would cost a minimum £3.95, or thereabouts.

In the background to this story is huge worry about alcohol abuse, and how much it costs the nation. Alcohol is currently the biggest cause of death amongst the young. Dr Sarah Wollaston, an MP who sits on the Common's health committee - Wollaston is an ex-GP - claims alcohol misuse cost the UK £20 billion, or £800 for every family.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Beauty look of the week: Katie Holmes vs Duchess Kate

It's time for the battle of the Kates. Both Katie Holmes and the Duchess of Cambridge sported similar, low-key looks on the red carpet this week, but who gets your vote on the beauty front?

 Katie Holmes and Duchess Kate out and about this week. Photos: Getty Images

It's safe to say that Katie and Kate are big fans of the kohl pencil. Holmes showed off her heavy eyeliner look at the Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol premiere, which she teamed with perfectly defined brows, nude lips and a radiant glow. As for the hair, she opted for a sleek, swept-back ponytail - just in case anyone missed her sheer dress.

Meanwhile, Duchess Kate wowed us in Alexander McQueen at The Sun Military Awards on Monday night. While this black, velvet gown took us by surprise, Kate tends to stick to what she knows best with her makeup and hair. Although we'd like to see her try something different (a messy updo perhaps?), she still looked stunning wearing these basic beauty favourites - black eyeliner and a rosy pink blush.

So what's your verdict, Katie or Kate? We asked our expert friend British Beauty Blogger to share her thoughts below. Don't forget to cast your vote in the poll!

MyDaily HQ: While we like Katie's sleek, chic style, Duchess Kate's glam evening look was the most impressive (it's got nothing to do with the McQueen dress and that diamond necklace, we promise).

British Beauty Blogger: I love the way that Kate Middleton's lip-shade compliments her beautiful jewellery - it's a very subtle but elegant touch. They've both got stunning smoky eyes but Katie Holmes is more current; there is something about Kate Middleton's smoky that looks a little bit 1980 - she hasn't quite blended it to that seamless look that make-up artists can do, so I would guess she has done her own make-up on this occasion. Either way, they're actually quite similar looking and both of them look absolutely beautiful.

Reader poll:
Katie or Kate? 

Katie - her look is understated but chic293 (24.1%)Kate - her classic style is gorgeous and glam922 (75.9%)

Did Kate Middleton wear her gift from William on Christmas day?

Kate Middleton's regal purple Christmas day outfit confirmed to us that the Duchess of Cambridge is developing her own signature style. But what we didn't realise was that part of her ensemble was down to her husband's good taste.
 It's thought that the earrings that she wore were a present from Prince William - bought to celebrate the pair's first Christmas together as a married couple.

The amethyst 18-carat gold drop earrings were created by Kiki McDonough, and are worth £1900. William has clearly been paying attention to what lurks in Kate's jewellery box as she's proven herself to be fan of the designer in the past. In the summer she wore a pair of Kiki McDonogh earnings to the races at Epsom. William, we're impressed!

What do you think of Kate's look? Let us know below...

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Monday, 26 December 2011

'Anonymous' hackers hit US security firm Stratfor

Stratfor urged its members to notify authorities about any suspicious credit card activities

The activist hacker group Anonymous says it has stolen thousands of emails, passwords and credit card details from a US-based security think-tank.
The hackers claim they were able to obtain the information because the company, Stratfor, did not encrypt it.
They say Stratfor's clients include the US defence department, law enforcement agencies and media organisations.
The Austin-based company says it has now suspended the operation on its servers and email.
An alleged member of Anonymous posted an online message, claiming that the group had used Stratfor clients' credit card details to make "over a million dollars" in donations to different charities.
Stratfor later announced that it would keep its email and servers suspended for some time.
It also said the disclosure was "merely a list of some of the members that have purchased our publications and does not comprise a list of individuals or entities that have a relationship with Stratfor".
Anonymous has previously claimed responsibility for cyber attacks on financial institutions seen as enemies of the whistleblowing website Wikileaks.

Taking the pulse of Ngozumpa

The volume of water at the terminus of Ngozumpa is about a third of a cubic km and growing

Ngozumpa Glacier in Nepal snakes away from the sixth highest mountain in the world, Cho Oyo.
It's not the greatest glacier to look at - far from it. It's smothered in a layer of rocky debris that's fallen from the surrounding cliffs, giving it a very grey, dirty appearance.
But Ngozumpa is generating a lot of scientific interest at the moment.
TheNepaleseHimalayas have been warning significantly more than the global mean temperature in recent decades.
Glaciers in much of the region are showing signs of shrinking, thinning, and retreating; and this is producing a lot of melt water.
On Ngozumpa, some of this water is seen to pool on the surface and then drain away via a series of streams and caverns to the snout of the glacier.
There, some 25km from the mountain, an enormous lake is growing behind a mound of dumped rock fragments.
This lake, called Spillway, has the potential to be about 6km long, 1km wide and 100m deep.
The concern is that this great mass of water could eventually breach the debris dam and hurtle down the valley, sweeping away the Sherpa villages in its path. The threat is not immediate, but it's a situation that needs monitoring, say scientists.

One of the researchers at work on Ngozumpa is Ulyana Horodyskyi, from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado in Boulder, US.
She is setting up remote cameras to monitor the surface, or supraglacial, pools of water that dot the length of Ngozumpa. Some are small; some are big - the size of several football fields.
Already, she has been able to establish just how dynamic these water features can be as they drain and fill in rapid time.
The volumes involved can be prodigious. In one event, her cameras spied a supraglacial lake losing more than 100,000 cubic metres of water in just two days. Within five days, the lake had recovered half the volume, fed by waters from higher up the glacier.
"Say I came the week before and the week after a lake drained - it would seem like nothing had happened because the lake level would appear to be the same," Ms Horodyskyj told BBC News.
"But my timelapse photography tells me that something has happened - 40 Olympic-size swimming pools just got sent down the glacier."
The CIRES researcher wants to understand the part these supraglacial lakes play in the erosion of Ngozumpa.
  Horodyskyj is placing cameras on the cliffs to monitor the water features on the glacier below
The CIRES researcher wants to understand the part these supraglacial lakes play in the erosion of Ngozumpa.
Debris-covered glaciers don't melt in the same way as clean glaciers. The rock covering, depending on its depth, will insulate the ice from solar radiation. But remove it - as happens in these fluctuating lakes - and the rate of melting will increase.
"The enhanced melting comes from the bare ice walls in the lakes," she explains.
"The melt rate below the debris covering is about 2cm per day, but on these walls it's 4cm per day. As the lake drains, it exposes the walls which can then calve."
Ms Horodyskyj's assumption is that many of the lakes on Ngozumpa's surface are directly connected; and as one of them drains, it's likely that another lake at lower elevation is filling. However, the routes taken by the plumbing system are not always obvious.
This is being investigated by Doug Benn from the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS), Norway.
He's been climbing through the vast channels cut by flowing water inside Ngozumpa. Some of these "ice pipes" open up into spectacular caverns.
"It's widely recognised that the glaciers in this region are melting down as a result of global warming, but what hasn't been realised is that they're also being eaten away from the inside as well," he says.
"These glaciers are becoming like Swiss cheeses, so everything is happening more rapidly than is apparent by just looking at the surface."
Dr Benn visits the conduits after the melt season, after the water has stopped flowing. It would be too dangerous to get inside them at the height of summer.
It would seem the channels control where some surface pools and lakes form. It is as if the conduits are the templates.
"They're lines of weakness. As the glacier melts down, the roofs of the tunnels fall in and bare ice is exposed," explained Dr Benn. "The rock debris on the surface would normally slow down melting, but the existence of these weaknesses inside Ngozumpa opens it up and makes it melt far faster than would otherwise be the case."
Timelapse of a Ngozumpa supraglacial lake filling and draining (Courtesy of CIRES)
One of his students, Sarah Thompson, is concentrating her study on the end story - the snout of the glacier. This is where the water sent down Ngozumpa is gathering, in the rapidly growing Spillway Lake.
It is bounded by the moraine - an enormous pile of granite fragments dropped by the glacier over millennia.
At this point the glacier is stagnant; it is not moving. Again, the exposed ice walls that line Spillway Lake calve into the water, raising its level.
"We've got quite a short time period - the past 10 years - but it's an exponential growth in area," Ms Thompson says of Spillway's size. "And when we look at other similar lakes in the region, Spillway is on the same sort of trajectory to their development."
The Swansea University researcher added: "The expansion is way beyond what you would expect from the rates of ice melting, ablation and even calving.
"We need to understand at an early stage the processing rates so that we can predict ahead of time what is likely to happen and, if needs be, go in and mitigate all of this before it becomes such a significant hazard.
"In my work, we've been trying to identify where there might be weak points in the moraine dam, and we believe we've identified a few areas where in future you might want to take action."
Spillway is not expected to burst out anytime soon. It could be two decades or more before a 6km-long body of water is built up. But the difficulty of working in the region and bringing heavy equipment into the area means a long-term strategy for managing the lake's evolution is essential.
A conduit under Ngozumpa (Doug Benn et al)  
The conduits are investigated after the melt season, after all the water has gone

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Pakistan Imran Khan rally draws tens of thousands

The BBC's Aleem Maqbool said thousands had turned up for the rally
Tens of thousands of people have turned out at a rally in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi for former cricketer turned politician Imran Khan.
Mr Khan, who has been an established politician for many years but has struggled to win votes, has seen his support increase recently.
Correspondents say he has been riding a wave of disillusionment, particularly among the urban middle class.
The next national elections are scheduled for 2013.
'Potent power' The BBC's Aleem Maqbool, at the rally, says there were posters, banners and T-shirts espousing hope - clearly reminiscent of the sentiment that carried President Barack Obama to office in the US.
One supporter there told the BBC: "I'm highly optimistic that Imran Khan has the potent power to bring in change which we highly need because our country can't survive without a fair and just leadership.

Imran Khan rally in Karachi, 25 December  
The turnout in Karachi was large, given Mr Khan's traditional support base is in Punjab province

"It doesn't matter that he's a cricketer or something else. Whatever he is, he is not a diplomat, he is not a liar."
But our correspondent says that despite winning support from many disillusioned Pakistanis, Mr Khan still has a lot of work to do to clarify exactly what he stands for and whether he really does have the ability to lead the country out of its troubles.
The two main parties - the PPP and the PML-N - are still strongly entrenched and Mr Khan has yet to spell out the specific policies of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party.
One policy Mr Khan has won support for his opposition to US drone strikes on militants inside Pakistani territory.
He also argues that foreign aid is fuelling corruption and should be stopped.
Mr Khan has won over key defectors such as the PPP's Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Javed Hashmi of the PML-N.
The turnout in Karachi was large, given Mr Khan's traditional support base is in Punjab province.