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Samsung to make a mini version of its Galaxy S4

Posted by Rattana_S On May - 31 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

(CNN) — The Galaxy S4 mini, a slimmed-down version of Samsung’s flagship smartphone, is on its way, the company announced Thursday.

Widely rumored after an accidental leak, the company confirmed that the mini will be one of the products rolled out at a Samsung event in London on June 20.

On the heels of a hot start for the Galaxy S4, which the company says sold 10 million units in less than a month, the Korean gadget-maker seems to be homing in on the rival iPhone with a handset that promises to be easier to grip than its bulkier cousins in the Galaxy line.

The mini will have a 4.3-inch display screen, comparable to the iPhone 5’s 4-inch screen, and weigh 3.77 ounces — a pip lighter than the iPhone’s 3.95.

The Galaxy S4 has a 5-inch screen, while Samsung’s Galaxy Note II “phablet” has a whopping 5.5-inch display.

“We want to give people more choices with Galaxy S4 mini, similar look and feel of Galaxy S4 for more compact and practical uses,” J.K. Shin, CEO and president of Samsung’s mobile division, said in a blog post.

The new phone will feature an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera (down from the S4’s 13 megapixels) and 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It also will come with 8GB of internal memory, running up to 64GB if, as with the S4, the user adds an available memory microchip.

It will be a sleek 9mm wide (.35 inches), a hair wider than the iPhone 5’s 7.6mm (.3 inches), and run the latest version of Google’s Android operating system, Jelly Bean, with a 1.7 Ghz dual-core processor.

The device will come in either white or black. No price or release date was announced.

The announcement further illustrates the divergent mobile strategies of Samsung and Apple. While the Cupertino tech giant fine-tunes a single phone, Samsung floods the zone with a variety of models, ranging from low-end handsets to its more upscale Galaxy line.

“Samsung’s overall smartphone strategy is about producing scores of iterations at various price points and screen sizes in order to saturate the market with as much of its hardware as possible,” Natasha Lomas wrote for TechCrunch. “(It’s) a strategy that, coupled with its massive marketing budget, continues to be extremely successful for the Korean electronics giant, making it far harder for other Android (makers) such as HTC to compete with their far more modest device portfolios.”

‘White faces’ to join Thai Spring

Posted by Rattana_S On May - 31 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The anti-Thaksin Shinawatra group that uses the Guy Fawkes mask as a symbol is planning to join up with Thai Spring, another anti-government group.

“We have held preliminary talks and are waiting for Thai Spring to consider. Whatever our future activity is, safety comes first as we emerge from cyberspace and into the real world. We’re trying to check the number of people willing to join and are waiting to decide on a date to rally for people’s right. We also want to demonstrate our refusal to accept parliamentary dictatorship that puts the benefits of corrupt politicians above the interest of the nation and its people,” a proclaimed initiator of the group told The Nation via a Facebook exchange.

Members of the group are keeping their identities hidden for safety.

Burned out cars a mystery : police

Posted by Rattana_S On May - 31 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Officers of Provincial Police Region 3 are still looking for the owner of four luxury cars that caught fire on Wednesday in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district during transportation on a semi-trailer truck. No one has claimed ownership of the burned-out vehicles.

Altogether six cars were being transported, but only four of them burned in a mysterious fire, including a Lambogini, a Bentley, a BMW and a Mercedes Benz. The total value of the four cars is thought to be in the region of Bt100 million.

Investigations have so far not been able to link the cars to any illegal imports or tax evasions.

It was initially believed that the car owner was a wealthy person in the lower Northeast of Thailand.

Provincial Police Region 3 deputy chief Pol Col Panu Bunarasiri said yesterday that A-ngoon Jeungsaengmanee Co Ltd in Bangkok’s Min Buri district was hired to transport the cars to a gas station in Si Sa Ket. Police are investigating the scene for more clues and a possible cause of the fire. Luxury car experts were also called in to help police check the cars’ origin and whether they had been imported illegally. The Department of Revenue also sent officials to join the investigation to identify the cars’ origin.

Meanwhile, forensic expert Pol Col Seri Chanprathin led a team to inspect the burned-out cars at Nakhon Ratchasima’s Klang Dong police station yesterday and said the probe would take time as some evidence needed to be analysed in a laboratory.

In the meantime, a source reported that the six cars were suspected of carrying red licence plates (temporary plates for new cars) and fuelled by gas. The fire could have stemmed from the truck driver’s spent cigarette igniting the gas, the source speculated.

In Si Sa Ket – the cars’ intended destination – a source with business connections said luxury cars were occasionally sent to the gas station in Si Sa Ket. Someone would then pick them up for registration at the provincial transport office under the category of cars reassembled with imported auto parts. The source said such cars would be seen around town for a short time, before they disappeared and another batch of luxurious cars came in.

Si Sa Ket Transport official Danai Khot-asa said that only one or two luxurious cars would apply for car registration on a monthly basis, but officials strictly checked papers so he was certain there was no corruption with luxury cars assuming other vehicle registration numbers.

Meanwhile, a source at the agency tackling illegally-imported cars said they could be second hand cars imported from another country with new installations – such as an audio and entertainment system – which could have overloaded one of the cars electrical systems and caused the fire. They may even have been imported as auto parts and then poorly assembled leading to a fire, said the source.

The Cabinet resolved last year to introduce a ministerial regulation prohibiting the use of imported auto and motorcycle parts into the Kingdom. The owner of the luxury cars might therefore be illegally attempting to avoid tax tariffs, said the source. Authorities should also look into the car insurance details because the fire might have been deliberately set to claim insurance money, said the source.

10 things to know before visiting Peru

Posted by Rattana_S On May - 31 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

World-renowned chef, author and Emmy winning television personality Anthony Bourdain visits Peru in the next episode of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook.

(CNN) — With a climate that ranges from desert dry to tropical lush to freeze-your-North-Face-off in the Andes, Peru packs a ton of diversity between its sea level elevation Pacific beaches and the 22,204 foot top of its highest mountain, Nevado Huascaran.

There’s pisco. There’s ceviche. And, yes, there’s that famous trail.

Don’t worry, we’ll get to all of those. First some things you may not already know.

1. Lima is worth seeing

While most international travelers land in Peru’s current capital, many immediately continue on to the country’s former capital, Cuzco, in their rush to get to Machu Picchu.

That’s a mistake.

Lima is Peru’s largest city by far. It’s home to more than a quarter of Peru’s roughly 30 million people, has wonderful food, the beautiful Miraflores district (where you can drink while overlooking beaches lined with small rocks that form eye-catching patterns each time the tide rolls out) and excellent museums.

The Museo Larco and its Erotic Gallery is devoted to sculptures from more than a thousand years ago celebrating sexual congress in all of its least procreative forms. Reproductions of these works pop up all over Peru, notably in the form of a bottle of pisco shaped like a fellow in an extremely good mood.

Museo Larco (Larco Museum), Bolivar 1515, Lima; +51 1 461 1312

2. You’re gonna love the ceviche

Fresh, raw fish marinated in citrus juices and spiced with chili peppers and sometimes other tongue-tingling spices, ceviche is Peru’s most popular dish, a must-try for any visitor.

In Lima, internationally famed La Mar is a great place to try it, but ceviche is prepared differently throughout the country, from humble street stalls to elegant restaurants.

La Mar, 770 Av. La Mar, Lima; +51 1 421 3365

3. There’s more to Peru than Incas

Most tourists come to Peru to see Machu Picchu or other Inca ruins, with maybe a few Catholic churches thrown in for balance. This makes it easy to conclude, “There were the Incas, then the Spanish came, which brings us to where we are now.”

In fact, the Inca were a bit like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital: They had a knack for taking control of long-established things and making them their own. The Incan state didn’t emerge until the 1200s. It became an empire in the 1400s, and its final sovereign emperor died in 1533, officially ending the period of constructing the buildings and roads that lure visitors to this day.

That said, the Norte Chico people of Peru built a civilization 5,000 years ago and the centuries that followed saw the emergence of other significant cultures, such as the Paracas and the Moche.

Was the Incan era a highlight of Peruvian history? Unquestionably.

But when Peruvian museums boast artifacts from before Christ, focusing exclusively on Atahualpa and his predecessors is akin to being so impressed by books that you conclude world history began with the Gutenberg press.

4. Pisco rules

Peru’s beverage of choice is pisco, a brandy made from grapes. It’s also adored in Chile, inspiring an epic rivalry over which nation is its true birthplace.

Available in numerous brands at varying prices, pisco is usually consumed in cocktail form, meaning other ingredients largely hide its nuances, which can be a good thing for novices unaccustomed to pisco’s blowtorch nuances.

The most famous cocktail is the pisco sour, consisting of lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, ice and Angostura bitters. There are assorted variations, such as the coca sour for those who feel the pisco sour requires more bitterness.

If you’d rather just have a beer, you’re in luck — the local brews are good, with Cusqueña being a particularly refreshing option.

5. Cash is king, ideally in small bills

Travelers in less trafficked areas of the world often find businesses that won’t take MasterCard or Visa, much less American Express. Peru offers an extra twist: occasionally shops refuse these cards despite displaying signs advertising them.

In general, Peruvians like their soles (the currency is the nuevo sol) in small denominations: a fifty (roughly $20) is OK, but denominations of twenty and under are better to ensure merchants can make change.

That noted, Peruvians tend to put great stock in U.S. dollars, so even if an establishment doesn’t take credit cards and you don’t see an ATM, you may still be able to buy dinner or souvenirs. Make sure your U.S. and other foreign currency is in pristine shape — many merchants and hotels will reject torn or overly worn bills.

6. Altitude adjustment amounts to common sense

Peru is a mountainous land, and you have to handle heights if you’re going to Cuzco, Machu Picchu and other landmarks of Incan culture.

How to prepare? The easiest method is drink lots of water, get plenty of sleep and ease off the booze — just imagine how your mother would like you to conduct your life at every elevation and you’ll be fine.

You can also consume stimulating coca leafs, whether in tea or by chewing them.

7. The plumbing requires some TLC

Expect to see trashcans in bathrooms next to the toilet. While Peruvian plumbing handles your waste, it doesn’t do toilet paper, which must be put in the bin next to the bowl.

Some bathrooms have signs stating this rule, others assume you know: remember and spare yourself begging for a plunger in broken Spanish.

8. The Inca Trail is genuinely difficult

Along the famed trail you’ll often be reminded of the Peruvian proverb: “When the road is long, even slippers feel tight.”

The Inca Trail largely consists of stone stairs — often steep ones — and those stone stairs weren’t meant to be covered by mortals. The result is that the steps feel quite high for those who don’t answer to “Kobe” or “LeBron.”

If just reading this makes your knees swell, you may be in trouble.

In addition, while altitude sickness tends to be exaggerated, there’ll come a moment when you’re going up a hill and find that your lungs have betrayed you.

Throw in the chance of heavy rains — test your “waterproof” gear pretrek to make sure it’s just that — and the trail can feel less like vacation than boot camp.

9. There are ways to ease your Inca pain

Depending on the company guiding you on the Trail, it’s possible to get porters to carry your tent, sleeping bag, food and … well, they’ll essentially carry everything, including you, should your body completely fall to pieces.

Porters race ahead to the night’s camp and assemble everything before parties arrive, then cook and serve multiple-course meals, in certain cases on white linen table clothes. The result after a hard day’s walk is that you feel like you’ve stepped out of “Deliverance” and into “Howard’s End.” Speaking of porters …

10. Porters are the toughest guys in the country

Whether you’re on your own or traveling like an English lord in the colonies, you’ll encounter porters on the Inca Trail. These men tend to be farmers or laborers looking to earn extra money.

They carry up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of gear — the weight limit is a recent development, they used to handle positively spine-shattering loads — and they carry it fast. Some actually run along the trail, somehow avoiding shredded ankles as they navigate uneven, wet stones just to ensure all’s ready before the tourists stagger into camp.

If you feel like racing your fellow hikers, great. Do not test the porters: They’re pros, and you’re at best a promising amateur.