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Santa tracked by Google, Microsoft

Posted by pakin On December - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

SAN FRANCISCO – Google and Microsoft had their virtual eyes on Santa Claus and his gift-laden sleigh on Thursday.

Each of the rival technology giants continued their separate Internet holiday traditions that allow children, no matter how grown up they might be, to track Santa online as he makes his way around the world on Christmas Eve.

“Google’s Santa Tracker launches today — And it’s time to follow the jolly man’s sleigh,” the California-based Internet firm said in a blog post playfully penned in rhyme.

“The elves have been working hard for this night, Santa’s village is abuzz — tonight’s the big flight.”

The santatracker.google.com website includes an animated map and a running tally of the number of gifts delivered.

Microsoft once again partnered with the North American Aerospace Defense Command on an interactive website at noradsanta.org where Santa’s reindeer-drawn sleigh can be seen making its way over countries around the world.

NORAD’s involvement began 60 years ago when a wrong telephone number printed in a newspaper advertisement resulted in children calling for Santa.

The commander on duty that day had staff provide callers with updates on Santa’s location and the tradition evolved into the NORAD Santa-tracking website.

“Throughout the year, we can be pretty cynical,” Matthew Quinlan, marketing director for Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, said in a blog post.

“But this is one moment where we can see things again through a child’s eyes, and it gives us a fresh sense of wonder.”

The NORAD Santa-tracking website includes games and allows people to ask Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant software, where Santa is at any given moment.

Busan Christmas Tree Festival

Posted by pakin On December - 25 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS

The Busan Christmas Tree Festival, Busan’s annual winter event, is being held in the Gwangbokro area of Jung-gu District.


Now until January 3, Busan, South Korea

The Busan Christmas Tree Festival, Busan’s annual winter event, is being held in the Gwangbok-ro area of Jung-gu District. Adding a more festive atmosphere are concerts, a tree of wishes, street performances, love coins, a photo and video contest, and much more.


Now to January 10, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Families with children, youths and young adults visiting Malaysia will love the “Illusion” exhibition at Petrosains science exhibition centre in Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition, brought in from the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, explores science in an interesting way, combining it with art, technology and illusion to appeal to all ages. Curated by psychologist and author Richard Wiseman, and researched by magician and escapologist Paul Gleeson, the exhibition challenges the perceptions and gets visitors to use their senses to understand how the brain works. Expect magic with psychology, optical illusions with scientific reasoning, and confusion with clarity!


Now until January 24, Jeollanam-do, South Korea

The installation of a 120-metres-high and 130-metres-wide Christmas tree, which made it into the Guinness Book of Records in 2000, is among the highlights of this festival at the Boseong Green Tea Plantation, one of South Korea’s popular tourist attractions. Also featured are activities like the giant Christmas tree, a themed street, a galaxy tunnel, illuminations of Botjae and Dahyanggak, a photo zone, resolution stairs, and hanging wish cards. The landscape is also special, graced with a romantic and magical ambience of falling snow created by the arrangement of LED lights.


Now to February 14, Hong Kong

Udderbelly Festival made its international debut on Hong Kong’s iconic waterfront skyline this month as part of the second year of the hugely successful Great European Carnival with a bellyful of exciting, eclectic and affordable entertainment! It includes some of the very best shows and artists from London, Australia, the Edinburgh Fringe and also local talent from Hong Kong. Just like on London’s Southbank and in Edinburgh, you can come and enjoy circus, dance, music, beat -boxing and family shows, as well as comedy and cabaret over the weekends and holidays.


January 17 to 26, Kalibo, Philippines

Ati-Atihan is a nine-day exhibition of costume and dance and feast in honour of Santo Nino (Infant Jesus), in the island and town of Kalibo, Aklan. Soot-black painted faces, feather headdresses, and animal bones create an arresting visual impression. Drumming and dancing break out at dawn and continue on until the festival ends three days later at a masquerade ball. A mass outdoor procession follows a sacred image of Santo Nimo from the Kalibo Cathedral to Pastrana Park. Don’t miss the masquerade ball. The creativity and colour of the traditional costumes are matched only by Brazil’s Carnival and Papua New Guinea’s Mt Hagen Cultural Festival.


January 23, Nara, Japan

Visit Nara and watch Mount Wakakusayama burning. This annual festival is quite an enigma. People have celebrated it for centuries, but its origin is not clear. When the grass on the hillside of Mount Wakakusayama is turning brown in January, the local folks will set fire to the mountain. The flames can been seen from anywhere in Nara. Temples and local communities draw visitors for the festive activities and the fireworks.

SAN FRANCISCO – Bridgestone raised its bid for US auto service chain Pep Boys, a merger that would catapult it to the ranks of top players in the US car maintenance business.

Bridgestone, already the world’s largest tire maker, increased its offer for the US company to $17.00 per share, from its last offer of $15.00.

The boosted bid brings the total value of the deal to about $947 million, according to a press release from the two companies.

Through the merger, Bridgestone would add Pep Boys’ 800 US locations, and car maintenance services, to its own 2,200 US outlets.

“In addition to our long and successful histories in this industry, Pep Boys and Bridgestone share a common vision for the future –- to continue to build upon this 100-year foundation to form an even stronger company, one that is renowned for its commitment to being the most trusted provider of automotive service in every neighborhood it serves,” said Stu Crum, president of Bridgestone Retail Operations.

Bridgestone’s sweetened bid leaves open the possibility of a counter offer from activist investor Carl Icahn, who reportedly wants to combine the retail sales side of Pep Boys with his Auto Plus car parts network of 2,300 outlets.

Energy Minister Anantaporn Kanjanarat also told reporters yesterday that the government had talked with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen during his recent visit to Thailand about cooperating to develop petroleum deposits in the two countries’ overlapping area in the Gulf of Thailand

An agreement could be reached by next year.

Twarath Sutabutr, director-general of the Energy Policy and Planning Office, said the National Energy Policy Council had recently agreed for the ministry to draw up a plan to purchase LNG from the spot market as long as it is cheaper than domestic gas.

Areepong Bhoocha-Oom, permanent secretary of the ministry, said that because LNG spot prices had fallen below the contractual prices of natural gas in some domestic fields, PTT should reduce its purchases from domestic sources and import LNG.

“This is in line with our strategy to prolong depleting domestic gas reserves,” he said.

At the current LNG spot price of US$7.8 per million British thermal units, some domestic fields such as the Platong block operated by Chevron in the Gulf of Thailand are selling gas at a higher rate, he said.

Out of about 4 billion cubic feet per day of gas purchased from domestic sources, about 1 billion is more expensive than LNG. However, up to 500 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of supply could be cut, he said.

Natural gas piped in from Myanmar is also costlier than LNG spot prices, but has a higher minimum volume of purchases, and reducing the purchases won’t help preserve domestic gas reserves, he said.

Veerasak Pungrassamee, director-general of the Mineral Fuels Department, said PTT had already started to cut gas purchases from domestic sources. However, considering the minimum contractual obligations, the maximum reduction of domestic gas supply could be only 300mmcfd.

Also, cutting all that amount could lead to an increase in the price of natural gas for vehicles (NGV) and the electricity tariff, as the specifications for LNG are different than for domestic gas.

The maximum domestic gas volume that can be cut without affecting NGV and electricity costs is about 60-80mmcfd, he said.