Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The World’s Most Expensive Hotel Rooms: Prepare to Max Out Your Credit Card

If you thought booking a deluxe suite has gotten pricey, hold on to your hat. Some of the world’s most luxurious hotel suites are going for tens of thousands of dollars per night. So fire up your private jet, pack your Louis Vuitton bags, and get ready for an over-the-top stay.

Hotel Martinez Presidential Suite, Cannes, France
Certainly most U.S. Presidents haven’t even experienced the level of luxury of the Penthouse Suite at the Hotel Martinez in Cannes, France—and it can be yours for the bargain price of 12,000 to 34,000 Euros during the high season (that’s about $53,000). Clocking in at a massive 10,700 square feet, the Art Deco-inspired suite (which can be split into two apartments) offers a Jacuzzi on a private terrace, four bedrooms, four bathrooms equipped with Whirlpool baths and Turkish baths/showers, an open bar and two saunas. And in case anything is amiss, you’ll also have a butler at your disposal 24 hours a day.

Palms Resort Hugh Hefner Sky Villa, Las Vegas, NV
Get ready to don your red smoking jacket and slippers: Even if you can’t party at the Playboy Mansion, you can stay in the lavish Hugh Hefner Sky Villa at the Palms, featuring Playboy artwork selected by Hef himself. For $40,000 a night, you’ll have an outdoor terrace overlooking the lights of Vegas with a cantilevered Jacuzzi tub, a personal massage room, workout room, dry sauna and more. Oh, and there’s also an eight-foot round, rotating bed with mirrored ceiling, in case you’re thinking of living out any of those Playboy fantasies.

Four Seasons New York Ty Warner Penthouse, New York, NY
Forget the view from the Empire State Building. This lavishly appointed Four Seasons suite’s floor-to-ceiling bay windows offer a sweeping 360-degree view of all of Manhattan. For $30,000 a night, guests can enjoy the view, as well as living and dining areas, a library illuminated by a gilded bronze LaLanne chandelier, an infinity-edge bathtub, a master bedroom with a gold-threaded Thai canopy bed, an indoor-outdoor Zen garden and a private spa room. Should you want to leave the suite, you’ll also have access to a private chauffeur in your choice of a Rolls Royce Phantom or Mercedes Maybach. Decisions, decisions.

President Wilson Hotel Royal Penthouse Suite, Geneva, Switzerland
In case you’re thinking of entertaining while you’re away, the mahogany dining table at this $37,000 per night suite at the President Wilson can seat 26 people. The suite, reached by private elevator, also boasts a cocktail lounge, a library and billiards room, along with four bedrooms that all overlook serene Lake Geneva. If you’re concerned about security, all of the windows and doors are bullet-proof to ensure maximum safety.

Grand Resort Lagonissi Royal Villa, Attica, Greece
This gorgeous resort villa at the Lagonissi, going for about $35,000 a night, on the Aegean Sea is a swimmer and sunbather’s paradise. It not only features a private indoor pool equipped with a gym and workout area, but an outdoor pool as well (accessible by an open living and dining area). And did we mention the private marina and private beach? Guests at the Royal Villa can relax in one of two master bedrooms, a bar area or a private massage room. There’s even a full business center (not that you’ll want to do any work).

(taken from: here)

World's most expensive toy car

It's the perfect toy for the boy who has everything: a diamond encrusted model car billed as the most expensive in the world.

Toy makers Hot Wheels unveiled the car, made to commemorate the production of its four-billionth "vehicle", at the 105th American International Toy Fair in NewYork.

Valued at US$140,000 (£71,187) - a figure that would normally buy six family cars - the model is cast in 18-karat white gold and covered in blue, white and black diamonds. It has rubies set into its tail lights and even the car's case comes with 40 white diamonds.

Designed by celebrity jeweller Jason of Beverly Hills, the vehicle's bonnet can be lifted to reveal more jewels encrusting a miniature engine.

The 1:64 scale car will be auctioned later this year, with proceeds going to the charity Big Brothers Big Sisters.

"Since its introduction, Hot Wheels has revolutionized boys' toys and inspired automotive trends,” said Tim Kilpin, general manager and senior vice president, Boys and Entertainment, Mattel Brands.

"The historic activities we have planned are a fitting tribute to the brand's heritage and will allow us, and our fans, to celebrate this milestone year in true Hot Wheels style."

(taken from: here)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Chinese Man Pierced 2008 Times for Upcoming Olympics

China has been buzzing with anticipation for the 2008 Olympics this summer. From putting up sexy Olympic street lights to naming 3,500 babies after the event, you can definitely feel the pride and excitement for the coming games.

Wei, a 60 year-old Chinese acupuncturist from Guangxi province, showed his patriotism for the upcoming Olympics by piercing his head, face, chest, and arms with 2008 decorative needles in five different colors.

The event broke his previous Guinness Record of 1790 needles set in 2004. Wei also hopes to share more about the history of acupuncture to the world.

Initially inspired after reading about a Canadian who had set a record for inserting 420 needles in his arm, Wei felt that it was “not much compared to our centuries-old acupuncture,” and began experimenting with piercing his own body with needles.

On January 13, 2007, Wei had also paraded through town with 800 needles in his forehead and even put on skates and skated around the streets to show he was not in pain and alright.

(taken from: here)

Dubai tower reaches 630 m to become world's tallest structure

Burj Dubai, a skyscraper under construction in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, has reached 630 meters (2,066 feet) to become the world's tallest man-made structure, Al-Ittihad newspaper said on Tuesday.

Mohammed Ali Alabbar, chairman of state-owned development company Emaar - one of the builders of the tower - was quoted by the paper as saying the building is now higher than the 628.8-meter (2,063-foot) television transmission mast in North Dakota, U.S. The mast had held the title of highest structure for 45 years.

Alabbar said the $1 billion tower, designed by the U.S.-based Scidmore, Owings and Merill, already has 160 floors. The planned final height of the building has been kept secret.

When completed, the skyscraper in the heart of Dubai will feature 56 elevators, luxury apartments, boutiques, swimming pools, spas, exclusive corporate suites, a hotel, and an observation platform.

The deadline for the project carried out by a consortium led by South Korea's Samsung, has been postponed by four months from the end of 2008.

Alabbar said Christmas parties would not take place in the tower as was earlier planned. However, next year Burj will meet all criteria to become the world's tallest building, in terms of room space, the highest occupied floor, the roof's top, the spire's tip, antenna length, etc.

Burj will surpass Taiwan's Taipei 101, which has held the record at 508 meters (1,667 feet) since 2004.

Earlier reports said more than 5,000 engineers and laborers are employed in the project. Some 330,000 cubic meters of cement and 39,000 metric tons of reinforced steel will be used in the construction and over 140,000 sq m of glass will be used for the facade.

(taken from: here)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Indonesia Diving, Raja Ampat Island "The incredible reef and fish"

No doubt about it, the Raja Ampat is definitely the richest place for fish, that I have ever been. Dr G.R.Allen

"I was like a five-year-old, seeing a reef for the very first time. I was awestruck, held by the incredible power of this richest reef. We must, with all available resources, preserve the beauty of Raja Ampat. This may be the last frontier." Michael Aw

"I love the people, I love the diving, It's super!! I've never been for a second time to the same dive destination but now I'm thinking about going back for the third time!! Should I say more?" Peter van Dalen
(Taken from

Raja Ampat Island is the most western district of the Indonesian province of Papua. Raja Ampat consists of an area surrounding four major island off the western coast of Birds Head Panisula of New Guinea Island. The western half of which is Indonesia and the eastern half, Papua New Guinea. The province was called Irian Jaya, and its a cluster of over 1500 small Islands.

Raja Ampat is the most bio-diverse location in the world more than 3000 species of fishes and over 300 species of corals have been identified here, in a single one and half hour dive you can identified more than 282 fish species and more than 400 species. Till this very day the area is virtually unexplored and unknown due to its size. This area as there are still many remnants of WW II.

The Roughest seas and decreased visibility in the Raja Ampat area are from mid-June until the end of August. During the rest of the year, the sea is mostly very smooth whit good visibility.

Dive sites in Raja Ampat Island:

  • Kri Island: Kri has several sites and Cape Kri is one of the fishiest. The fish numbers and variety are truly amazing. The site is current dependent. Generally it's a steep slope with beautiful coral growth, lots of reef and schooling fishes, including the giant Queensland Grouper.
  • Sardine Reef: Sardine Reef has really giant clams at 10m (33ft) but it's all about non-stop fishes here. There's a resident school of bumphead parrotfish in the shallows, colorful soft corals and plenty of critters.
  • Kaboei Bay Rock Islands: The bay is a labyrinth of rock islands. Visibility isn't great but this is a great place for macro and finding odd nudibranches, mollusks and the pictured dragonet. Bat caves and skeletons are found on some of the islands.
  • The Passage: This is a drift dive through a narrow channel near Waigeo. Look for archerfish among the mangroves, orange cup corals, seahorses, and percula clownfish.
  • Fam Island: Several sites near Fam have stunning coral growth. Sponges and soft corals add color and fishes keep it going. Sites include walls, sloping reefs, and muddy bays.
  • Misool: Misool is awash in fish life and huge sea fans. Caverns and boulders mark several sites. The schooling fishes seem endless and pygmy seahorses live in less than 10m (33ft). Some sites are current dependent.

At a Glance Irian Diving
  • Reef type: Vertical walls, Lagoon channels, caves, platform reefs, etc.
  • Access: By boat from base camps.
  • Visibility: Very good, 20-45 meters.
  • Current: Moderate, excellent for drift diving.
  • Coral: Excellent " abundant & divers.
  • Fish: Variety & abundance guaranteed.
  • Highlights: Snorkeling with dolphins near the Wai base camp (5m); White-tip sharks under P47B wing; finding new wrecks untouched/complete.
It is easiest to fly through to Sorong via Jakarta or via Singapore. Merpati, Pelita and Lion/Wings Airlines operate daily flights from Jakarta to Sorong (with stopovers in Ujung Pandang/Makassar and/or Manado), whereas Silk Air operates regularly from Singapore to Manado. Daily flights to and from Sorong by Airlines Merpati, Lion/Wings or Pelita.

Raja Ampat Island have several accommodations whit traditional design, and there many boat you can rent for a stay. If you using dive operator they will arrange for your base came.

Raja Ampat islands have a very diverse topography with steep mountain shores and deserted white sand beaches. Explore the land on foot. Use a boat to move from one dive site to another dive site.

There are several restaurants and cafes throughout Sorong. Try their specialties: traditional irian foods!

There are many traditional souvenirs made from wood.

You can visit gorgeous waterfalls, ancient burial sites, bat caves and stunning waterways breathtaking limestone landscapes and Manta ray spotting and bird watching.

  • To enter Papua itself, you need a surat jalan (Travel Permit) which is issued by the local police. Please bring: 3 Passport Photos, 3 Copies of the photo page of your passport and 3 Copies of the passport page with the Indonesian Visa.
  • Guide Book : Diving Indonesia (a guide to the world's greatest diving), Periplus Action Guide, Kal Muller.More Information about Irian Jaya Dive, contact: Sorong, Indonesia Office: Papua Diving. Phone: +62 (411) 401 660, Fax: +62 (951) 325 274.

(taken from: here) [...]

The Flight of Dragonfly Robots

One day, the U.S. military hopes to use tiny flying robots, equipped with cameras and sensors, for surveillance. But such robots would need to be able to navigate around obstacles, carry weight, and be efficient enough to fly for long periods of time. A group of researchers believe that the key to making such a robot might lie in the dragonfly.

Dragonflies are one of few creatures that utilize four independently controlled wings to fly, allowing them to hover, dart, glide, move backward, and change directions rapidly. Looking to understand such abilities, scientists at the Royal Veterinary College, in England, and the University of Ulm, in Germany, have developed a robotic dragonfly to measure the current flows over and under the wings at different flap cycles. While most of the dragonfly hovering scenarios were not efficient, the team found that if the lower wings are beating slightly ahead of the top wings, the double set of wings proves more efficient at generating lift, employing 22 percent less power to lift the same weight as a single pair.

"The one specific advantage you get in four wings is the maneuverability and ability to pick things out of the air and hover and dart around," says Jonathan How, a professor at MIT who works on flying robots but was not involved in the dragonfly project. "It would be really amazing if we could build something that got anywhere near that level of performance. If you can achieve the same lift at a lower power, that's helpful."

Despite their potential advantages, small flying robots that mimic dragonflies' agility have not been successfully made, in part because of the complexity of the aerodynamics around four wings, and also because of fabrication issues involved with small flying machines. However, studies of wing motion and air forces that reveal how dragonflies achieve their agility may enable roboticists to eventually build capable, swift flyers that use four wings.

To measure the air currents, the Ulm researchers immersed the robotic dragonfly in a tank filled with mineral oil and peppered with air bubbles. Two green lasers combined and reflected off the air bubbles as a high-speed camera took images 10 to 20 milliseconds apart. By comparing images, the scientists calculated the direction of flow for regions within the tank.

In terms of four-wing versus two-wing systems for a biomimetic micro air vehicle, "it's a trade-off," says Fritz-Olaf Lehmann, a researcher at the University of Ulm who worked on the study. With a four-wing system, the disadvantages are the need for an extra control system and extra power. However, a system with two wings must incorporate ways to change the angle, amplitude, and frequency of the wings flapping to change lift, says Lehmann. Conversely, with four wings, "you can just advance one flight system against the other, and then you change lift production," he says. "I think that makes building a micro air vehicle much easier."

In creating an autonomous micro air vehicle, "every little bit of efficiency counts," says Robert Wood, a professor at Harvard University who has developed some of the smallest flying robots. "You could make the argument that if you have a four-winged vehicle, you'll have more [control] to assist you in stabilization," he says.

Michael Dickinson, a professor at Caltech who works on understanding and mimicking fly flight, says that interest in dragonflies is growing and that the Lehmann paper is not the first containing this kind of analysis but "one in a floodgate of papers." While the study might add to the understanding of the subtle aerodynamics of four-winged flight, Dickinson points out that researchers must still develop a better, lighter battery that powers the vehicle and makes an effective control system.

(taken from: here)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Apple Updates iPhone, Slashes Price

Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, confirms rumors that a cheaper iPhone with GPS will be available in July.

As at any Apple event, attendees of the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco showed up on Monday expecting to be awed by a Steve Jobs Show. And judging from the elevated mood in the room immediately after the Apple CEO's presentation, they were. The biggest technical news, which was widely predicted, is that the new iPhone, available July 11, will operate over so-called 3G networks, which are many times faster than the EDGE networks that the iPhone currently uses. Also confirmed was the rumor of GPS for real-time location tracking on the iPhone. But perhaps the most crowd-pleasing announcement is the dramatic price cut: from $399 for an eight-gigabyte model to $199. A 16-gigabyte model will be $299 and available in black and white.

When the iPhone was introduced last June, some analysts predicted that consumers would reject it because of its hefty price tag and its reliance on AT&T's relatively slow network. Since the phone's release, roughly six million iPhones have been sold to people who have looked past sluggish downloads and fallen in love with the gadget's intuitive touch interface and impressive graphics. But the difference between the EDGE and 3G networks can be startling. During Jobs's presentation, he contrasted the two versions of the phone. It takes 59 seconds for the current phone to load a Web page with heavy graphics. On the new 3G phone, the same page loads in 21 seconds. By comparison, it takes 17 seconds on a Wi-Fi network. E-mail applications download 3.6 percent faster.

By adding GPS, Apple has taken an important step toward expanding location-based services--tools that people use to find friends and activities around them in real time. Today's iPhone has the ability to locate itself, within a relatively large radius, using signals from cell-phone towers and Wi-Fi stations. GPS takes it a step farther, pinpointing location down to a couple of meters. This enables real-time tracking, making the iPhone a useful in-car navigation tool.

Jobs also provided an update of the third-party software, available in the forthcoming iPhone application store, and updates on the phone's compatibility with enterprise software. As announced in March, the iPhone will support Microsoft Exchange, providing compatibility with Outlook's mail, contacts, and calendar. The iPhone will also support Apple's iWork collection of productivity software, as well as Microsoft Office. And importantly, it will include the security features that have convinced enterprise customers--including the U.S. military and a number of Fortune 500 companies, law firms, and pharmaceutical companies--that the iPhone is as secure as any mobile device.

Since March, when the iPhone software developer kit was launched, a number of third-party companies and individual programmers have been racing to develop applications that run on the phone. At the conference, Apple highlighted a handful. Game developers are excited about the potential for using the built-in accelerometers as game controllers, and Sega showed off its Super Monkey Ball game. Loopt, a location-based startup that has previously only run on Sprint and Boost Mobile phones, demonstrated how a person using its service could find nearby friends. Typepad, a popular blogging tool, will offer software that enables easy mobile blogging on the iPhone.

In addition to the iPhone upgrades and previews of third-party software, Apple announced that it has revamped its .Mac service, a $99 a year service that provides e-mail, a Web page, and syncing options. It has been rebranded into MobileMe and will enable mail, calendar updates, and address-book changes to stay constantly synchronized over all Macs, PCs, and iPhones. This move illustrates that Apple is finally ready to recognize the importance of cloud computing, famously the province of Google and other Internet companies. However, since it's a pay service, it's unclear how much traction Apple will see as it competes with popular free services such as Gmail and Yahoo's Flickr.

As with all Steve Jobs keynotes, bullet points were big, and technical details were scarce. However, in the coming weeks, and after the iPhone's release on July 11, more information is expected to emerge. Some experts were predicting an upgrade to the phone's camera, but on Monday, there was no mention of a camera update or added video capabilities.

(taken from: here) [...]