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Homeless tours show visitors dark side of Prague | Reuters

December 18, 2012 Leave a comment

55-year-old homeless Honza B. smokes a used cigarette butt as he escorts his tour group in Prague(Reuters) – With his gravelly voice, bushy hair, an old suitcase in one hand and a pinched cigarette butt in the other, Honza Badalec is not your typical tour guide.

On his walks through Prague, Badalec steers clear of the picturesque ancient castle. Nor does he stop on the centuries-old Charles Bridge, a bustling attraction for the average visitor.

Instead, the 55-year-old veers off the well-worn cobblestones and into the rougher edges of the Czech capital, a side of one of Europe‘s most visited cities that many would rather avoid.

“I didn’t choose to be homeless,” he said after completing an evening tour.

“But I’m trying to do the best I can. I don’t steal, I don’t cheat people, I don’t abuse welfare benefits. The tours are great. They are a chance for me to explain myself better.”

Since August, about 430 people have paid 200 crowns ($10.31) to visit the places where some of Prague’s homeless gather.

Half of the proceeds go to the guide and the rest to student-run agency Pragulic, set up after it won a 1,500-euro social entrepreneurship award.

SAFETY NET DISAPPEARING

Prague’s homeless population, estimated at around 4,500, has not changed significantly in the last three years despite two recessions in the Czech Republic during that period.

Yet a common sight for tourists arriving at the city’s main railway station is groups of homeless people sharing cartons of wine.

There are around 600,000 homeless people in Europe, with about a tenth living “rough” on the streets, according to estimates cited by the U.N. Human Settlements Programme.

via Homeless tours show visitors dark side of Prague | Reuters.

Quieter TV commercials bring loud praise – Life Inc.

December 17, 2012 Leave a comment

The CommercialsWhen it comes to commercials, Life Inc. readers seem to prefer the sound of silence.

A post this week on a new law mandating that commercials have to be close to the same volume as the show that goes on around them brought sighs of relief from many readers.

“Thank You!!! I HATE loud commercials-I ALWAYS mute (but sometimes not fast enough),” one reader wrote.

Under the law, the commercial volume has to be within a range of 2 decibels (db) of the programming around them. That’s in contrast to the often jarring increases in sound that sometimes happens when the commercial break hits.

Even without the legislation, many viewers said they are already taking things into their own hands, or remotes.

About 36 percent of the nearly 23,000 people who took our poll said that they hit the mute button when the commercials come on, while another 34 percent said they change the channel.

About 29 percent said they use the DVR to fast-forward through the commercials, avoiding the whole problem altogether.

via Quieter TV commercials bring loud praise – Life Inc..

The 12/12/12 Concert For Sandy Relief Rocked. But Where Were The Women? – Forbes

December 16, 2012 Leave a comment

English: Alicia Keys in South Africa for the F...

When the line-up for last night’s concert at Madison Square Garden for Sandy relief was announced, it was not surprising to see the usual crowd-pleasing suspects among the performers: Billy Joel, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi.

What was surprising was that among the initial list of performers was one woman’s name: Alicia Keys. I expected to see more as additional musicians were added to the schedule.

But none was. When the concert took place last night, the stage was occupied almost exclusively by white male singers and instrumentalists, all of whom donated their time to the Robin Hood Foundation, all of whom deserve our thanks. This is not about them, not about the people whose presence raised, according to various reports, $30 million in ticket sales alone. It’s not about the people who were there.

It’s about the people who weren’t.

The evening, billed as the “12/12/12 concert,” placed special emphasis on the date, and in 2012, it’s difficult to imagine that a major, hours-long musical event was staged with a single female headliner, and with few people of color. It’s even more startling given the concert’s location and purpose. It doesn’t seem too much expect that the concert would have–and should have—reflected the diversity of New York City and of the people affected by the storm.

via The 12/12/12 Concert For Sandy Relief Rocked. But Where Were The Women? – Forbes.

Tourists find London unfriendly, dirty and expensive: survey | Reuters

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

Cancun Beach

(Reuters) – London may have put on a cheerful face during the Olympics but tourists have still rated the city poorly in terms of friendliness, cleanliness and value for money, a survey showed on Thursday.

Of 40 cities worldwide, London this year ranked second to last for the friendliness of its locals, according to a poll by travel website TripAdvisor.

Only Moscow fared worse, while Mexico‘s Cancun ranked first.

Britain’s capital barely performed better in the nine other categories of the poll, ranking 28th for safety, 26th for cleanliness and 35th for best value for money.

On the upside, London was rated fourth best city for shopping – behind New York City, Bangkok and Dubai – and fifth for the quality of taxi services.

The study was based on responses from 75,000 TripAdvisor users surveyed last month.

via Tourists find London unfriendly, dirty and expensive: survey | Reuters.

Apps and Accessories Help Make the iPad a Scaled-Down Darkroom – NYTimes.com

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase

Over the years, I’ve been in and out of relationships with dozens of film cameras, Pentax, Canon, Nikon, Minolta and others, as a result of my passion for photography.

In the late 1990s, after college, I snapped so many photos that I ended up building a 5-by-6-foot darkroom in the corner of my living room in Brooklyn. There, standing amid long, dark strips of film under the glow of a dim red light, I spent countless hours mixing pungent chemicals and developing and printing photographs.

I have since retired most of my film cameras. Now, my camera bag is all digital, and my darkroom is 7 inches wide and 9.5 inches long: an Apple iPad.

The chemicals I once used have been replaced by a tiny, white USB connector that allows me to transfer my photos from any digital camera into the iPad in a matter of seconds.

What inspired me to jump from film to digital was immediacy — or impatience, depending on how you look at it. In the old days, I’d have to finish a roll of film, get home, develop it, wait, then wait some more. With digital, you snap a picture and there it is, like magic, on the back of your digital camera. With the iPad as a darkroom, it’s also editable immediately.

via Apps and Accessories Help Make the iPad a Scaled-Down Darkroom – NYTimes.com.

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