Bloggers can post pictures from their iPhone’s Camera+ straight to WordPress

WordPress Camera+

The updated versions of WordPress and Camera+ on iOS allows bloggers to post their pictures directly to their blogs, making the transaction more seamless and hassle-free.

WordPress announced Thursday that the latest version of WordPress for iOS and Camera+ app will allow bloggers to post images from their photo library straight to their blogs without a third party application or waiting to post on the computer.

The news is great for a variety of bloggers whose daily lives play an integral role on their blogs, whether the focus is on street culture, food, or fashion. With the update, bloggers can post their photo essays like they could with Instagram on Twitter, but take the time to add more than just 140 characters to describe their pictures.

Mobile photography is easily becoming a great resource for bloggers because they no longer need to lug around bulky DSLR cameras or even the already portable point-and-shoots. If you own an iPhone, chances are you might also have Camera+, one of Apple’s top 10 bestselling apps of all time worldwide. The app recently reached its 7 millionth download, making Camera+ the most popular paid photo app to date despite Instagram being free.

“Posting a photo from the Camera+ Lightbox is dead easy,” WordPress said on its official blog. “Tap ‘Add Photo from Camera+,’ and your phone switches to the Camera+ app – select a photo to load it into the WordPress app. Add a Title and a Description (both optional), and boom! You’re done.” Users can also take photos from their Camera+ app and select to use the photo on WordPress, so order doesn’t really matter.

Other updates to Camera+ 3.0 include new app icon, focus and exposure locks, multiple photo library import, improved MSM sharing and web links, and new VolumeSnap settings for those who prefer to use their volume up button as the shutter like a traditional camera. Users can also send Camera+ photos to more than just WordPress, but also Tweetbot, Twitterific, and Foodspotting.

The ability to post photos on the go is a large trend in micro-blogging as bloggers continue to scavenge their city for interesting takes on what they see in their daily lives, or hidden gems that could only be described by photos. Camera+ also stated on their official blog that it hopes the integration will encourage other photography apps to follow suit. At the moment, the mobile app for Tumblr lets users upload photo from their library as well, but not as directly from another photography app integration. 

Now that the camera specifications on the iPhone 4S and the new iPad are more improved than ever, edited pictures from Camera+ might even rival the quality of an actual handheld digital camera. Photos from the iPhone 4 currently dominate as the most popular photography platform of choice on Flickr, leading just above the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the declining Nikon D90, so it won’t be surprising if camera phones take over traditional photography by the year’s end.

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New iPad release brings new online scams

Just hours after Apple’s release of its newest iPad Friday, the highly sought-after gadget became a sleek new weapon in the online scammer’s arsenal.

An email campaign was spreading around the Web with an offer to “Test Keep an iPad 3 FREE.” Spotted by researchers at the security firm Sophos, the fraudulent email entices recipients to click on a link, but when they do so, they are hit with a JavaScript alert informing them that to claim their prize, they must first enter their email address “on the next page.”

It’s important to note that Apple’s new iPad is simply called “The new iPad,” and not the “iPad3.” But even if that discrepancy doesn’t tip you off, the next step of the scam should.

[Cybercrime Blotter: The Biggest Hacks of 2012 — So Far]

Continuing to follow the directions takes you to a survey; filling it out won’t get you any closer to the new iPad, and will only generate revenue for the con artists behind the scam.

Sophos’ Chester Wisniewski explained why survey scams are so damaging to those that fall for them.

“Some people argue that providing the information for the survey might be worth it, just in case there really is a free iPad at the end of the rainbow,” he wrote.

“After all, it’s only all of your personal details. This is a dangerous and careless attitude. Forking over your identity to scammers out of the hope you will get something for nothing is not a fair trade. If you wish to gamble, perhaps trade a dollar for a lottery ticket instead.”

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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Connect Your Home Introduces New Website Design For a Seamless User Experience

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Home Services Company Reveals Enhanced Online Design Aesthetic Based on Consumer Centric Usability

March 16, 2012 —

DMN Newswire–2012-3-16–SANTA ANA, CA (March 9, 2011) Connect Your Home, an award-winning authorized retailer for nationwide home services, has recently launched a complete re-design of the companys website: The new look of the site was created by an internal web design team to give users a more seamless experience on the website. Visitors can now find it easier to navigate across the different phone service, internet offers and company information, due in large part to the user-friendly online layout.

In addition to a cleaner makeover of the website, there are several consumer centric features that were added to the site to enhance the users experience. When visitors to the new Connect Your Home website land on the homepage, they will be able to use a ?Service Area Lookup tool that easily allows them to compare home services available in their immediate area, in a matter of seconds. On top of seeing what services are available in their area, users can also compare pricing on the different packages that are offered by their phone service providers. Consumers who are looking to switch to a new home service can then fill out a quote form and be contacted directly by a Home Service Specialist, or they can call the phone number on the website to speak with someone who will help them setup all of their services in one phone call.

?Making sure that anyone who visits our website has a positive and straightforward experience, was our number one priority when starting this re-design project. Not only has the look and feel of navigating the website improved, but were hoping it makes consumers lives a little easier when choosing which home services to purchase, said Michael Ryan Grier, vice president of marketing for Connect Your Home. 

To see the new look of the Connect Your Home website, visit the company online where you can search and compare home services in your local area at To speak with a Home Service Specialist directly, call 877-537-3554.

Connect Your Home is based out of Santa Ana, California serving customers nationwide by offering the best priced home services from the top national and local service providers. A self-proclaimed home concierge service, Connect Your Home is able to quickly and efficiently provide affordable and convenient home services

to new and existing homeowners who are looking for a one stop shop to connect all of their home communication needs. Consumers can trust Connect Your Home to work with companies like Dish Network, Time Warner Cable, ATT U-Verse, ADT Protect Your Home, HughesNet and more to bring them the latest promotions and discounts available in their local area. Connect Your Home connects consumers to home communication, security, and cable service providers at competitive rates, offering a variety of home entertainment services as well as ID protection, Tech Support, Wireless, and more.

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Find out what you missed overnight in you Saturday Sports Fix

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Google heats up with warm-weather searches by Torontonians. Patio, anyone?

Video: Sweet Syrup

Despite the warm weather and early start to the maple syrup season, the Kortright Centre for Conservation near Toronto is in full swing demonstrating the art of making the golden liquid. Photographer Bernard Weil reprised a 2010 video he produced.

Just how warm is it?

Patio is spiking as a search term on Google in Ontario. In March.

Toronto is giving Hamilton, Bermuda a run for its money.

“Now that St. Patrick’s Day is around the corner, it’s perfect timing for bars to dust off of the patio furniture, especially if they hope to double their profit by doubling their capacity,” said Google Canada’s spokesman Aaron Brindle.

Barbecue, propane and food retailers may also want to gear up for an early season, says Brindle, as searches for “bbq” are peaking across Canada.

Google searches for patio hit 100 per cent on March 11. On March 13, the most recent day for which data is available, patio searches stood at 88 per cent. Toronto leads the province in searches for patio on Google, says Brindle.

Searches for sunglasses are also trending high.

The figures reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time, said They don’t represent absolute search volume numbers, and are expressed in percentages.

The figures are compiled by Google Insights for Search

Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips says four new records could be set in the Toronto area in the next six days, with predicted highs of 19C for today, 21C on Sunday, and 19C for Tuesday and Wednesday.

“This should be maple syrup weather. There should be a bit of snow on the ground, the ground should certainly be frozen,” said Phillips.

“What we’ve seen is a winter that wasn’t and a heat wave in March.”

The warm weather began Sunday with a record-breaking high of 17.7C. Today may break the record 18.3C set in 1945, said Phillips.

The temperatures so far in March in Toronto are more typical of June, he said. While the winter of 2002 was warmer overall, there was more snow. Toronto has had 40 centimetres of snow this year, compared to a more typical snowfall of 100 centimetres by this time.

“We’ve never seen a winter like this in Toronto,” said Phillips.

In 2011, there were 29.4 centimetres of snow in March.

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Maxthon 3′s Desktop Browser Bests Chrome and All Other Competitors on HTML5 …

SAN FRANCISCO, March 16, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –
Maxthon ( ), a global software and web services company, announces its flagship product – the Maxthon 3 web browser – offers better, more wide-ranging support for HTML5 than any other web browser. The test, as measured by the industry standards available on, awards 378 points for Maxthon 3 and 15 bonus points. These results exceed the 374 points for Google Chrome, which currently has the first place designation from The results put Maxthon ahead of other competitors, including Microsoft IE, Firefox and Safari. Users can download the latest version of Maxthon 3 at .

“We are pleased to see our focus on HTML5 borne out by Maxthon 3 is the best browser for HTML5-rich experiences,” says Jeff Chen, CEO of Maxthon. “These independent findings from, which people can verify for themselves by accessing the site with the latest version of Maxthon 3, confirm we have the best browser for now and the future of HTML5. We are leading the way in HTML5 performance, backed by our proprietary GPU hardware acceleration technology and other standards that make the whole web run faster.”

Maxthon 3 bested its competition in other comparisons, as determined by separate outside tests:

HTML Parsing – Maxthon 3′s custom WebKit enhancements generated bonus points in a critical area of browsing speed: parsing HTML for lightning fast rendering.

Canvassing – A perfect score for the ‘canvas’ element, 2D context and text.

Audio – Maxthon 3 scored perfect marks for audio support of all codes, even garnering 5 additional bonus points for coded support above and beyond the current HTML5 standard.

Web Applications – Maxthon 3 scored just below perfect marks with top of the line application caching and custom scheme and search handlers.

Web GL – Maxthon 3scored perfect marks in one of HTML5′s most critical standards – Web GL. Through this gateway, web browsers will have rich 3D graphic experiences in games, content and web applications.

“In 2011 we set a goal to create the best HTML5-optimized browser,” says Karl Mattson, GM of Maxthon International/Chief of Product Development. “These test results show we’re at the forefront of HTML5 and we’re committed to staying there. Take it for a spin yourself.”

About Maxthon

Headquartered in Beijing, Maxthon Ltd. is an innovative software company and developer of superior web browsers which continue to set new standards for simplicity, speed and security. Each month more than 130,000,000 people use Maxthon’s web browser in 120 countries across the world. Maxthon also brings its best-of-breed browsing to the Android platform for mobile devices and tablet computers. For more information about Maxthon please visit .

Download Maxthon Mobile for Android phones here:

Want to supercharge that desktop? Try Maxthon 3 for Windows PCs today.

Download Maxthon Mobile for 10″ Android tablets here:

SOURCE Maxthon

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved


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Local startups, vets share common ground at SXSW

More than 300 companies from across the globe signed up for the South by Southwest Interactive trade show.

Austin’s annual converging of tech-powered commerce, activism, culture and entertainment enables younger web-bred firms such as WordPress and Virtual Scribe to share literal common ground with traditional, longstanding companies such as CNN and New York Times.

San Antonio had its share of participating merchants at the trade show, sharing product information and success stories with an audience eager to stay on the cutting edge of technology.

NewTek, an award-winner for its live portable production and 3-D animation products, used its TriCaster tool to stream live SXSW speeches and performances over the Internet.

Founded in 1986, NewTek’s growth has no bounds, as the company recently opened its first European regional office in England.

A handful of employees from Rackspace Hosting took part in panel discussions and lectures, in addition to providing a trade show booth — a booth that saw steady long lines.

Having begun in 1998, the firm now serves more 172,000 customers and employs more than 4,000 people worldwide.

Then there are the startups, such as Nuboso Hosting, located near downtown.

“It began as an idea on a car ride back from Austin at the end of October last year. We came up with the concept over the hours that we had together and started working on a plan a week later,” co-founded Fred Reyes said.

“It’s been a fast startup. It’s been a lot of hard work but a lot of fun.”

Reyes explained Nuboso’s mission: “We are a cloud computing company,” referring to the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product. This is where shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility over a network.

Nuboso (meaning “cloudy” in Spanish) offers cloud, dedicated and hybrid hosting

“We’re a vehicle for any business, or anyone, who wants greater control over their hosting needs. We sell resources. Instead of selling you a cancellation, you can scale your computer needs according to how you operate,” said Reyes.

Reyes and Rodriguez bring plenty of digital and administrative know-how to Nuboso. Reyes has served as an executive at local high-tech firm Site B Data Services.

“My background is in hosting. I came from a hosting company in the San Antonio area called Peer1 Networks. Then I went to WordPress and helped them run their systems for a year,” Rodriguez recalled.

In that time, Reyes first met Rodriguez to seek advice about the development of a local data center.

“What started as giving advice became a friendship and turned into an idea. We thought we could turn this into a really viable business,” Rodriguez said.

Reyes said he and Rodriguez felt they could tune into an underserved, under-utilized market.

“Throughout South Texas then, there wasn’t anyone really doing any kind of colocation and there was a lot of need for it,” Reyes said. Colocation is a hosting option for small businesses who want features of a large information technology department without all the costs.

“We looked at it from the point of view that, when people have to get away from a hurricane, they come to San Antonio. Why isn’t equipment here? They have to find places and people. So, we have to match them with what’s available,” Reyes explained.

“So we decided to start a business and serve this under-utilized market. From there, when we got the data center up and running, we realized it provided tools we could do other things with. This was our entry in the market and we could grow out.”

SXSW was the perfect opportunity for Nuboso and other like-minded startups to make an immediate impact via personal interactions with target audiences and a fun emphasis on social media.

Reyes and Rodriguez turned to Facebook and Twitter to let the public help them to choose a final Nuboso logo, which appropriately enough turned out to be a cloud.

Reyes and Rodriguez also teamed up with local firms Aguillon and Associates and GoFish Advertising to flesh out Nuboso’s branding and public relations campaign.

“We launched a contest at SXSW to win an iPad 3. People came to our booth to take one of our stickers with our logo name on it. We told them to get creative — take a picture of the logo someplace and post it to Twitter or Facebook with a #Nuboso hashtag,” Rodriguez said.

People snapped photos of the Nuboso sticker all over Austin; some participants used unique perspectives in their shots. One photo had hip-hop mogul Jay-Z sharing his SXSW performance stage, in a manner of speaking, with the logo.

“The most creative picture would win the iPad 3. We’ve had the most fantastic responses. It’s been crazy. It’s really amazing when you get a lot of people excited to get to know us this way,” Rodriguez added.

Visit or Nuboso Hosting on Facebook and Twitter for more company information.

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NYPCG migrates to a new website

NEW YORK—We wish to inform the public that the Philippine Consulate General New York is migrating to a new and improved official website: In view of this, we wish to provide the public our updated contact details so that queries can be addressed appropriately:

Contact us through…

1. The Official Website – (information, procedures, forms)

2. Send an Email for specific sections of the Consulate:

a. Philippine Passport:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

b. Authentication, Legalization, Civil Registry:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

c. Visa to the Philippines:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

d. Dual Citizenship:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

e. General Queries: p
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

f. Cultural / Community:
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

3. During Regular Office hours, Call (212) 764-1330 followed by the appropriate extension:

a. Passport Releasing Section – 317

b. Passport General Queries – 305

c. Legal General Inquiries – 321 or 320

d. Legal (mailed-in documents) – 304

e. Visa – 322

f. Dual Citizenship – 318

g. General Matters – 306

Please leave a message with your complete contact information. Phone calls are usually returned between 4pm and 5pm of the same day.

4. Text the Duty Officer at: (917) 294-0196

5. Weekends / Official Holidays, call or text the Duty Officer at: (917) 294-0196

6. Mailing Address: Philippine Consulate General New York 556 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10036

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Sandwich Supremacy

The Joey Lawrence Division has quite a few Philly classics.
Today marks the end of the first round for Sandwich Supremacy with everything pretty much going as planned in the Norman Fell Division. Paesano’s and the South Philly Taproom moved on without any trouble, as did the two PK burgers. The only upset, which wasn’t much of a shock, was the 10-seed Brauhaus Schmitz Bratwurst Sandwich finishing off the QT Banh Mi.

Today we enter the absolutely brutal Joey Lawrence Division, which stars John’s Roast Pork, and their Cheesesteak, the Village Burger, the Rouge Burger, and Pat’s Cheesesteak. Good luck to everyone. The next round begins Tuesday at 2 P.M.

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3 Tips from @ckilgs to Help you Choose the Right Web Design Company

As a business owner, creating a web presence is no longer even an option, it’s a necessity. Creating a dominant web presence isn’t an overnight or snap of the finger type job; it requires dedication, participation and communication between businesses and web design/digital marketing agencies. With an abundance of website design and development companies throughout the world, how do you know which one to choose? All too often, established businesses and even entrepreneurs leave their website and marketing needs in the wrong hands. Below are a few things you should consider when shopping for a web design company.

Are they reputable?

What type of reputation does the web design company you are considering using have? Are their customers satisfied? Do they get the job done? When choosing a web design company, it is wise to do your research, but not just any research, educated research. Determine what type of company you will be working with by reading, watching or listening to what their customers have to say. Don’t let negative reviews deter you either. In the days of businesses relying on digital reviews and recommendations, consumers will often times take advantage of this fact and hold a business “hostage”. Check out Hotel-owners blackmailed with bad TripAdvisor reviews for not offering freebies for an idea of what I mean. To sum it all up, when doing your research and deciding on the “right” web design company, it is always wise to conduct as educated of research as possible.

Are they established?

Fly by night web design firms are nothing new. Whether it’s a college student looking for some extra cash or a company that gets in over their head, you often see web design firms come and go. Web design companies, such as Mainstreethost, that have been operating for years (12+ in this case) are considered established. When compared to the college kid with a Craigslist ad, trusting your business needs in the hands of an established company will give you the peace of mind you are looking for. Less stress = more time you spend running other aspects of your business. Seek out established, experienced web design firms when time comes. This can, and often does go hand in hand with their reputation.

What else do they specialize in?

Does the website design company you are considering have experience in other areas of the web such as SEO, content marketing or social media marketing? This is worth looking into depending on the type of business you are in and the results you are expecting from your new website. Often times, business owners overlook what comes after having a website (or before in certain circumstances). Working with a web design firm that also specializes in digital marketing will increase the likelihood that your online business is and stays successful. When narrowing down your web design company choices, be sure to research and explore all of their specialties.

Tie it all Together

Now that you have determined whether or not the web design firm you are considering is reputable, established and well rounded in other areas, you have set yourself up for a much more educated decision moving forward. After making your choice, it is always wise to stay in the loop. Web design and marketing projects tend to move much more smoothly when business owners contribute ideas and preferences.

Take a little extra time researching your choices and you will end up saving yourself from headaches down the road. Refer back to these easy to follow tips next time you are searching for the right web design firm.

(view original post on @TRaySeitz blog)

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Will NBC’s digital screeners diminish piracy?

Will NBC’s digital screeners diminish piracy?

In an announcement demonstrating the migration away from physical product even affects the world of screeners, NBC has released a new app designed for the exclusive use of Television Academy members

NBCU Screen It is powered by cloud content services provider Brightcove Inc. and is intended to replace the truckloads of DVDs that the network mails to the more than 15,000 people who vote on the Emmys.

Widespread adoption of NBCU Screen It would obviously save a lot of money on manufacturing and postage. But it also provides an opportunity for the network to put relevant information right there in the app, where it’s more likely to be seen than are the typical dead tree materials that get sent with DVDs, and retains the branding association between NBC and its programs.

Of course, it also lets NBC know who actually watched the TV shows they were sent, which content is having the most impact, and to recall the shows if it wants to. It additionally makes it possible to provide targeted background information to members in each of the 28 Television Academy peer groups.

Secure digital screeners may even put a dent in piracy and the common practice of letting friends borrow the discs in advance of release. Looking at movies for precedent, the 2012 Oscars were the first to show a decline in the number of Oscar nominee screeners that ended up pirated, and it’s the first to use secured digital formats in place of physical product.

NBCU Screen It is built on the Brightcove App Cloud content app platform, which combines an open HTML5 web development model with intelligent cloud services that continuously optimize the performance of the app, measure the effectiveness of different content, and enable dynamic updates to the app in the future.

“The Brightcove App Cloud platform has made it easy for us to very quickly build and deploy a powerful app that delivers the best possible viewing experience on the iPad,” said Richard Licata, executive vice president, Communications, NBC Entertainment. “As part of this groundbreaking initiative, Television Academy members now have the convenience and flexibility to watch our NBC original programming and vote for the Primetime Emmy Awards responsibly.”

Working with Brightcove, NBC built and rolled out a native iOS app for the iPad that can be extended to other iOS and Google Android devices in the future.

“We are thrilled that App Cloud is the platform behind this innovative new app from NBC and that we’re able to help the organization deliver the best viewing experience possible to all of the Emmy voters,” said Eric Elia, vice president of TV solutions at Brightcove. “We look forward to making it easy for NBC to build and operate equally impactful app experiences in the future.”

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Internationally Renowned Backgammon Gaming Site Unveils Newest Web …, the world’s largest online backgammon community, has unveiled new and exciting changes to their website. The fresh web design offers players new backgammon game options, tips, and information regarding upcoming tournaments.

/ TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – Backgammon players now have more options than ever before when they play the virtual version of this classic board game. hosts the world’s largest backgammon community, with thousands of players across the world competing against other players for fun, real money, and championship titles. has undergone a complete transformation, and players will be able to take advantage of the newest developments to this virtual gambling game. In addition to revamping their digital designs, has added a plethora of information to the website, including easy to understand rules for backgammon, backgammon game tips, tournament promotions and much more.

“At, we have been diligently working to optimize our website for our players. This has lead to a complete transformation of the site: Everything from our visual graphics to our web content has been updated to the highest standard. We want our players to have the best gaming experience possible, and we believe that our new web design provides just that,” said Jonathan Carmel, Product Manager of (

In addition to enjoying the new website design, players can also take advantage of the newest options offered to them throughout the site, including the ability to download’s backgammon game to their computer, where they can enjoy full access to the game and all of the features offered within; An instant gaming experience by playing directly on’s website without being required to download the game; Striking it rich, virtually or in real life, by playing for fun or for real money.

To take advantage of the newest design and features throughout the site, play against friends or other backgammon enthusiasts or sign up for tournaments, backgammon players can visit at:

About – Play65 ( is the largest online backgammon community with more backgammon players than any other site. Players can choose between an online game play option or download the Play65 software to play with real money. The site offers players a secure playing arena with a guarantee of gambling with real players, not bots.

Media Contact:
Jonathan Carmel

PR courtesy of Online PR Media:

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UN team to join humanitarian mission in Syria

GRAPHIC: Syria Uprising; One Year On

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Key events in Syria uprising, one year on

The UN has said it will participate in a humanitarian mission in Syria this weekend to assess the situation there.

Its team will be part of a delegation led by the Syrian government, which will also include staff from the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.

They will visit centres of protest and violence, such as Homs, Hama and Deraa.

The announcement comes on the first anniversary of the uprising against the Syrian regime, which the UN estimates has claimed more than 8,000 lives.

In a statement, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos stressed the importance of “unhindered access to identify urgent needs and provide emergency care and basic supplies”.

“There is no time to waste,” she said.

The UN’s announcement came after a coalition of 200 aid and rights groups called on Russia and China to support UN attempts to end the violence in Syria.

At the political level, Russia and China have both vetoed UN Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Girls from Deraa

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Fergal Keane reports on how Syria’s violence is affecting the country’s children. Some may find his report distressing.

On the ground on Wednesday, the Syrian authorities began shelling the southern city of Deraa – the birthplace of the protests – after retaking Idlib, near the Turkish border in the north-west, earlier this week.

Turkey says it has seen a sharp increase in the flow of refugees across its border in recent days.

“The number of Syrian refugees currently staying in Turkey boomed by 1,000 in a single day and climbed to 14,700 total,” foreign ministry spokesperson Selcuk Unal told reporters in Ankara, adding that he expected the numbers to continue rising.

Meanwhile, thousands of people joined a pro-government rally in the Syrian capital, Damascus, on Thursday to denounce the “year-old conspiracy” against the regime.

Mr Assad has always insisted his troops are fighting “armed terrorist gangs” who are seeking to destabilise Syria.

‘End the horror’

In a statement, the aid groups from 27 countries – including Human Rights Watch, Christian Aid, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Civicus, and International Federation of Human Rights – called on the Security Council to unite in passing a resolution condemning the Syrian government’s use of violence, torture and arbitrary detention against civilians.

Tent city in Turkey

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The BBC’s Jonathan Head says thousands of Syrian refugees are arriving in Hatay in Turkey

Souher Belhassen, president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), said Syrians had “survived with outstanding courage one year of systematic and widespread crimes and bloodshed as the world stood by and watched”.

“The international community must unite and help Syrians bring an end to the horror.”

They said the international community must give its full support to Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary general who is acting as the UN and Arab League’s envoy to Syria.

Mr Annan visited Syria over the weekend to deliver a proposed peace plan to Mr Assad, which includes demands for an immediate ceasefire by both sides, access for humanitarian aid, and the beginning of political dialogue.

A spokesman said he had received a response from Mr Assad but had questions about it and “and was seeking answers”.

Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad al-Maqdisi told the BBC that Mr Assad’s response had been positive because he wanted Mr Annan’s mission to succeed.

History of a revolution

Bahrain added further pressure, announcing on Thursday it was closing its embassy in Damascus and withdrawing all staff from Syria because of deteriorating conditions.

A number of countries, including the US, UK, Saudi Arabia, Netherlands and Italy have already closed or suspended their embassies.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe insisted that the answer to crisis was not to arm the opposition, as some Gulf states have suggested.

Men lifting washing machine onto truck

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The BBC’s Jon Donnison says video purporting to show security forces looting homes has emerged

“If we give arms to a certain faction of the Syrian opposition, we will create the conditions for a civil war… and that could become an even bigger catastrophe than we have now,” he said.

The first protest in Syria took place on the streets of Damascus, on 15 March 2011, amid the wave of political unrest across the Middle East and North Africa.

A few days later, there were clashes in Deraa, as crowds protested against the arrest and alleged torture of a group of schoolchildren who had written anti-government slogans on a wall.

The army was called into Deraa to restore order by the end of the month, but the unrest had already spread to towns and cities across the country. As the army began firing on civilians, the initial calls for more political freedom escalated into calls for the removal of Mr Assad and his government.

What's happening in Syria? The Syrian government has been trying to suppress an uprising inspired by events in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The UN says thousands have been killed in the crackdown, and that many more have been detained and displaced. The Syrian government says hundreds of security forces personnel have also died combating “armed terrorist gangs”.

What sort of country is it? The family of President Bashar al-Assad has been in power since his father, Hafez, took over in a coup in 1970. The country underwent some liberalisation after Bashar became president in 2000, but the pace of change soon slowed, if not reversed. Critics are imprisoned, domestic media are tightly controlled, and economic policies often benefit the elite. The country’s human rights record is among the worst in the world.

Is it ethnically or religiously divided? Syria is a country of 21 million people with a Sunni Muslim majority (74%) and significant minorities of Alawites – the Shia heterodox sect to which Mr Assad belongs – and Christians. Mr Assad promotes a secular identity for the country, but he has concentrated power in the hands of family and other Alawites. Protests have generally been biggest in Sunni-dominated areas.

Are there social and economic issues?Under the sanctions imposed by the Arab League, US and EU, Syria’s two most vital sectors, tourism and oil, have ground to a halt in recent months. The IMF says Syria’s economy contracted by 2% in 2011, while the value of the Syrian pound has crashed. Unemployment is high, electricity cuts trouble Damascus, and critical products like heating oil and staples like milk powder are becoming scarce.

When did the trouble start?Pro-democracy protests erupted in March 2011 after the arrest and torture of a group of teenagers who had painted revolutionary slogans on walls at their school in the southern city of Deraa. Security forces opened fire during a march against the arrests, killing four. The next day, the authorities shot at mourners at the victims’ funerals, killing another person. People began demanding the overthrow of Mr Assad.

How did the government react?The government has tried to deal with the situation with a combination of minor concessions and force. President Assad ended the 48-year-long state of emergency and introduced a new constitution offering multi-party elections. But at the same time, the authorities have continued to use violence against unarmed protesters, and some cities, like Homs, have suffered weeks of intense bombardment.

Who are the protesters? What do they want?The opposition is deeply divided. Several groups formed a coalition, the Syrian National Council (SNC), but it is dominated by the Sunni community and exiled dissidents. The SNC disagrees with the National Co-ordination Committee (NCC) on the questions of talks with the government and foreign intervention, and has found it difficult to work with the Free Syrian Army – army defectors seeking to topple Mr Assad by force.

How have other countries reacted?International pressure on the Syrian government has been intensifying. It has been suspended from the Arab League, while the EU and the US have imposed sanctions. However, there has been no agreement on a UN Security Council resolution calling for an end to violence. Although military intervention has been ruled out by Western nations, there are increasing calls to arm the opposition.

What will happen next?Correspondents say a peaceful solution seems unlikely. Syria’s leadership seems intent on crushing resistance and most of the opposition will only accept an end to the regime. Some believe the expected collapse of Syria’s currency and an inability to pay salaries may be the leadership’s downfall. There are fears, though, that the resulting chaos would be long-lasting and create a wider conflict.

Article source:

Home care: ‘So useless I told them to leave’

The consumer group Which? has described the standards of care provided for older people in their homes in the UK as “shocking and disgraceful”.

Which? describes the standards of home care for the elderly as shocking

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The BBC’s Dominic Hughes investigates further

Which? said the findings – based on a survey and diaries kept by the elderly – showed a system in need of reform.

The investigation found cases of missed visits, food left out of reach, medication not given and people left in soiled beds.

BBC News website readers have shared their experiences of the home care system.

John, Suffolk

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I finally told them to leave as they were useless”

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I am full time sole carer for my wife who has advanced MS. When we had to call in carers it was useless.

She received home care when I was admitted to hospital. The carers made twice daily visits for 20 minutes.

She was left sitting and sleeping on a sofa for three days and nights because they refused to transfer her to her wheelchair. This meant no washing, no toileting and if it hadn’t been for neighbours no food.

On the third day a male carer arrived who was ex-merchant navy and he finally lifted her off the sofa and helped her dress.

When I was there with the carers they told me to sit and relax. But then constantly came asking me to lift my wife because they refused to lift her.

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We know of people who have complained and have received worse care in response”

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They were useless so I finally told them to leave.

I have had to cancel carers on other occasions because they barely could speak English and didn’t seem to have a clue as how to do their job.

These events occurred BEFORE the so-called economic crisis and have been endemic in the system for many years. Needless to say I’m not impressed.

We haven’t complained about any of the carers we’ve had as we believe it will only lead to us receiving worse treatment by the staff in the future.

We know of people who have complained and have received worse care in response.

I’m an ex-nurse and I currently do voluntary work at the local hospice. The volunteers’ care and compassion in the hospice puts the home care provision to shame.

If it can be done properly in a volunteer hospice it can be done properly in home care.

Alan Mackinnon, Hull

Alan Mackinnon, Hull“I’m worried about the future as I get older and more disabled – The system needs a shake-up now”

I am 72-years-old and have serious chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

I need care to clean my home, shop and also to bathe.

The quality of care from registered agencies has left much to be desired and I have been forced to arrange my own care and fund it myself as a result.

I have had quite a bit of contact with care companies and carers and it is my opinion that care companies offer very little training and do not supervise their staff.

They pay as little as they can get away with and work their staff like slaves – it’s unsurprising that this leads to abuses, if only due to the workers’ frustration with their working conditions.

I have also heard from various carers that they don’t get paid for travelling time so they are always having to rush off.

The people running the companies just want to make as much money as possible.

Now I pay a friend privately to help me clean the flat and I pay a local chap to bring me one meal per day.

I’m worried about the future as I get older and more disabled. The system needs a shake-up now.

Fiona Pimm, Bristol

Elderly man with carer

I have worked in home care for 14 years and I can assure you that not all home care companies are like this. I now work for a small home care company and we do our utmost to make sure the times allocated to those who need care is spent with them.

We do not have carers travelling from one side of town to the other – where possible we are kept in one area so we have as much time as possible with the client.

Carers are spot checked on a regular basis and we have a close working relationship with family members.

We have a very experienced and fully trained team of staff who are very caring and put 100% into their job role.

I believe these problems that you and others are highlighting are a result of big companies taking on care packages whether or not they have the capacity to deal with them, but they do it anyway because they are only interested in making money.

As a result visits are over lapped, carers are forced to travel from one side of town to the other, there are unreliable staff who constantly go off sick due to being overworked, and it’s the client who suffers as a result.

There are companies out there who you can really trust but finding them is a problem.

There should be a proper recommendation programme in place to help people do this.

Jan McCarthy, Sunderland

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Carers have to rush from job to job and are given no travelling time”

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I am a full-time carer for my mum, who has lived with me for two years.

We also have a carer who comes in three times a week. She is lovely, we have no problems with her.

But these carers have to rush from job to job and are given no travelling time.

Our carer could be scheduled for an 08:15 visit to us for 45 minutes and then given a job at 9 at another person’s house.

This person may live a 15-minute walk away. The carer has to decide whether she should leave our visit or turn up late for the next person.

The majority of carers seem to be paid the minimum wage and it is seen as an unskilled job, similar to being a cleaner.

There is no real financial encouragement for family members to care for elderly relatives either.

As a parent you are given child tax credit, but someone like myself, who has given up full-time employment to look after my parent, is given £55 a week to do so.

If my mother was in care it would cost the government at least £450 per week.

Cutting out these private companies and taking care back to the councils would halve the care bill in one fell swoop.

Instead of allowing companies to profit from elderly care, allow better restriction and checking of quality of care given.

Article source:

Shelagh was here — an ordinary, magical life

Video: Shelagh Gordon Funeral – The Service

The Star dedicated unprecedented coverage to the funeral of 55-year-old Shelagh Gordon – interviewing more than 100 of her friends and family – to show how a modest life can have a huge impact.


I met Shelagh Gordon at her funeral.

She was soap-and-water beautiful, vital, unassuming and funny without trying to be. I could feel her spirit tripping over a purse in the funeral hall and then laughing from the floor.

She was both alone and crowded by love. In another era, she’d have been considered a spinster — no husband, no kids. But her home teemed with dogs, sisters, nieces, nephews and her “life partner” —a gay man — who would pass summer nights reading books in bed beside her wearing matching reading glasses.

Her relationships were as rich as the chocolate pudding pies she’d whip together.

She raced through ravines, airports and wine glasses (breaking them, that is). She dashed off dozens of text messages and emails and Facebook postings a day, usually mistyping words in her rush to connect.

Then, every afternoon, she’d soak for an hour in the bath while eating cut-up oranges and carrots and flipping the damp pages of a novel.

She called herself a “freak,” at first self-consciously and, later, proudly.

But my sharpest impression of Shelagh that day, as mourners in black pressed around me, was of her breathtaking kindness. Shelagh was freshly-in-love thoughtful.

If she noticed your boots had holes, she’d press her new ones into your arms. When you casually admired her coffeemaker, you’d wake up to one of your own. A bag of chocolates hanging from your doorknob would greet you each Valentine’s Day, along with some clippings from the newspaper she thought you’d find interesting.

Shelagh made people around her feel not just loved but coveted. That was the golden thread that stitched together the ordinary seams of her life.

Sitting in the fourth row at her funeral, I could see myself in Shelagh. She lived a small life, as do most of us, untouched by war, disease, poverty. Her struggles were intimate. But the world she carefully assembled was rich and meaningful in ways she never grasped.

As her family and friends spoke of her, my thoughts kept pulling to my own life. Do I love as deeply as Shelagh? Do I exult in the small pleasures of life the way she did? How do I want to be remembered?

Funerals are as much collective meditations as tearful goodbyes to one person. We use the departed life as a lens to assess our own. In that way, Shelagh Gordon is the perfect choice of an allegedly ordinary local woman whose life was actually huge in scope and as worthy of scrutiny as any big-life celebrity. She is you. She is us.

It is odd to
meet someone four days too late.

Shelagh’s obituary ran on Feb. 14, 2012 — Valentine’s Day. It was the 19th of 56 in the Star that day, buried in three pages of surviving relatives, cancer diagnoses, funeral logistics. Lloyd David Smith’s family requested “in lieu of flowers, please perform an act of kindness in Lloyd’s memory.” George Everest Munro, a World War II veteran who died at 88, adhered to the Roald Dahl motto, “a little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest of men.” Ronald Schewata lived 26 years without ever speaking a single word, “but did he ever know how to love.” These men’s lives held precious lessons.

But 55-year-old Shelagh’s death notice stopped me. “Our world is a smaller place today without our Shelagh,” it began. “Our rock, our good deed doer, our tradition keeper, our moral compass.” It stated she was the “loving aunt and mother” to a list of names, without differentiating among them. And it mentioned she was a “special friend” to two people — one a man, the other a woman. The secrets tucked here were intriguing. I called Shelagh’s sister Heather Cullimore with a request. Would she let the Star come to her funeral and ask the people gathered there about her life?

If every life is a jigsaw puzzle of memories, relationships, achievements and tragedies, could we put together the disparate pieces after that person was gone?

Cullimore agreed instantly. “Boy, did you pick the right person,” she said of her younger sister. Shelagh, it turns out, was an avid Star reader, diligently poring over — and clipping — articles in every section daily before dashing through the crossword. Newspapers ran in her blood: her great-great grandfather, Joseph T. Clark, was editor-in-chief at the Star. Shelagh also loved the spotlight. The night before her death, a CP24 crew interviewed her briefly on the street about the Everywoman reaction to Whitney Houston’s death, which thrilled her. She was texting friends about it just before she died.

“Shelagh would have thought this was stupid perfect,” Cullimore said of the Star’s proposal.

So I arrived at the Mount Pleasant Cemetery visitation centre four days after Shelagh collapsed on her bed from a sudden brain aneurysm — while getting changed for an appointment to choose flowers for the wedding of her niece Jessica. A team of Star reporters placed letters on all 186 chairs of the lofty sanctuary, explaining our intention to paint one life fully, using the brushstrokes of the people who knew her. We asked for names and telephone numbers, and over the next two weeks, 14 reporters interviewed more than 130 of the 240 people who spilled out of the room. We set up a video camera in a quiet spot and taped 10 volunteers talking about Shelagh’s life and their reflections during her funeral.

Shelagh was
born on Jan. 14, 1957, the second of four daughters of Susan and David Gordon, possibly the hippest couple in Lawrence Park. He sold industrial real estate, she was a Marcia Brady look-alike — blond bangs, iceberg-blue eyes, olive-green Cutlass convertible. Their rambling red brick home was the neighbourhood social hive where Neil Diamond records played, strays were welcomed, and parties were packed and frequent.

When Shelagh was eight years old, her aunt — a bellower by her mother’s description — discovered she was “deaf as a post” in her left ear. Somehow, amid all the noise and houseguests, no one had picked up on it till then. But it explained why Shelagh was doing so badly in school. She couldn’t hear her teacher, who regularly humiliated her for being “deliberately obtuse” and sent her scurrying to the washroom, where she’d sob in a stall.

Doctors diagnosed her with complete nerve damage in her left ear. No hearing aid would correct it. Later in life, she’d use this to her advantage — plugging her good ear from her perch on the couch, to quietly finish a chapter of her book before joining the party. But as a kid, she hated it. She felt like a freak, her mother says.

If not an explanation, then Shelagh’s deafness is a symbol of her awkward childhood aloofness. She didn’t quite fit into the family’s bubbly, outgoing lifestyle. You can detect it in the black-and-white photos from back then — her three sisters all smiling widely with their mouths and eyes, while Shelagh holds something back.

She wasn’t musical or athletic. In fact, she was notably uncoordinated.

She was drawn to animals. When Shelagh was around 16, she came home with a golden retriever she’d quietly bought with her saved-up allowance. On weekends, she volunteered at a big-cat sanctuary in Leaside, cleaning out the cages and playing with the baby lions.

She wasn’t popular like her sisters. She made a few select friends who remained close for the rest of her life.

She managed one year of studying English literature at York University before dropping out to work in a restaurant. Then she landed a job as a wine and spirits rep, which sent her off to vineyards in New Zealand, France, Chile. . . By the time the company changed owners and let her go, Shelagh could discern the grape variety, region and year of harvest of a wine by taste. Her nephew Matt’s job at the Gordon Christmas parties was to present her the bottles guests had brought for grading. The plonk went out for drinking, the good stuff was stashed in a cupboard.

When Shelagh’s eldest sister, Heather, gave birth to Jessica, the first of her four children, Shelagh restarted her life as an aunt. Not a regular, see-you-at-Christmas and Thanksgiving aunt. Rather a come-to-my-house-in-your-pyjamas-on-Saturday-morning-and-drink-fireman’s-tea-with-me aunt. (Fireman’s tea translated to much milk, little caffeine.)

She moved into an apartment down the street and left her front door ajar so her nieces and nephews could walk in whenever. She bathed them and read them bedtime stories and rushed over at 7 a.m. to French-braid their hair before school. Every horse show, gymnastics meet, dance recital, rugby game, she was there. She organized their annual Easter egg-dyeing and gingerbread-decorating parties. She baked money cakes for their birthdays. When they got older, they moved in with her.

They all call her a second mother and best friend. Her sisters call her their epoxy. She glued together the gaps in their lives — arriving in the middle of the night when one kid needed to go to the hospital, picking their kids up from school in emergencies, hauling out their garbage when they’d forgotten to. She’d call from the grocery store to announce chicken was on sale and what else did they need?

One story: last spring, Jessica got engaged. Shelagh became her one-person wedding support system — scouring vintage and second-hand stores for items and driving Jessica to Woodbridge bridal gown stores. When Jessica discovered the candle holders she wanted at an Indigo store, Shelagh quietly crisscrossed the city to five different outlets until she found 75 — one for every table. The wedding was three weeks after Shelagh’s death. For her vow, Jessica declared: “In honour of Shelagh, I promise to love you fiercely.”

Shelagh had found her calling — loving people fiercely and with abandon.

Not just family, but friends she met at the dog park, at work, on the street or through her family. The three most uttered sentiments to describe her at her funeral were generous, open-hearted and loyal. A former neighbour remembered how Shelagh, after hearing her admiration for Heather’s patio umbrella, dropped one off on her front porch. An old dog-walking friend recalled a dog walkers’ party in the park that Shelagh organized one cold night, lugging bottles of wine and beer with her to pass around. When Tyrone Cromwell was going through a dark time, Shelagh peppered him with invitations to chicken soup in her apartment and big family dinners. What’s telling is that Cromwell is a friend of Caitlin Cullimore, Shelagh’s niece, and 27 years her junior.

It’s hard not to feel inadequate listening to these stories. Surely, Shelagh was compensating for some deep feeling of inadequacy. No one is naturally this loving to so many people, right? Or perhaps, Shelagh’s life demonstrates that most of us set the love bar too low.

Heather believes Shelagh’s full transformation into the family’s soul was cemented by the death of their father 21 years ago. Trim, fit, full of life, he was midway through a doubles tennis game, casually walking with his partner from one end of the court to the other, when he dropped dead from a heart attack.

The tragedy drew the family closer. Shelagh, above all, learned then to treasure relationships.

One more story: that very winter, the Gordon women decided to head south for a week of bonding. The trip became an annual tradition.

Two or three years later, four of them were squeezed into a single room with a glorious view of the Antigua beach. Sitting out on the balcony after arriving, Shelagh’s youngest sister Susie announced they’d found paradise, save one small oversight. If only they could sip their morning tea out there, instead of trooping down to the restaurant.

The next morning, sure as the sunrise, Shelagh woke her with a fireman’s brew.

In recent years, she’d taken to packing her own tea supplies. The electric kettle and tea mug occupied a healthy portion of her suitcase.

A few years ago,
Shelagh was getting her photo retaken for her work pass.

She was wearing those loose linen pants she always wore — the kind with the elastic waistband. The photographer got her to stand up against a wall and somehow, a nail snagged and broke the elastic. In the middle of the shoot, her pants dropped to her knees.

“She was crying, she was laughing so hard,” recalls workmate Wendy Campbell. “We had to retake that photo 12 times.”

This is my favourite thing about Shelagh. She wasn’t blandly nice. Her warmth came with salt.

She fell into hot tubs and accidently drank from paint cans. She spilled wine liberally, then whipped off her stained shirt for cleaning in the middle of a party.

The woods around her sister Cynthia’s cottage are decorated by Frisbees that Shelagh flung off-course.

That klutziness became her trademark.

Her family calls it “pulling a Shelagh.” They’d know she’d arrived at the party when they heard the sound of something breaking. Ellen Kaju — one of the two “special friends” mentioned in the obituary — brought a set of plastic wine glasses just for Shelagh, who’d been her best friend since Grade 9.

It was as if Shelagh’s body was in constant excitement, overheating. She was an enraptured chef, her kitchen floor sprayed with bits of onion and potato and sudsy water. She was a chronic interrupter, bouncing in her seat to add her bubbling thoughts or stories. (Her family recently instigated a new rule: if Shelagh wanted to speak, she had to raise her hand like a student in class.) At her weekly work meetings, “she was the meeting,” says Campbell. “She would not stop talking. This past year, she started to zip her lip with her finger in the meeting to let everyone else talk. That was Shelagh — talking up a storm.”

She didn’t walk, she charged. She didn’t wash glasses, she cycloned through them. In the summers at one of her sisters’ cottages, she didn’t swim once a day, she went 17 times.

The only time Shelagh was calm and graceful was when she was asleep — which she often was in the middle of a family game of charades or a movie. She’d wake up to give an answer, then fall back to sleep, her full glass of wine in hand, balanced perfectly.

Shelagh was a character — something we all secretly strive to be. She was different. She wasn’t perfect.

Funerals can
often feel like camp singalongs — all glow, no shadows. The nice things are all said out loud, the rest brims in people’s bowed heads.

What were Shelagh’s human failings? What advice, had she had the chance, might she have doled out from her deathbed?

I walked through her home looking for signs. I wanted to meet Shelagh quietly, on my own.

Three years ago, Shelagh bought a duplex with her sister Heather five blocks from their childhood home. Shelagh lived in a two-bedroom apartment on the top floor. Cullimore and her husband Jay lived downstairs, often with one of their four children.

Shelagh no longer had to leave her door open; her family just walked upstairs.

Stepping inside, I was surprised to see a dangling crystal chandelier above an antique wood piano-turned-dining room table. I had assumed Shelagh’s klutziness would translate to a sloppy home. I was wrong.

Her living room was lush and creamy, her kitchen warm with wood floors, and treasures were scattered everywhere — a wooden birdhouse and rusted bell in her kitchen, two heart-shaped stones on the radiator by her bath, an angel-shaped knob above her mirror. Wedged into one corner of her bathroom, where the wainscoting of two walls meets, I found a small white stone with the word “strength” on it.

They seemed like totems, reminding Shelagh to not save life for the weekends, but delight in it here and now.

Two wishbones sat on her kitchen sill, and I found a bunch of laminated four leaf clovers in a pile on her desk. Shelagh believed in luck. She bought a lottery ticket every week without fail. What was she hoping for?

Her closets were disasters — hats, scarves, a scuffed-up pair of Blundstones and old silk kimonos all thrown together. Shelagh didn’t spend much time on how she looked, I could see. There wasn’t a tube of mascara or cover-up in sight. Her favourite shoes, her sisters told me, were a hideous pair of black Crocs.

While the front three rooms were warm and beautiful — perfect for entertaining — the back two rooms felt different. Shelagh’s bedroom is a museum piece from the 1940s — old wooden furniture dotted with antique photos, a “Home Sweet Home” needlepoint above her high metal bed, green hospital-like curtains.

Who could love in a room like this?

Her study next door felt like a university dorm room— cold white walls, ugly stained carpet, a black computer chair ripped in the seat. The temperature was five degrees colder than the rest of the place.

This is Shelagh’s office. Clearly she didn’t love her job.

After she lost her position selling wine, Shelagh went to work at the same place her sister Heather did, Trader Media Corp., selling ads in the Resale Home Condo Guide to real estate agents. Colleagues say she was a natural salesperson, building friendships with clients. And she enjoyed the freedom of working from home with her front door open and her dog by her feet. But over the past few years, the job had lost its lustre.

A company takeover resulted in mass firings — former colleagues called it a “bloodbath” — continual territory changes and increased pressure to bump up sales, particularly online. A corporate culture replaced the casual, family-like ambience. Suddenly, Shelagh was the oldest sales agent by more than a decade, and the only one who didn’t arrive to client meetings in a suit.

Two years ago, she started taking “happy pills” — antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. Last summer, she took a three-month stress leave from her job.

It couldn’t have been easy being the one unmarried Gordon sister. Two of her sisters stayed at home; their husbands’ jobs were lucrative. All three owned cottages. Shelagh, meanwhile, struggled with bills and her mortgage.

Standing in her cold study, I could hear Shelagh thinking in panic: “Who is going to hire a 55-year-old woman?” And: “What happened to my rich husband?”

Why didn’t Shelagh, who loved so much, ever get married? She had the chance. Three chances, in fact. Shelagh ended all three of her great love affairs. In one case, she had moved all her furniture into her boyfriend’s house before abruptly leaving him. Later, she explained it was because he hadn’t wanted children, but to her friends and family, that seems a hollow excuse.

Why did the ultimate lover hide from making the ultimate commitment?

Her mother thinks “part of her was closed.” Her oldest friend, Ellen Kaju, puts it down to bad luck — Mr. Right never arrived. Her sister Heather says it was one of Shelagh’s enigmas — “I don’t think she understood that either.” Andy Schulz, the gay costume designer Shelagh called her soulmate, thinks Shelagh was just born different. She knew her path was neither straight nor narrow.

The story of Shelagh and Schulz is a beautiful one. They met 19 years ago in a park, walking their puppies. Within a week, Shelagh hit him in the head with a stick she’d impossibly thrown from in front of him. They became, in the words of Anne Shirley, bosom friends. They vacationed together, dined together, called and text-messaged daily, hosted one another’s birthday parties. They crawled into bed together with their dogs and read books. Their families came to see them as a unit — a married couple without the sex, although Schulz says their relationship was more special than marriage.

They planned to retire together.

“This is such a shock and a tragedy,” he said during her funeral. “I don’t know how anybody or anything is going to fill this void that I have.”

Thinking of Shelagh’s life, a line from an Adrienne Rich poem comes to mind: “These are the materials.”

Whether she worked with what she’d been given or sought out alternative fabrics, the quilt of love Shelagh stitched was luminescent.

The night before
she died, Shelagh organized her family to go to Emma McCormick’s photography exhibit and fundraiser, called Hearts and Arts. McCormick is dating Shelagh’s nephew Evan Cullimore.

Typically, Shelagh had emailed and texted and phoned every family member, cajoling most to come out and sharing plans for dinner before.

The family — 11 of them — squeezed into a corner booth at Fran’s, a downtown diner a block from the fundraiser. Shelagh sat in the middle, loudly ordering cheap glasses of wine, sweet potato fries, onion rings (her favourite), fish and chips, and of course, a “healthy” Caesar salad to compensate for the grease. They all shared.

The next morning, Shelagh woke up early as usual to walk her Polish lowland sheepdog, Jerzy. She read the Star, section by section, charged through the crossword, checked in with Heather downstairs and with Schulz, who had missed the fundraiser for a work function and was feeling hungover. She texted some friends about the CP24 interview she’d done on the street the night before.

Jessica was meeting with her florist — an old family friend — to go over the wedding flowers, and Shelagh’s presence was demanded. Some time between noon and 12:30, Shelagh was in her bedroom, getting ready to go, when a rush of blood flooded her brainstem.

At 12:39, Heather was outside their shared house waiting for her. “Where are you?” she typed in a text message. They had planned to leave at 12:40 and Shelagh was normally early.

She found her sister upstairs on her bed. Her face had already turned blue.

Shelagh’s family and friends gathered at Sunnybrook Hospital, where doctors worked to revive her

Her diagnosis changed from a heart attack to aneurysm. Her mother, Sue, alerted staff that Shelagh had wanted to donate her organs. The critical-care nurse with the Trillium Gift of Life Network commented that most of the Gordon clan gathered in the waiting room had red hearts drawn on their hands. Had they drawn them as a tribute to Shelagh?

“No,” Sue told him. “She has one too.”

The hearts were from McCormick’s fundraiser — a sign for the people at the door that they’d each paid the cover.

But in reflection, the hearts seemed like another one of Shelagh’s scattered totems, to remind them all of her love and life’s joys.

Each plan to get it tattooed on their body in her memory.

Four weeks since her death, Shelagh’s friends and family are still gasping at the hole she’s left in their lives. She was such a constant, they didn’t understand the breadth of her caretaking until it disappeared. Each has made small promises for change — to treasure this moment, to be more open, to love more fully.

Shelagh’s niece Caitlin has moved into her house, wrapping herself in her aunt’s molecules and memories. In a speech at her sister Jessica’s wedding three weeks after Shelagh’s death, she promised “to be your Shelagh.”

I’m mourning Shelagh too. She’s consumed me since her death — her quirks, her kindness, her mysteries. I have never met anyone as abundantly generous as Shelagh. I aspire be like that.

Wandering around her house one recent afternoon, I fished one of her mud-caked Blundstones from the closet and slipped it on, wondering “What is a life worth?”

In the past, I have often answered this question with achievements — campaigns, masterpieces, spiritual or literal changes to humankind and the world. The measure, I’ve thought, is Sophie Scholl or Charles Darwin or Nelson Mandela.

Shelagh’s life offers another lens. She didn’t change the world forcibly, but she changed many people in it. She lightened them. She inspired them, though she likely didn’t realize it. She touched them in simple ways most of us don’t because we are too caught-up and lazy.

Her life reveals that it doesn’t take much to make a difference every day — just deep, full love —and that can be sewn with many different kinds of stitches.

Some of Shelagh’s friends feel terrible they didn’t get a chance to say goodbye and tell her how much she meant to them. There is a lesson there.

For, as I see it, Shelagh herself didn’t need to say how much they meant to her. Her daily life was a kiss of love.

With files from Valerie Hauch, Ashante Infantry, Paul Irish, Nancy White, Leslie Ferenc, Emily Jackson, Laura Stone, Kenyon Wallace, Leslie Scrivener, Oakland Ross, Mary Ormsby, Antonia Zerbisias, Joseph Hall and Paul Hunter.

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Charlotte Web Design Company Sees Rise in New Dot-Com Startups

A rise in new dot-com entrepreneurs and start-ups in Charlotte, NC is fueled by new niche-oriented ideas and Internet business plans.

Posted via Industry Today. Are you into it? Follow us on Twitter @IndustryToday

The Idea People have seen a dramatic rise in the number of “dot-com” entrepreneurs turning back to the Internet with niche-oriented ideas for businesses and start-ups. “When we were in Atlanta in 2000, our agency saw the meteoric rise and fall of the first dot-com era,” said Jay Joyce of The Idea People. “The Internet business plans and ideas that we are seeing 10 years later are still brilliant in concept but very much separated from the VC-fueled frenzy a decade ago.” In part, the advances in both web-based technologies and mobile devices have rekindled the flame for business-savvy people to bring their Internet-based business ideas quickly to fruition.

The economy is also playing a role in people wanting to secure their own futures to either supplement their career earnings or replace them. “Right now, we are meeting or working directly with 11 individuals who have presented their Internet-based business plans and ideas to The Idea People,” says Joyce. “Each individual is in a different stage of idea development with three plans specifically funded and moving forward into development.” Factors Pushing the Dot-Com Entrepreneurial Revival in Charlotte

1. The Internet works well for niche-oriented concepts and ideas. Charlotte has an entrepreneurial spirit that is helping to fuel people’s thoughts and inventions;

2. The advances in technology, along with long-term, experienced digital companies like The Idea People, make speed to market a deciding factor to push forward with dot-com business ideas;

3. The lower cost to market entry in 2012 makes it easier for individuals to self-fund Internet projects and not need to rely on venture capital like a decade ago;

4. Dot-com entrepreneurs have a decade of exposure to all things Internet, web and technology, which makes them smarter and more-informed Internet business minds. They can actually envision their idea or business model concept and create storyboards with desired technology and functionality;

5. Product and service audiences are hungry for innovations, new Internet ideas, and web offerings that can increase their enjoyment, enrich their lives, and propel them to form new brand loyalties with online brands.

“2012 is an exciting time to be an experienced web, mobile and digital marketing agency, ” says Joyce. “And to be here for the beginning of the second wave of dot-coms, remembering what we all learned back in 2001, creates an incredible opportunity for dot-com entrepreneurs and The Idea People to partner to create strong, vibrant, niche-oriented Internet business models that can be successful for the long run.” If you have an idea or a plan for an Internet business model, and you would like to discuss it with a company that is deeply experienced with Internet entrepreneurs.

The Idea People can take your concept and plan straight through to launch with experienced, strong on-going marketing support.

Contact Information

Jay Joyce
The Idea People
4424 Taggart Creek Road
Suite 111

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Article source: Releases New WordPress Plugin Providing WordPress Users a …

New WordPress Support and Ticket Plugin Launches from with Features Commonly Seen in Expensive Online Support Ticket Systems Like Integrations with Cart66 and WishList Member Plugins.

Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) March 16, 2012

A New Cutting Edge WordPress Support Plugin and Ticket System Plugin Is Released by To Provide WordPress Users A Premium Integrated WordPress Support Ticket Plugin System.

WordPress users looking to improve the functionality of their website’s support system have relied on ZenDesk in recent years, but a brand new Plugin called Support Dynamo ( promises users a much better solution. While ZenDesk or other Support Systems have served the needs of website owners and administrators, Support Dynamo will radically improve the way support tickets are handled.

Support Dynamo is a fully functioning Support Tickets System Plugin with features commonly found in the expensive online systems. Support Dynamo officially moves from Alpha to Beta with a limited opening of new subscribers. More details at

Most online support systems are full of excellent features that provide users the ability to customize the way support tickets were handled on their site, but Support Dynamo takes it a step further. It is the most up-to-date and advanced of the WordPress Support System Plugin, and it is designed to work with a number of shopping cart and membership Plugins like Cart66 and WishList Member.

This Plugin is designed to add a good deal of functionality to the support systems of all WordPress-powered websites, and the Plugin is designed to be as simple and user-friendly as possible. The tickets created allow website administrators to access user data directly in the ticket, thus ensuring a much quicker response to support tickets. All of the information needed is readily available in the tickets themselves, ensuring that website owners can provide support as easily and quickly as possible.

Support Dynamo adds a widget to the WordPress dashboard with a complete overview of all support tickets and activity recording and easily available for administrator viewing. The Ticket Management feature allows users to instantly access and respond to any support tickets submitted by customers.

Some additional features of this new WordPress Support Plugin include:

  •      Tickets via email
  •      A CIM (Customer Interaction Manager)
  •      Canned Responses
  •      Integrations
  •      Private or Open Support Options
  •      Knowledge Management Systems
  •      Ticket Management
  •      and more…

No longer will users have to rely on more complex systems link ZenDesk when using WordPress. Users who want to process support tickets inside their WordPress site can instantly upload and activate this Plugin and can even restrict access to current registered customers.

With just a few tweaks, website owners can instantly create their own fully operational support center that is rich with the many features offered by the Support Dynamo Plugin.

The new WordPress Support Ticket Plugin, now in Beta mode, allows new customers to utilize all the amazing features offered by the Plugin plus some coming advancements in the final release at no extra charge. In addition, customers purchasing the Plugin while still in Beta mode will receive a special discount price, making it even more attractive to those looking to upgrade from ZenDesk or some other online or Open Source Support system.

Visit for more information. is part of the family of WordPress Plugins.

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DN2K Creates HTML5 Monitoring and Analytics Cloud Platform for Mobile Devices

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo., Mar. 16, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ –
DN2K ( ), developers of advanced machine-to-machine (M2M) remote monitoring and management systems, today announced the use of HTML5 as one of it’s core technologies in its business and industrial application platform.

Developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group (WHATWG), HTML5 is a core technology of the Internet. Microsoft has announced that Windows 8.0 will be based on HTML5 and many developers such as Apple, Google and Pandora Internet Radio have also announced their commitment to the technology. In addition to supporting major mobile devices such as Android, iPhone and iPad, HTML5 offers superior graphics, video and audio performance while enabling cross-platform portability.

“There’s a storm of new advanced applications and systems that are using HTML5 as the core technology,” said Vince Cook, retired IBM Corporate Officer and industry consultant. “By using HTML5, DN2K’s solution offers cross-platform flexibility for business and industrial applications. Previously, these applications required companies to rewrite a significant portion of their software to run on new systems.”

DN2K’s solution can securely extend the functionality, user interface and controls of business applications to secure mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This opens up large opportunities in new markets for application developers, without the need to rewrite application code. For instance, Gartner projects that the number of tablets shipped worldwide will be over 100 million by the end of 2012, and will increase to 394 million tablets by the end of 2015.

“DN2K has committed to HTML5 for one of our key technologies and we are expanding our development team with HTML5 experts,” said Susan Lambert, President and COO of DN2K. “Our solution will offer any business or industrial application provider a way to future-proof their native applications by enabling functionality on virtually any device, including the new wave of smartphones and tablets.”

About DN2KFounded in 2011, the DN2K team has over 12 years’ experience in developing software-based systems that can remotely monitor, display and control important assets. DN2K brings visibility and control to a new level by offering a secure M2M Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that performs real-time aggregation of data from business applications, global SCADA systems, sensors and probes from different manufacturers into single view. DN2K takes large amounts of data from sources throughout your business and turns that data into a highly visual information display accessible from laptops, smart phones and tablets, regardless of platform, and can be shared with others in real-time. DN2K offers unique “smart gateways” at a monitored site that participate in a collaborative cloud engine to provide superior automation with significantly reduced network bandwidth.

DN2K primarily serves enterprise, oil and gas, agriculture, smart grid, electric power, utilities and industrial sectors worldwide. For more information, please visit , or call Colin Lippincott at (888) 704-4344 ext. 7.

MEDIA CONTACT:Glenn BoothBooth 253-5706


Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved


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AFL clubs rushing to sign up free agents

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Buffett Awards Wall Street-Sized Pay Praised by Dimon

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Buffett Awards Wall Street-Sized Pay

March 16 (Bloomberg) — Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chief Executive Officer Warren Buffett, who has said banker greed helped deepen the U.S. financial crisis, attracts the workers he wants with compensation that competes with Wall Street awards. (Source: Bloomberg)

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A) Chief
Executive Officer Warren Buffett, who has said banker greed
helped deepen the U.S. financial crisis, attracts the workers he
wants with compensation that competes with Wall Street awards.

Berkshire gave $17.4 million in 2011 compensation to Thomas P. Nerney, CEO of its United States Liability Insurance Group;
$12.4 million to Geico Corp. CEO Tony Nicely and the National
Indemnity Co. unit gave $9.26 million to Ajit Jain, according to
filings to state regulators. Berkshire, which is set to send its
annual-meeting notice to shareholders today, said in last year’s
proxy that Buffett’s salary remains $100,000 at his request.

Buffett, whose office in Omaha, Nebraska, is more than
1,000 miles from New York’s financial center, endeared himself
to bank critics last year by decrying income inequality and
calling for higher taxes on the wealthy. Still, his pay
practices won praise from JPMorgan Chase Co. CEO Jamie Dimon,
who said last month he would bet the top 20 or 30 people at
Berkshire make more than the biggest earners at his bank.

“Whether it’s Warren Buffett or Jamie Dimon, they all pay
a lot,” said Charles Elson, director of the University of
Delaware’s Center for Corporate Governance. “Pay is out of
control everywhere.”

Berkshire Class A shares declined 4.7 percent in New York
last year as JPMorgan, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, slid 22
percent. Both companies underperformed the Standard Poor’s 500
Index, which ended 2011 little changed.

Think Like Owners

Buffett, whose Berkshire stock is valued at more than $40
billion, has said he gives bonuses to encourage managers to
think less like employees and more like owners. He told
shareholders last year he once offered to pay David Sokol a
bonus of $50 million if performance targets were met. Sokol left
Berkshire in April.

“We’ve paid out very large bonuses at Berkshire in the
past, but we’ve always paid them out for performance,” Buffett,
81, said in a January 2010 interview. “I love getting talented
people doing great things for us, and I’ll pay them

Berkshire’s statements to state regulators show that more
than 20 managers at insurance units earned at least $1 million
last year. Gregory Abel, CEO of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.,
made $9.9 million for 2011, according to the unit’s annual
report. Berkshire’s filings to the Securities and Exchange
Commission show that no executive officer at the parent company
has reached $1 million in at least a decade through 2010.

Dimon’s Defense

Dimon, who got $20.8 million in 2010 compensation, has
defended banker pay from criticism by lawmakers and journalists.
“You don’t even make money!” Dimon said to reporters at
JPMorgan (JPM)’s Feb. 28 investor presentation. JPMorgan paid the
25,999 employees at its investment bank an average of $341,552
last year, or about 34 percent of the unit’s revenue.

“Warren Buffett does an exceptional job,” Dimon, 56, said
at the meeting. “I’ll make you a bet he pays his top 20 or 30
people more than we do. We need top talent. You cannot run these
businesses with second-rate talent.”

Dimon had no specific knowledge of Berkshire’s compensation
packages, said JPMorgan spokesman Joe Evangelisti, who declined
to give details on his bank’s top earners. Buffett didn’t
respond to a request for comment e-mailed to an assistant.

Nerney’s compensation declined 11 percent from 2010, while
Nicely’s rose 7.7 percent and Jain’s advanced 6.1 percent at
National Indemnity. Underwriting profit at Geico, which Nicely
has led for 18 years, fell 48 percent to $576 million last year,
while revenue rose 7.6 percent to $15.4 billion. The 2011
underwriting loss at Berkshire Hathaway Reinsurance Group, which
Jain runs, was $714 million.

Adding Value

Buffett uses the premium revenue collected by insurance
units to help fund the stock picks and takeovers that have made
Berkshire into a $200 billion provider of energy, consumer goods
and luxury flights. Jain, 60, has “added a great many billions
of dollars” to Berkshire’s value since starting his operation
in 1985, Buffett said in this year’s annual letter.

Nerney’s unit, with a staff of 591, is part of Berkshire
Hathaway Primary Group, a collection of carriers that cover
risks from medical malpractice to boating accidents. Nerney,
whose unit is based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, writes so-called
excess and surplus policies, which typically cover risks that
aren’t addressed in the traditional insurance market.

“It sounds very easy to do, but I assure you it’s not,”
Joseph Calandro, managing director at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
in New York, said in an interview. “A good excess and surplus
lines underwriter is as rare as a good investor and generally
just as profitable.” Calandro previously worked at an excess
and surplus subsidiary of Berkshire’s General Re.

Buffett’s Own Compensation

Buffett has taken a $100,000 salary for more than a quarter
century, while accepting additional compensation from Berkshire
in the form of security services valued at about $350,000 in
2010. His chief financial officer, Marc Hamburg, was the top
earning executive officer at the parent company in 2010 with
compensation of $924,750. JPMorgan CFO Douglas Braunstein was
awarded $16.1 million in 2010, while the investment banking
chief, Jes Staley, had $13.6 million, an SEC filing shows.

Buffett has praised Dimon’s leadership and said he is a
shareholder of New York-based JPMorgan. Berkshire holds more
than $12 billion of stock in JPMorgan’s rival Wells Fargo Co. (WFC),
and Buffett’s company made a $5 billion investment in Goldman
Sachs Group Inc. at the depths of the 2008 crisis. Goldman Sachs
reported about $14 million in 2010 compensation for both CEO
Lloyd Blankfein and Gary Cohn, the chief operating officer, down
from more than $40 million for each for 2008.

New Regulations

Buffett, a supporter of President Barack Obama, has called
for a “policeman” to oversee banking conduct and challenged
Republicans in Congress to address the widening gap between the
“ultra rich” and other Americans.

“There are lot of people who would like nothing better
than to take Warren down a peg or two on this particular
issue,” Jay Lorsch, a corporate-governance professor at Harvard
Business School
in Boston, said in an interview. “Here’s the
poster child, the guy who is arguing for parity in pay and
reducing executive pay.”

Obama blamed lenders in his January State of the Union
address for the 2008 credit freeze, saying their wrong-way bets
“left innocent, hard-working Americans holding the bag.”
Lobby groups representing financial firms including JPMorgan and
Bank of America Corp. fought against the creation of Obama’s new
watchdog, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection bureau, as an
independent agency, saying it would create needless bureaucracy.

Dimon, who was once dubbed Obama’s “favorite banker” by
the New York Times, publicly questioned Federal Reserve Chairman
Ben S. Bernanke in June on financial regulatory costs. Net
income at JPMorgan rose 9.2 percent to $19 billion last year.

“Jamie’s irritated understandably by some of this stuff,”
said James Armstrong, president of Berkshire investor Henry H.
Armstrong Associates. “But I don’t think Berkshire is saying
one thing and doing another” with compensation, he said.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Andrew Frye in New York at;
Jeff Green in Detroit at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Dan Kraut at

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