Algae was recently discussed in National Geographic Magazine as a biofuel that can be rapidly grown with low impact on the environment, and now PetroSun of Texas has announced that their algae farms are already producing biomass for conversion into algae oil for use as fuel.  PetroSun has farms and refinery capacity already set up to grow enough algae to produce 4.4 million gallons of algae-based fuel per year, and is poised to add more capacity if the initial results go as expected.

Consider international medical insurance when making your travel plans.  The more adventuresome your travel plans, the longer your vacation, and the older you are, the more it makes sense to have this kind of insurance.  Not only do these policies generally cover medical and hospital treatment, but most of them include the cost of evacuating you back home on a special medically equipped airplane if necessary.

See ACRTours for more information about International Medical Insurance and international travel.

This is an independent review of the new Apple iPhone(r), based on hands-on testing of a working iPhone at the Paramus NJ Apple store.

WHAT IS THE IPHONE?
The iPhone is a combination of several different devices:

  • iPod with either 8 or 16 GB storage capacity and both audio and video playback
  • Internet web browser, including shortcuts for working with YouTube, weather reports, google maps, and stock quotes
  • Email and SMS send/receive device
  • Digital camera with picture library browser
  • Calendar/organizer/calculator/alarmclock
    and, oh yes, it’s a phone:
  • GSM cellular phone with speakerphone and bluetooth capability

The iPhone is able to connect to the Internet, either through the ATT/Cingular EDGE data network (an advanced version of GSM), via a built in WiFi adapter. Generally, the WiFi connection will provide better performance.

iPhone Physical Characteristics
The iPhone competes with the Blackberry (from Research in Motion) and the Dash (from Microsoft). It is significantly thinner and about the same hight and width as a Blackberry 8700 and about the same dimensions as the Dash but perhaps a little bit thinner.

The Blackberry and the Dash have typewriter-style mini keyboards and a plastic-faced screen, while the iPhone has no keyboard, a glass (yes, glass) touch screen.

USING THE iPHONE
I was actually able to exercise just about all the key features of the iPhone on the first full day that it was available, and I didn’t have to wait on line for a week like the people who camped out in front of the Apple and ATT/Cingular stores.

THE GOOD NEWS:
- The iPod, including regular audio and video iPod features, worked as expected.
– The specialized Internet features, like YouTube, weather, stocks, and Google Maps, were easy to use, as was the photo album browser.
– The built in 2 megapixel camera was pretty good, and the flat screen made a very nice viewfinder.
– Apple integrates a lot of the features to work well together
– The on-board battery is supposed to provide a longer life between charges than other smart phones.

– THE PHONE
Apple was generous enough to provide iPhones that were fully functional and actually connected to the ATT/Cingular network. I was able to make a call with the phone. DIaling using the touch screen was OK, and I was able to make a hand-held call with usable sound quality. The built in speaker phone seems weaker than the one in the Blackberry 8700. If you are an extreme technophile, there is a video where you can see an iPhone dissected and hear two experts compare its electronic parts compared with other iPod devices and smart phones. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mPhciMud0MM

– COOL VOICEMAIL
The voicemail feature of iPhone includes the ability to view who each voicemail came from and select the voicemails you want to listen to rather than being forced to step through all your voicemails, like a traditional voicemail system. This feature could be a big timesaver if you get a lot of voicemail. On the other hand, if you get that much voicemail, and they are critical business messages, maybe you should have a live answering service, which can send your messages to you as SMS or email messages, saving you the trouble of listening to long rambling voicemail messages.

– EMAIL and SMS:
The iPhone’s email and SMS clients use a touch screen simulated keyboard.
If I want to be generous, I would say that it takes a lot of getting used to.
To be realistic, the average person is going to have a hard time accurately typing on the simulated keyboard. Typing a simple 2 line email took several minutes and was not fun. Compare this with the real keyboard provided on the Dash and the Blackberry, which are relatively easy to type on using two thumbs. For me, this was a deal-breaker.

The email client in the iPhone allows you to view pictures, excel and word documents attached to emails that you receive.

Email responsiveness – when you put the iPhone in email mode, it checks for new mail. On the other hand, the Blackberry uses “push” email technology so I would expect it to provide faster notification of incoming emails than iPhone.

SMS chatting can be pretty expensive unless you have an unlimited text messaging plan. Basic iPhone plans come with only 200 SMS messages per month, which means that if you have even one conversation per day with 10 messages, you are going to run up a nice bill at 10 cents per message that exceeds your monthly allowance, unless you add on a messaging plan to your service.

WEB BROWSER
— iPhone uses the Safari web browser. If you are a Mac user, you probably know that there are a number of web sites that just don’t look right on a Safari browser, which is why many Mac users switched to Firefox. Unfortunately, that’s wasn’t an option on the iPhone I was using at the Apple store. Still, the Iphone supports most web browsing, audio, and video, including YouTube, which is more than you can say for most smartphone devices. Having the option of using a WiFi network, either at your home or a hotspot, really speeds up Internet performance.

LIMITED NETWORK CHOICES:
Iphones are designed to work on GSM cellular networks – the major carriers in the USA that use this technology are TMobile and ATT/Cingular. However, for now, iphones only work on the ATT/Cingular network. If you actually want your iPhone features to work, you have to sign up for a 2 year agreement and a service plan designed for iPhones, which will cost at least $59./month, if service is offered in your area. If you are already their customer, a special iPhone data plan will add $20 to your monthly bill. Only consumer accounts are eligible for iPhone service plans – corporate accounts are not eligible.

NO INSURANCE:
While iPhones are covered by the Apple warrantee, there is no ATT insurance plan to cover iPhones.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
Who SHOULD Get an iPhone:
If you are a likely iPhone user, you probably already have an iPod and carry it around a LOT. If you are willing to fork over $500 or $600 to get a video-capable 8 or 16GB iPod with a big screen and longer battery life, along with a decent quality phone and are willing to put up with a difficult-to-use keyboard for email and text messaging, then iPhone may be for you. The ability to download videos and audio programming wirelessly from iTunes or YouTube is If you go this route,
— Be prepared to switch to ATT/Cingular – they have a monopoly on iPhone service for now. If you are already an ATT/Cingular customer, you will pay an extra $20/month for iPhone service.
— Be prepared to cover repair/replacement when you eventually crack your screen, suffer damage, or have your iPhone lost or stolen, because there is no insurance plan available.
— Get a good bluetooth headset (though the iPhone does come with classic iPod-like earbuds that have a built-in microphone)
— Get a dock/recharging setup for your home, office, and car – if you have been watching movies and realize that your battery is getting low, you can’t pop in a spare battery like with most other cell phones.

Who SHOULD NOT Get an iPhone:
– People who don’t want to or can’t switch to ATT/Cingular cellular service and commit to a 2 year plan
— People who make a LOT of cell phone calls – sorry, iPhone is not my idea of an ideal cell phone in terms of ease of dialing or hand-held use. If you are using a bluetooth headset, this will help a lot. On the other hand, iPhone does NOT support voice dialing, which is a feature many modern phones offer and one that makes phones a lot safer to dial while driving. This will be a deal-breaker for road warriors.
— People who want the best mobile email solution for serious email communication should get a Blackberry. The Blackberry “push” email technology for regular email and the proprietary peer-to-peer text messaging features outperform iPhone and every other competitor. If you compose emails and text messages on your mobile device that are more than trivial in size and complexity, you are going to have a MUCH better time using a device with a real keyboard (like the Blackberry, SideKick, Dash, and some of the newer Treo models – I’m sure I left someone out). Trying to type accurately on the simulated glass-screen keyboard was a deal-breaker for me.
— People who have their cell phones on a corporate plan (ATT/Cingular doesn’t offer corporate iPhone plans yet)
— People who are concerned about paying for a $500 or $600 for a phone and not being able to get a protection plan to cover loss, theft, or damage, and worry about that glass screen.
— People who already have a 30 or 60GB iPod and don’t want to downgrade to 8 or 16GB when they switch to an iPhone.
— People who are concerned about running down their battery watching a lot of movies on a very long trip and not being able to use their phone when they arrive at their destination with a dead battery. A NY to California flight is at least 5.5 hours; longer than you iPhone battery is going to last playing movies.

In short, iPod fanatics who have been waiting for a better video player are going to be very happy. The rest of us who are serious cell phone and mobile email/text users may not want to accept the compromises they will need to make by switching to iPhone.

iPhone, iPod, Blackberry, Treo, ATT, and Cingular are trademarks of their respective owners.

Silsdicone breast implants have been restricted for the past 14 years, after thousands of women sued the manufacturers for cancers, arthritis, and various other diseases and injuries related to their breast implants.  During this 14 year period, only women who had injuries, deformities, or mastectomies and required reconstruction were permitted to get silicone breast implants.  These patients have been carefully studied, and improvements have been made to the implant design.  80000 women will be studied over several years, to evaluate the long term safety of the implants, and to identify their long term safety.

For more information about Silicone breast implants, see http://health-news-now.com/blog/72/72

A new type of solar panel made with pigment from blueberries has been developed in Italy at the University of Tor Vergata.  This new technology may be used to manufacture inexpensive solar panels, which means the cost per watt for solar panels can be reduced significantly below the current $5 per watt cost of silicon-based solar panels.

Solar cells are currently made primarily with silicon based semiconductors, which are still relatively expensive to manufacture, and which limit their application.  As fossil fuel power becomes more costly both in economic and environmental terms, and solar power becomes less expensive, solar power will see more widespread use.

For more information see http://www.coolest-gadgets.com/20061213/solar-panels-using-blueberries/

(Health News) December 11 2006 – Research results released today by the National Cancer Institute indentify a new approach that may extend the effectiveness of Tamoxifen in preventing breast cancers and other estrogen sensitive cancers from reocurring.

The results were published today in the medical journal, Cancer Cell.

See the full article at http://health-news-now.com/blog/tamoxifen-breast-cancer-drug-enhanced-by-second-drug/68

The last thing you should have to worry about when planning dinner or a salad is whether you are going to get food poisoning, but recent outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 indicate that this is an ongoing concern.  Although the four fields confirmed to be contaminated with manure from sick cows are not currently being used to grow crops of leafy vegetables, the safety of this kind of produce has been a concern raised by FDA for over a year and it continues to be an ongoing issue.  What can you do to protect your health and the health of your family?    For mor information see this article about E Coli – The truth about contaminated spinach and lettuce

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