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iPhone-Tech firms aim to keep wayward walkers on path

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Todd Atwood says he doesn’t worry too much about accidents when walking down the street using his iPhone to make calls, send text messages or check his e-mail.

But he’s seen the consequences of paying more attention to the gadget than what’s ahead.

“I saw someone walk right into a sign,” recalled the 32-year-old Silicon Valley resident. “She didn’t hurt herself but she was startled. She dropped her phone, then her friends starting laughing at her. It was funny but I guess it could’ve been more serious.”

While using a cell phone while driving has triggered the most alarm bells and prompted laws in several states, experts say, pedestrians are also suffering the consequences of mobile distraction — tripping on curbs, walking into traffic, even stepping into manholes as they chat or type while walking.

To help these sidewalk stumblers step out more safely, technology companies are now stepping in, creating applications that do everything from make a smartphone screen transparent to transform speech into text.

Whether the technologies will prevent injuries and embarrassment remains to be seen, they are being welcomed as a move in the right direction.

“I don’t think we’re going to eliminate people from walking into things outright and of course we want people to be responsible, but what we’re trying to do is eliminate the friction point … and give the user back a little mental bandwith,” said Travis Bogard, the executive director for product management and strategy at San Francisco-based Aliph, which makes bluetooth earpieces.

Aliph’s Jawbone earpiece incorporates voice-to-text technology which eliminates the need to glance down at the keypad to send an e-mail or text message. It also has caller ID that speaks to the wearer so he or she doesn’t have to pick up the phone to see who is calling and a function that allows wearers to call up their contacts using their voice rather than fingers.

“All of this gets rid of the need to touch your phone, which causes your eyes to move away from what’s in front of you,” Bogard said.

Other programs also on the market aim to make it easier to type while walking. They tap into a smartphone’s camera to beam an image of what’s in front of the user over the message screen so typers can see what’sahead. They include Text Vision, Type n Walk and Email ‘n Walk.

“See-through screens, yes, would solve part of the problem,” said Clifford Nass, a professor of communications at Stanford University and one of the authors of a study on multitasking. “But there’s still a second problem, which has to do with engagement of the brain.”

Same goes with voice-to-text technology, Nass said.

“It can help a little bit but the fundamental problem is that we’re stuck with brains that can’t do all that much when we’re doing other things,” he said.

Two years ago, the American College of Emergency Physicians issued an alert warning of the dangers of text messaging while walking, driving, biking and in-line skating based on anecdotal evidence from physicians.

Manhattan physician Mark Melrose said he’s seen his share of near-misses on the city’s busy sidewalks and heard of bad accidents.

“A personal friend almost walked right into a manhole while looking at her phone,” he said. “Another friend was actually run over by a bike messenger. She wasn’t paying attention, walked into the street and the bike messenger walloped her.”

An Ohio State University analysis found that for the past few years, the number of emergency room visits resulting from pedestrian cell phone accidents has doubled year-on-year. The study showed that in 2008, just over 1,000pedestrians visited emergency rooms for injuries like walking into a pole while texting or spraining an ankle after falling down while talking on a cell phone.

Jack Nasar, a professor of city and regional planning who supervised the study by his graduate student, Derek Troyer, said there were likely even more accidents that were never reported because people won’t admit that’s how they were injured or the injuries didn’t warrant a hospital visit.

“The bottom line is that you’re phased out, less aware when you’re looking at a phone,” he said.

Peter Loeb, an economist at Rutgers University who studied the effect of cell phones on pedestrian fatalities, said cell phones can actually keep people safer because they get ambulances to the scene faster.

But, his study also concluded that once a certain number of phones exist in the market, the benefit disappears.

“As more and more people use cell phones, the distraction effect is overwhelming,” Loeb said.

Exacerbating that is texting, which has grown exponentially in recent years. The wireless industry association CTIA reported that the number of text messages sent by its members’ customers increased from 32.6 billion in the first six months of 2005 to 740 billion in the first six months of 2009.

At least two states, New York and Illinois, have considered laws limiting the use of personal electronic devices by pedestrians but no bills have been passed.

Most lawmakers and experts agree that Big Brothering the sidewalks is impractical. They instead encourage public outreach and see promise in the technological innovations, including ones that don’t involve phones themselves, such as special crosswalk lights to grab walkers’ attention better.

“For pedestrians, it’s primarily themselves that they put at risk, not others, so that does separate this from driving,” said state Sen. Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, who sponsored California’s hands-free driving law. “At some point, however, we do have to accept personal responsibility.”

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Filed under: Mobile Technology, New Ideas, New Invention, Technology,

A Glass of Milk

Glass with Milk

One day, a poor boy who was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, found he had only one thin dime left, and he was hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door. Instead of a meal he asked for a drink of water.

She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk. He drank it slowly, and then asked, “How much do I owe you?”

“You don’t owe me anything,” she replied. “Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness.”

He said….. “Then I thank you from my heart.” As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt stronger physically, but his faith in God and man was strong also. He had been ready to give up and quit.

Year’s later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly was called in for the consultation. When he heard the nameof the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.

Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.

After a long struggle, the battle was won. Dr. Kelly requested the business office to pass the final bill to him for approval.

He looked at it, then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room. She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill.

She read these words…..

Paid in full with one glass of milk

Dr. Howard Kelly

Tears of joy flooded her eyes as her happy heart prayed: “Thank You, God, that Your love has spread abroad through human hearts and hands.”

Filed under: Encouragement, Inspiration, Sorsogon News Updates,

Fil-Ams hail Obama’s immigration reform speech

Filipino-American groups have hailed a major policy speech of US President Barack Obama calling for reforms on the country’s immigration laws that should include a mechanism for the legalization of undocumented immigrants.

“We support the call for a practical, common sense approach to our broken immigration system that both secures the borders and establishes a path to legalization,” said Arnedo Valera of Migrant Heritage Commission.

“The Comprehensive Immigration Reform should be founded on fairness and social justice rooted on American values,” he added.

The National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) also said they are “heartened” by Obama’s speech, saying Filipinos will be among those who will benefit from immigration reforms.

“Filipinos have the longest waiting time for petitions to be approved and are thus adversely affected by protracted delays in visa processing,” said NaFFAA national chairperson Greg Macabenta.

Illegal immigrants in the US have now reached 11 million, according to Obama.

In his speech delivered last Thursday at the American University in Washington, D.C., Obama asked Congress to improve US’ immigration system, which he described as “fundamentally broken” and “painful.”

Obama acknowledged the various economic contributions of immigrants, making US the world’s “engine of global economy and a beacon of hope.”

However, he described in the same speech as “unwise and unfair” the proposals of some groups to either provide immigrants with legal status or at least put a stop to deportation while waiting for a better law to be passed.

“Our nation, like all nations, has the right and obligation to control its borders and set laws for residency and citizenship. And no matter how decent they are, no matter their reasons, the 11 million who broke these laws should be held accountable,” Obama said.

Critics, however, described Obama’s speech as significant but lacking in specific policy proposals.


Valera said the current immigration system promotes discrimination against members of ethnic groups, and leaves undocumented migrants vulnerable to illegal recruiters and unfair labor practices.

“A comprehensive immigration reform now is an effective response to the phenomenon of global migration and the current global economic crisis. Human beings are our resources to build a great nation,” Valera said.

He added that undocumented immigrants seeking better lives for themselves and their children in the US likewise bear the brunt of a flawed immigration system.

Macabenta also notes that many Filipino World War II veterans who had filed petitions for their children have passed away, thus voiding their petitions and depriving their children of immigration benefits.

Proposed immigration bills include a provision exempting eligible children of Filipino veterans from such limitations and expediting their visa applications.

“We need to keep raising our voices loudly and demand moral leadership on this critical issue. We must remind America that we are a nation of immigrants, that regardless of where we came from and how we came here, our shared values strengthen and enrich America’s culture and global standing,” added NaFFAA national vice chairperson Rozita Lee. – JA/KBK, GMANews.TV



Filed under: Pinoy Migration, Sorsoganon Everywhere

‘UEA, Qatar, Oman OFW entry points to Afghanistan, Iraq’

Unscrupulous recruitment agencies in the country have been continuously deploying Filipino workers not only in war-torn Afghanistan but also in Iraq, a migrant rights’ group disclosed.

Migrante-Middle East regional director John Monterona also claimed that overseas Filipino workers are being sent to these countries despite the deployment ban by the Philippine government using the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Oman as entry points.

“We have been receiving reports that Overseas Employment Certificate have been issued even to those who are using tourist visa and visit visa entering the UAE, Qatar and Oman as entry point going to Afghanistan and Iraq; this is highly irregular,” Monterona said.

As this developed, Monterona has reiterated their call to the government to review the country’s labor export program.

“We reiterate our call to the Aquino government to start creating local jobs with decent pay and benefits, initiate a reasonable across-the-board wage increase for the wage-earners to avoid a humanitarian crisis in the deployment of OFWs in war-torn countries,” he added.

By Dennis Carcamo


Filed under: Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner, Overseas Jobs,

OFWs have to wait for jobs at home — DOLE

Overseas Filipino workers would have to wait a while before government can generate enough decent jobs for them to come home, the country’s new labor chief said over the weekend.

For now, President Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III ordered to increase protection for OFWs in their host countries, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said on government-run dzRB radio.

“Bagamat ang layunin mag-create ng bagong jobs sa ating bansa at magkaroon ng maayos na hanapbuhay, maaaring ‘di agad mangyari ‘yan. Sa ating kababayang nasa ibang bansa na nagtatrabaho at magtatrabaho, mas malawak na proteksyon gustong makita ni Pangulong Aquino (While the intention is to create new jobs in the country – to have decent jobs – this may not happen immediately. For our compatriots working abroad and those planning to work overseas, President Aquino wants to see increased protection.),” Baldoz said.

The Labor Department and other government offices still need to lay down the groundwork to generate more jobs at home, she said.

Aquino, in his inaugural speech on Wednesday, promised to generate more jobs at home leveling the playing field to encourage more investments so that Filipinos need not go abroad for jobs that pay better.

“We will cut red tape dramatically and implement stable economic policies. We will level the playing field for investors and make government an enabler, not a hindrance, to business,” the President said.

“Layunin nating paramihin ang trabaho dito sa ating bansa upang hindi na kailangan ang mangibang-bansa para makahanap ng trabaho (Our goal is to generate enough jobs so Filipinos need not go abroad to find work),” he added.

In the meantime, he ordered the Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration – previously headed by Baldoz – to address the concerns of OFWs. —VS, GMANews.TV 



Filed under: Government, Jobs, Kwentong OFW, OFW Corner,

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