Scalar Energy

Quantum Science, Scalar Energy Pendant, Nikola Tesla & More

October 20, 2014

Hey small biz: You know what you need? A tape library – Overland

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Overland has got itself a new NEO tape library (cue jokes about the Matrix Reloaded) called the NEOxl, and it’s packed a huge amount of capacity inside it.

The two models in the product line both support LTO5 and LTO6 tape formats and come in 6U enclosures:

  • NEOxl 60
    • To 3 drives and 60 slots
    • 90TB-375TB capacity (90TB is assuming 60 slots with LTO5 uncompressed; 375TB is assuming 60 slots with LTO6 compressed)
    • 504GB/hour to 4.3TB/hour transfer rate (504GB/hour is 1 LTO5 drive uncompressed; 4.3TB/hour is 3 x LTO6 drives compressed)
  • NEOxl 80
    • To 6 drives and 80 slots
    • 120TB-500TB capacity (120TB assuming 80 slots with LTO5 raw; 500TB assuming 80 slots with LTO6 compressed)
    • 504GB/hour to 8.6TB/hour transfer rate (504GB/hour is 1 LTO5 drive raw; 8.6TB/hour is 6 x LTO6 drives compressed)

A NEOxl expansion unit has six drives and 80 slots and is usable by both the 60 and 80 base units. By adding these the maximum NEOxl capacity is 560 slots filled with LTO6 compressed tapes, meaning 3.5PB, and 42 drives. This means a NEOxl 80 base unit and six expansion units.

A NEOxl can have modules removed and installed elsewhere, so it is both scale-up and scale-down in that sense.

Overland claims the NEOxl has six times better transfer rate performance and 64 per cent more density per rack unit compared with the nearest competitors in its class.

Let’s have a look at Quantum’s iScalar line to see if this claim has legs:

  • i40 — 3U rackspace, two drives, 25-40 slots, 156.25TB-500TB with 2.5:1 compression
  • i80 — 6U rackspace, five drives, 50-80 slots, 312TB-500TB
  • i500 — 5U-23U base rack, 1-18 drives, 41-409 slots, 256TB-2.6PB with 9U expansion units

The NEOxls have the i40 and i80 beat on expansion and on drive count but not on i80 6U base unit capacity. This holds a maximum of 500TB, just like the NEOxl 80 base unit. However, a fully-expanded NEOxl 80 holds 3.5PB in a 42U standard rack. That beats the iScalar 500′s 2.6TB. The NEOxl also tops out at 42 drives, versus the iScalar 500′s 18.

We believe that robotics are part of the reason, with the Scalar i500 having a continuous robotics system. We understand the NEOxl has a robot per base and expansion unit. The Scalar i500 is a scale-up library design. In comparison it might be a stretch to say that the NEOxl is a scale-out library, with each expansion unit being a self-contained sub-library managed by the base unit. But that is how it seems to us.

Overland’s business situation

Loss-making Overland says its merger with Sphere3D, which makes application virtualisation software, is on track and should enable 10-15 per cent more operational synergies than the $20m cost savings first thought.

Its transitioning its manufacturing from San Diego to the Chinese facility that came with the Tandberg Data acquisition and contract manufacturers. Around 100 people will have been let go between the acquisition’s closing and the end of the year.

It dares to think it might have a profitable run-rate exiting calendar year 2014, excluding stock-based compensation and one-time charges related to the Sphere3D merger and the Tandberg acquisition. So, if there are no more one-time charges, and the Sphere 3D merger works then Overland could actually start making a profit; be still my beating heart.

In the meantime it has secured $5m of working capital in the form of debt financing from Cyrus Capital to support restructuring and transition plans. A profitable run rate and increased cash flow can’t come soon enough.

Both NEOxl products are available now from Overland’s resellers with pricing starting from $12,599 MSRP. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

October 20, 2014

Energy 'just amazing’ at charity half-marathon in S.F.

Photo: Joe Garofoli, The Chronicle

Victoria Mitchell of Australia wins the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, Sunday, October 19, 2014.

Victoria Mitchell of Australia wins the 2014 Nike Women’s Half…

Photo: Joe Garofoli, The Chronicle

A runner is handed a Tiffany necklace after crossing the finish line of the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, Sunday, October 19, 2014.

A runner is handed a Tiffany necklace after crossing the finish…

Photo: Joe Garofoli, The Chronicle

Runners pose for photos with firefighters after completing the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, Sunday, October 19, 2014.

Runners pose for photos with firefighters after completing the 2014…

Photo: Joe Garofoli, The Chronicle

“Kicking Assphalt” at the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco, Sunday, October 19, 2014.

“Kicking Assphalt” at the 2014 Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San…

Sure, there are fundraisers and other races closer to her Kansas City home, but Teresa Humke knew she had to be one of the 25,000 runners in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon that coursed through San Francisco on a misty Sunday.

She, like many of the runners, was inspired to run by someone close to them who has been touched by leukemia or lymphoma. Runners have raised $153 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to fight the diseases since the first race 11 years ago. It is the largest women’s running race in the world.

Humke was running for her nephew Rafael Herrador, who was diagosed with a form of lymphoma 10 years ago and is doing well now, and her neighbor, Ella Joe Johnston, a 5-year-old who has leukemia. Humke wrote both their names onto her runner’s singlet.

She thought of them as she struggled to make it up a hill on mile 10 of the 13.1-mile course as it wound through the early morning mist in the Presidio. A coach with Team in Training, the organization that she trained with, was nearby and told her, “You can do it.”

She never stopped until she, like all the finishers, was handed a Tiffany necklace after crossing the finish line. Waiting nearby were tuxedo-wearing firefighters at designated “Firefighter Photo Op” stations ready to congratulate the finishers. Humke beamed as she took a photo with them and her Kansas City running partner, Jennifer Russell.

“The energy here is just amazing,” said Humke, who has raised $15,000 over the past two years for leukemia-related causes. “Everyone is so encouraging and supportive.”

Victoria Mitchell of Australia won the race with a time of 1:19:49. Tania Fischer of Santa Monica was second, Nicole Chombeau of Oregon third, Tasia Potasinski of San Francisco fourth and Samantha Dennler of Stanford fifth.

Mitchell, who finished second in last year’s race, trailing the leader by only two seconds, won despite the fact that her mom left her cheer sign reading, “You’ve Got This, Vic,” in her hotel room Sunday morning.

“But everyone on the course kept yelling, ‘You’ve got this.’ And ‘Believe in the run.’ That must be something they say in the States,” Mitchell said. “Everybody was so positive and loud on the course.”

After noting the number of entrants who chose to race in the half-marathon, organizers eliminated the full marathon from this year’s event. They designed a new race course, including a couple of tough hills, particularly around mile 10 through the Presidio, and which ended at Marina Green. Runners were grateful for the overcast conditions, with temperatures in the 50s that were perfect for running.

This year’s field included 8,000 entrants who were running their first half-marathon. Among them were Amy Askin and Andrea Paz, who are not into running. But they were among 72 members of Team Kim, friends and family who were running in honor of Kim Brigati Wang, a Menlo Park woman who died of leukemia earlier this year. Together, supporters raised $250,000 in her memory.

Wang was going to run the race last year but wasn’t physically up for it. Her husband, Ben, took her number and ran it for her. He ran it again this year, and felt his wife’s presence as he struggled up the hill around mile 10.

“Like a lot of people do in this race, you float on the wings of people who can’t be there with you,” Ben Wang said Sunday. “That’s what different about this race. Everybody is running with a bit more purpose.”

After the race Sunday, Ben Wang looked around Marina Green at some of the dozens of people who had run in Kim’s memory and in support of him and their twin 3-year-olds she left behind.

“It’s really helpful to have the strength of all of these people supporting us on our journey as we try to figure out what the new normal is,” he said.

“I have never run before,” said Askin, 31, who lives in Dublin. “But I can think of no better way to remember my friend than to raise money to fight the disease that took her.”

Other runners felt energized by the supportive masses surrounding them. In the past two weeks, Joyce Lee has lost her job, broken up with her boyfriend and watched a friend die from kidney disease. But last week she qualified for the Boston Marathon, and on Sunday she basked in the good vibes by running the San Francisco race.

“It’s good for women to realize that if you push yourself in this, push yourselves in sports, it can carry over to other parts of your life — and make you feel more positive about things,” said Lee, who lives in Fremont. “Once you can do this, it can strengthen you for other things.”

And some were running just for the fun of it.

“This is a fun run for us,” said Tonya Dennett, of Livermore, who ran the race with several friends who are serious runners. “Some shopping. The (race) expo. Just a fun girls’ weekend.”

Joe Garofoli is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: Twitter: @joegarofoli

October 20, 2014

Apple SIM and the death of the SIM card

Let’s not delude ourselves here: Apple’s iPad event was spectacularly dull. You just know it’s going to be anticlimactic when Craig Federighi forces us to sit through 30-plus minutes of iOS and OS X news before Tim Cook was allowed to unveil the — big surprise — thinner and lighter iPad Air 2, and the sniveling footnote that is the iPad Mini 3. In fact, there is one interesting feature of the new iPads — but it was relegated to a page on the Apple website, rather than shown off on-stage. It’s called the Apple SIM, and it’s the death knell of the humble — if rather annoying — SIM card.

Apple has always had it in for the SIM card. Ever since the first iPhone, which used a fiddly paperclip-actuated SIM holder, Apple has shown that it won’t be beholden to clunky, old, or slow-moving technologies that it has no direct control over. With the original iPad, Apple was the first major device maker to move to the smaller micro-SIM (3FF) standard — and in 2012, Apple forced through a new nano-SIM (4FF) and was again first to market with the iPhone 5. Even now in 2014,

The evolution of the GSM SIM card. It’s hard to believe that the SIM was originally a credit card sized piece of plastic. Shown here, from left to right, are the standard SIM (1FF), mini (2FF), micro (3FF), and nano (4FF).

In each successive case, it has always been about making Apple products smaller, thinner, and lighter than the competitors. SIM cards, with their fixed dimensions and the removable tray, are a straight-up design constraint. There’s no getting around it: As it stands, you simply cannot make a device thinner than a SIM card tray, and a significant amount of design and manufacturing time has to be invested into placing the SIM slot (both on the logic board and externally on the chassis) and ensuring it’s reliable. Moving parts are the bane of industrial design.

Read: The secret second operating system that could make every mobile phone insecure

There is an alternative to the SIM card, of course: the embedded-SIM. Rather than including a removable SIM card and tray mechanism, the manufacturer can solder a SIM card permanently onto the device. Not only does this remove the need for a SIM card tray, but it also allows for the SIM itself to be reduced to just a tiny chip on the logic board (there isn’t actually much in a SIM card, but because it has to be held by clumsy human hands they can’t be shrunk down much further than the nano form factor). Way back in 2012, when ETSI started working on embedded-SIM, Apple showed a clear interest in the new standard — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the iPhone 7 or iPad Air 3 debut without a discrete SIM card.

iPad Air 2, showing the new Apple SIM carrier selection screen

For the time being, though, Apple has the next best thing: The Apple SIM. In the US and UK, the LTE versions of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 will come with a reprogrammable SIM card — the so-called Apple SIM — that can switch to different carriers via the Settings menu in iOS. In theory, this allows you to switch between your ATT contract and perhaps a pre-paid T-Mobile deal, to get the best of both worlds. In the future, when the Apple SIM inevitably rolls out to the iPhone (presumably the iPhone 7) maybe you’ll be able to open up Settings and select one carrier for cheap international calls, and then switch back to your main carrier for data. And of course, when you travel, rather than having to hunt down a local SIM card, Apple SIM would let you easily use a local carrier for cheap data and calls.

Prior to the iPhone, it was all about removing the battery to insert the SIM card — a constraint that Apple didn’t want to adhere to

The concept of a software-programmable SIM is certainly very cool, and a whole lot more revolutionary than the new gold color option or the inclusion of last year’s Touch ID sensor.

The problem, of course, is that today’s Apple SIM is clearly just a waypoint towards a future where the SIM card is removed from the equation entirely. It might be the iPhone 6S, or maybe the iPhone 7, but eventually Apple will do away with the physical SIM card and tray, replacing it with a tiny chip on the logic board and a SIM/carrier selection screen within iOS. If Apple does it properly and includes every carrier and MVNO you might ever want to use, then we have nothing to worry about — in fact, that actually sounds like a better solution than slotting in new SIM cards.

If Apple exerts some kind of control over Apple SIM, though, or is somehow tardy or restrictive over adding carriers to the selection screen, then you might soon find yourself lamenting the death of the SIM card — for ultimately, that is what this is all about. Apple has forced the adoption of smaller and smaller SIM card standards with the success of the iPhone and iPad, and I see no reason why it would stop with the nano-SIM. If Apple kills off the SIM card, then other device makers will surely follow suit.

Now read: Apple’s Jony Ive says copycat designs are theft and laziness, not flattery

October 20, 2014
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Oft-criticized manager Ned Yost keeps Royals winning

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Ned Yost is the manager seemingly everyone loves to hate.

Kansas City Royals fans weren’t happy with him in September when he questioned why attendance was low at Kauffman Stadium during a pennant race. It was understandable why fans felt insulted after not having seen their team reach the postseason since 1985.

Talk to fans around town and listen to the talk shows and many will say the Royals have gone 8-0 in the postseason and gained a berth in the World Series against the San Francisco Giants in spite of Yost.

Sweeping the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series and the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series have only marginally raised his approval rating.

Though he has loosened up in this postseason, Yost often approaches meeting with news reporters with a mix of misery and disdain, which hardly helps his public profile.

Yost does not even think about trying to curry favor with writers or broadcasters. In fact, he is often cutting in his responses to questions he feels aren’t particularly intelligent.

And in the social media world, Yost is a virtual pinata.

Sabermetrically inclined fans are incensed with his penchant for bunting, his insistence on batting shortstop Alcides Escobar — and his .299 career on-base percentage — at the top of the order. And Yost nearly created a riot in cyberspace when he lifted ace pitcher James Shields in the sixth inning of the wild-card game against the Oakland Athletics.

As far as Yost is concerned, he couldn’t care less — particularly considering he is the one managing the AL representative in the World Series, which begins Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

“It just makes you stronger and makes what’s happening now feel that much better,” Yost told USA TODAY Sports. “I’ve always believed in what we’ve been doing here. We’re in the World Series. That’s pretty good proof that we know what we’re doing.”

That might sound like cockiness, but Yost delivered it in a matter-of-fact fashion. This will be his seventh World Series. He played in one with the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers and took part in five more with the Atlanta Braves while on the coaching staff of Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox.

Those who know Yost are quick to say he is far from a dummy or a bad guy. Instead, he is a man who has strong beliefs in how to run a ballclub and, at 60, does not care what people outside the organization think about him.

That ability to deflect criticism will be necessary this week when the Royals take baseball’s grandest stage and all of his moves come under significant scrutiny.

‘An incredible leader’

“Ned’s a very thick-skinned person,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “He’s an incredible leader and very passionate. He’s the most competitive person I know. He’s very positive. He’s always optimistic. He loves the completion, and he loves winning, and the way he approaches the game has allowed our players to go out and do what they do.”

The players recognize that and appreciate and respect Yost. You won’t find detractors in the Royals’ clubhouse, even those players who would seemingly have reason to be upset with Yost.

One of those players is left-hander Danny Duffy. An integral part of the team during the regular season, he went 9-12 but had a sparkling 2.53 ERA in 31 games.

Yet, the left-hander has been limited to one postseason inning and did not pitch in the ALCS.

When asked about Yost, however, Duffy couldn’t stop raving about him.

“The thing that stands out to me about Ned is that he always has your back, always,” Duffy said. “He’s a very loyal person. He has always stuck with me through good times and bad times. It doesn’t matter how stupid of a mistake you might make, he’s still always positive and supportive.”

“He’s like my dad,” adds two-time All-Star catcher Salvador Perez, 24. “We are like one big family on this team, and Ned is our dad. He loves us like we were his own children, and you want to play hard for someone like that.”

Reliever Wade Davis thinks the criticism of Yost’s strategic acumen is unfair. That includes lifting Shields in the wild-card game with a 3-2 lead in the sixth, then seeing rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura immediately serve up a three-run homer.

The Royals overcame that hiccup with multiple late-inning rallies to salvage victory in the wild card, launching them on this unprecedented 8-0 run.

But the stain did not fade.

“Every manager makes moves that don’t work,” Davis said. “Ned is no different. He puts players in a position where he feels they will succeed. Sometimes, the players don’t get the job done. That’s not a bad decision. That’s because things like that happen in baseball.

“You’re not going to be perfect. A lot more of his decisions turn out to be right than wrong.”

That was hard to fathom for quite some time; Yost’s first two full seasons as Royals manager produced marks of 71-91 in 2011 and 72-90 in 2012, seemingly spinning their wheels in a rebuilding process that began when Moore was hired in June 2006.

The Royals then broke through last season. They went 86-76 for their first winning season since 2003 and their second plus-.500 season since 1993 while finishing 51/2 games out in the wild-card race.

Though it was a good season, particularly by Royals’ standards, Yost felt he needed to change. After some offseason soul searching, he decided it was time to loosen the reins on his players.

Adapting to the situation

“I always tried to push them to be more like me instead of letting them be themselves,” Yost said. “I learned last year that if you let a young group that has energy and they’re excited to play the game be themselves, you’ll probably be in a better position.

“So it’s been fun watching them develop and being themselves. You can see they’re a loose group. They play hard for each other. Just letting them be themselves. It was a big lesson I learned.”

Eric Hosmer has seen the new Yost this season. While the Royals first baseman and his teammates have enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere, Hosmer also understands why Yost used to be more inflexible.

“In fairness to Ned, he walked into a situation where we didn’t really have any veteran leadership in our clubhouse, so he had to worry about what was going on in the clubhouse as well as all the other stuff,” Hosmer said. “Things are different now. We have that veteran leadership and all of us who came through the farm system have matured.

“We’ve reached the point where Ned knows he can give us our freedom while still holding us accountable.

“He’s changed along with the players, and we all really respect and appreciate that.”

And if Yost remains a lightning rod for Royals’ fans and in the Twitterverse, it won’t bother him.

“People are going to think what they’re going to think, and I’ve learned that you’re not going to change that,” Yost said.

“When people boo me or say bad things about me, it’s just water off a duck’s back. It really is.”

Follow John Perrotto on Twitter: @JPerrotto



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October 19, 2014
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Old Bridge Mensa member yearns for academic challenges

At first glance, Mason Stepper, 10, is a typical fifth-grader. He enjoys spending time with his friends, being on the computer, and learning karate.

At second glance, Mason is far from typical. Reading books on quantum physics, Mason is developing his own quantum oscillator on the computer. At his young age, he has been accepted into Mensa, and in third grade his IQ was measured between 180 and 185.

“If I had my wish, I would like to learn more physics and chemistry,” Mason said. “In terms of mathematics, I would like to learn more geometry and trigonometry. The more you know, the smarter you are. The smarter you are, the more chances you have.”

But his parents said they are concerned that their son, a fifth-grader at Alan B. Shepard School, is not receiving the education he needs to flourish.

“We are afraid he is not being challenged enough in school,” Mason’s dad, Marc Stepper, said. “They are giving him homework that involves addition and subtraction, and here he is building his own quantum oscillator. We’re scared he will become disinterested and just check out. He’s a kid who can synthesize an amazing amount of information.”

“They have so much for special-needs kids, deservingly so, but they have nothing for the gifted children,” said Mason’s mom, Shari. “Every child should have the proper education for them and he’s not getting it. He is bored in school. He is not challenged. They are trying, but I guess there is just so much they can do. We just want someone to help him and take an interest in him. We want to find a place where he is challenged.”

Although the Old Bridge School District would not comment specifically on Mason’s situation, Donna M. Kibbler, assistant superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Old Bridge Township Public Schools, said, “The district makes every effort to provide a balanced program for children that show greater-than-average abilities. We consider the social and emotional needs, as well as the intellectual needs of the students.”

Kibbler said the gifted and talented Challenge program has been redesigned “to better meet the needs of the gifted and talented students in the district and give students more time in the Challenge class.”

Gifted child

Mason was adopted at 7 months old.

“Of all the children we could have adopted from South Korea, they sent us Albert Einstein,” his dad said. “We love him and are very proud of him.”

Early on, Mason’s parents realized there was something special about their son.

Mason, who has an 8-year-old sister, Alexa, walked independently at 11 months, his parents said, adding that at 7 months, he could speak single words and by 8 months was combining two words.

“He started reading and comprehending just before his third birthday,” his stay-at-home mom said. “About 2 ½ years later, Mason sat down and discussed astrophysics and the periodic table with us. We new he was smart, but we just didn’t know how smart.”

According to his parents, in kindergarten and first grade, Mason was given more challenging homework, but it was still below his ability. He periodically was allowed to go fifth grade to work on science projects and was given some algebra worksheets to do in the classroom, after he finished his other work. He even worked with other students to sharpen their skills.

In September of 2012, when he was almost 8, Mason’s parents decided to have him tested at what then was known as the UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Gifted Child Clinic.

“He did so well that they had to estimate Mason’s IQ,” said Marc, a New York City union electrician. “The testing limits could only reveal at best a 163 IQ and he had exceeded those limits. He went through the ceiling of even the special scaling they used. His IQ was estimated to be between 180 and 185.”

In math, Mason scored at the 12th-grade, ninth-month level, his dad said proudly.

In her report, Barbara Louis, who was program director of the Gifted Child Clinic, wrote, “Mason is a gifted child whose ability and achievement levels are well beyond those of his age and grade peers. He needs to be placed in an appropriate, challenging education environment in order to maintain his interest, preserve his love of learning, and reach his full potential.”

Armed with the results, his parents brought Mason’s “gift” to the attention of school officials.

In third grade, three high school teachers came to Shepard School to work with Mason in chemistry, science and robotics, his parents said.

“They also worked with him during the summer,” his mom said.

In September 2013, when Mason was in fourth grade, he was allowed to take honors biology and honors algebra at the Old Bridge School District’s Grade Nine Center.

“He spent his afternoons there,” Shari said. “They even had two teachers from the high school coming to give him one-on-one instruction. It was a lot of work, but he loved it.”

In fact, Mason said he would even stay after school for additional math, engineering and algebra lessons.

“I liked it,” he said. “At first I felt a little weird in high school, but then I realized, what’s so bad about that? I was a bit of a celebrity there. I even got my own varsity physics club shirt.”

“About six weeks later, we were told by the district that that was not the right environment for him,” Marc said. “They admitted they never saw anything like this but sent him back to fourth grade. They put him back because they did not believe socially it was the right environment for him. I am not in whole disagreement with this, but intellectually, he is well beyond his grade level.”

The next plan was to send teachers to work with him and his entire class at Shepard School, his parents said.

Now, Mason is participating in the school district’s redesigned Challenge program.

While the redesigned program is a welcomed addition to Mason’s studies, his parents said they remain cautiously optimistic.

“It will be a little more for him and we’re glad,” Marc said.

“We really think he needs it every day,” Shari added.

Challenge Program

While Old Bridge School District’s Challenge program has been offered in the district for years, Kibbler said that the program was redesigned this summer.

“We brought in Silvia Pastor, Ph.D., from Montclair State University, who worked with myself and a committee of teachers, principals and the two Challenge teachers to redesign our program,” she said. “It was time to revamp the program, redo the curriculum and extend the amount of instruction time the children were getting.”

Kibbler said that the Challenge program is for gifted and talented students in grades 3 to 5. About 109 children are in the program, which is conducting classes at Shepard and Voorhees schools this year. Another program also is in place that identifies children in the early grades for potential consideration for eligibility in the Challenge program.

Kibbler said that prior to redesigning the Challenge program, a student would receive about one hour a week of instruction.

“Now they will be getting several hours once a week,” she said.

In June, each grade will showcase their projects, showing what they learned throughout the course of the year.

Kibbler said the redesigned program was presented to parents, who were excited about the changes.

The Challenge program’s purpose is “to provide an extended classroom instructional learning experience for students who exhibit advanced learning capabilities.”

According to its mission statement, “Old Bridge Township Public School Challenge Program recognizes the exceptional innate abilities of students and assists them in reaching their maximum potential through the use of higher order thinking skills and strategies. The program provides a rigorous academic environment designed to meet the intellectual, creative, social, and emotional needs of gifted individuals within their unique culture.”

The program’s standards are problem solving, critical thinking, communication and leadership.

The program also will provide “mindfulness training, social skills, yoga and breathing and stretching activities.”

After attending only one class of the redesigned Challenge program, Kibbler said, students were enthusiastic about the opportunities being offered.

Educating gifted student

The Steppers said they have looked for private schools with gifted and talented programs.

“We did find one school that just opened, but it is quite a distance away,” Shari said.

“We also can’t afford to pay the $20,000 plus a year,” Marc said. “We’re just hoping to find someone who can help us.”

The Steppers said Mason is a well-balanced youngster. He plays the flute, trumpet and violin. He even taught himself how to play the piano.

He is a computer gamer and has his own server and website, with 31 subscribers.

“Mason does enjoy the company of older students and adults because that’s who he can relate to, but he does get along with everyone,” his dad said.

Mason said his favorite subject is science. He also loves math, especially algebra.

“It’s nice at Shepard,” he said. “I have a lot of friends there.”

Mason said someday he would like to be a programmer, chemical engineer, quantum physicist or astrophysicist.

While Dr. Michael Lewis, University Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, and Director of the Institute for the Study of Child Development at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, could not comment specifically on Mason, he did say that “it’s quite unusual to find a child like this.”

“Only about 2 percent of the population is considered gifted,” he said. “In terms of IQ, it would mean any child above 130-135 on the test would be considered gifted.”

Lewis said the Gifted Child Clinic evaluates about 80 to 90 children per year.

“Our testing for children really tries to get at specific skills and general skills and are often used by parents to go to school systems to say my child is gifted and you need to give them special attention,” he said

Lewis said “there are also children who are gifted in particular skills and abilities.”

Lewis said schools are required to design special educational programs for children with all types of special needs.

“Public school is designed to educate all children,” Lewis said. “They can take a child who has particular skills and move them to higher grades so that they can be challenged by the work of older children. This is often done in the math and sciences. I know of cases where it’s done in English and literature.”

But, he said, “there can be difficulties with adjustments in older grades.”

Another thing schools do is give books and materials to parents that the child can work on with the parents. He also said sometimes the child receives supplemental help from teachers in higher grades.

“The real problem is that we are not supporting our school systems, even our good systems, to individualize the instruction,” he said. “They have to teach to the mean of the group. That means kids who can’t work as fast lose out and kids who can go much faster lose out. What we need to do, in the best of all worlds, is support our school system, and that means more taxes.”

He said more-affluent parents also can hire tutors for their children.

Lewis said information is available from the New Jersey Association for Gifted and Talented Children.

“There are also any number of books out there on gifted children, which parents should take a look at,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are few gifted educational programs. It is much more likely that the federal and state government will support programs of children not doing well. Children who are doing well are not supported.”

Staff Writer Susan Loyer: 732-565-7243;

October 19, 2014
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Angara Offers Free Sapphire Pendant

It’s no surprise that we love great quality and great value. Finding a deal, which has both, becomes a “bargain of a lifetime.” With the power of the Internet, family and friends, finding the bargain of a lifetime has become more realistic, and provides near instant gratification. However, how would you feel about finding the best price, quality and value from a family-owned, direct source for three generations, without any middleman involved? In addition, how about if you received an exclusive free sapphire pendant offer with your jewelry?

Purchase at least $5,000 (before your discount applied) Angara Jewelry  and receive a free beautiful natural sapphire diamond pendant valued at $600. Sapphire is not only the most durable colored stone on Mohs scale, but also the most praised colored gemstone by customers worldwide, and for centuries has been affiliated with royalty. Not to mention, your free sapphire pendant is on Angara’s bestsellers list, so you can shop with confidence knowing you’re receiving a great value.

Angara states, “Sapphire jewelry makes a very significant gift for any special occasion as it speaks about love, devotion, heavenly beauty and eternal bonding.” Your 14K White Gold V-bale pendant design consists of a classic pear-shape complemented by a round diamond studded on top. The pendant signifies devotion, love, royalty and is a must have to your jewelry collection.

Angara, the Trusted Gemstone Source for Three Generations

In 2005, Harvard Business School alumnus Ankur Daga founded the e-Tailer, Headquarters in Los Angeles, the company specializes in sapphires, rubies, emeralds, diamonds and other gemstones, Angara brings exceptional savings, quality, value and customer experience.

Angara is an “A” rated Better Business Bureau accredited business, and proud to offer free jewelry gifts, free shipping worldwide, 0% Interest easy monthly payments, 30-day return policy and much more to their customers worldwide. All of their jewelry appraises for 125% of their price value, and on average, 150% to 300%. They have over 7,000 unique gemstones designs, including engagement wedding rings, earrings, pendant necklaces and gift ideas for every occasion. Additionally, if you cannot find exactly what you are looking for on their website, they have a full Design Team and Personal Jewelers dedicated to personalizing your jewelry purchase.

“I just wanted to share with everyone that the sapphire engagement rings that we bought from are awesome and we just love it. Apart from that, the customer service rep was very helpful and she was very courteous,” said Jacky, a user reviewing Angara on

Angara has built a reputable business model focused on their customers with ethics and professionalism. Their “think globally, act locally” foundation has made them an industry leader for colored gemstone jewelry. Your free sapphire V-bale pendant is a token of appreciation and loyalty for earning your business and respect.

Jewel Guidance – The Process

One of the most  popular questions Angara receives is how do we know we are making the right purchase. At Angara, they believe in providing education and knowledge, making sure you make an informed decision, so you can shop with confidence. That’s why Angara created their Jewelry Guide section to help customers understand exactly what they are paying for and the value they’ll receive. Every jewelry item comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. Explore today and discover detailed information about gemstones, stone qualities, metal types, designs, settings and styles.

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October 19, 2014
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Dazzling ‘Birdman’ Pecks at the Hand that Feeds It

Andy Warhol used to say outtakes were more interesting than most films. That idea might be shared by director Alejandro González Iñárritu, whose new movie, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), is one giant outtake. But that’s putting it lightly. Birdman is much more. It’s a thrashing of the cinematic state of affairs within a surreal story about an actor seeking what all actors seek: approval. If great films comment on other films, Birdman is surely great.

Iñárritu, whose previous films (Amores Perros, 21 Grams, Babel, Biutiful) have done nothing to predict what’s onscreen in Birdman, takes us inside the production of a Broadway show. On one level, it’s an explosive breakdown of what goes down behind the scenes. Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton), a struggling actor known for his one superhero role, Birdman, is trying to adapt Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love into a play and opening night is fast approaching.

But Birdman isn’t really about the production of the play. The play is merely the forum for Iñárritu (who co-wrote the script) to lampoon the state of art today. He skewers the movie industry from every angle. Keaton, forgotten in Hollywood since he made Batman more than 20 years ago, is a bundle of nerves as Thomson—the former huge star trying to mount a comeback. Edward Norton, known as a controlling method actor in reality, gives the film’s best performance as Thomson’s egotistical co-star, Mike Shiner. And Naomi Watts, who broke into Hollywood as an eager actress in Mulholland Drive, plays a similar role here. All of these roles are methodical comments on process of casting itself.

All the actors conspire to give Birdman its fantastic energy. Keaton plays Riggan like Jack Nicholson might have 30 years ago, with fearless abandon. Backstage, Riggan is visited by a specter of his past life. Birdman, in glorious blue plumage, appears to Thomson in crucial moments to remind him he will never be a real actor. The people don’t want art, they want explosions, and Birdman is the incantation of truth. A card on Riggan’s mirror reminds him, “A thing is a thing, not what is said of that thing.” Despite that, Riggan aspires to break free of the Birdman mold. Other references, including the Carver play and a shot of Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges, enhance this idea of people accepting their fates. Iñárritu laments the plight of the actor, type-cast and marginalized into oblivion.

So if Riggan is having heart to hearts with himself dressed up as a bird, is he losing it? Well, yes and no. Iñárritu electrocutes Birdman with fantastic moments of surrealism like this but none of it is really happening. Birdman can be viewed as a manifestation of Riggan’s ego and, even though he tells the actor what he doesn’t want to hear, he invigorates Riggan with destructive powers during every visit. The beginning finds Thomson floating cross-legged in mid-air, and he moves objects with his mind. This idea—that former glory can still hold dormant power within someone—is a dynamic one and proof of the film’s depth.

But Birdman also provides the film with fantastic humor. He growls at Riggan, mocking Christian Bale’s Batman voice in the Dark Knight movies, and cuts through the nonsense with Hollywood talk. He tells Riggan to make a reality show, “not this piece of shit.” And the mere sight of the costumed character will bring a smile to your face. That’s indicative of the entire film, which is so chock-a-block with amazing cinematic moments and visuals, you will be stunned. The cinematography, by the great Emmanuel Lubezki (Gravity) is astounding and worth seeing despite everything else.

As Riggan struggles to bring his play to fruition, he’s bombarded on all sides by the people in his life. Iñárritu composes Birdman with a virtual single shot, stitched together from long Steadicam takes that help give the film its frantic anxiety. The camera follows behind Thomson as he navigates the narrow backstage halls between the stage and his dressing room. His manager (Zach Galifianakis) tries to get him more star power, his actress girlfriend (Andrea Riseborough) tells him she’s pregnant, and his daughter, Samantha (Emma Stone), fresh out of rehab, won’t let him forget he was a terrible father. Meanwhile, Mike lambasts Hollywood for its “cultural genocide” while noting “popularity is the slutty cousin of prestige.” 

All of these characters and ideas flood the screen in Birdman and the sensory overload does something unique. It gives the movie the feeling of more. Iñárritu obviously disapproves of the public’s love of superhero films and big, pointless action sequences, but he can’t help but insert some of this stuff to fuel the fire within Riggan. One scene even finds him walking through New York snapping his fingers making cars explode while a monstrous, CGI bird screeches down at him from above. It’s in this world, Riggan seems home at last. He may yearn to be a real actor, but he can’t deny the thrill of the blockbuster experience.

Birdman doesn’t shy away from other complaints. Social media is eviscerated, through the character of Samantha, who sets up a Twitter account for her Dad after his show debuts. And Iñárritu saves a special role to take aim at the press. New York Times theatre critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) tells Thomson, sight unseen, “I’m going to destroy your play.” She hates Hollywood and everything the former superhero represents. It’s a predictable character, the ruthless critic, and a severely outdated one—a rare misstep in an otherwise airtight script. But the Dickinson character plays a big part towards the end as Riggan’s play debuts and becomes the talk of the famous city. Iñárritu saves his best act for last as Thomsen morphs into something new, yet familiar, a fitting end for an actor seeking acceptance in a film that defies the notion.


October 19, 2014
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A warm dark matter search using XMASS: Editors' suggestion of Physical Review Letters

The XMASS collaboration, led by Yoichiro Suzuki at the Kavli IPMU, has reported its latest results on the search for warm dark matter. Their results rule out the possibility that super-weakly interacting massive bosonic particles (bosonic super-WIMPs) constitute all dark matter in the universe. This result was published in the September 19th issue of the Physical Review Letters as an Editors’ Suggestion.

The universe is considered to be filled with dark matter, which cannot be observed by ordinary light. Although much evidence supports the existence of dark matter, it has yet to be directly detected and its nature is not understood.

Various theoretical models have been proposed to explain the nature of dark matter. Some models extend the standard model of particle physics, such as super-symmetry, and suggest that weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs) are dark matter candidates. These models have motivated most experimental research on dark matter. In discussions on the large-scale structure formation of the universe, these WIMPs fit the cold dark matter (CDM) paradigm.

On the other hand, some simulations based on the CDM scenario predict a much richer structure of the universe on galactic scales than those observed. Furthermore, high-energy collider experiments have yet to provide evidence of super-symmetric particles. These facts have increased the interest in lighter and further weakly interacting particles such as bosonic super-WIMPs as dark matter. Super-WIMPs with masses greater than a twentieth of an electron (more than 3 keV) do not conflict with the structure formation of the universe.

“Bosonic super-WIMPs are experimentally attractive since if they are absorbed in ordinary material, they would deposit energy essentially equivalent to the super-WIMP’s rest mass,” Suzuki says. “And only ultra-low background detectors like XMASS can detect the signal.”

The XMASS experiment was conducted to directly search for such bosonic super-WIMPS, especially in the mass range between a tenth and a third that of an electron (between 40 and 120 keV). XMASS is a cryogenic detector using about 1 ton of liquid xenon as the target material. Using 165.9 days of data, a significant excess above the background is not observed in the fiducial mass of 41 kg. The absence of such a signal excludes the possibility that bosonic super-WIMPs constitute all dark matter in the universe.

“Light super-WIMPs are a good candidate of dark matter on galactic scales,” Professor Naoki Yoshida, a cosmologist at the School of Science, the University of Tokyo and a Project Professor at the Kavli IPMU says. “The XMASS team derived an important constraint on the possibility of such light dark models for a broad range of particle masses.”

Explore further:

First dark matter search results from Chinese underground lab hosting PandaX-I experiment

October 19, 2014
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Mysteries surround girl’s death, burning in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — Dominique Allen was a girl some knew as the bubbly teenager with 3,000 Facebook friends, a girl who loved fashion, especially leopard skin patterned pants, and who dreamed of someday being a model.

But she was also a girl struggling to shake off the past. Two years earlier her mother had died of Crohn’s disease. A short time later, she lost two close friends to street violence.

As school began in August at Ben Davis Ninth Grade Center, faculty noticed a girl who was pretty but whose eyes often were hidden beneath her hair and whose head was downcast. She was a reluctant participant in class. Almost immediately, she was failing algebra.

Then, Dominique did something that’s hard for many 15-year-olds to do. She reached out for help. She told guidance counselor Anita Swaner-Templeton that she knew how important it was to get off to a good start in high school, but she needed a guide. Pointedly, she asked the counselor: “Will you be my mom at school for me?”

Swaner-Templeton agreed. She began seeing Dominique each day. She talked to her teachers, checked up on her work and supplied Dominique with what she seemed to appreciate most — hugs. Soon, the girl with the troubled backstory had a spring in her step. With tutoring, her algebra was improving. She was beginning to hold her head high.

Then, barely a month into the school year, Dominique was dead.

Police believe she was abducted from the sidewalk in front of her sister’s home early on the morning of Aug. 31. Her badly burned remains were found the same day, a mile away. She’d been strangled and then burned, most likely to destroy DNA evidence.

The brazen abduction left the Allen family devastated and grappling for answers. Her death also brought pain to people, such as Swaner-Templeton whose lives she touched. And the burning of the girl’s body left people who never knew Dominique appalled by such a desecration and insistent that the culprit be brought to justice.

Almost two months later, there’s no such relief in sight. Police have no witnesses and no suspects in what appears to be a random killing. That’s left them, along with family and community leaders, convinced someone with vital information simply hasn’t come forward.

“We’re jeopardizing the community by keeping this person out there,” said one of Dominique’s sisters,Shenika Poindexter. “Somebody knows something.”

Several circumstances make that more than just a sister’s desperate plea.

First, the Westside neighborhood of Haughville was a busy place the morning Dominique disappeared sometime after 4:30 a.m.

A nearby strip club had closed its doors at 3 a.m., but patrons frequently spilled over to the convenience store across the street. At 4 a.m., gunfire erupted outside the store, bringing at least four police cars to the area for the next two hours. Long’s Bakery, aWestside landmark just around the corner from the house, opened at 5:30 a.m. for the Sunday morning doughnut crowds. Workers had been there most of the night.

Even if her abductor avoided all that, police say the killer’s next stop — at an abandoned house where they suspect she was killed — was an address on West 10thStreet that gets traffic around the clock. And instead of leaving the body there, the killer tidied up her personal effects in the backyard — positioning her sandals together and leaning them against her purse — before taking her past a fire station and a couple of blocks deeper into a residential neighborhood. There, he set fire to the body in the backyard of an occupied house.

The behaviors were unusual and inexplicable, said Detective Marcus Kennedy, who is leading the investigation for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. They also put the killer at risk of being discovered.

“There was lots of chances there,” he said.

All those chances have led the detective to surmise that Dominique’s killer was older — a teenager likely wouldn’t have been so meticulous. Also, burning the evidence seems more like the work of someone who has been through the prison system, with knowledge of how to hide evidence. Above all, the killer is someone who seems to know his way aroundHaughville, the Westside neighborhood where all this took place.


This part of the neighborhood was new to Dominique. She lived with her father, Louis Allen, on the Far Westside, but often spent weekends staying with her older sister,Mareeka Allen, who had moved to the house on North Mount Street just two months before.

Mareeka Allen said her sister frequently went outside on the porch to make phone calls, to blow off steam or to just get some air.

It was unusual, though, for Dominique to go as far as the sidewalk, where she was last seen sitting on a low concrete block retaining wall in front of an adjacent house. Also, it wasn’t like her to be out at 4:30 a.m.

But Dominique had a couple of girlfriends staying with her that night. Around midnight, they took a walk around the neighborhood with some boys they knew searching for a house party. By 1 a.m., they were back at Mareeka’s house, and the boys were gone. Sometime that night, Dominique got into a spat with one of the girls over a lost cellphone. That prompted her to go outside. Kennedy said a neighbor saw her sitting on the low block wall at around 4:30 a.m.

The reality of a teenage girl being outside so late by herself may be troubling, but it is not as unusual as some might think. Kennedy said many of the teens he has interviewed as part of the investigation say they’re often out as late as Dominique was.

That’s not a safe proposition in and around Haughville, one of six areas in the city that public safety officials have identified — based on crime data — as trouble spots.

When police found Dominique’s body, they found a pendant around her neck. They brought it to her sisters as an initial step in identification process. It was a lion’s head pendant, and it had belonged to their mother. Dominique had been wearing it for a while.

“It was surreal. I couldn’t believe it,” said MareekaAllen. “It took awhile for me to believe it was her.”


Dominique had just joined a club at school called Students Against Violence Everywhere, or SAVE. Part of the club’s purpose is to encourage kids to make safe choices, Swaner-Templeton said.

Dominique’s enthusiasm for the club and its purpose was part of her transformation.

After her mother died, Dominique had been angry. She became aggressive and, eventually, got into a fight that left another girl injured. The incident resulted in her expulsion, but it also scared her. She knew what violence at school looked like and she was eager to stop it. She had moved beyond her anger.

“She pretty much had gone from a caterpillar to a butterfly,” Swaner-Templeton said.

The last time she saw Dominique was two days before she died. The girl came up to her in the lunchroom and gave her a hug and a kiss. To Swaner-Templeton, it appeared that Dominique was figuring things out, that she was on her way.