Friday, December 27, 2013

Amazon to compensate customers for late gifts

big christmas cardsAMAZON will give $US20 gift cards and pay shipping costs for customers affected by problems at UPS and FedEx that delayed some Christmas package deliveries, it said on Thursday.

The Amazon pledge came after UPS in particular came under fire for late packages despite vows from retailers to meet a December 25 deadline.

Some customers took to Twitter to voice their displeasure, likening one or both delivery giants to the "Grinch who stole Christmas". Amazon pointed the finger squarely at the delivery companies.

The online retail giant did not give estimates for the number of affected shoppers.

"Amazon fulfillment centers processed and tendered customer orders to delivery carriers on time for holiday delivery," Amazon spokeswoman Mary Osako said. "We are reviewing the performance of the delivery carriers."

Walmart also will provide gift cards to customers who did not receive packages by the promised deadline, the New York Times reported.

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment. "UPS experienced heavy holiday volume and is making every effort to get packages to their destination as quickly as possible," UPS said on its website.

"UPS has resumed normally scheduled service on December 26." A FedEx spokesperson also reported a "surge" in volume, but said the rise was typical.

"We had minimal service disruptions despite the increase in volumes, and are working directly with customers who may have experienced any delays," the FedEx spokesperson said.

The delivery woes suggested the retail sector is still adjusting to shifting customer behavior with the rise of online shopping.

Analysts had expected brick and mortar shopping to rise just 3 to 4 per cent in 2013, but online shopping to jump 13-14 per cent.

More retailers have promised to execute Christmas-deadline deliveries ordered later and later in the season.

Amazon characterised its overall holiday shopping season as the "best ever" in the company's history.

Particularly popular was the "Amazon Prime" service, which provides free two-day shipping services and streaming of some television shows and movies for $79 a year.

Amazon said it signed up more than one million customers for its "Prime" service in the third week of December.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Film Shorts

All Is Lost re-opens Friday.

All Is Lost (PG-13) There's a remorseless sort of purity to J.C. Chandor's drama about a lone, unnamed sailor (Robert Redford) who fights to stay alive after his 40-foot yacht threatens to sink in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Chandor proves his range as a filmmaker after his debut film Margin Call, constructing some bravura technical passages when the boat capsizes and then rights itself in a storm. Redford does yeoman work, too, clambering about the boat with impressive levels of physical fitness and capturing the loneliness that has driven this man onto open water. Yet the movie may be a little too pure for its own good; Chandor insists so heavily on withholding his hero's backstory that we wind up knowing what happens to him without knowing who he is. I admire this movie greatly. I just don't like it. (Re-opens Friday)

The Broken Circle Breakdown (NR) Felix van Groeningen's musical stars Johan Heldenbergh and Veerle Baetens as singers in a Belgian bluegrass band whose young daughter (Nell Cattrysse) is stricken with cancer. Also with Geert van Rampelberg, Nils de Caster, Robbie Cleiren, and Bert Huysentruyt. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

Friend 2 (NR) Kwak Kyung-taek's sequel to his 2001 film stars Kim Woo-bin as a petty crook who falls under the influence of a mysterious friend of his father's, while all three are in prison. Also with Yoo Oh-seong, Joo Jin-mo, Han Soo-ah, and Jeong Ho-bin.

The Great Beauty (NR) This comedy by Paolo Sorrentino ( Il Divo) stars Toni Servillo as a Roman writer and social butterfly who's forced to re-evaluate his life and his city when he turns 65. Also with Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Buccirosso, Iaia Forte, Serena Grandi, and Fanny Ardant. (Opens Friday in Dallas)

A Madea Christmas (PG-13) Tyler Perry stars in his latest comedy, as the old grandmother visits her daughter (beautiful christmas cards Maria Horsford) in the countryside. Also with Tika Sumpter, Eric Lively, Chad Michael Murray, Alicia Witt, Lisa Whelchel, Kathy Najimy, and Larry the Cable Guy. (Opens Friday)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (PG-13) The second part of Peter Jackson's saga contains the further adventures of Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and the band of dwarves. Also with Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Orlando Bloom, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett, Lee Pace, Luke Evans, Stephen Fry, and uncredited cameos by Billy Connolly, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, and Hugo Weaving. (Opens Friday)

The Best Man Holiday (R) Fourteen years later, Malcolm D. Lee and all nine of the principal actors from The Best Man return for this sequel that finds NFL legend Lance (Morris Chestnut) inviting all his college friends, including hard-up writer buddy Harper (Taye Diggs) to his home for Christmas. There's a great dance number set to New Edition's "Can You Stand the Rain," and Howard steals a bunch of huge laughs as the shameless player in the group. However, the revelation midway through that one of our friends is severely ill winds up dousing the comedy in cheap sentimentality. Too bad, but these actors are fun to watch as they re-connect with one another and with these old characters. Also with Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Regina King, Harold Perrineau, John Michael Higgins, and Eddie Cibrian.

Black Nativity (PG) Frustrating, because everything seems to be in place to make a great musical. Kasi Lemmons' adaptation of Langston Hughes' stage play stars Jacob Latimore as an angry 15-year-old who's packed off by his mother (Jennifer Hudson) to spend Christmas with her estranged parents (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett) in New York. The original songs are by R&B mainstay Raphael Saadiq, who's a good composer but inexperienced with writing for characters in a story. Lemmons doesn't bring the effusive energy that a musical requires, either. Hudson sings well, and Whitaker is mesmerizing as a severe churchman hiding his private heartache, but mostly the film refuses to lift off. Also with Tyrese Gibson, Luke James, Grace Gibson, Rotimi, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Nas, and Mary J. Blige.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (PG) Much like the 2009 original, this animated sequel is imaginative and clever in terms of visuals and utterly forgettable in terms of story. Bill Hader returns as the wacky inventor who goes to work for a fascist Steve Jobs-type tech mogul (voiced by Will Forte) and has to prevent his old food invention from overrunning the world. The movie has funny gags in the background of the frame and a whole bestiary's worth of animals made out of food that will enthrall the small kids. The bigger kids will notice that the human characters are boring and the attempts at satire off the mark. It's all yummy, empty calories. Additional voices by Anna Faris, James Caan, Andy Samberg, Benjamin Bratt, Terry Crews, Kristen Schaal, and Neil Patrick Harris.

Dallas Buyers Club (R) Matthew McConaughey gives an uncharacteristically ferocious performance in this powerful biopic. He portrays Ron Woodroof, a homophobic electrician and rodeo cowboy who's diagnosed with AIDS in 1985 and winds up smuggling disease-fighting drugs into the country from Mexico and gaining a new perspective when the gays become his customers. Director Jean-Marc Vallée ( Café de Flore) takes a no-frills approach to the story, and yet the movie still plays like a scruffy comedy as Ron dons disguises and forms a "buyers club" to get around restrictions. Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto both give terrific supporting performances, but it's a skeletal McConaughey and his naked desire to live that you'll remember, goofily grinning and agitating against government interference. Don't look for local landmarks in this movie; it was shot in New Orleans. Also with Denis O'Hare, Steve Zahn, Dallas Roberts, Michael O'Neill, and Griffin Dunne.

Delivery Man (R) Vince Vaughn finds a new comedy act in Ken Scott's American remake of his own French-Canadian comedy Starbuck about a loser who discovers that a fertility clinic's malpractice has resulted in him fathering 533 kids in the early 1990s. The early going features some promising material with the hero playing fairy godmother to his kids, intervening in their lives without revealing his identity, but Scott suffers from a low attention span and takes the plot in a lot of different and equally unfruitful directions. However, Chris Pratt turns in an electric comic performance as the best friend, and the lost look that frequently comes into Vaughn's eyes lends pathos to the character of a guy who grasps how bad he is at life. Vaughn's career as a funny man may be salvageable yet. Also with Cobie Smulders, Bobby Moynihan, Simon Delaney, Andrzej Blumenfeld, Jack Reynor, Britt Robertson, Adam Chanler-Berat, Damian Young, and Bruce Altman.

Ender's Game (PG-13) After 28 years of fruitless attempts, Orson Scott Card's classic science-fiction novel is turned into this terrific-looking but rushed and choppy film starring Asa Butterfield (with the right mix of passion and chill) as a future kid whose prowess at strategy games may save Earth from being wiped out by a hostile alien race. Writer-director Gavin Hood ( X-Men Origins: Wolverine) fumbles the early going, with Ender's home life and his relations with the other kids in combat training all given the sketchiest of treatment. He does much better with the massive combat sequences, as well as Ender's dreams (animated by computers as if they're cut scenes from a video game) and a remarkable late encounter between Ender and the alien queen. Also with Harrison Ford, Hailee Steinfeld, Viola Davis, Abigail Breslin, Aramis Knight, Suraj Partha, Moises Arias, Nonso Anozie, and Ben Kingsley.

Frozen (PG) The best Disney musical in quite some time. Kristen Bell provides the voice of Anna, the orphaned younger daughter of the rulers of a fictitious Nordic kingdom who goes into the wilderness to persuade her older sister (voiced by Idina Menzel) to save their land from a curse of eternal winter. The songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez bring freshness and wit to the songs, and Bell not only finds the comedy in the socially awkward heroine but also unleashes her glorious soprano on "The First Time in Forever." The animators put the Ice Age movies to shame by doing endlessly inventive things with the ice and snow in the setting, and the script manages to create a heroine who's interested in more than just finding a handsome prince. Additional voices by Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Santino Fontana, Livvy Stubenrauch, Alan Tudyk, and Ciarán Hinds.

Gravity (PG-13) The greatest 3D movie ever made. Alfonso Cuarón's unremittingly intense space thriller stars Sandra Bullock as a novice astronaut who is caught outside the shuttle in a high-velocity storm of space debris and stranded in the blackness of space. The film is essentially a series of long takes, and Cuarón's shooting of them in a simulated zero-gravity environment is an astounding technical feat. Yet the long takes also give us no chance to catch our breath; they turn this brief 90-minute film into a singularly harrowing experience, with our heroine narrowly escaping death from completely unforeseen yet logical dangers. Bullock rides over the script's infelicities and gives this film a human center, helping to turn this movie into an exhilarating and emotionally draining ride. Also with George Clooney.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (PG-13) Everything that was ragged about the first movie has been smoothed over in this sequel containing the future adventures of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) as she has to fight to survive a special edition of the Hunger Games. Director Francis Lawrence (no relation to the lead actress) takes over the series and devotes time to the action before the Games and does a better job of integrating the special effects into the story, while the writers include more layers for the supporting characters and more material from Suzanne Collins' novel. The movie is missing a spark of greatness from the filmmakers, but Jennifer Lawrence picks up the slack, playing the shell-shocked heroine like her life depended on it. If the series can gather strength the way she's doing, it'll be formidable indeed. Also with Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Toby Jones, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Lynn Cohen, Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Last Vegas (PG-13) This mostly pleasant comedy stars Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline as three seniors who gather in Vegas to throw a bachelor party for their buddy (Michael Douglas) before his wedding. The movie runs on the easy rapport among the four veteran actors, plus a great-looking Mary Steenburgen as a lounge singer who tags along on the guys' misadventures. Some of the plotlines are wearisomely predictable (like Kline's character being given a free pass by his wife to cheat while he's in Vegas), but at least no one dies or has so much as a health scare and both Kline and Morgan Freeman score big laughs (check the scene when Freeman gets drunk on Red Bull vodkas). Also with Jerry Ferrara, Romany Malco, Roger Bart, Michael Ealy, Bre Blair, Joanna Gleason, and 50 Cent.

A Miracle in Spanish Harlem (PG) Luis Antonio Ramos stars in this Christmas film as a widower with a failing business who finds himself in need of a miracle. Also with Kate del Castillo, Adrian Martinez, Andre Royo, Priscilla Lopez, and Tony Plana.

Narco Cultura (R) Shaul Schwartz' documentary takes a potentially interesting subject (the phenomenon of narcocorrido music glorifying Mexican drug lords) and turns it into a needlessly depressing slog. The film switches back and forth between Richi Soto, an CSI investigator in Juárez who's overwhelmed by the city's thousands of murders, and Edgar Quintero, the clueless lead singer for the Los Angeles-based band BuKnas de Culiacán who wants to go to Mexico to soak up the atmosphere. The film is woefully incomplete, missing any meaningful comparison of this music to gangsta rap and failing to mention the musicians who've been murdered as part of the drug wars. Worse than that, it misses the myriad opportunities for gallows humor and satire that this subject presents. There's a better movie to be made from this.

Oldboy (R) For once, Spike Lee is unwilling to push the envelope, and that dooms his American remake of Park Chan-wook's 2005 Korean thriller. Josh Brolin portrays a bad man who's out to find and pay back the mysterious people who imprisoned him for 20 years in a fleabag motel room. In contrast with Park's high style, Lee films this in a middle style that mutes the raw emotions in the story and possibly results in Brolin's stolid, muted performance. Sharlto Copley makes a nicely grotesque villain and Elizabeth Olsen an alert and troubled sidekick and romantic interest, but this film doesn't have the original's streak of madness. Also with Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli, Pom Klementieff, James Ransone, Max Casella, Linda Emond, Lance Reddick, and Hannah Simone.

Philomena (PG-13) Based on a real-life story, this dramedy stars Judi Dench with an unsteady Irish accent as a woman who teams up with a down-on-his-luck English journalist (Steve Coogan) to travel to America to find the son she was forced to give up for adoption decades ago. Coogan's a well-known comedian in the U.K.; here, he does well in a more serious piece. He also wrote the script, and while he and director Stephen Frears make an effort to balance the humor with the more serious parts, it doesn't always come off. Still, the thing opens a window onto an ugly part of Irish history and does it with skill and a minimum amount of weepiness. Also with Sophie Kennedy Clark, Mare Winningham, Barbara Jefford, Anna Maxwell Martin, and Michelle Fairley.

Thor: The Dark World (PG-13) A bit of a bore, I'm afraid. Chris Hemsworth reprises his role as the Norse god who has to save the entire universe from being cast into darkness by a bunch of elves. Natalie Portman is dead weight in the romantic plotline, and the only dramatic juice in this movie comes from the machinations between Thor and his disgraced brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), whom he frees from prison to help defeat the elves. Director Alan Taylor (TV's Game of Thrones) conjures up a few clever bits, but mostly this superhero saga is lumbering and graceless. Also with Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård, Alice Krige, Chris O'Dowd, and uncredited cameos by Benicio del Toro and Chris Evans.

12 Years a Slave (R) Even more significant than Schindler's List. Steve McQueen's epic tells the story of Solomon Northup, a real-life free black New Yorker who was abducted in 1841 and forced to work as a slave on a Louisiana plantation. McQueen directs this with his typical austerity and rigor and pulls off an extraordinarily powerful long take in which Solomon (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is strung up from a tree branch and suspended on his tiptoes while the other slaves go about their work, afraid to offer help. Screenwriter John Ridley draws a vivid, panoramic view of all the twisted human specimens that the slave economy produces, and McQueen and his actors flesh them out beautifully, with a terrifying Michael Fassbender as a sadistic slavemaster and Ejiofor giving the performance of his career. This wrenching film is crucial to understanding America's heritage. Also with Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong'o, Paul Dano, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Michael K. Williams, Scoot McNairy, Taran Killam, Adepero Oduye, Garret Dillahunt, Alfre Woodard, Brad Pitt, and Quvenzhané Wallis.

Night Train to Lisbon (R) Bille August ( Pelle the Conqueror) adapts Pascal Mercier's novel about a Swiss professor (Jeremy Irons) who impulsively quits his job to travel to Portugal and discover the fate of an author and social activist. Also with Mélanie Laurent, Jack Huston, Martina Gedeck, Tom Courtenay, August Diehl, Bruno Ganz, Lena Olin, Charlotte Rampling, and Christopher Lee.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Firmware Friday: Panasonic GX7, Sigma SD1 updated; fix for Sigma lenses on Nikon D5300

<Nikon D5300 Couponsp>by Mike Tomkins

It's Firmware Friday time once more, and that means a quick wrapup of all that's new in the world of photo firmware. This week, we have updates to report on from both Panasonic and Sigma.

Sigma's updates include firmware both for cameras and lenses. We'll touch on the lens firmware first, as we'd reported earlier this week that this was on the way. It's intended to fix compatibility issues between the new Nikon D5300 camera body, and certain Sigma lenses which can be updated using the company's optional USB dock accessory.

If you own the dock, you can now update the following Sigma lenses to properly support focusing in live view mode. For OS lenses, the firmware also corrects issues with stabilization:

  • 17-70mm F2.8-4 DC MACRO OS HSM C013 NIKON
  • 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM A013 NIKON
  • 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A013 NIKON
  • 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A012 NIKON
  • 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S013 NIKON

To update your lens firmware, ensure you're running Sigma Optimization Pro version 1.1; if not, get a copy here.

Simultaneously, Sigma has also issued updated firmware for its Sigma SD1 digital SLR, as well as the closely-related Sigma SD1 Merrill. The new firmware follows on from an earlier version which was released at the end of October, and corrects one issue. If you've seen occasional noise around blown highlights in your SD1 images, the new version should fix this problem. Grab the update at the link below, depending on your camera body:

That wraps up Sigma's firmware update news, but we also have new firmware to report on from Panasonic.

Just a few days ago, we finalized our Panasonic GX7 review, naming the excellent little camera a Dave's Pick. Now, the company has made its mirrorless beauty even better, thanks to two small firmware tweaks. Flash output adjustment can now be assigned to the Function button on the camera's rear panel, making it easier to tame flash strength as needed without digging through the menu system. The company has also improved manual focus compatibility with the LUMIX G VARIO 12-32mm / F3.5-5.6 ASPH. / MEGA O.I.S. (H-FS12032) lens.

Grab the firmware update from Panasonic's Joint Update Service for Four Thirds Lenses page.

(Camera parts image courtesy of Kelly Hofer / Flickr; used under a Creative Commons CC-BY-2.0 license.)

Source: Imaging-resource

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Friday Week Camera Deals 2013 (UPDATED: Nikon D7000 with 18-140mm kit $800, Panasonic GH3 body now $898, Sony NEX-3N kit $400 and more!)

<Nikon D5300 Cheapp>by William Brawley

It's that time of year again, Black Friday. (Well, almost.) As we lead up to the biggest shopping day of the year, we're going to keep a running tally of the week's best camera and photo gear deals -- adding new ones as we find them and removing those that expire. We've also put together a list of pre-announced in-store and online deals for this Thursday and Friday so you can plan your holiday shopping accordingly. Keep this page bookmarked and check back often -- if last year is any indication, the deals should be good, plentiful and change quickly. Please let us know if you see a deal we've missed, or if something's expired or sold out.

Get the wallet out, credit card at the ready: It's deals time!


  • Nikon D800E with Nikon 28-300mm VR II lens - $3,897 (compare to $4,347) - Free Shipping
    Adorama has posted a series of Nikon Black Friday Deals, one being $450 off a Nikon D800E bundled with the Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR II lens for $3,896.96 with free shipping and 4% rewards. Read our Nikon D800E review for more details.
  • Canon 5D Mark III lens, printer, extras bundle - $3,977 (compare to $4,477) - Free Shipping
    Adorama has also posted a series of Canon Black Friday Deals including this big Canon 5D Mark III bundle that includes the Canon 24-105mm lens, Canon PIXMA PRO-100, 50-pack of printer paper, 32GB SD card, a camera bag and a free Adorama VIP membership for $3,977.32 after a $100 instant rebate and a $400 mail-in rebate (PDF). Read our Canon 5D Mark III review for more details.
  • Nikon D7000 with 18-140mm VR lens - $799 (compare to $1,600) - Free Shipping
    Best Buy has the Nikon D7000 with 18-140mm VR lens kit for just $799 with free shipping after using the "D7000DEAL" promo code to get a massive $800 off! Read our Nikon D7000 review for more details.
  • Pentax Q7 zoom lens kits - $399.95 (compare to $500)
    It'sDay 2 of Ricoh's 12 Days 12 Deals holiday countdown. From Ricoh's online store, get a Pentax Q7 zoom lens kits for $399.95 plus shipping. Choose from Black, Silver or Yellow colors. Read our Pentax Q7 preview for more details.


  • Save up to $300 on qualifying Sony Alpha cameras - Free Shipping
    Amazon has a promotion for $300 of instant savings on Sony Alpha DSLR cameras. Get the Sony A58 with 18-55mm lens kit for $448 (compare to $600), the Sony A65 body for $498 (compare to $700) or the Sony A77 with 18-135mm lens kit for $1,098 (compare to $1,700). See the promo page for all the details. Read our Sony A58 review, Sony A65 review and Sony A77 review for more details.
  • PRICE DROP: Fuji X-A1 with 16-50mm lens kit - $500 (compare to $600) - Free Shipping
    AtB&H and Amazon, the Fuji X-A1 with 16-50mm lens kit in blue or black is only $499.95 with free shipping and a free SanDisk 16GB SD memory card. Read our Fuji X-A1 review for more details.
  • Save 15 - 25% Off at the Canon Refurbished Store
    TheCanon Store is running big discount promotion now for 15 - 25% off select refurbished DSLRs, lenses and flashes. For instance, grab a Canon Rebel SL1 + EF-S 18-55 IS STM kit for $450, a Canon 7D body for $960, or a Canon 50mm f/1.4 for $272. Check out the full listing of cameras, lenses and flashes for the latest tally of all in-stock items.
    Read ourCanon SL1 review, Canon 7D review, Canon 50mm f/1.4 review for more details.
  • New Nikon DSLR bundle instant rebates - Free Shipping
    AtB&H and Amazon, Nikon has started a new round of DSLR bundle instant rebates. Save up to $600 on Nikon DSLRs when you bundle lenses and speedlights. For example, get $400 off you buy the 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Zoom Lens with either the Nikon D7100 body or D7100 with 18-135mm kit or get $350 off the new 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens when purchased with the Nikon D610 body or D610 + 24-85mm lens kit. See the promotion pages at B&H and Amazon for full details. Promotion is set to end on Nov. 30. Read our Nikon D7100 review, Nikon D610 preview (and Nikon D600 review) and Nikon lens reviews for more details.
  • Instant Savings on Fuji lenses with X-Series cameras - Free Shipping
    Fuji has also started a new round of bundle savings at Amazon for instant discounts and free accessories on seven different Fuji X-mount lenses when purchased with an X-series camera like the Fuji X-Pro1, X-E1, X-M1 (including body-only and kit configurations). Note that some of the cameras themselves are also discount such as the Fuji X-E1 has been reduced to $700 for body-only or $1000 with the 18-55mm kit. Depending on the lens, you can get up to $200 off with a qualifying camera purchase. Check out the special promo page at Amazon for full details. Deal set to expire on Dec. 24. Read our Fuji X-Pro1 review, Fuji X-E1 review, Fuji X-M1 review and Fuji lens reviews for more details.

(includes current pre-holiday sales and any upcoming online or in-store deals we find)

  • Adorama
  • B&H
  • Amazon
  • Best Buy (In-stores only, starting Thursday)
    • Canon T3i with 18-55mm kit (review) - $550
        with bundled 55-200mm lens, 32GB SD card, bag - $750
    • Canon Rebel T3 with 18-55mm kit + free bag (review) - $400 (compare to $450)
        with bundled 75-300mm lens + free 16GB SD card - $449.96
    • Nikon D7000 (review) - $800
        with bundled 55-300mm VR lens, 32GB SD card, bag - $1,100
    • Nikon D3200 with 18-55mm lens & 55-200mm lens bundle + case, SD card (review) - $500
    • Nikon Coolpix P520 (review) - $300
        with bundled extra battery, 8GB SD card, bag - $340
    • Canon PowerShot A2500 Red or Silver + Case & SD card (preview) - $80
    • Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 HS + Case & Memory Card Bundle (preview) - $130
    • Canon PowerShot SX280 (preview) - $200
  • Costco
  • Target (in-stores, starts Thursday)
  • Ricoh (online)


  • Pentax K-5IIs body + free sling bag - $899.95 (compare to $1,000)
    It's Day 1 of Ricoh's 12 Days 12 Deals holiday countdown. From Ricoh's online store, get a Pentax K-5IIs body and a free sling bag for $899.95 plus shipping. Read our Pentax K-5IIs review for more details.
  • Refurbished Canon PowerShot S100 bundle - $195 (compare to $320 new) - Free Shipping
    Today only! The Canon Store has a Refurbished Canon PowerShot S100 in silver (black is out of stock) bundled with a Deluxe Leather Case and a 4GB SDHC Class 4 DANE-ELEC SD card all for $194.97 with free shipping. Read our Canon PowerShot S100 review for more details.

If one of these cameras is on your must-have list, don't hesitate -- these deals aren't likely to last long! And if none of these tickle your fancy, be sure to check back often.

See a great camera deal out there that we missed? Or found one that we've listed has expired or sold out? Let us know by posting in the comments section below, and we'll update our story!

Source: Imaging-resource

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

New And Exclusive Micro-Site Content

ePHOTOzine's Micro-Site Roundup - Find out what's been happening on our five Micro-Sites.


Here's a roundup of the exclusive content we've got for you to have a read of on our five micro-sites this week:

On PENTAXPORTAL this week, you can take a look at some top tips for photographing seals with your Pentax camera, and check out some top Pentax sunset photos. Plus, the brand new K-3 DSLR has been reviewed on site this week, and there's news of new images from Ricoh Imaging brand ambassadors.

Over On EIZO ColorZone, you can learn how to perform a monitor viewing angle check and find out why ColorNavigator software is a great tool for aiding calibration. Plus, there's news of a new 3D CG colour management handbook that's now available.

Meanwhile, on Olympus Image Space this week, there are techniques on how to use blur creatively, and there's news on Olympus workshops taking place over the coming months with Damian McGillicuddy and Steve Gosling. Plus, news on the Olympus Impressions 'Fall' competition, and £100 accessory cashback when you buy an Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera have also gone live.

On Totally Tamron this week, you can learn some top tips for taking better photos of ice with your Tamron lens, plus there are some top Tamron portrait photos for you to take a look at. Don't forget to take a look at David Pritchard's blog the days zoom past, too, as he's been out-and-about with his newly acquired Tamron 24-70mm lens.

Last but not least, on Nikon Nation this week, you can check out some ideas and tips for on location portrait shoots, get creative with colour balance and lots more. Plus, don't miss the Nikon D5300 Cyber Monday Deal DSLR review and news of ono-to one training with Nikon School in December.

Make sure you check back to the Micro-Sites regularly, as new and exclusive content is posted weekly!

Source: Ephotozine

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Firmware Friday: Nikon cameras get better battery life; Canon updates Cinema EOS series but pulls one patch

<Nikon D5300 Black Friday Dealp>by Mike Tomkins

For this week's Firmware Friday update, we have news of firmware tweaks for nine cameras from Canon and Nikon, although two of Canon's updates have since been pulled due to issues. We'll start with Nikon, whose updates are for cameras most of us can afford. In all, the company has updated five DSLRs -- the D3100, D3200, D5100, and D5200 -- and its P7700 enthusiast compact.

For all five cameras, Nikon has officially added support for its EN-EL14a battery pack, a swap-in replacement for the EN-EL14 that shipped in the product bundle, offering greater charge density. The EN-EL14a is a 1,230mAh / 8.9Wh pack, as compared to the 1,030mAh / 7.7Wh of the EN-EL14.

Until now, you could use the EN-EL14a in all five cameras, but they wouldn't extract its full battery life since they didn't recognize the EN-EL14's updated variant. With the updates below, each camera will now extract the full battery life from the newer pack, resulting in a handy increase in the number of shots captured. The following table lists the battery life improvement for each model:

Definitely a good reason to update your firmware, and switch to EN-EL14a cells when next buying spare batteries for your camera. Get the new firmware at the links below:

Canon, meanwhile, has delivered the updates it promised for its Cinema EOS cameras back in September and October. Unfortunately, one of the updates has had to be withdrawn after just two days, due to reports of color balance issues. That means Canon EOS C300 and C300PL owners will need to wait just a little longer to get access to the new features, of which there are many.

Owners of the Cinema EOS C100, though, can get all the goodies immediately. Among the new features are peripheral lens correction for seven Cinema and eleven EF lenses, increased ISO sensitivity to ISO 80,000 equivalent, and a record button lock function. Firmware version for the Canon C100 also adds the ability to move the magnified view area to check focus of off-center subjects, and to navigate menus using the camera's buttons if the joystick is detached. Get more details on the Canon C100 update here.

And last, but not least, we come to the Canon EOS-1D C, also part of the Cinema EOS lineup. Here, the changes are more straightforward: Firmware version 1.3.4 makes but two changes. The camera can now store lens metadata in its videos for Canon EF-mount Cinema lenses, and supports them for Peripheral Illumination and Chromatic Aberration Correction functions. Canon has also added an optional line-level audio input mode for the 3.5mm audio input in the 1D C, in addition to the existing microphone input mode. Get more details on the Canon EOS-1D C update here.

(Camera parts image courtesy of Kelly Hofer / Flickr; used under a Creative Commons CC-BY-2.0 license.)

Source: Imaging-resource

Nikon D5300 RELEASED - Specs, Price Availibility: First Nikon Model With Wi-Fi For Single-Lens Reflex Camera Design

<Nikon D5300 Offersp>Nikon has just released its brand new D5300 DSL camera, where the Wi-Fi feature in this model is a first for the company in single-lens reflex camera design, according to Gadget Review.

The latest model of the DX-format DSLR has 24.2 megapixels, a DX-format CMOS sensor with no optical low-pass filter, built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, a built-in GPS, a durable light body, a 3.2-inch 1037k-dot vari-angle LCCD monitor with wide viewing angle, NAL-1 features for zoom/focus assist, and more.

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It also has a full-HD 1920x1080/60p capability for movies, where selection can range from 24, 25, 30,50, and 60p. There are also 9 special effects for creative expression.

As previously reported, Nikon Rumors reports that the Nikon D5300 is expected to be introduced before the Photo Plus show in NYC at the end of the month or the CES show in Las Vegas in January.

It is reported that this will be the first camera to get the new EXPEED 4 processor. Some other rumored specs include 24 Megapixels, 39 AF points, built-in Wi-Fi and built-in GPS.

Photography Bay reports that the D530 will be introduced as an entry-level APS-C format camera. There are no reports yet of whether or not it will have better image quality over the D5200, but it would make sense to add additional video features to the D5300.

The price is $799 for the body only, where it is available in black, red, and a Nikon gray finish.

Source: Designntrend

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nikon D5300 hands-on review

Nikon Nikon D5300 Discount at a glance:

  • 24.2-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
  • 1.037-million-dot, 3.2in, 170° LCD screen
  • Expeed 4 image processor
  • 39-point AF system with nine cross-type sensors
  • ISO 100-25,600
  • Price £730 body only
  • See product shots of the Nikon D5300

Nikon D5300 - Introduction

While the serious enthusiast is unlikely to be swayed into buying a Nikon DSLR over a Canon model purely because the Nikon camera is newer, the reality is that at the non-premium end of the market this is how some people make their buying decisions. 'Newer' must mean 'better'.

This demand for the 'new' explains why we see such short product cycles in the camera market, and why manufacturers feel the need to introduce even small advances in technology or feature sets in cameras with completely new names - rather than a 'Mark II' type of naming format.

Those familiar with Nikon's range of DSLRs may not see the sense in the company's introduction of the new D5300, especially as Nikon will maintain the D5200 alongside this model in the range - new and old together. By doing so, though, Nikon expands the number of cameras it has on offer and the number of price points it can cover, while also being able to have a model that can carry a 'New' sticker, and which introduces new features to the price band in which it will sit.

That's not to say that the Nikon D5300 isn't different to the D5200, though, as a new processor, new body design and the integration of wireless communications do genuinely bring additional benefits to the photographer.

Nikon D5300 - Design and handling

Nikon is very pleased that it has achieved a new way of constructing camera bodies, which it describes as a 'monocoque'. Instead of there being a chassis, onto which the components and the body shell are attached, the D5300 is designed to have everything screwed to the insides of the body form itself: exoskeleton, rather then the usual endoskeleton.

Image: The top of the camera houses only a few control points, keeping the layout simple and unintimidating for newcomers. A stereo microphone lives in front of the hotshoe

The D5300's body shell is also made of a new material, although Nikon won't say what that new material is - just that it is new. The upshot is that the body is less heavy than it might have been, and is 25g lighter, including the battery, than the camera it doesn't replace, the D5200.

I'm not entirely sure that when I used the camera I could appreciate the exact weight loss that has occurred, but I was able to enjoy the fact that this is truly a lightweight DSLR, of the type that we might not mind carrying all day, over the shoulder, in a bag or in a large pocket. The body is very small too, although it is balanced with a reassuringly large grip for the right hand. It seems ironic that a small and light camera should need a large grip, but I found it allowed me to be aware I was carrying the camera, and should a larger lens be attached it will help to support the forward pull of such a weight distribution.

Image: The body styling will be familiar to those used to the Nikon 5000 series, as will the standard menu. The 3.2in flip-out screen has impressive visibility

The buttons are arranged much as one might expect, with all the principal controls falling easily to the finger or thumb. The rear 3.2in LCD is very nicely bright and clear, with its 1.037-million-dot resolution. Nikon has set the viewing panel into the glass screen, so there are no gaps or internal reflections, which produces good contrast and a clear view from a quoted angled of up to 170°. I am impressed.

In live view, the screen works well when the camera is held low or high, and I found the AF quick enough and seemingly accurate. The response of the shutter in live view also seems good.

Image: Nikon has retained its choice of layouts for the rear-screen display, with text-based and graphically expressed options to suit personal preferences

Nikon D5300 - Still to test

The principal changes in this model are of the sort that will only be proved in testing, but at this stage their potential is worth pointing out. Using the higher-capacity Expeed 4 processor, Nikon claims it has been able to reduce noise in its images through the use of more complicated calculations. A related benefit is that now noise levels are lower the company is comfortable offering a higher ISO setting - the Nikon D5300 allows ratings of up to ISO 25,600. More complex calculations also provide the potential for better white balance assessment in automatic modes via a more comprehensive assessment of the scene, and a better rendition of colour overall.

Lower noise should also lead to better resolution of detail from the 24.2-million-pixel sensor, as should Nikon's decision to do without the micro-blurring effects of a low-pass (anti-aliasing) filter. Leaving the low-pass filter off the sensor has become very fashionable, and I suspect it will be a great draw for many photographers. Moiré in images created by a sensor with 24 million pixels, even an APS-C-sized sensor, is still something that is quite likely to occur, but there is also plenty of software to correct it after the event.

The other thing to note is that this model sees the introduction of a new battery cell, which Nikon says increases capacity from 500 shots to 600 compared to the cell used in the D5200. It annoys me when companies change their battery forms, but on this occasion the new cell and that used in the D5200 are interchangeable.

Obviously, I couldn't test the battery life of the camera, but we should take the increase as good news. I will also have to wait to test the Wi-Fi and GPS capabilities of this new model, but neither can be held as negative points just for their inclusion. The Wi-Fi integration means users will be able to control the camera from an Android or iOS device, and will be able to wirelessly transfer images for viewing, editing and sending while on the go.

Image: The new battery, which is backwards compatible with the D5200, offers a longer life. There is no low-pass filter on the sensor, for extra resolution

Nikon D5300 - Conclusion

It would be easy to dismiss the Nikon D5300 for being too similar to the D5200, but that really isn't the point. There is not much wrong with the D5200, and the changes that this new model brings can only make it better. Perhaps Nikon could have called it the D5200 ll, but I'm not sure it matters one bit.

The Nikon D5300 will cost around £730 body only and be available from 14 November.

Source: Amateurphotographer

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nikon D5300 specs, features, and price

<Nikon D5300 Couponsimg src="">

TOKYO - Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce the release of the D5300, the first Nikon DX-format digital SLR camera to offer built-in Wi-Fi and GPS functions.

The Nikon D5300 will be available November-mid onwards across India in Black, Red and Grey color variants at an MRP of Rs. 54,450 for the body only, Rs. 59,950 with 18-55mm VR lens, and Rs. 75,950 with 18-140mm VR lens.

The Nikon D5300 features an effective pixel count of 24.2-megapixels and a Nikon DX-format CMOS sensor. Measuring 125 x 98 x 76 mm (4.9 x 3.9 x 3 inches) and weighing 530 g (1 lb 2.7 oz) the D5300 is slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor.

The D5300′s built-in Wi-Fi connectivity feature can be used for transmitting images to a smart device for sharing as well as for remote shooting.

Built-in GPS also means images can be geotagged with latitude, longitude, and altitude data, without the use of external adapters. Full HD 1080p video can now also be recorded at 60/50 fps and a new pentamirror increases viewfinder magnification to approx. 0.82x.

Speaking on the announcement, Hiroshi Takashina, Managing Director, Nikon India said that the D5300 features Nikon's latest innovative technologies, allowing users to instantly shoot, store and share images.

Sajjan Kumar, Vice President-Imaging, Nikon India, elaborated explaining that It's also been upgraded to use the Nikon EXPEED 4 image processing engine which enables a larger ISO range of 100 to 12,800 (expandable to 25,600 equivalent) though the camera still has a top continuous burst speed of 5 frames per second.

Source: Associatednews

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nikon D5300 First Look Preview

<Nikon D5300 Dealsp>It's just under a year ago since we witnessed the arrival
of the D5200 and Nikon has announced the Nikon D5300. Slotting in above the D5200 in the Nikon line-up, the D5300 is designed to appeal to aspiring users looking to upgrade from a compact, as well as what Nikon terms 'networkers', which hints at its Wi-fi functionality, but more on that shortly.

While it shares a virtually identical resolution to the D5200, Nikon claims the 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor inside the D5300 is newly developed and like its big brother the D7100, the sensor does away for the need of an anti-aliasing filter for improved sharpness.

New EXPEED 4 image processor

The D5300 is the first Nikon DSLR to feature the EXPEED 4 image processor, improving the performance of the camera in a number of areas over its predecessor, including better Auto White Balance control and ISO performance at higher sensitivities - the D5300 sports a native ISO range up to ISO 12,800, but can be expanded to an ISO equivalent of ISO 25,600.

One of the strengths of the D5200 is its relatively sophisticated AF system, and it's no surprise to see the 39-point Multi-CAM 4800DX unit transfer across to the D5300. We've been impressed with its performance in the past, particularly the 3D tracking system that's linked to the D5300's Scene Recognition System to cleverly track your subject across the frame, so it shouldn't through up any nasty surprises on the D5300.

Interestingly though, where Canon has made efforts to improve the live view AF performance of the EOS 700D by adding phase-detect photosites onto the sensor, the D5300 continues to rely solely on contrast-detect AF during live view and video capture. We'd have welcomed some innovation here from Nikon or at least built-in phase-detect photosites on the sensor as this in the past where some Nikon DSLRs have struggled - not only against the likes of the 700D, but the growing range of system camera rivals too.

Wi-fi Connectivity

With the trend for built-in Wi-fi connectivity increasing on new cameras, it's nice to finally see a Nikon DSLR offering this built-in functionality, rather than as a optional accessory as we've seen with both the D3200 and D5200 for example. Expect easy transfer of images from the camera to your iOS or Android device via the dedicated free Nikon App to share in social networking sites, as well as offering the ability to remotely shoot, with feed from the D5300 transmitted to your smart-device.

At the rear of the camera, the vari-angle screen remains, but increases in size to 3.2in with an aspect ratio of 3:2 and a boosted resolution of 1037k-dots. Curiously, while touchscreen functionality is becoming more wide-spread on cameras in this sector, the D5300 goes without.

There's also a dedicated HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode that captures two images in quick succession at different exposures before merging them together in a single image with a much broad range of shadow and highlight detail compared to a single exposure. The Active D-Lighting mode has also been tinkered with, now with a specific Portrait mode to balance the exposure.

As the D5300 is likely to be used as a dual-role camera for both stills and movies, you'll find Full HD 1080p video capture at either 60/50p, while there's a built-in stereo microphone too.

Nikon revealed that the D5300 is based around a new monocoque construction that does away with the need for a separate chassis and is formed from a new material that Nikon remained tight-lipped on on what it actually was. That said, if you've handled a D5200, you'd be hard-pushed to differentiate the look and feel of the D5300 once in the hand.

First Thoughts

While we've seen a fair bit of innovation recently across the market, Nikon plays it much safer with the D5300. Looking at the specification and at first glance at least, appears to be a suitable upgrade of the D5200,though there are still some areas that we feel need attention if it wants to be the best there is for the aspiring photographer. We can't make any real judgements though until we've gott our hands on a final production sample to find out how it really performs.

The Nikon D5300 is expected to be available mid-November
with a body-only price of £729, and a kit price of £829 with the 18-55mm VR lens.

Watch our First Look video preview:

Source: Whatdigitalcamera

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Westgate-area shops celebrate travel on the open road again

<easy halloween cupcakesp>SECOR STREET PARTY SET FOR SATURDAY

Kathy Nagypaul in her shop, Creative Cupcakes is among the business owners promoting the Secor Open Road Party in the Westgate area to celebrate the end of the thoroughfare's reconstruction.

Kathy Nagypaul picked a challenging time to open a bake shop on Secor Road this summer.

Her business, Creative Cupcakes, began operation while the thoroughfare was halfway through its major reconstruction.

"I just opened up four months ago. I need all the help I can get," Ms. Nagypaul said.

"I moved in right in the middle of everything."

Her business is among those planning to participate in Saturday's "Secor Open Road Party," a festival to entice customers who may have been discouraged from patronizing them because of the orange barrels - and occasionally, detour signs - that beset Secor between Central Avenue and Monroe Street from mid-March through late July.

Creative Cupcakes, 3344 Secor, will provide gift certificates as prizes for a Halloween costume contest and parade that starts at 2 p.m., three hours into an event scheduled for 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.

Other highlights include a bean-bag toss tournament and music from country-and-western singer-songwriter Josh Thompson.

"I hope it's very helpful for me," said Ms. Nagypaul, who said business "is getting better every day."

Next door at Scrambler Marie, the restaurant's manager, Dan Hohenbrink, estimated a construction-related loss at $3,000 to $4,000 per week.

"Anything to get people to come back to Secor would be great," he said.

Free, wheelchair-accessible shuttle buses will operate along Secor between Dorr Street and Alexis Road.

The festival's lead co-sponsors include The Blade, Sears, and the city of Toledo.

Secor Road in the Westgate area is open again after months of construction work that finished early but still hampered trade at the stores and restaurants along the stretch.

"We are celebrating the area being open to traffic, and the patience of the businesses who waited through the construction period,"said Mike Mori, an event organizer and advertising director at The Blade.

Home Depot, Sears, and Westgate Village Shopping Center will provide prizes.

During a $5.4 million project that started in March, a 12-inch water main nearly a century old was replaced, followed by Secor's complete reconstruction between Central Avenue and Monroe Street.

The construction reduced the busy street, normally five to six lanes, to one lane each way plus a left-turn lane.

One phase required closing Secor's I-475 interchange ramps for nearly two weeks; another forced all traffic at Secor and Central to turn right while the middle of the intersection was rebuilt.

Geddis Paving & Excavating, the project contractor, got major work completed more than three months ahead of the city's Nov. 1 deadline.

Finishing touches put the work's official conclusion in early September.

Geddis is to receive a 10 percent bonus for finishing early.

Mr. Hohenbrink said the street work was "definitely worth it."

Having a smooth street "will be better for us in the long run," he said.

Secor had been rebuilt between Monroe and Laskey Road in 2009.

At the festival, Geddis Paving will display some of its heavy equipment and offer a photo booth.

The Toledo Fire Department will exhibit a ladder truck and its safety house, the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library will send its Cybermobile, and the children's area will include a pumpkin patch, rides, and a replica of Baru, the Toledo Zoo's Australian crocodile.

Children ages 2 to 12 will be eligible to participate in the Halloween parade and enter the costume contest. Prizes will be awarded for the cutest, scariest, and most inventive costumes.

Registration for the bean-bag toss tournament, to be next to the music tent, will start at 11 a.m. The tournament is limited to 32 teams in two divisions. A collegiate division will be open to players with valid college identification, while an open division will accept anyone age 18 or older.

Collegiate-division winning teams will receive flat-screen televisions, and $500 Home Depot gift cards will be awarded to the open-division winning players.

Live music will start at 4 p.m. with Bruce Sims and The Jam Band, with Mr. Thompson to take the stage at 8 p.m.

Three songs from his 2010 debut album, Way Out Here, were Top 40 country hits, and Mr. Thompson also is expected to perform his new single, "Cold Beer With Your Name On It," during the show.

Contact David Patch at:

or 419-724-6094.

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Source: Toledoblade

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S 4 Wallet Cases Now Available

<5s iphone cases otterbox pink xbox 360p>OtterBox's Commuter Series Wallet Case is now available for the iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S 4. The protective wallet case is equipped with a sliding drawer that can hold up to three cards and extra cash. The drawer features an audible click closure system so you'll always know that your personal items are safely secure.

The case also includes an interior slip cover to protect against bumps and falls, a sleek exterior shell that easily fits into your pocket, and a self-adhesive screen protector that guards against scratches and smudges.

The OtterBox wallet case for the iPhone 5s and Galaxy S 4 is now available from for $45. It is comes in black, glacier and primrose.

Here is a video of the case in action.

Source: Iphonefaq

Monday, October 14, 2013

Nightmare in Maryville, Mo.: Teens' sexual encounter ignites a firestorm against family

MARYVILLE, Mo. * There wasn't much left by the time she arrived, just a burnt-out structure and the haze of smoke that lingered around it.

The siding and gutters had melted. The roof was gone. Inside, piles of ash filled the rooms that had once bustled with the pleasant sounds of a family.

That morning last April when Melinda Coleman received word that emergency vehicles were gathering around her Maryville house, she had hoped for the best.

But if the events of the past year and a half had taught her anything, it was that when the town of Maryville was involved, that seemed unlikely.

Since the morning her daughter had been left nearly unconscious in the frost of the home's front lawn, this northwest Missouri community had come to mean little besides heartache.

Few dispute the basic facts of what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 8, 2012: A high school senior had sex with Coleman's 14-year-old daughter, another boy did the same with her daughter's 13-year-old friend, and a third student video-recorded one of the bedding scenes. Interviews and evidence initially supported the felony and misdemeanor charges that followed.

Yet, two months later, the Nodaway County prosecutor dropped the felony 5s iphone cases purse against the youths, one the grandson of a longtime area political figure.

The incident sparked outrage in the community, though the worst of it was directed not at the accused perpetrators but at a victim and her family. In the months that followed, Coleman lost her job, and her children were routinely harassed. When it became too much, they left, retreating east to Albany.

Coleman had hoped the move would allow them to heal in peace, that the 40 miles separating the towns would be enough to put an end to their bitter saga.

Now, though, as she stared at the charred remains of her house, the distance didn't seem nearly enough.

Three years ago, when the Colemans arrived in Maryville from Albany, there was plenty to like about their new hometown.

The 12,000-population city, tucked into an expansive stretch of farmland along Missouri's northern border, offered an idyllic setting. It was, like many small towns, close-knit, with an old-fashioned town square and a passion for high school football. The kind of place where down-home values still reigned and you couldn't stop by the local Hy-Vee or A&G Restaurant without running into a familiar face.

For a family still struggling with the effects of a tragedy, it represented a fresh start.

Just three years earlier, Coleman's physician husband, Michael, had been on his way to watch his son compete in a wrestling tournament when his truck skidded on a patch of black ice and careened into a ravine. Two of the couple's children - Daisy and Logan, ages 9 and 10 at the time - escaped through a back window. Michael didn't survive.

Hardly a day went by, it seemed, without driving past his old medical practice or the place where the wreck had occurred. Months after the death, well-meaning friends still introduced Melinda, a veterinarian, as "Dr. Coleman's widow." Even the family's home, a Victorian they had spent a decade renovating, served as a reminder of what had been lost.

And so, midway through the 2009-10 school year, Coleman decided to relocate.

"Even though it was sad to leave, in some ways it was a huge weight off our shoulders," she says now. "Just to be anonymous, in a way."

For the most part, the family settled nicely into its new surroundings. Charlie, the oldest son, became a three-sport athlete at Maryville High, eventually earning a baseball scholarship to Baker University. Logan, two years younger, was an accomplished wrestler with a good group of friends, and Tristan, the youngest, was everyone's pet.

And then there was Daisy.

Pretty and blond, she had grown up competing in beauty pageants, amassing a dresserful of trophies. Though slower than her brothers to assimilate, midway through her freshman year at Maryville High, she seemed to be finding her place.

A member of the school's cheerleading team, she was already part of the varsity squad that performed at boys basketball games. Her grades, her mother says, were nearly all A's, and she had begun to make friends as part of a local dance team.

And she'd recently captured the attention of a popular senior football player, a 17-year-old with whom she had begun texting.

His name was Matthew Barnett, and for a girl still trying to make her way in a new place, the attention was flattering.

Jan. 7, 2012, was a Saturday night, and Daisy spent it the way she spent most weekend evenings - with her best friend, a 13-year-old girl she had grown up with in Albany.

During a typical sleepover, the girls played music, made dance videos or watched movies.

On this night, however, their activities were a bit more brazen.

In Daisy's bedroom closet was a stash of alcohol from which both girls sipped. As they passed the night talking and watching TV, Daisy also texted with Barnett.

Barnett played defensive end for Maryville High School's vaunted football team, the Spoofhounds, and came from a prominent Maryville family - his grandfather had been a longtime member of the Missouri House of Representatives. Tall and handsome, Barnett had a scraggly beard and a reputation as a guy who liked to have a good time, the latter bolstered by an arrest for drunken driving.

Daisy had come to know him through Charlie; in fact, Barnett had been among the boys piled into the Coleman living room just a few days earlier, watching football on the big screen as Melinda served up chili and snacks. The two boys were football teammates, and while Charlie liked Barnett well enough, he was also wary. Enough that, upon discovering his sister was texting with the senior, he tried to put an end to it.

"I told her to stay clear of that kid," Charlie remembers. "But honestly, what teenage kid wants to (listen to) her older brother?"

At some point that Saturday evening, the texting condensed into a plan.

Shortly after midnight, Coleman went in to check on the girls and found them watching a movie in Daisy's bedroom.

Around 1 a.m., the teens slipped out a bedroom window and were met by Barnett and another boy, who drove them three miles to the Barnett house.

When they arrived, sneaking in through a basement window, the girls found themselves among some of the school's most popular student-athletes. In addition to Barnett, there was junior Jordan Zech, a top wrestler and all-state linebacker; a senior football and tennis player whose family owned the popular A&G Restaurant; a third junior football player; and a 15-year-old who knew the group through an older sibling.

None of the teens commented for this story. Normally, The Star does not identify victims of alleged sexual abuse, but this case is widely known in Maryville, and Coleman allowed her daughter's name to be used in The Star, as well as an earlier KCUR broadcast, to bring attention to the case. She also provided copied investigative records that had been sealed by authorities.

In those records, Daisy alleges that after she arrived, Barnett handed her a large glass filled with alcohol. The boys urged her drink it and then a second glass too, she related later to her mother.

That, she would tell police, was the last thing she remembers.

The sun hadn't yet risen the next morning when Coleman, groggy from a sleep interrupted, made her way toward the living room.

She had woken moments earlier to the sound of scratching at the front door - the dogs, she figured, had gotten out - and grudgingly went to investigate.

Instead, she found Daisy, sprawled on the front porch and barely conscious.

The low temperature in the area that day was listed at 22 degrees, and the teen had spent roughly three hours outside, wearing only a T-shirt and sweatpants. Her hair was frozen. Scattered across an adjacent lot were her daughter's purse, shoes and cellphone.

Coleman tried to process what she was seeing. Daisy had a history of sleepwalking - years earlier, she had wandered outside. Had she done it again? In her daughter's bedroom, Coleman found the 13-year-old asleep. She, too, seemed confused.

Still struggling to make sense of it all, Coleman carried her daughter to the bathroom, to be undressed for a warm bath.

That's when she saw the redness around her daughter's genitalia and buttocks. It hurt, the girl said, when Coleman asked about it. Then she began crying.

"Immediately," Coleman says, "I knew what had happened."

Coleman called 911, which directed her to St. Francis Hospital in Maryville, where, according to Daisy's medical report, doctors observed small vaginal tears indicative of recent sexual penetration. The 13-year-old also ended up at St. Francis.

It wasn't until a captain of the Nodaway County Sheriff's Office arrived at the hospital for one-on-one interviews with each girl, however, that the full picture of the night's events began to emerge.

While the last Daisy remembered was drinking "a big glass of clear stuff," the 13-year-old's recollections proved more useful.

The younger girl, who admitted drinking that night but denied doing so after arriving at Barnett's, said she went into a bedroom with the 15-year-old boy, who was an acquaintance. He is unidentified in this article because his case was handled in juvenile court, but sheriff's records include his interview, in which he said that although the girl said "no" multiple times, he undressed her, put a condom on and had sex with her.

When the two returned to the basement's common area, the 13-year-old said, Barnett emerged from another room and asked if the girls were ready to go home. She said Daisy was unable to speak coherently and had to be carried from the bedroom.

Around 2 a.m., the girls were driven back to the Coleman house, where, the 13-year-old said, the boys told her to go on inside, saying they would watch over Daisy outside until she sobered up.

The younger girl also offered a significant detail, one later reiterated in the interviews of at least three of the boys.

As Daisy was carried to the car, she was crying.

One by one that Sunday morning, the boys were rounded up and brought to the Nodaway County Sheriff's Office for questioning.

Barnett, who was arrested and charged with sexual assault, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, admitted to having sex with Daisy and to being aware that she had been drinking. He insisted the sex was consensual.

Barnett was not charged with statutory rape, as that Missouri law generally applies in cases when a victim is under 14 years old or the perpetrator is over 21. But felony statutes also define sex as non-consensual when the victim is incapacitated by alcohol.

Hospital tests around 9 a.m., roughly seven hours after her last imbibing, showed Daisy's blood alcohol content still at 0.13.

In addition to admitting his own sexual encounter with the younger girl, according to the sheriff's office report, the 15-year-old said the boys had left Daisy "outside sitting in 30-degree weather" - even more dangerous with a high alcohol level in the bloodstream.

From him, the lawmen also learned that Barnett and Daisy's encounter had been captured with an iPhone. That led to 17-year-old Zech's felony charge of sexual exploitation of a minor. Records show that after initially declining to answer questions, Zech said he had used a friend's phone to record some of the encounter. He said, however, that he thought Barnett and the girl were only "dry humping," a term commonly used to describe rubbing together clothed. Another teen, however, told police the video featured both Barnett and Daisy with their pants down.

By midafternoon Sunday, a search warrant for the Barnett home resulted in the seizure of a blanket, bedsheets, a pair of panties found on a bedroom floor, a bottle of Bacardi Big Apple and plastic bottles of unidentified liquids. The sheriff's office also seized three cellphones, including the iPhone allegedly used by Zech.

Sexual assault cases can be difficult to build because of factors such as a lack of physical evidence or inconsistent statements by witnesses. But by the time his department had concluded its investigation, Sheriff Darren White felt confident the office had put together a case that would "absolutely" result in prosecutions.

"Within four hours, we had obtained a search warrant for the house and executed that," White told The Star. "We had all of the suspects in custody and had audio/video confessions.

"I would defy the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department to do what we did and get it wrapped up as nicely as we did in that amount of time."

News of the case shocked the town. Initially, sympathy was expressed for the girls and their families.

"We're very lucky," the sheriff told the newspaper in nearby St. Joseph. "It was very cold, in the 30s, and people die laying out in the cold like that."

He also asked residents to keep gossip and unfounded allegations to themselves, as it could hinder the case.

A sizable contingent stood by the accused athletes, however, and as the story ripped through the halls of Maryville High School, many took to Twitter and Facebook to make their allegiance known.

Two days after discovering her daughter on the front porch, Coleman says, she got a phone call from another mother warning her that online threats were being levied against the Coleman children, including a suggestion that her sons would be beaten up in the school parking lot.

When she checked online, she discovered that many of the comments were aimed at Daisy. On Twitter, the brother of one of the boys at the Barnett home that night wrote that he hoped Daisy "gets whats comin."

Daisy was suspended from the cheerleading squad for her role in the night's events. Barnett did not finish his senior year there, according to his lawyer.

During his Senior Night with the wrestling team, Charlie was booed by some students. Among the comments that made it back to him in the weeks following the arrests: that his mother and sister were "crazy bitches," that Barnett was blameless, and that Daisy had been "asking for it."

"There were several days," Charlie says, "I just wanted to go knock a kid's teeth out."

At a dance competition, Melinda Coleman says, a girl arrived wearing a homemade shirt: Matt 1, Daisy 0.

Two weeks after the incident, Coleman says, she was told without explanation that her employment at Maryville's SouthPaws Veterinary Clinic was being terminated.

Days later, carrying a hidden tape recorder, she returned to speak with her boss. In the recording, provided to The Star, Coleman asked Sally Hayse point-blank the reason for her firing.

Hayse said the possibility that Coleman might pursue civil charges in the case - which she has not done - was "putting stress on everybody in here" and "there's going to be times when we probably have stuff booked, and you wouldn't be able to come in."

Reached by The Star, Hayse acknowledged that she has ties to the family of one of the teens at the Barnett home that night and that the incident involving Daisy did complicate her relationship with Coleman.

"This is a small community, and it definitely was stressful for us here, without a doubt," she said, but "if you were to ask me point-blank (why the firing), I would say it's because our style of medicine didn't jive." She did not offer that reason to Coleman in the taped conversation.

Through it all, Coleman held tightly to a belief in justice and that the youths' punishment would provide closure for the family. She spoke with White on multiple occasions and sat down with Robert Rice, the Nodaway County prosecutor, to discuss her concerns.

"She would come to the sheriff's office on an almost daily basis," says White of the days following the arrests. "And I would sit down with her and try to answer her questions and explain to her what was going on. And the next day she'd show up, and we'd go through the same thing again.

"It was like living through the movie 'Groundhog Day.'"

In early March, however, while awaiting a hearing for Barnett and Zech, Coleman says, she received a call from a friend with local political ties: The word was that favors were being called in and that the charges would be dropped.

Coleman says she didn't give the call much credence, but she passed the message on to her lawyer, who wrote to the county prosecutor inquiring about the rumors.

Less than a week later, Coleman was at the grocery store when she got another call.

The felony sexual assault charge against Barnett, as well as Zech's sexual exploitation count, had been dismissed.

Located a hundred miles north of Kansas City, Maryville serves as the seat of Nodaway County. It's a college town, home to 7,000-student Northwest Missouri State University and its powerhouse Division II football program, and is small enough that most longtime residents are connected in some way.

When a reporter visited Maryville police to obtain copies of Zech's arrest record, for instance, the department employee who pulled the file was the mother of one of the five boys at the Barnett home that night.

"It's a big town in a rural area, but it's still a rural area," says author Harry MacLean, who spent four years living in Nodaway County while researching "In Broad Daylight," his best-selling book on the murder of Skidmore bully Ken McElroy and the town cover-up that followed. "...They do tend to revolve around the influence of several families. All of those small towns are like that there. There's four or five or six families that carry the weight."

And in Maryville, the Barnett name carries a good deal of weight.

Rex Barnett served 32 years with the Missouri Highway Patrol's Troop H before embarking on a fruitful political run. In 1994, the Republican was elected as a state representative, serving four terms before leaving the House in 2002.

He also has political ties to prosecutor Rice. Barnett's granddaughter worked as a volunteer on the campaign of U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, who also employs Rice's sister as an aide in constituent services.

In the aftermath of the dropped charges, this wasn't lost on many in the town.

A petition, generating more than 1,200 signatures, was posted on the website to request an investigation by Attorney General Chris Koster. Emails were sent to Jefferson City as well. The office ultimately said it didn't have the authority to review Rice's decision.

"I wanted to make sure that everything that was being done was on the up-and-up," says Amanda Amen, the petition's author and an acquaintance of the mother of the 13-year-old. "Because at the time, there were a lot of rumors."

In a phone interview, Rex Barnett said that from the time of his grandson's arrest, he made a point not to meddle in the case.

"As far as contacting anybody, even to get information, I wasn't even going to do that," he said. "Because I knew that any contact whatsoever by me with the sheriff's department or prosecuting attorney - or any witness, as far as that goes - would have been bad for me and bad for the case."

A spokesman for Graves, whose name came up in relation to the case in discussions online and around town, released a statement to The Star on Aug. 7: "Sam literally knows nothing about this situation. The first our office heard of it was on Internet blogs."

Last week, after a consultant for Graves contacted the newspaper, the spokesman provided an amended statement: "The first Sam had ever heard of it was when The Star called his office for comment. However, as the father of two girls, he understands the families' outrage and their search for answers."

When the charges were dropped, in accordance to Missouri law, all records pertaining to the case were sealed, such as interviews with nearly a dozen witnesses, the results of tests done on bedclothes and the rape kits. The video wasn't found, according to the prosecutor, though Charlie Coleman told his mother it was passed around at school.

Melinda Coleman says Rice never informed her of his decision. Nor, she claims, did he return the voice messages that she and her attorney left with his office seeking an explanation.

Rice later denied this to The Star, though a letter written to him by Coleman's attorney on March 19, a week after the charges had been dismissed, states: "I called your office multiple times last week in an attempt to obtain accurate information so that I could explain your decision to my client. You did not return my telephone calls."

After initially declining to speak with The Star this summer, Rice later agreed to an interview with a reporter who showed up unannounced.

Sitting in his nicely decorated town square office - on one wall is a small collection of framed NMSU jerseys, on another is a framed photo of Graves - he defended his decision, calling the rumors of political favors a "total red herring."

Rice said charges were dropped for lack of evidence, but he added, declining to go into the specifics, that information brought to his attention regarding what happened "before, during and after" the incident also played a role in his actions.

"There wasn't any prosecuting attorney that could take that case to trial," he said.

"It had to be dismissed. And it was."

The parent of one of the teens at the Barnett house that night was the only one to comment briefly to The Star: "Our boys deserve an apology, and they haven't gotten it yet."

In a later interview, Rice called it a case of "incorrigible teenagers" drinking alcohol and having sex. "They were doing what they wanted to do, and there weren't any consequences. And it's reprehensible. But is it criminal? No."

Robert Sundell, who represented Barnett, echoed that sentiment: "Just because we don't like the way teenagers act doesn't necessarily make it a crime."

For his part, White, the sheriff, maintains "no doubt" a crime was committed that night. The doctor who treated Daisy the following morning called the prosecutor's decision to drop the charges "surprising." And one longtime Missouri attorney believes the Colemans' status as relative outsiders played a part in the cases' dismissals.

"The fact that the family wasn't from Maryville made it a lot easier for the prosecutor to drop those charges," he said.

The mother of the 13-year-old Albany girl, who asked that her name not be used, puts it more bluntly:

"If that had been one of my sons - and my sons would rather cut their hands off than do something like that - but had that been one of my kids, they would be sitting in a maximum security prison somewhere doing 25 years. There's no doubt in my mind."

For the Colemans, the dismissal of the charges spelled the beginning of the end to their life in Maryville.

In the days that followed, a new round of vitriol made its way online.

"F - - yea. That's what you get for bein a skank : )," read one tweet, one of many expletive-filled comments posted publicly.

The reaction wasn't surprising, according to Julie Donelon, president of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault.

Some form of victim-blaming occurs in virtually every sexual assault case, she says, but it can be particularly intense in small towns, where "the victim and her family members are having to see not only the perpetrator and the perpetrator's family, but also those people ... who have expressed disbelief in her story."

The daily harassment became too much, Coleman says. Daisy and Logan transferred to Albany High School, making the 80-mile round trip daily.

Initially, Coleman refused to consider leaving Maryville altogether - even after, she says, her lawyer suggested it might be in the family's best interest.

"Part of me is stubborn enough to stay just to say, 'No, you're not going to win,'" she says.

So it was not until August last year, she says, that she finally knew "this was never going to be OK."

She went to Rice's office for a deposition on the case's lone remaining charge, Matthew Barnett's misdemeanor of endangering the welfare of a child for leaving Daisy in freezing temperatures.

After speaking with a rape advocate, the mothers had initially declined to participate for fear the questioning would be used against them. They later changed their minds and agreed to meet with the prosecutor.

According to Coleman, Daisy was excused from the room after briefly discussing the case. But for the next two hours, she says, Rice proceeded to angrily ask her about the petition and demanded to know where Coleman had heard that political favors might be involved.

Rice responds that he never raised his voice during the meeting. Sundell, who was also present, adds: "It may have happened in a different room, when I wasn't there, but not during the deposition."

The misdemeanor endangerment charge, too, was soon dropped.

The sheriff blames the mothers for the lack of prosecutions: "They refused to speak and give their story." The women say they were eager to work with authorities until the felony charges were dropped.

That August, with Charlie off to Baker University and the younger children set to begin a new school year, the family moved back to Albany - or as White, the sheriff, puts it, "went back to Gentry County, where they came from."

Even after leaving, however, it wasn't over with Maryville.

Coleman still had a house there, unoccupied and up for sale - until that Sunday morning six months ago.

According to Capt. Phil Rickabaugh of the Maryville Fire Department, the cause of the fire wasn't immediately determined.

"We started to dig in and investigate it," he said, but the structure was deemed unsafe. "Several weeks later, an insurance investigator came in, and it was heavily investigated by private parties. (But) we never have heard anything else out of that."

The cause, Rickabaugh says, remains unknown.

For the most part, things in Maryville have returned to normal.

The high school football team is off to its usual dominant start, sporting a 7-0 record following Friday's 50-10 win over Smithville. The college is preparing for its homecoming festivities, and the A&G Restaurant still fills up quickly on Sundays after church.

Many in town are happy to put the episode behind them, including White, who makes little attempt to mask his opinion of Coleman, a woman he says "clearly has issues."

"We did our job," he says. "We did it well. It's unfortunate that they are unhappy.

"I guess they're just going to have to get over it."

Getting over it, it turns out, hasn't proved all that easy.

Since that night in January, Daisy has been in regular therapy. She has been admitted to a Smithville hospital four times and spent 90 days at Missouri Girls Town, a residential facility for struggling teens.

Last May, shortly after returning home from college, Charlie found his sister collapsed in the family's bathroom, where she had ingested a bottle of depression medication.

It was her second suicide attempt in the past two years.

Though she agreed to appear in a segment for local radio station KCUR - "You're the s-word, you're the w-word ... b-word. Just, after a while, you start to believe it," she said in the interview - she has since declined to speak publicly about the incident.

The 13-year-old hasn't fared much better, her mother says. Her child suffers from flashbacks and nightmares and for a long time after the incident dragged her mattress into her brother's bedroom at night.

Still, she says: "We didn't suffer nearly what the Colemans did. (My daughter) had support here. People believed us here.

"It's been utter hell for Melinda," she continues. "I didn't have to lose my job over it. I didn't have to lose a house over it. I didn't have to lose where I had gone to move on with my life. And she did."

The young men present at the Barnett home that night, meanwhile, seem to have moved on.

Two are now members of Northwest Missouri State University athletic teams, and Barnett is enrolled at the University of Central Missouri, his grandfather's alma mater. Based on his Twitter account, before it was locked to non-friends, the events of the past two years haven't dampened his enthusiasm for the opposite sex.

In a recent retweet, he expressed his views on women - and their desire for his sexual attentions - this way:

"If her name begins with A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z, she wants the D."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Seven months ago, The Star began looking into the 2012 case of two young teens who told authorities they were sexually assaulted by older boys. The Star spoke extensively with the mothers of the girls, interviewed dozens of others and reviewed hundreds of pages of records, from sheriff's office interviews with the accused to medical records. While most documents were sealed by authorities, many were copied previously by the Coleman family and provided to The Star.

Though The Star's policy usually is not to name alleged victims in sexual assault incidents, or cases of attempts on one's life, exceptions have been made in some cases. Daisy Coleman's name appears in this article with the permission and cooperation of the Coleman family.

Source: Stltoday

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Nexus 5 said to be 'half the price' of the iPhone 5S

A source says the new Google phone will come with an attractive price for those that have been hankering for a new Nexus.

(Credit: MacRumors)

The hype and rumors we're hearing around the upcoming Nexus 5, expected from LG and Google later this month, is that it could instantly become the new Android phone to beat. But the latest whisperings hint that it could also give the iPhone 5s iphone cases dress up games for girls dresses a run for its money when it comes to how much of your money you have to shell out for one.

TechRadar says a "source familiar with Google" has told the site that the successor to the popular but LTE-less Nexus 4 will ship in the latter part of October and cost "half the price" of the iPhone 5S.

What's a little tricky about this is that the source seems to be referring to United Kingdom prices and ship dates, which can be different from what we see in the United States. If the Nexus 5 were to be half of what an unlocked iPhone 5S sells for at retail stateside (it starts at $649 for 16 GB contract-free with a T-Mobile SIM), that would mean we could see a new unlocked Nexus that, according to TechRadar's source, will meet the specs of the iPhone 5S, but for less than $350.

That would certainly be a welcome deal for Nexus fans hoping for a repeat of the $299 price tag for an unlocked Nexus 4 right out of the gate.

We'll see in the coming weeks if Google actually offers such a pre-holiday bargain on a top-flight phone, or if we've just caught wind of some sort of UK-only pricing scheme or just total bunk.

Be sure to read up on everything else we expect in a new Nexus, and let us know in the comments if you plan to get one of your own.

Source: Cnet

Report: Kobe Bryant returning to Germany for platelet-rich plasma therapy

<plasmap>Kobe Bryant is traveling to Germany to have another round of platelet-rich plasma therapy on his right knee, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports.

On Thursday the Lakers confirmed Bryant had left the United States for an unnamed destination and an unnamed medical procedure unrelated to his Achilles tendon injury. The team expects him to return early next week.

Bryant underwent the procedure in 2011 while recovering from surgery to remove bone fragments from his knee. The therapy involves spinning samples of his own blood to separate the healing platelets, then injecting them back into his knee.

MAHONEY: Marcin Gortat to spend season on trade block

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said Bryant is showing progress in his rehabilitation.

"He just keeps progressing," D'Antoni said Wednesday, according to ESPN Los Angeles. "He was out today shooting a little bit and jogging. He just keeps getting better."

Kobe Bryant is traveling to Germany to have another round of platelet-rich plasma therapy on his right knee, league sources tell Y! Sports.-
Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojYahooNBA) October 03, 2013

Source: SI Wire

Nexus 5 said to be 'half the price' of the iPhone 5S

A source says the new Google phone will come with an attractive price for those that have been hankering for a new Nexus.

(Credit: MacRumors)

The hype and rumors we're hearing around the upcoming Nexus 5, expected from LG and Google later this month, is that it could instantly become the new Android phone to beat. But the latest whisperings hint that it could also give the iPhone 5s iphone cases otterbox defender unc a run for its money when it comes to how much of your money you have to shell out for one.

TechRadar says a "source familiar with Google" has told the site that the successor to the popular but LTE-less Nexus 4 will ship in the latter part of October and cost "half the price" of the iPhone 5S.

What's a little tricky about this is that the source seems to be referring to United Kingdom prices and ship dates, which can be different from what we see in the United States. If the Nexus 5 were to be half of what an unlocked iPhone 5S sells for at retail stateside (it starts at $649 for 16 GB contract-free with a T-Mobile SIM), that would mean we could see a new unlocked Nexus that, according to TechRadar's source, will meet the specs of the iPhone 5S, but for less than $350.

That would certainly be a welcome deal for Nexus fans hoping for a repeat of the $299 price tag for an unlocked Nexus 4 right out of the gate.

We'll see in the coming weeks if Google actually offers such a pre-holiday bargain on a top-flight phone, or if we've just caught wind of some sort of UK-only pricing scheme or just total bunk.

Be sure to read up on everything else we expect in a new Nexus, and let us know in the comments if you plan to get one of your own.

Source: Cnet

Otterbox Introduces New iPhone 5/5s Case With Space for Credit Cards and Cash

Otterbox has introduced iPhone case/wallet combination, the Commuter Series Wallet. The $45 case includes space for 3 credit cards and a single dollar bill, while coming in black, white/grey and pink/grey color combinations.

The new case competes against other wallet cases like TwelveSouth's BookBook, as well as dozens of other wallet cases on the market.

- Multi-layer case guards against damage to your device
- Slimline design hides contents, keeping them safe and secure
- Self-adhering screen protector guards against scratches and scrapes to the glass display
- Access drawer holds up to three cards and one bill
- Audible click closure gives you peace of mind knowing your items are securely enclosed
- Access Wallet drawer contents without turning case over

The Commuter Series Wallet case, for the iPhone 5 and 5s iphone cases waterproof, is available from Otterbox and other retailers for $45.
Source: Macrumors

A Day Made Better: Extraordinary Teachers Honoured by OfficeMax Grand & Toy

<safcop>A Day Made Better program recognizes teachers for their ability to inspire students with creative and innovative teaching, both inside and outside the classroom

TORONTO, Oct. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadian teachers on average spend $453 of their own money to fund classroom needs, such as supplies or classroom activities 1. To help ease the burden, Canadian office solutions provider OfficeMax Grand & Toy today announced it is surprising six public school teachers across the country with $9,000 total worth of classroom supplies through its 2013 annual A Day Made Better program.

Today marks the 5th year of A Day Made Better, in which OfficeMax Grand & Toy associates surprise teachers at their schools with $1,500 worth of school supplies. The national program aims to relieve and support primary school teachers who spend their own money on much-needed classroom supplies.

"Teachers are often the unsung heroes of the community," said Ron McDougall, General Manager, OfficeMax Grand & Toy. "They are an exceptionally dedicated group of individuals whose love of teaching shows through by how much they go above and beyond while educating Canada's youth. 'A Day Made Better' is one way OfficeMax Grand & Toy works to give back to the communities and teachers it serves."

The national A Day Made Better program has received hundreds of nominations from across the country since its inception. This year's winners were recognized for, among other things, their use of technology in the classroom, working closely with parents to keep them up-to-date on their child's progress, and being actively involved in the communities where they teach.

This year's honoured teachers come from cities and towns across the country including: Canmore AB, Middle Sackville NS, Orangeville ON, Waterloo ON, and Winnipeg.

Each recognized teacher receives a box of assorted school supplies valued at $1,500 for use in their classroom, including a Kodak Easy share camera, a Sony ZS-S4iPB Boom box with iPOD cradle, an ergonomic chair donated by Safco Products, and a Dymo Label Printer 450.

Judging Process
The Selection Committee includes select staff from OfficeMax Grand & Toy. Entries are graded based on a variety of attributes including the teacher's passion and commitment to sustainability, and their innovation and inspiration in the classroom.

About OfficeMax Grand & Toy
OfficeMax Grand & Toy is a leading provider of workplace products and solutions serving business to business and retail customers in Canada for over 130 years. From the latest technology, interiors and furniture, everyday office supplies and facility resources to a wide range of print and document services, we provide workplace innovation that enables our customers to work better.

A part of OfficeMax family since 1996, the company has the expertise and consolidated product and supply chain leadership to provide customers big and small with a range of superior products and services across North America. OfficeMax customers are served by approximately 29,000 associates and more than 900 retail stores globally. OfficeMax has been named one of the 2013 World's Most Ethical Companies, and is the only company in the office supply industry to receive Ethics Inside® Certification by the Ethisphere Institute.

1 According to survey results released by the Canadian Teachers' Federation.

SOURCE OfficeMax Grand

For further information:

Media Contact:
Sabena Singh
Environics Communications

Source: Newswire

JARDINE: Oakdale teen outduels defending champion dad in world fast draw

<championp>- In the late 1960s, Walter Brennan starred in the title role of the TV Western "The Guns of Will Sonnett."

The story line had Sonnett and his grandson searching far and wide for his gunfighter son, who had abandoned the family years earlier. Of course, Brennan's character had a trademark line used throughout the series.

He would utter that his son is good with a gun and his grandson is better. "And I'm better than both of 'em," he'd conclude. "No brag, just fact."

Jon Rivera wishes he could say the same. The retired Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy won last year's World Fast Draw competition in Durango, Colo. I wrote about him in August 2012, after Rivera won that first world title. He's won four of six tournaments since then, piling up points toward the 2013 world all-around championship. That's plenty to brag about.

But in Red River, N.M., last weekend, when it came time to defend the World Fast Draw title he won a year ago, Rivera encountered an unlikely and unbeatable foe: his 16-year-old son, Jonathan. Just fact.

Unlikely? Jonathan, an Oakdale High sophomore who this afternoon will take his driver's license exam, had shown only a passing interest in fast draw shooting until only two weeks before the Red River event. He picked up the six guns while his dad was training for the championships, and something just clicked.

"He pulled off a bunch of great shots," dad said. But that was one hot streak on one day, so his dad dangled the competitive carrot.

"I told him if he was fast again on the second day in a row, and again the third day, I'd take him with me to New Mexico," Rivera said.

Indeed, Jonathan displayed incredible new-found speed those second and third days, so dad scrambled to book an additional airplane ticket, and off they went.

In fast draw competitions, shooters meet in best-of-five-shot duels. They stand side by side to fire blanks or, in some events, wax bullets. Events also vary by distances from the target. Lose a match, get an X. Three X's and you're out.

The Riveras both competed in the 8-foot blank elimination world championship, the showcase event of the meet.

"This was the big one," Jon River said. "The first day, we managed to avoid (competing against) each other."

Instead, Jon suffered his first X at the trigger of Canada's Nick "The Quick" Ione. By the afternoon of the second day, the field dwindled to three shooters: Jon and Jonathan, with one X apiece, and Nick The Quick with two.

Father and son finally faced off, with dad winning the first two shots and Jonathan the third and fourth.

"I was really nervous," Jonathan said.

The fifth shot would decide the match – or not. The Riveras drew exactly at the same time – each timed in 0.263 seconds – creating a rare tie that merited one more try.

"The next shot, Jonathan got me and gave me my second X," Rivera said.

"It felt great," his son said.

Jon Rivera next faced Nick The Quick.

"He knocked me out in three shots," Rivera said.

That left the grand finale for the world title: Kid Jonathan vs. Nick The Quick.

Nick won the first match, giving Jonathan his second X. In the championship go-round, Jonathan won the first shot. Nick the Quick took the next two. Then Jonathan took shots four and five for the championship.

But the match against his dad is the one he'll remember most. "No one picked me, going up against my old man ranked No. 1," Jonathan said.

Dad maintained his overall No. 1 association ranking by finishing third. His son, meanwhile, tasted victory and caught the competitive bug in a major way.

"I just got my (all-around) title Sunday, and he's ready to take it from me on Monday," dad Jon said.

Hence, there's a new kid in town. The guns of Jon Rivera were humbled, yet he is a proud papa.

Jonathan won the world championship. Dad took home the all-around title for 2013.

No brag, just fact.

Visit for more information. Bee columnist Jeff Jardine can be reached at or (209) 578-2383. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJardine57.

Source: Modbee