Microsoft has shown off parts of its Xbox One dashboard previously, but the company has now started to demonstrate it fully with just under a month until the console is released. In a new video briefly posted to the official Xbox One site, Microsoft demonstrated apps, games, and TV switching from the very start of powering up the console to switching it off — all with the voice-enabled Kinect camera. We’ve seen dashboard demo leaks, but this latest official video details the login experience and navigation around the dashboard to launch various apps and games using Kinect.
Xbox One’s “Game DVR” service, which lets you capture gameplay and share it over Xbox Live, is also demonstrated in the video. Switching to TV appears to be near-instant, with apps like Internet Explorer also snapping into place speedily. It all looks impressive if it works this quickly and smoothly in reality, but it’s not clear if this is just a marketing video that speeds up scenarios. Microsoft hasn’t placed the usual warning on its video. Previously, the software maker has demonstrated its Xbox One friends app, with Twitter-like followers and feeds, and previewed its dashboard behind closed doors. As the company moves toward the November 22nd release date, we expect to see a lot more about apps, TV integration, and game switching. For now, this video offers up the latest glimpse at how the Xbox One will operate.
Not since the 4th Earl of Sandwich called for two pieces of bread and a slab of meat to eat at his card table has there been a better time to enjoy a sarnie. And if you’re the sort of person who tends to grab a sad ham and cheese roll on the run for your lunch, then you are really missing a trick. The sandwich has had quite a makeover.
Forget the questionable egg mayo and Coronation chicken triangles you’ll find festering away in your local shop, because all over the country increasingly outrageous offerings are being peddled: pork banh mi from Vietnam, lobster rolls, giant Reubens and meatball subs. And they’ve got bigger; half the time you’ll find a knife and fork is required to actually tackle them. Usually thought of as being a cheap, deskbound snack, this new generation of sandwiches is often served up in high-end joints (and often with prices to match). Nor are these creations destined solely for lunch; people are gorging on them for dinner, too.
So why has the sandwich gone all decadent (not to mention international)? Helen Graves, author of the new book 101 Sandwiches: A Collection of the Finest Sandwiches from Around the World, suggests that this sandwich renaissance is in part down to recent food trends.
“I think US television programmes such as Man v. Food really introduced the public to these giant creations. People were saying, ‘Oh, Americans really do sandwiches differently’. That sort of food then became very popular and fashionable. There was a lot of so-called ‘dude food’ about, restaurants such as MEATLiquor. The street-food trend made a big difference, too: you can hold on to sandwiches and they’re easy to eat while standing.”
The rise of street food certainly should be held accountable: the popular food trucks that do well go on to become proper restaurants. Then, before you know it, everyone is eating variations of sandwiches while dining out. There is also the sheer array of sandwiches from around the globe, introducing the hungry to all types of exotic fillings and breads.
Chefs are keen to experiment, too. Recent eye-popping creations include the ramen noodle burger and the mac-and-cheese burger (in this carb wonder, the noodles and macaroni are transformed into the bun). And, yes, burgers are counted as sandwiches. “Really I would say that anything enclosed in bread is a sandwich,” says Graves. “But I am quite flexible. I would argue that a burrito is a sandwich, and I have included a recipe for one in the book. A hot dog is, too. A calzone, however, is not. But I don’t mind letting certain things in. For instance, I put in a recipe for an open sandwich because in Scandinavia they are a classic. We shouldn’t be too uptight about what qualifies as a sandwich.”
Home prices in 20 U.S. cities rose in August from a year ago by the most since February 2006 as stronger demand boosted values.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property prices in 20 cities increased 12.8 percent from August 2012, more than forecast, after a 12.3 percent gain in the year ended in July, a report from the group showed today in New York. The median projection of 28 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 12.5 percent advance.
Tight inventories have boosted prices as buyers compete for a limited number of properties for sale. While housing continues to be a source of strength for the economy, higher mortgage rates and limited improvement in the labor market and wages risk slowing the pace of progress.
“There’s still decent enough demand with little supply so home prices continue to perform,” Kevin Cummins, an economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report. “It’s unclear how much rising mortgage rates in the last few months slow housing sales in the near future.”
As of August, average home prices in the U.S. were back to their mid-2004 levels, and the 20-city index was up 22.7 percent from its March 2012 low
Hugh Jackman’s take on Wolverine has always been one of the most enjoyable elements of the X-Men film series, but recent movies have failed to match the quality of the actor’s own efforts. Brett Ratner’s X-Men: The Last Stand was a dumber, shallower adventure than Bryan Singer’s first two entries, and X-Men Origins: Wolverine drowned the character in a pedantic story and a barrage of bad visual effects. Now, with Wolverine’s headlining efforts in need of a reboot, comes James Mangold’s The Wolverine.
The difference in approach is apparent straight from the title itself. A streamlined, introspective take on the emotional perils of immortality, it’s a superhero film that’s not afraid to see itself as more of a noir-infused character piece than an action set-piece generator. It’s a welcome approach, and the film sings at first as it’s able to deliver on both fronts — but The Wolverine is ultimately unable to balance the two elements, collapsing upon itself in a heap of comic-book absurdity.
The story starts some time after the ending of The Last Stand. Wolverine — “Logan,” when he’s not in a fighting mood — has gone off the grid, haunted by the death of Famke Janssen’s Jean Grey and committed to leaving violence behind. He’s shaggy and unkempt; Jean Valjean with adamantium claws, and when the brutality of some local hunters raises his hackles a mysterious woman named Yukio (Rila Fukushima) steps in. It turns out she works for Yashida, a wealthy Japanese tech mogul whom Logan saved from atomic annihilation back in World War II. The elderly man is dying, and wants to bring Logan to Japan to say his final goodbyes.
After arriving in Japan, Logan learns that Yashida actually has a proposition: let me take your healing abilities for myself, he says, and you’ll have the chance to live a normal life. Logan declines, but when the Yakuza try to kidnap Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto) during the mogul’s funeral, Logan steps in to rescue her. They’re soon on the run, with one very important wrinkle: Logan’s regenerative abilities appear to have stopped working.
The setup may sound complicated, but it plays effortlessly on the screen. That’s in large part to director James Mangold (3:10 to Yuma, Walk the Line), who brings a steady hand and a grounded sense of reality to the film. The movie takes its time — the pre-adventure sequence with Logan is particularly patient — and never feels the need to rush things along just for the sake of quick-fix spectacle. Mangold mixes influences from noir, westerns, and martial arts films in a kind of genre alchemy, framing the wandering Wolverine as a ronin — a samurai without a master or purpose.
That’s not say the film doesn’t deliver on the action front. By and large, the fight sequences are choreographed spectacularly — real people performing real stunts, relying on fierce swordplay and the kind of skilled hand-to-hand combat that feels abandoned all too often in the name of wire-fu and fantastic effects. Things get bumpy when the action opens up — a fight atop a bullet train begins to stretch credulity — but even then the results are tremendously entertaining.
Jackman, as always, is the bright and shining constant. It’s the same experience as watching Robert Downey Jr. in the Iron Man series; it’s impossible to not enjoy watching him play this role. He gets every snarky comment and jab just right, all the while delivering on the ferocity and fierce physicality the role requires.
Unfortunately, a single actor can only do so much, and a large part of the story relies on Logan’s inevitable attraction to Mariko. While Okamoto delivers an engaging performance unto herself, there’s almost no chemistry between her and Jackman, and whenever the movie leans on that relationship things grind to a halt. It’s even worse when contrasted with Logan’s chemistry with Jean Grey in the movie’s brief dream sequences; when you’re in the audience rooting for the lead character to not get over his feelings of guilt, you have a problem.
Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech in 271-year-old Faneuil Hall, where some of the seeds of the American revolution took root – and where on April 12, 2006, the start of another historic shift began.
Against the backdrop of a huge painting of a famous debate on preserving the union at a time when the nation verged on civil war, then-Republican Governor Mitt Romney signed a law mandating health insurance for most of the state’s residents.
Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, who had long advocated for health reform, stood behind Romney’s chair on the ornate dias, looking victorious, as state Democrats crowded around.
On Wednesday, Obama will try to channel that moment and draw lessons from the Massachusetts experience to argue that Obamacare – his version of health insurance reform – will improve people’s lives and help the country’s economy, even if the online registration process has gotten off to a slow and troubled start.
Obama used the Massachusetts plan as a blueprint for his healthcare exchanges, which went live on October 1, and require Americans to buy insurance by March 31.
Republicans have fought a bitter war to try to defund or delay the law, and have reveled in the disastrous roll out of a website beset by bugs that will take until the end of November to fix – and in complaints from consumers who have found their health care insurance plans are changing.
They have found a new attack point in Obama’s pledge that Americans who like their health plans can keep them under Obamacare. In recent days, reports have piled up about thousands of people being kicked off their current, lower-cost plans because those plans no longer comply with the minimum benefits required by the new law.
And while Obama will point to hiccups in the rollout of “Romneycare” as he tries to ease pressure on his own signature health overhaul, a direct correlation would be a stretch.
‘EVERYTHING IS BROKEN DOWN’
Romneycare is smaller – given the size of the state – and far less complex than Obamacare, said several veterans of the state-run system.
But the biggest difference between the two is the bitter political environment in which the fledgling Obamacare program is operating.
It was only seven years ago that Robert Travaglini, then president of the Massachusetts senate, stood beside Kennedy as Romney signed the bill. But it seems as though it were a long-ago political era, Travaglini told Reuters.
“The whole spirit, the whole chemistry, was one of cooperation” at the time, Travaglini said in an interview.
“We had two major power players both working for the same goal. You don’t have that here! Everything is broken down,” he said.
The day after the law was signed, its backers met on the 11th floor of the Prudential Tower downtown, in the offices of Partners Health Care, a hospital system, and formed a coalition to bolster support across the state, said John McDonough, then a consumer advocate with Health Care for All.
There was some apprehension that the project could fail, said McDonough, now with Harvard’s Department of Health Policy and Management.
“It felt like we were on the verge of trying something very significant and very large,” he said, recalling Boston Globe articles comparing the program to the “Big Dig,” a highway project from the 1980s famous for its huge cost overruns.
The law was set to take effect in October. But the state agency running the program delayed some parts by a few months, needing more time to build a system to bill and collect premiums, said Jon Kingsdale, its first executive director.
It got a jump start by automatically enrolling about 50,000 uninsured people who had been treated at hospitals in the state, and were in a database – something that does not exist for Obamacare.
The agency spent less than $1 million on the website used by consumers to shop for insurance. It had a much simpler “back end,” in part because it did not need to verify identities.
“It was a small build compared to any under the Affordable Care Act,” Kingsdale told reporters on a conference call.
Consumers had a year to get insurance or face penalties – a much longer deadline than under Obamacare, which has a final deadline of March 31.
According to the most recent data from the Massachusetts Center for Health Information and Analysis, about 20 percent of the 5.5 million insured people in the state got their insurance individually on the open market or through one of the publicly subsidized programs under Romneycare.
Polls consistently show about two-thirds of the state’s residents like the program, said Jonathan Gruber, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Alessandro Bellino, 29, who runs a coffee cart in Boston’s Financial District, said he shopped for health insurance in 2010 using the Massachusetts Health Connector online marketplace immediately after graduating from Berklee College of Music.
“I typed in my age and stuff like that, and it came up with a bunch of prices for different companies and plans,” he recalled.
“I just chose the cheapest one. It seemed fine to me. There were no problems,” he said. “It was painless.”
But when the exchange opened for business early in 2007, only 123 people signed up for insurance the first month. Most people – particularly healthy people – waited until the end of the year, said MIT’s Gruber, who worked on both Romneycare and Obamacare.
“Insurance is a tough sale. Nobody goes down to their broker on a Saturday morning to smell the leather and test drive this baby,” said Kingsdale, now a director with Wakely Consulting Group.
“It’s a grudge buy. So there’s going to be a lot of browsing,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Richard Valdmanis and Brian Snyder in Boston; Editing by Ken Wills)