Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sony Vaio Pro 13

I dare say Sony’s Vaio Pro 13 is everything you could want in an ultrabook. Until the MacBook Air gets a much-needed screen upgrade (when’s that happening, Apple?), this svelte number from Sony is arguably the best ultralight money can buy.

Let’s start with the “ultra” part of the equation. At 2.3 pounds, it’s the lightest 13.3-inch laptop I’ve ever tested, and by far the most lightweight machine I’ve seen in the Windows 8/touchscreen era — a full half pound lighter than the vaunted Toshiba KIRABook. Clad in black carbon fiber, it’s so light I thought maybe the battery wasn’t installed when I first picked it up. (It’s non-replaceable, so that answers that question.) At 18 mm thick, it’s also right in line with some of the thinnest ultrabooks on the market.

Other than its extreme portability, the design doesn’t reinvent the Sony experience: a slick rectangle with mostly matte finishing, brushed metal for the palmrest, a touch of chrome, and squared off corners. The rear edge of the screen overlaps the hinge, causing the keyboard to incline a bit when you open the laptop, a clever design idea.

Sony Vaio Pro 13Ariel Zambelich/WIRED

Under the hood, the Vaio Pro 13 covers the bases with ease. Specs vary based on configuration, but our entry-level unit seemed just fine. The 1.6GHz Core i5 (4th-generation), 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD are all nothing unusual for this category, but Sony makes the most of them to give the Vaio Pro solid benchmark scores across the board. Also included are two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and an SD card slot. Integrated graphics provide minimal video oomph, but I’ve seen worse, and the screen, at 1920 x 1080 pixels, is reasonably bright (though far from blinding).

One of the highlights of the machine is its battery life, a real surprise considering its size. I consistently got six hours of runtime (at full-screen video playback), which is a good hour longer than most of the competition, and twice the runtime of some ultrabooks available today. And yet, there’s clearly been no compromising on performance. Even boot time is impressive: At just nine seconds, it’s considerably faster than anything else I’ve seen running Windows 8.

My only complaints are minor, and largely fit and finish issues. I had some quirky issues with screen flicker (a product of the auto-brightness sensor going a little haywire). I also had trouble getting the large trackpad to register every click. (It did a lot better with taps.) Also, when I initially configured the machine, it greeted me with a deafeningly loud fan. Strangely, this droning eventually quieted down. Even when the machine was under load in later testing, the fan wasn’t nearly as overbearing. 

Sony Vaio Pro 13

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Usain Bolt admits 'I'm a legend' after 200m title in Moscow

Usain Bolt wins the men's 200m title at the World Athletics Championships in Moscow, finishing in 19.66sec. After the race, Bolt says he wants to add to his legend status to ensure he is remembered as one of the greatest. The Jamaican claims his next goal is to win the Olympic 100m and 200m for the third consecutive time, which would make him the first person to do so

This time, there was no need for lightning to provide a surge of electricity over the Luzhniki stadium. Usain Bolt did it all by himself. The Jamaican, who had looked unusually sluggish in grinding to 100m victory last Sunday, was simply serene as he glided to 200m gold in 19.66sec.
This was Bolt's seventh world title, and surely one of the easiest of the lot. Only his team-mate Warren Weir, who ran a personal best of 19.79, got anywhere near him. The American Curtis Mitchell took bronze in 20.04, while Britain's Adam Gemili – who so thrillingly dipped under the 20-second barrier on Friday – was fifth in 20.08.
Earlier in the week Bolt had dropped a starting block on his foot but there was no pain here; only pleasure – although he did admit to being weary near the end.
"When I entered the straight I felt tired, my legs felt a little bit heavy," said Bolt. "My coach told me not to push too hard if it was possible so I backed off a little. But the 200m is my favourite event so this victory is very important to me."

Bolt was strutting before the start, a model of easy-goes-it charm as he pretended to wash his face while introduced to the crowd. His demeanour hardly changed during the race, and he crossed the line easing down in the fastest time in the world this year.
Behind him, straining away, was Gemili, pumping his legs and heart out in his first major championship. On Friday the 19-year-old from Dartford joined John Regis in an exclusive club of two as the only Britons to run under 20 seconds for the 200m.
In the final he posted his second-fastest ever time, but, frustratingly, it was 0.04 outside the bronze medal that he craved.
It was not quite what he was hoping for after running 19.98 in his semi-final but Gemili will not be the last teenager to suffer a Saturday hangover after a brilliant Friday night out.
And he leaves with such vivid and unexpected memories. Four and a half months ago Gemili was hobbling around hospital after surgery on his foot. Now he can say, without fear or ridicule, that he has arrived on theglobal stage.

"There are no words to describe how I'm feeling," said Gemili. "My name was called just after Bolt and the whole stadium erupted. It put a smile on my face and helped me relax. I didn't execute my race well as I could have, but I am still happy."
Afterwards Gemili revealed that Bolt had talked to him beforehand to help him stay calm. "The call room is not how I expected it," he admitted.
"All the guys know each other from the circuit and are really friendly. Usain was like: 'How are you feeling?' I said: 'I'm good, I'm just trying to go out and enjoy it.'
"He said: 'Make sure you do because you are going to get old like me one day,' and: 'We'll see you at the finish.'"
Unfortunately the reunion was a little later than Gemili had planned. Still, he is the first teenager to make the 200m final at the world championships since Bolt – then an 18-year-old – finished eighth in Helsinki in 2005. And we all know what happened to him.
You feared Gemili's chances of a medal had gone when Bolt caught him at 60m, before the bend had straightened. But he kept battling and believing. And for a brief moment it looked like he might win Britain's third bronze of the night.
"I was very close to a medal," he said. "Just four hundredths, and I missed out on the Olympic final by four hundredths as well, so it's always those fours. But hopefully I'll be up there getting a medal in future years."
Bolt was certainly impressed with what he saw. "I'm still in shock that Gemili made the finals," he said. "I've never seen him run a 200m ever. I thought he was just a 100m runner so to be in his first final and to run sub-20 is outstanding."
At the end Bolt lingered in the Luzhniki Stadium for 20 minutes to celebrate his victory. There were pictures of him with Britain's 4x400m relay squad and he also borrowed a camera to take an impromptu shot of team-mate Weir. The pair even gave what looked like the Jamaican version of the hokey cokey a twirl.
And why not? Bolt is only 26 but by the time of the next world championships, in Beijing in August 2015, he will be 29. As he told Gemili, these nights will not last forever.
By then Bolt will almost certainly be out on his own in terms of world championship medals. He now has nine – seven golds from Berlin 2009, Daegu 2011 and here in Moscow, to add to two silvers in Osaka in 2007. That puts him within one of Carl Lewis's tally of 10 medals. On Sunday in the men's 4x100m you expect Bolt will draw level.
The night was helped by the fact that, for the first time at these championships, the stadium was sold out and here were great swooshes of noise and colour, which, for a moment or two, made you wonder whether the energy of London 2012 had briefly been transported to Russia. But on this penultimate evening in Moscow, nothing was more electric than Bolt.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fonterra suspends Sri Lankan operations

Aug 23 (Reuters) - New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra Co-operative said on Friday it had suspended operations in Sri Lanka because of an unstable situation in the country.
Earlier this week Fonterra was banned by a Sri Lankan court from selling products, and it is in a dispute with the country's food safety authorities about the presence of a toxic agricultural chemical in some products.
"The temporary suspension is the right thing to do. It is a precautionary measure to ensure our 755 people working there are safe. We have closed our plants and office in Sri Lanka, and have asked our people to stay at home," said chief executive Theo Spierings in a statement.
"Recent events, however, have made it difficult to maintain day-to-day operations, and we need to get them resolved."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Message That Kate Middleton's Dress Is Sending

(photo: Michael Middleton)

Kate Middleton is a master of making public statements with her wardrobe. Her latest dress sent a particularly powerful message for new moms.

The palace released photos on Monday of the Duchess of Cambridge happily posing with the second and third heirs to the British throne — her husband Prince William, and their infant son,Prince George, who turns a month old next week. And since her son is blocking most of her figure in the photos, the new mom could have picked just about any outfit she wanted and made it work. Her choice? A $79 maternity dress.
If there was any message to be gleaned from her style choice, it's that it's OK to take an unmiraculous amount of time when it comes to getting back into shape after delivering a human being. 
As for how long women usually wear maternity clothes after giving birth, Cecile Reinaud, founder and creative director of U.K.-based maternity label Seraphine, which created the empire-waisted fuchsia dress that Middleton wore in the pics, told Yahoo! Shine, "Usually two months is the average."
(photo: Michael Middleton)
Who we don't usually see wearing maternity pieces after delivery, however, are celebs. Svelte celebs like Victoria Beckham, Jessica Alba, Claire Danes, and Jenna Dewan-Tatum have all made headlines for squeezing into form-fitting ensembles weeks after giving birth and bopping around in bikinis a couple of months later.

Middleton, however, is a different story. "She's really showing she's not trying to be like a celebrity. She isn't trying to give an image meant to impress or pretend she's already got a flat stomach," Reinaud added. "She's sending a very nice message to new moms. A big thumbs-up to her."
She's been getting a big thumbs-up in the press too, with outlets from celebrity news sites to fashion blogs all applauding her look in the relaxed pics, which were a marked change from the usual official family portraits released after a royal baby's birth. Rather than posing stiffly in the palace, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge sit casually on the grass with two family dogs. The couple even skipped the professional photographer and instead enlisted Kate's dad, Michael, to snap the pics seen 'round the world.
"Yet again, it was William and Kate saying they're doing things their way," CNN royal contributor Victoria Arbiter told Yahoo! Shine. "It's very clear where their priorities are: on each other and on their baby and their family."
Middleton also created some buzz for just being herself last month, the day after Prince George's birth, when she happily stepped out of the hospital with styled hair, perfect makeup, and her post-baby belly on full display, prompting both Internet debate and cheers from women everywhere.
Another way Kate has made it clear that she's got a lot in common with regular gals? She often forgoes gazillion-dollar labels for more wallet-friendly looks. This is the third version of the $79 Seraphine dress that she's donned. (The fuchsia version sold out in two hours, though, and now has a four-week waiting list.) The 31-year-old wore a patterned style of the frock when leaving the hospital last month, and also wore one in navy during her pregnancy.

"If she likes something, she likes something. It's a refreshing approach, rather than having to have the most expensive things," said Reinaud. "There's a lot of self-confidence in that."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hacker posts Facebook bug report on Zuckerberg’s wall

A Palestinian information system expert says he was forced to post a bug report on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page after the social network’s security team failed to recognize that a critical vulnerability he found allows anyone to post on someone's wall.
The vulnerability, which was reported by a man calling himself ‘Khalil,’ allows any Facebook user to post anything on the walls of other users - even when those users are not included in their list of friends. He reported the vulnerability through Facebook’s security feedback page, which offered a minimum reward of US$500 for each real security bug report. 
However, the social network’s security team failed to acknowledge the bug, even though Khalil enclosed a link to a post he made on the timeline of a random girl who studied at the same college as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
“Sorry, this is not a bug,” Facebook’s security team said in response to Khalil’s second report, in which he offered to reproduce the discussed vulnerability on a test account of Facebook security expert.
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After receiving the reply, Khalil claims he had no choice but to showcase the problem on Mark Zuckerberg’s wall.
Screenshots on his blog show that Khalil shared details of the exploit, as well as his disappointing experience with the security team, on the Facebook founder’s wall.
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Image from

Just minutes after the post, Khalil says he received a response from a Facebook engineer requesting all the details about the vulnerability. His account was blocked while the security team rushed to close the loophole.
After receiving the third bug report, a Facebook security engineer finally admitted the vulnerability but said that Khalil won’t be paid for reporting it because his actions violated the website’s security terms of service.
Although Facebook’s White Hat security feedback program sets no reward cap for the most “severe”and “creative” bugs, it sets a number of rules that security analysts should follow in order to be eligible for a cash reward. Facebook did not specify which of the rules Khalil had broken.
Somewhere between the second and third vulnerability reports, Khalil also recorded a video of himself reproducing the bug. 
In its latest reply, Facebook reinstated Khalil’s account and expressed hope that he will continue to work with Facebook to find more vulnerabilities.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Russian gold medalists kiss on medal stand at world championships to protest anti-gay laws

Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firov won a world championship as a part of the 4x400m relay team at the IAAF track championships in Moscow. They edged out the American and British teams for the gold. While on the medal stand, they kissed to protest their own country's anti-gay propaganda laws.
This isn't the first protest of Russia's laws that penalize anyone for talking about homosexuality in front of children, but it's the most visible one done by Russian athletes. U.S. runner Nick Symmonds dedicated his silver medal in the 800m to his gay friends back home, and Swedish high jumper Emma Green Tregaro painted her nails in a rainbow in honor of LGBT pride.
Russian pole-vaulting legend Yelena Isinbayva criticized Tregaro for her protest.
"We consider ourselves, like normal, standard people, we just live boys with women, girls with boys... it comes from the history," Isinbayeva said.
Later, she said her comments were misunderstood because English isn't her first language. She regularly speaks English to reporters.
"But let me make it clear I respect the views of my fellow athletes, and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people on the grounds of their sexuality (which is against the Olympic charter)."
The words spoken by Isinbayeva are not nearly as powerful as the protest of two young women kissing on the medal stand. One of the reasons many LGBT sports leaders are against a boycott of the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is because more can be accomplished by LGBT athletes and their allies standing atop the medal stand with pride. Ryzhova and Firov put that idea into action in Moscow.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The violence was Egypt's worst in decades

An Egyptian man walks between lines of bodies wrapped in shrouds at a makeshift morgue in Cairo on Thursday, following a crackdown on the protest camps of supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi the previous day. The violence was Egypt's worst in decades.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Google: don't expect privacy when sending to Gmail

google for nonprofits charities
Google said the plaintiffs were making 'an attempt to criminalise ordinary business practices' that have been part of Gmail since it began. Photo: Walter Bieri
People sending email to any of Google's 425 million Gmail users have no "reasonable expectation" that their communications are confidential, theinternet giant has said in a court filing.
Consumer Watchdog, the advocacy group that uncovered the filing, called the revelation a "stunning admission." It comes as Google and its peers are under pressure to explain their role in the National Security Agency's (NSA) mass surveillance of US citizens and foreign nationals.
"Google has finally admitted they don't respect privacy," said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's privacy project director. "People should take them at their word; if you care about your email correspondents' privacy, don't use Gmail."
Google set out its case last month in an attempt to dismiss a class action lawsuit that accuses the tech giant of breaking wire tap laws when it scans emails sent from non-Google accounts in order to target ads to Gmail users.
That suit, filed in May, claims Google "unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people's private email messages". It quotes Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman: "Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it."
The suit claims: "Unbeknown to millions of people, on a daily basis and for years, Google has systematically and intentionally crossed the 'creepy line' to read private email messages containing information you don't want anyone to know, and to acquire, collect, or mine valuable information from that mail."
In its motion to dismiss the case, Google said the plaintiffs were making "an attempt to criminalise ordinary business practices" that have been part of Gmail's service since its introduction. Google said "all users of email must necessarily expect that their emails will be subject to automated processing."
According to Google: "Just as a sender of a letter to a business colleague cannot be surprised that the recipient's assistant opens the letter, people who use web-based email today cannot be surprised if their communications are processed by the recipient's ECS [electronic communications service] provider in the course of delivery."
Citing another privacy case, Google's lawyers said "too little is asserted in the complaint about the particular relationship between the parties, and the particular circumstances of the [communications at issue], to lead to the plausible conclusion that an objectively reasonable expectation of confidentiality would have attended such a communication."
A Google spokesperson said on Wednesday evening: "We take our users' privacy and security very seriously; recent reports claiming otherwise are simply untrue.
"We have built industry-leading security and privacy features into Gmail — and no matter who sends an email to a Gmail user, those protections apply."
Simpson, a long-term Google critic, said: "Google's brief uses a wrong-headed analogy; sending an email is like giving a letter to the Post Office. I expect the Post Office to deliver the letter based on the address written on the envelope. I don't expect the mail carrier to open my letter and read it.
"Similarly, when I send an email, I expect it to be delivered to the intended recipient with a Gmail account based on the email address; why would I expect its content will be intercepted by Google and read?"
• This story was corrected on 14 August to make clear that Google's court filing was referring to users of other email providers who email Gmail users – and not to the Gmail users themselves.

Hambantota Port receives only 24 vessels during 2011-12

Magampura Mahinda Rajapaksa Port (MMRP) in Hambantota has received only 24 vessels in total during the years 2011 and 2012, the latest Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Annual Report disclosed.

The first phase of MMRP, built using Chinese funding, was opened for operations in November 2010. The port which was touted as a landmark project that could challenge ports in India and Singapore had only received six ships in 2011 and 18 ships in 2012.

The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) last year announced that all vessels carrying motor vehicles, except heavy vehicles, would be directed to MMRP in an apparent bid to increase the ship traffic at MMRP.

However, the reasons cited were the berthing delays and space constraints at Colombo Port.

The total estimated cost of the first phase of MMRP according to the SLPA was US $ 361 million and out of which 85 percent was funded by Exim Bank of China.

However, in August 2011, the SLPA said it would need additional funding of US $ 148 million to cover equipment including cranes, cost escalations in building the port and digging the basin and entrance channel.

According to the COPE report, the annual interest payable by the SLPA on MMRP amounts to: Rs.2,208 million (2012), Rs.2,479 million (2013), Rs.2,233 million (2014), Rs.1,987 million (2015) and Rs.1,742 million (2016).

To increase the income of MMRP, the SLPA said it had invited interested—both local and foreign— parties to set up business within the MMRP premises in two stages.

Under the first stage, the Cabinet has approved seven investment proposals and business venture agreements with two of the investors have already been signed.

The SLPA has informed the COPE that nine investors had been considered under stage two, who would invest US $ 1,105 million.

Time for paradigm shift in export expansion and diversification

After the disastrous consequences of the anti-export-bias and import substitution polices, Sri Lanka, since 1978, has implemented many strategies and programmes to promote export oriented industries and agriculture. Nevertheless the country’s export performance during the four decades that have ensued has been disappointing.

"Demonstrating a clear departure from earlier strategies, since 2009 the government has invested heavily on infrastructure development in critical areas of the economy."

This is partly due to the widespread violence and disturbances which discouraged foreign investors and buyers. In spite of this lackluster performance, a few initiatives and a couple of sectors have proved successful. This includes the performance of the apparel sector and the establishment of export processing zones.

Although the dawn of peace has created a more investor friendly environment the competitive edge Sri Lanka enjoyed during the 80’s in attracting FDI’s has been substantially eroded with the emergence of other low-cost Asian economies. In this context the conventional thinking of attracting large scale assembly operations, light engineering industries and the like will be a difficult dream to realize.

Towards new paradigm
Demonstrating a clear departure from earlier strategies, since 2009 the government has invested heavily on infrastructure development in critical areas of the economy. This has resulted in   unprecedented development and modernization of Sri Lanka’s sea ports, airports, highways and ICT network. These major infrastructure initiatives and the recent Ministry of Finance declaration of Colombo and Hambantota as free ports and Katunayake, Koggala and Mirijjawila Export Processing Zones and Mattala Airport as bonded warehouses indicate a direction towards a new paradigm. The country is gearing for a wider spectrum of service exports to drive the next stage of its development utilizing improved infrastructure as the platform.  The logistics sector, in particular, now has significant opportunities. Ports and shipping services, as well as airports and aviation services have considerable scope for expansion. The World Bank has indicated that the ICT/BPO sector has the potential to become a $1 billion export industry by 2015 and attain $10 billion in a decade. (It is currently worth about $450 million). Sri Lanka also has the institutions and expertise to develop financial and accountancy services as a major source of service exports, particularly in a regional context. New markets, such as Africa and the Middle East, should also be explored in this connection.
Tourism offers extremely attractive growth prospects. Sri Lanka’s diversity in such a compact geographical space is unique. However, challenges exist in terms of competitive pricing, introducing new leisure activities, effective promotion and training of staff.  
The new paradigm aims to bring about a qualitative improvement in export expansion and diversification. The prospects for FDI- driven export growth have improved significantly as this approach has been tried and tested with much success in a number of countries.

The Case for diversifying and expanding exports
As is well known, exports as a percentage of GDP has declined sharply and Sri Lanka’s share of global exports have also fallen. In addition, the exports of goods have declined by 6.6 percent in Jan – May 2013.However, This is incompatible with an accelerated  growth trajectory for a country with a population of 20 million. The experience since the end of the conflict, in 2009, has shown that a policy framework favouring growth driven by expansion in the non-tradable sector (construction, retail/wholesale trade and public administration) is not sustainable.. It has, therefore, become clear that  accelerated growth can only be sustained by implementing prudent demand management policies supported by a dynamic export development strategy.  

Pro-export macroeconomic policy framework
High interest rates and an overvalued real effective exchange rate all combined will create an anti-export bias in the macroeconomic policy framework. The problems have been compounded by the slowdown in Sri Lanka’s two major markets: EU and US. These columns have argued on many occasions that fiscal consolidation is a prerequisite for achieving low interest rates and a competitive/stable exchange rate.
In this connection, the Treasury’s commitment to reduce the budget deficit to 4 percent of GDP and eliminate public dis-savings by generating a 2 percent of GDP surplus in the current account of the budget, by 2015, is to be highly commended. Every effort should be made to support these much needed efforts. The trajectory of fiscal consolidation envisaged will serve to reduce excess demand in the system paving the way for less inflationary pressure, low interest rates and a competitive exchange rate.  While a competitive exchange rate, low interest rates and a conducive trade policy are necessary for export expansion, they are not sufficient. They need to be supported by a strategic vision and consistent/predictable policy actions. In this connection, one must applaud again the government’s decision to establish free ports and bonded areas. This will open up new opportunities in manufacturing, services and agriculture. The combination of tax incentives, the free trade agreements providing preferential access to the large Indian and Pakistan markets (as well as the FTA’s being negotiated with China and Japan) and improved connectivity/logistics provided by rapid infrastructure development have created a new paradigm for export expansion.

Opportunity for industrial relocation
The declaration of free ports and bonded areas also signals Sri Lanka’s greater openness to FDI especially in areas such as manufacturing, agribusiness and higher education.
In this regard the conditions are conducive for attracting investment from China, India, Japan and other East Asian countries to drive Sri Lanka’s export growth.
China is currently in a similar position to Japan in the 1980’s. The appreciation of the Yen and increase in other factor costs have created the opportunity for Sri Lanka to attract Chinese light engineering industries. Our close proximity to the expanding Indian market and Free Trade Agreements with India and Pakistan will also be crucial determinants for attracting Chinese enterprises.
Recent bilateral discussions with India also have identified sectors such as automotive components and pharmaceuticals with high potential for setting up in Sri Lanka with Indian investor participation. Further liberalization of trade and removal of non tariff barriers will create opportunities for Sri Lanka to expand and diversify exports to this growing market.
Japan has been Sri Lanka’s the leading bilateral donor over the last 35 years. However, now that Sri Lanka has lost eligibility for foreign aid, with graduation to lower-middle-income country status, the Japanese are seeking to substitute investment flows for ODA.

The challenges that exist regarding production levels in the traditional three crop export sector needs to be addressed, including the limited time now left on the leases granted to the plantation companies. The establishment of bonded areas and free ports also create new conditions for consideration of developing Sri Lanka as a international hub for reprocessing and export of certain agricultural products.  
There is now the danger of over-production in paddy, with farmers experiencing a sharp fall in prices for their produce. There seems to be a case for a more diversified crop-mix, particularly in Yala season, with scope for producing more high value cash crops for export. Issues related to supplies (regularity and quality) have also constrained the growth of fruit and vegetable exports.  Potential also exists for penetrating the Middle Eastern markets, particularly as the recent reforms are likely to drive improvements in logistics. Sri Lanka is the world’s largest producer of cinnamon. There is considerable potential for value addition in this sub-sector
Next Steps: How to Walk the Talk
The potential now exists for a new dawn in export performance. The combination of infrastructure development, the new free port/bonded area arrangements, the FTAs with India and Pakistan (as well as those being negotiated with China and Japan); and the incentives available under the Strategic Development Act have created a new paradigm for export expansion and diversification. It is now also up to the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities created. Equally, it is incumbent upon the government to deliver the essential public goods in the form of stable macroeconomic fundamentals; consistent and predictable policies; expeditious legal processes, particularly in relation to contracts..

Conditions necessary for greater benefits
The fundamental prerequisite of establishing service based exports to ensure availability of skilled man power in respect of specific sectors – ports, shipping, aviation and related services, ICT, etc. However, the current practice is to “export” skilled Sri Lankans. It is therefore a necessary condition to introduce demand driven skilled development programs and create an environment for talented Sri Lankans to engage in emerging service industries. With the emergence of Sri Lanka as a service hub incentive may also be provided to encourage reverse brain drain. Until and unless the required skills are available locally it may be advisable to permit “import” the necessary personnel as an interim measure.

Next steps
Establishing free ports and bonded areas will create transformative opportunities. The PF hope that early action to create the necessary conditions for taking advantage of them will be taken by the authorities. These include:
•The establishment of legal and administrative frameworks to give effect for the Free Port declaration.
•To introduce checks and balances to main  tain the integrity of the bonded areas and
•International promotion and marketing of facilities under schemes of free port and bonded areas.

Surfer, 10, Survives Run-In With Shark

A 10-year-old boy became the star of South Carolina's Governor's Cup of Surfing when he survived an encounter with a shark.
And despite the Jaws-like incident, Tyson Royston's dad said surfing is his son's "passion," and he will be back in the water soon.
With hundreds of people watching, Tyson Royston swam out at Folly Beach with six others to compete in the boys final division Sunday, says Nancy Hussey, co-director of the Southern South Carolina District of the Eastern Surfing Association. But the competition came to halt when an 8-foot bull shark came after Royston's surfboard.
"All of a sudden, we realized something was wrong," Hussey said. "We even on the boardwalk could see that it was a shark."
The animal snapped at Royston's leash - a cord every surfer wears around his ankle to tie him to his board. Royston was pulled underwater and his surf board went straight up in the air, perpendicular to the water.
"Somehow, I don't know how, he had the presence of mind to take off his leash," Hussey said. "He got away, and the shark was tangled up in the leash."
Royston's coach Bob Weaver swam out to rescue his student. "He threw the boy into a wave and Tyson swam to safety, not a scratch on him," Hussey said. The board washed up to shore not long after.
Royston was shaken by the event, but is doing fine now, according to his father.
"He said he would definitely be looking at things differently in the water," said William Royston. "But he'll definitely be jumping back in."
After the shark encounter, the competition was cancelled for the evening.
"There was no way I was going to put anyone back in the water immediately after that," Hussey said. "I think we dodged a bullet and it was a blessing."
Hussey maintains that while the incident was serious, she said it was not a shark attack. "This was just an encounter," Hussey said. "That was a bull shark, and they're really aggressive and if it had wanted to attack, it would have been a very different outcome."
Hussey said the association is vigilant about keeping its competitors safe. "It's the Atlantic Ocean. It's not a pool and the water isn't super clear, so unless you see a fin you won't know they're there, " Hussey said. "But we have lots of lifeguards and very experienced surfers."
Hussey said there are several big surfing events coming up in the next few weeks, and the three cancelled events from Sunday's competition will be also completed on a later date.
When that next competition comes, Royston will be there. "It's his passion," said the boy's father. "I'm sure whatever the next contest is, he'll be in it."