Japan’s nuclear crisis has created a keen interest in radioactive fallout reaching the United States’ West Coast. How “hot” or radioactive is it in the Los Angeles basin? EnviroPreporter.com knows and is keeping an eye on it with a device that monitors ionizing radiation and measures it in Counts Per Minute or CPM.

The RadAlert Inspector Nuclear Radiation Monitor is located 140 feet above sea level in EnviroReporter’s Santa Monica office on the West Los Angeles border. A live camera is trained on the device and streamed online via UStream. You can watch it too.

Readings are taken constantly and will reveal any increases in the normal radiation ranges of 40 to 46 CPM. As of this writing, more than 2600 people were monitoring the online radiation station, which was showing a reading of 42 CPM.

Ustream has been a big player in a series of international disasters. After a series of headline-making news events, UStream hit 10 million broadcasters and 60 million unique monthly viewers. On the day of the earthquake, Ustream hit 7.2 million views. With nine consecutive quarters of growth averaging 45 percent, other news events that drove up UStream’s usage numbers included the dramatic rescue of Chilean miners, the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and the debut of the Charlie Sheen show.

Speaking of live streaming, TokyoSky.to gives you a bird’s eye, high-definition Earthcam view of the Chuo City section of Tokyo, complete with live sound. This view of the skyline is the next best thing to being there. But while all looks calm, it’s anything but business as usual.

Closer to the ground, The Japan Times website gives us the Japanese media’s perspective on the continuing nuclear crisis and its impact on the people and economy, and the historic earthquake and tsunami’s shattering toll on the lives of those who lived on Japan’s northeast coastline.

Stars and Stripes online gives readers the impact on our U.S. military stationed in Japan, where the military’s humanitarian relief effort is underway and nearly 8,000 military family members were still hoping to flee Japan’s ongoing nuclear crisis.

Japan’s power company turned to Twitter to provide nuke updates. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has created a Twitter account to notify people of power blackouts and radiation leaks related to nuclear power plants damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The account attracted almost 190,000 followers in less than a day.

Mashable.com reports that social media is playing a vital role in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, with people using social media sites to find loved ones. Japan’s prime minister created an English-language Twitter account too.

Want to know the fundamentals of nuclear meteorology and the tools the authorities in the U.S. and Japan are using to make the forecasts? GeekMom has a primer.

Just what exactly goes on inside a nuclear reactor? This site helps you understand by providing comprehensive, simple, easy-to-understand information gathered from several reliable sources.

Here’s how you can stay current on the developing crisis: Twitter Hashtags: #Japan, #JPQuake, #JapanQuake, #PrayForJapan, #Tsunami and #TsunamiCharity;real-time Tweet map; Save Japan (updates in Japanese); and the U.N.’s Must-Follow Twitterers.

On Facebook: Japan Earthquake page and Solidarity With the Victims of the Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan 2011 page.

YouTube: Japan Tsunami and CitizenTube videos

Click here for more online sites to stay up to date.

Cell phone providers to the rescue

AT&T and Verizon are offering free wireless calls and texting from the U.S. to Japan. AT&T’s free service will continue through March 31, while Verizon’s ends April 10. Verizon is waiving all pre-paid phone card charges for long-distance calls to Japan from the U.S. during the same period.

Sprint and T-Mobile also have suspended fees for calls and text messages made to Japan. Sprint will waive fees for wireless calls and text messages to and from Japan for its customers through April 10. T-Mobile removed charges for international long distance calls and text messages made to Japan for its contract, non-prepaid customers to March 31. T-Mobile’s postpaid customers also can make free Wi-Fi calls to and from Japan during the same period.

Hit the switch

What to do if government hits the Internet “kill switch”? I like this one as included in howto.wired – “Call to Tweet”: A small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company Google acquired recently, made this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to the Twitter account,speak2tweet.

Here’s a list of things you can do to keep the communication flowing. First, click here.

Groupon Now – a smartphone app that could change societal habits

Groupon is about to launch its most ambitious venture yet: a mobile application the company is betting will change when and how we choose to eat, shop and play. The Now app is the next evolution of Groupon’s current deal-a-day business model. When a user opens up the smartphone app, he or she will be presented with just two buttons: “I’m hungry” and “I’m bored.” Clicking either button will open up a list of time-specific daily deals, based on his or her location.

Groupon, a daily deals company is the fastest growing company in history, reported to be offering a $25 billion IPO just months after rejecting Google’s offer of $6 billion to buy it.

Google Maps app routes drivers around traffic congestion

Google recently announced that its Android version of Google Maps navigation will automatically route you around traffic when providing you with directions: “Our routing algorithms will also apply our knowledge of current and historical traffic to select the fastest route from those alternates. That means that navigation will automatically guide you along the best route given the current traffic conditions.”

With these traffic time stats, Google’s app will be a welcome addition to your dashboard. Depending on where you are, you could be spending as much as a month a year in traffic!

Twitter study: Birds of a feather flock together

Twitter has its happy people and unhappy people. And as the saying goes, never the twain shall tweet … er, meet.

A study reported in New Scientist magazine tracked 102,000 Twitter users and analyzed the 129 million tweets they sent and received during a six-month period. Using standard techniques of psychology, they found that users are either fulfilled and happy or miserable. And they tend to cluster together, like birds of a feather.

Everyone on Twitter is HAPPY about this security addition – the HTTPS option. It’s as sensible as shredding your mail. Or wearing a seatbelt. Or locking your doors.

“Twitter” in the Oxford English dictionary is defined as “a short inconsequential burst of information, chirps from birds.” Read the history of this revolutionary communication tool as Twitter turns 5!

.xxx – Internet’s new “red light district”

In Boston, it was referred to as the “Blue Light” district. On the Internet, it’s the “Red Light” district, marked by a .xxx address.

The aptly named .xxx domain for adult-content websites was approved Friday by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, the group that manages the creation and distribution of Web addresses. The triple-x domain suffix will not, however, be required by law for websites featuring ribald material. Despite the fact that thousands of requests to reserve more than 200,000 domain names have been submitted, not everyone is happy with their new address. Here’s why.

Google to test mobile payments in SF, NY

Consumers in San Francisco and New York City will soon be able to use their mobile phones to ring up purchases. Instead of using cash or credit cards, shoppers will pay for products and services by tapping their device against a register at checkout. The Google service may combine a consumer’s financial account information, gift-card balances, store loyalty cards and coupon subscriptions on a single NFC chip on a phone. Moving us closer to a cashless society. Number, please.

Getting news from web surpasses newspapers – Pew

More people get their news from the Web than a physical newspaper. This is the first time in history this has happened, according to a study from the Pew Research Center.

In the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s State of the News Media annual report, the Pew Center said the only platform that beat out the Web in terms of audience was TV. Online ad revenue in 2010 is projected to surpass print newspaper ad revenue for the first time. 

Return engagement: Pay-for-content at New York Times

As if to shoot itself in its own foot, and in what critics say is a counterintuitive business move, the New York Times announced it will charge the most frequent users of its website for access. The plan begins March 28 for U.S. readers. This at a time when newspaper readership has fallen precipitously to historic lows. The pay-per-view plan failed the last time the Grey Lady tried it.

Under the return engagement plan, visitors to nytimes.com will be able to get free access to 20 items a month, including articles, videos and slide shows. After that, they will be asked to subscribe to one of three plans: $15 every four weeks for access to nytimes.com and a smart phone app; $20 for access to nytimes.com and a tablet computer app; or $35 for access to all three. Subscribers to the print edition will get digital access to all products at no additional charge.

Some analysts questioned whether readers will pay for news online when free articles are abundant and easily accessed on the Internet. We do too.

And get this – if you come to the New York Times via Facebook or Twitter, you can read for free, no limits. That won’t torque paying customers. Paywall enthusiasts like The Wall Street Journal have offered such loopholes via the Google trick: Google the title, click the resulting link and access it for free. No questions asked. Yep, this is going to work just fine for those customers shelling out bucks every month.

While the New York Times is charging its most loyal readers, Web surfers turned to social networks for 2010 mid-term news, this according to Pew, and reported in the NYT’s own tech blog section. Hello! Are they reading their own paper? Hint: here’s the study. It’s news. Send it to Pinch.

Netflix gamble possible game-changer for movie, TV industry

Forget cable. The TV of the future is right here in front of you. You’re looking at it. Case in point: In late 2012, Netflix will bring to members in the U.S. and Canada exclusively “House of Cards,” the much-anticipated television series and political thriller from Executive Producer David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey. This marks the beginning of viewer-selected programming, a la carte, a concept that cable TV providers have promised but never delivered.

According to the Netflix blog, “We’ve committed to at least 26 episodes of the serialized drama, which is based on a BBC mini-series from the 1990s that’s been a favorite of Netflix members.

“‘House of Cards’ is unique,” Netflix continues, “as it is the first exclusive TV series to originate on Netflix. Typically, we license TV shows the season after they run on a broadcast network or cable channel, and occasionally, we have episodes from a current season, as is the case with ‘Saturday Night Live’ from NBC, ‘Spartacus’ from Starzplay and ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ from Disney Channel. In all of these cases, the shows are produced before we bring them to Netflix. ‘House of Cards’ represents a slightly more risky approach; while we aren’t producing the show and don’t own it, we are agreeing to license it before it is successfully produced.”

Remodeling? App allows you to view your designs beforehand

With DIY (Do It Yourself) programs growing in popularity, instead of seeing the “reveal” on TV, now you can see a redesign “reveal” on your iPhone! Pixelate 2.0, available at the iTunes store, is another step into the future, allowing you to try out paint colors on your walls, your clothes or anything else you’d like to change.

Life-saving Fire Dept. app whose time has come

It’s a smartphone app that’s going to save lives. It’s the iPhone application Fire Department.

Launch it and it prompts you to ask if you’ve been trained in CPR and would be willing to help a stranger in the event of an emergency.

If yes, the app seeks your iPhone’s location and the next time 911 calls for an emergency near you, it will not only notify you that help is needed, it will let you know the location of the nearest automated external defibrillator. The whole process takes seconds, critical in situations when immediate CPR can be life saving.

The service currently is only available in California’s San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District. San Francisco is asking volunteers to help build a map of AEDs and hopes to have the technology working by the end of the year. The city’s website for the initiative is right here.

Though the City of San Francisco is doing good things with the FD app, city officials are messing up royally on the tax front. At least one city supervisor wants to tax Twitter execs for stock options – whether the options are executed or not. Twitter says it will relocate if forced to bear the onerous taxes, so the city has negotiated a deal that will keep them in the City by the Bay for six years. But guess who’s balking? The SEIU – Service Employees International Union, Local 1021 – the city’s biggest public employee union. Read why.

I Tweet, therefore I am …

Unemployed – AFLAC! Jokes about the Japanese disaster cost this quacker his job.

The Time Capsule

1943 – Plot to assassinate Hitler fails

1956 – MLK convicted of organizing Montgomery bus boycott

1975 – King Faisal assassinated, nephew held

1979 – Israel, Egypt agree to historic peace treaty

1983 – Reagan proposes Space Defense Initiative (SDI)

1989 – Exxon Valdez runs aground off Alaska

Now playing at the Princess Theater, Urbana, Ill.

Congratulations to WorldNetDaily readers Jim Nygaard of Cudahy, Wis., and Ruth Pearson of Lima, Ohio, who were among the first to correctly guess actor Louis Calhern in the 1953 movie “Julius Caesar.”

The film, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and adapted from a play by William Shakespeare, tells the story of Caesar, Roman general and statesman, who played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. A group of senators, led by Marcus Junius Brutus, assassinated the dictator on the Ides of March, 44 B.C., hoping to restore the constitutional government of the Republic. The film also starred Marlon Brando and James Mason.

The quote: “Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once” – Julius Caesar.

This week’s quote: “I’m a soldier, I serve my country. But this is not my country. I was lying out there bleeding to death, thinking, ‘If I die now, I leave nothing to my children but shame.'”

Name the movie, the actor and the character. Send your answer to me at the email address below. Good luck!

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