Friday, June 25, 2010

Superfruit Guava....

about the exotic fruit, guava
Unfortunately, not many people are familiar with it in the West as it is not always available fresh. It comes to our supermarkets from Egypt and India. Fresh ones come from local private gardens and farms. They are sold by street venders or in open markets. Now, let us explore this special fruit.
The guava fruit, Psidium guajava and other varieties, comes in green color or red (“strawberry” guava). It is cultivated in Asia, Central and South America, and Egypt. It is popular in the tropics, but not always found in the West except in the form of juice, jams, fruit leathers, and sauces on the Internet. The fruit comes in some hundred species. Due to its aroma and sweetness, the popular softer one is more prone to drawing fruit flies. This type comes sweet and with either white or dark pink pulp, which contains the phytochemical, lycopene. There is also the bitter kind with coarse skin. Other types have pale yellow or brownish skin. All species of guavas are not only nutrient-dense, but also low in calorie. Guava’s richness in nutrients makes the fruit a staple nourishing food in its countries of origin.
In traditional medicine, the guava fruit and its leaves are found to provide balancing properties to the body. Guava leaves have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, aspects which are being researched for the treatment of chronic diseases. In laboratory trials, essential oils of the guava leaf showed activity on cancer cells. The cancer process seemed to slow down by extracts of guava leaves or its bark.

In ancient therapies, guava leaves were known for their antibacterial and antiviral effects. The ancient Egyptians drank the infusion of lightly boiled guava leaves to soothe persistent coughs due to the leaves’ anti-inflammatory properties. They should be lightly boiled and left to steep for 20 minutes. Such healing effects have yet to be proven by scientific research and human trials. From personal experience, I found the infusion relieving to cough and detoxifying to the body, renewing energy.

Guava stands out due to its unusual combination of nutrients such as the A-C-E vitamins and K. Vitamin C and soluble fiber is particularly abundant in the fruit. The green guava, more than any other type, provides the body with 200 mg of C, twice the amount of the daily recommended dose.Pectin (prebiotic fiber) in the fruit is very high, too. Like apples and oranges, guava’s richness is pectin (polysaccharides), the gel-like substance produced with cooking, makes the fruit helpful in lowering cholesterol, hence reducing risk of cardiovascular and digestive disorders.

The tough seeds in the center of the pulp are rich in omega-3-and -6 fatty acids. To avoid the unpleasant hard seeds, they can be blended with the juice, or else they should be chewed thoroughly in order to get to the “heart-healthy” fats.

The “strawberry” guava, in particular, contains an elevated amount of carotenoids (beta-cryptoxanthin and lycopene, precursors of vitamin A). Lycopene found in “strawberry” guava has drawn the interest of researchers. In test tube experiments, the phytochemical showed activity on free radicals, giving hope for the treatment of cancer, prostate in particular. Being abundant in the fruit, lycopene puts guava in the forefront for fighting cancer.

Guava’s abundance in phytonutrients such as carotenoids (lycopene, betacarotene, beta-cryptoxanthin); polyphenols (anthocyanins); and soluble fiber (pectin) has attracted medical research because of their cell protecting properties.

The guava fruit and leaves extracts and metabolites were found by Mexican scientists to be effective in therapies for digestive tract ailments, allergies, inflammation and pain, as it was seen in traditional healing.

In traditional medicine, the guava fruit and its leaves are found to provide balancing properties to the body. Guava leaves have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, aspects which are being researched for the treatment of chronic diseases. In laboratory trials, essential oils of the guava leaf showed activity on cancer cells. The cancer process seemed to slow down by extracts of guava leaves or its bark.

In ancient therapies, guava leaves were known for their antibacterial and antiviral effects. The ancient Egyptians drank the infusion of lightly boiled guava leaves to soothe persistent coughs due to the leaves’ anti-inflammatory properties. They should be lightly boiled and left to steep for 20 minutes. Such healing effects have yet to be proven by scientific research and human trials. From personal experience, I found the infusion relieving to cough and detoxifying to the body, renewing energy.

The low-calorie fruit adds to the delight of eating it without worries about weight gain. For better absorption, fruits should be taken on an empty stomach. Pectin in the fruit is an important ingredient for making preserves, jellies, jams, marmalades, salsas, and sauces. Guava juice is particularly popular in the Middle East, Mexico, and South Africa. In Central American and Caribbean countries, people enjoy the fruit in salsas and sauces. Recently, the exotic guava has gained wider popularity. We just have to patiently wait for medical and scientific researches to support traditional claims. Meanwhile, why not enjoy this healthy superfruit!

N.B.: Individuals with medical conditions or on medication should consult their physicians when they decide to introduce anything new in their diet even if it is natural.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Summer Fashion

Pinup-Style Bikini
This summer's swimsuit trend is not only sexy, it's truly flattering on all body shapes. Pinup-style bikinis bring a touch of '50s class to a sea of stringy, barely-there floss renditions by offering a full-coverage bottom and underwire bra-top that keeps your rack in place. Leopard bikini (pictured above), $24, Rewind Vintage (2829 Johnson St. NE, Mpls).
Straw Hats
Prevent wrinkles caused by overexposure to the sun with a glamorous and practical wide-brim hat. This versatile statement accessory works with any hair type and adds a dash of vintage sophistication to your summer attire. White floppy straw hat (pictured above), $29, B-Squad (3500 Nicollet Ave., Mpls); men's brown straw hat (left), $24, Tatters (2928 S. Lyndale Ave., Mpls).
Perfect Shades
There is no better way to perk up your look in an instant than throwing on a killer pair of sunglasses. Bright white, black, or tortoise cat-eye sunglasses for ladies add a bit of old Hollywood to the most casual summer outfit. Guys can never go wrong with dark aviators or wayfayers. Vintage cat-eye and aviator sunglasses (pictured above left), $8-$15, B-Squad (3500 Nicollet Ave., Mpls); red Ray Ban sunglasses (pictured above left), Tatters (2928 S. Lyndale Ave., Mpls).
Fringe Benefits
Fringe is one of those trends that reincarnates itself with every decade, and when it comes back as Prada, it's that much better. This perfect fringe handbag is subtle yet noticeable with tough bohemian elegance. Prada black suede fringe purse (above center), $300, June (3406 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls).
Free-Flowing Hair
Hot weather warrants easy-to-manage hair that isn't stiff, sticky, or pokey. For a quick summer updo, back-comb hair at the crown with a Mason Pearson brush, pull into a ponytail, and use a Goody Simple Styles Spin Pin to twist hair into a messy but secure bun. Finish off with a light, workable hairspray. Mason Pearson brush, $151 (above center), Juut Salonspa (555 Nicollet Mall, Mpls); Goody Simple Styles Spin Pin (above center), $4, Walgreens; Aveda Air Control (top right), $24, Aveda Institute (400 Central Ave. SE, Mpls).
Light Shawl/Scarf
One minute it's hot, the next it's cold. Minnesota weather is always unpredictable, so be prepared by tucking away a paper-thin shawl or scarf for breezy, romantic coverage. Ivory lace shawl (pictured above), $12, Rewind (2829 Johnson St. NE, Mpls). Red polka-dot scarf (top right and pictured), $8, Rewind (2829 Johnson St. NE, Mpls).
Summer Shorts
Shorts are a conundrum: You need to wear them to stay cool, but it's hard to look cool in them. For ladies, invest in high-wasted hot pants or go grunge with a pair of shredded cutoffs—you can always dress it up with a sexy tank and heels. For guys on the prowl, try to stay away from the baggy look and opt for crisp, tailored shorts free of cargo pockets. Citizen of Humanity jean shorts (above), $50, GH2 (318 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls).
Flat Sandals, Peep-Toe Heels, and Broken-in Boots
Three styles of shoes take you from dusk till dawn all summer. Flirty flat sandals are a lovely addition to anyone's daytime wardrobe, and if you're one for heights, peep-toe heels come with built-in air conditioning and make your legs look long and lean. For those who like hoofing around the city, a pair of broken-in boots is where it's at—just be sure to partner with short shorts or a relaxed T-shirt to summerize the look. Jelly flats and peep-toe heels, $8-$23, Blacklist Vintage (2 E. 27th St., Mpls); Miz Mooz motorcycle boots, $100, Baystreet .

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Attitude , Style and fashion.......

It was fashion, style and attitude—good attitude, and for a good reason—as Indigenous Fair Trade + Organic clothing designers presented their Fall line and helped raise awareness for fair trade.

Co-Founder Scott Reynolds put it best when he explained, “At the heart of Indigenous is a truly symbolic relationship, one that mutually benefits all three parties: the consumer, the employee and the planet.”

During a journey through Europe, Matt Reynolds, President and Co-Founder of Indigenous was inspired by the European’s progressive environmental practices. This trip deepened his convictions to involve himself in social and environmentally responsible business.

The long-time friends/entrepreneurs reconnected in the states and started their company
Indigenous Striped Serapein 1995 with an eye towards creating comfortable, practical feminine fashion that epitomizes the relaxed California lifestyle.

Today they have teamed up with nongovernmental agencies in Ecuador, Guatemala, India and Peru and work with “more than 300 knitting cooperatives of women who sew, knit and crochet. We then train and equip these knitting groups to become self-sustainable,” explained Reynolds.

The event/fashion show, held at Agura Sushi in West Hollywood and organized in part by David Lasky Public Relations drew a host of celebrities and Hollywood’s elite.

In attendence were Edin Gali who plays, “Kurt” on “Mad Men” and Anya Benton “Nip/Tuck” who dished with me about their upcoming film, a suspense thriller entitled, “Cornered.” “I play Detective Harper and I’m the comic relief f
Indigenous Capeletor the film,” Gali said. “And I’m the punky-spunky lead .
best friend of the girl who gets kidnapped,” Benton added. The film is currently in production and stars Scott Michael Campbell.

The actors were, of course, at the Indigenous event to show support for the clothing company that, “honors both people and the planet.”

Gali continued, “I’m here supporting Indigenous Design and [the designers] Matt and Scott. I’ve been a client of theirs for a while. I’m from Bosnia, so anything that involves helping somebody or something, I’m in.” Gali admitted that he’s also an avid recycler.

Actor Israel Korn (who has appeared in “Vampire Diaries”) majored in environmental engineering in college and said, “I support anything that is environmentally and eco-friendly. So if you’re environmentally friendly, you will find me there.”

Also in attendance, Rachel Avalon, a holistic nutritionist and the 2009 Project Green Search Winner and Activist. “I’m a big believer in what fair trade is really about. Unfortunately greed has really gotten the best of us and a lot of people are paying a high price for that. The more we can support companies that really honor all people the better.”

For more information:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

YOUR REPUTATION.....""& What to Wear


"If you don't dress properly, your credibility will be undermined, even on casual days," says Ron Herzog, CEO of Fortune Personnel Consultants, an executive search firm in New York City. "Your boss may not admonish you, but he'll make a mental note that may cost you a promotion." Here's how to keep your style and professional image intact.

Do . . . stick to a dark wash with a straight, medium-to-slim fit. It's universally flattering and not overly casual, says stylist Marcy Carmack, the creator of "Go for simple," says Carmack. "Some designer jeans look too 'fashiony.' "

Do . . . pair jeans with wingtip brogues to dress up the denim without looking too fussy. Suede desert boots are a cool, slightly more casual option. If you can get away with sneakers at your office, make sure they're clean and simple, with a sleek profile.

Do . . . try a cotton button-down shirt, knit tie, and blazer with jeans. "If you take off your jacket, you'll still look put together," Jennings says. Opt for a tailored vest when you want to forgo a blazer, or try a fitted, solid-color T-shirt under a cardigan.

Don't . . . . confuse casual workdays with Saturday night. "You want to look just as put together and professional as if you were wearing a suit," says Eric Jennings, fashion director for menswear at Saks Fifth Avenue. So avoid holes, frays, and distressing.

Don't . . . wear jeans that are too loose or too tight. Baggy may be comfortable, but it's also sloppy, while tight jeans scream high school. Your work jeans should match your maturity, and fit as well as your trousers do, says Herzog.

Don't . . . confuse your jeans with formal wear. "Some men look like they put on a suit and tie to go to work, and then just took off the suit pants and replaced them with a pair of jeans," says Jennings. So no French-cuff shirts or silk ties, please.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Language for developing life

What is Development?
In a world that is very rich, many people are very poor. Development is about reaching these people and helping them improve their lives.
Indeed, development is a complex term that takes in many different ideas. But most simply, development, when we are talking about countries, means reaching an acceptable standard of living for all people. It means that people have the basic things they need to live (see What Are the Millennium Development Goals?). It means that all the people have the right to make choices about their lives. It means that they have opportunities to improve their living situations.
Developed countries are not necessarily rich countries, and all rich countries are not necessarily developed. For example, rich countries may not be considered developed if they have a few very rich people and many very poor people, and if many people don't have healthcare and education, clean air and water, roads and electricity.
Development is a cooperative effort of many. The governments of poor countries work to improve their incomes, and, in most cases, to improve the lives of their people. The governments of most rich countries try to help poor countries to do so. Institutions like the World Bank also provide money and projects to improve the lives of poor people. Many other charitable groups around the world work to do the same. And the poor themselves struggle daily to provide for themselves and their families.
These groups and governments established a list of goals that the whole world today is striving to reach-—the Millennium Development Goals.

Friday, June 4, 2010

world"s top footballer......

49. Clarence Seedorf (Milan)

You don’t win four Champions League crowns with three different clubs by accident. Perhaps he doesn’t turn it on as often as he once did, but his collection of rabbit’s feet alone makes him a worthwhile punt.

48. Jefferson Farfan (PSV Eindhoven)

He gives you trickery, pace and width, plus a host of goals (42 in the Dutch league over the past two years, a remarkable total for a guy who is not a genuine centre forward).

47. Phillip Lahm (Bayern Munich)

Little Mr Consistency runs all day and is a reliable source of goal-saving tackles and pinpoint crosses. Arguably the best left back around.

46. Rodrigo Palacio (Boca Juniors)

Probably the most reliable striker outside Europe. Something of a late bloomer, at 25 he’s really hitting his stride.

45. Diego (Werder Bremen)

Stick him in the hole behind two strikers and watch him weave his magic. He’s Kaka-lite (or, given his corpulent build, Kaka-heavy).

44. Rino Gattuso (Milan)

Steven Gerrard’s ghostwriters may not rate him, but most of the rest of us do. He runs himself into the ground, lifts the crowd and never gives up.

43. Hernan Crespo (Inter)

139 goals in his past 209 league starts in Serie A and the Premiership tell only part of the story. His movement up front is also straight out of a footballing textbook.

42. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Ajax)

By all accounts, he had a poor season - “just” 21 league goals (down from 33 last year). That says it all. Comparisons to Marco van Basten may be wide of the mark, but he’ll get you goals.

41. Alessandro Nesta (Milan)

Now that he’s fit again, strikers beware: he’s unnaturally quick, strong in the tackle and about as athletic as anyone playing the game today.

40. Juninho Pernambucano (Lyons)

Elegant and creative, but also with an edge when necessary, he can light up any side. Plus, he’ll get his usual haul of set-piece goals.

39. “Lucho” Gonzalez (Porto)

A box-to-box dervish who gets his fair share of goals and is a natural leader to boot. If only he played in a higher profile league...

38. Paul Scholes (Manchester United)

He redefined the role of attacking midfield player in the Premiership. The one concern is how well he would do away from his mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson.

37. Daniele De Rossi (Roma)

The poor man’s Roy Keane. Runs the midfield with intensity and intelligence and, like Keane, occasionally falls prey to the red mist (just ask Brian McBride).

36. Dejan Stankovic (Inter)

His long-range goals make the highlight reels, but his real contribution is the way he can effortlessly slot into any midfield position.

35. Fernando Torres (Atletico Madrid)

It feels as if he’s been around forever, but he’s still just twenty-three. Tall, strong, bright, he can lead any line on his own.

34. David Beckham (Real Madrid/Los Angeles Galaxy)

Strip away the hype, and you have a respected leader who provides the most delicious service from wide positions. That alone is worth a few dozen goals a season.

33. Javier Zanetti (Inter)

Again, we’re dealing with intangibles here. The Inter skipper is a true leader, selfless and self-sacrificing, who can fill either full-back position or play in midfield. One of the most underrated players of the past decade.

32. Jamie Carragher (Liverpool)

Like a fine wine, he gets better with age. Reads the game exceptionally well and has developed a first-rate tactical awareness. Plus, he’d run through a brick wall for you.

31. Florent Malouda (Lyons)

Put him wide or put him in a diamond and the result is the same: a blend of quality and workrate that make him one of the most sought-after players on the market today.

30. John Terry (Chelsea)

He’s what God had in mind when he invented the British centre half. While Terry’s strength and courage win him plaudits, he is also an underrated distributor who reads the game very well.

29. Andrea Pirlo (Milan)

Possibly the best free-kick taker of the lot. He single-handedly brought back the role of the deep-lying playmaker. He’s the human metronome, the man who dictates his team’s rhythym and hardly ever gives the ball away.

28. Mahamadou Diarra (Real Madrid)

He’s a natural-made backbone to any side. Never stops running, wins every 50-50 and distributes the ball efficiently. A central defender’s best friend.

27. David Villa (Valencia)

Nobody in La Liga has scored more over the past two seasons. Quick, tricky and with an eye for goal, he will punish any opponent's error.

26. Michael Ballack (Chelsea)

OK, so he had a bad season. But he’s big, strong, outstanding in the air and can find the target from anywhere in the final third of the pitch.

25. Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham Hotspur)

He has the body of a bruiser and the touch of a virtuoso. And he looks like he’ll only get better. One of the more athletic big men on this list.

24. Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea)

Like Ballack, he underachieved last year. But his contribution goes beyond goals (is it just a coincidence that Didier Drogba scored so much in the one season he played alongside the Ukrainian?) and with an injury-free pre-season under his belt, he’s worth taking a punt on.

23. Ronaldo (Milan)

Put your fat jokes to one side please. Consider instead the seven goals in twelve starts for Milan after leaving the Bernabeu asylum. Or the 82 goals in 117 starts he notched at Real in the seasons before the move. Now wash your mouth out with soap.

22. Didier Drogba (Chelsea)

The nice thing with him is that you can either leave him up on his own and lump balls to him or get him involved in the short-passing game. Either way, he’ll tie up entire opposing back fours on his own.

21. Carles Puyol (Barcelona)

A fine defender, but he ranks so high for the intangibles. Puyol is a natural-born leader, a manager’s dream, a guy who knows his limits and will leave his innards on the pitch for the club.

20. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)

Already a legend, and he only turned 26 last month. He’s an agile, fearless shot-stopper who, if Raul ever retires, will captain Real for years to come.

19. Daniel Alves (Seville)

Rarely does a single man dominate an entire flank the way he does. He combines the skills of a winger with the grit of an old-style hard man. His mere presence on the pitch forces the opposing side to readjust everything defensively.

18. Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)

If you could open his skull, you’d find the brain of a 30-year-old. Few players are so mature and so aware at such a young age, while also being totally undaunted by the task in front of them.

17. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter)

Admittedly, he’s one of the more volatile heads on this list. But creativity and vision like his rarely come in 6ft 5in packages, which makes him one of the most difficult players to defend against in the game.

16. Frank Lampard (Chelsea)

Let’s let the numbers do the talking, shall we? He has missed five league games in the past six seasons at Chelsea, while hitting double figures in league goals in each of the past four. Plus, he never slows down and is genuinely adored by his team-mates. What more do you want?

15. Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid)

And to think some numpties thought he was finished. He and Thierry Henry are the only strikers to have scored 20 or more goals in a major European league in five of the past six seasons. Put the ball anywhere near him and he’ll score. Simple as that.

14. Petr Cech (Chelsea)

Go ask Jose Mourinho and he’ll tell you that, had it not been for Steven Hunt’s boot, Chelsea would have won the treble this year. That’s how important Cech is. With a guy like him, you can just stick him in goal, stop worrying about the defensive aspect of the game and focus instead on the other end of the pitch.

13. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

The highest ranked defender on this list and with good reason. He’s big, strong, fast and gifted. He held Real’s defence together this season, while chipping in at the attacking end as well. And he’s still only 21...

12. Thierry Henry (Arsenal)

Would have ranked higher, if not for the fact that he hasn’t played since early March and it remains to be seen in what condition he’ll return. Beyond that, he’s a sure thing. Not only does he scare the bejesus out of defenders, he is also one of the most prolific forwards around today. Had he been around all year, it’s unlikely the naysayers would have mocked Arsenal’s lack of finishing the way they did.

11. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

Another who had a mediocre season (by his standards). You notice how important he is when he is not there. His workrate and ability are hard to replace and he is quickly becoming indispensable, both for club and country.

10. Francesco Totti (Roma)

His job is to create, not finish, and yet he won the European Golden Boot this season with 26 league goals: a total made all the more remarkable when you throw in the fact that he uncharacteristically missed six penalties along the way. (At least he made the ones that mattered in the World Cup.) That alone should get him on the list - his vision and phenomenal range of passing are bonuses.

9. Leo Messi (Barcelona)

Leave Maradona out of it for a minute. Focus instead on that when the ball is at his feet, unless you’re Nostradamus, you have absolutely no idea what will happen next. There is no legislating for unpredictability in football and Messi has bags of it. Plus, his 14 Liga goals last year show that he has added a healthy scoring dimension to his game as well.

8. Carlos Tevez (West Ham)

A single-minded winner, who has carried whole clubs on his back in Argentina, Brazil and England. Tevez’s contribution isn’t measured in just goals and assists, but in self-sacrifice and heroism. With a season of European football under his belt, there is no telling how much better he’s going to be next year.

7. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)

Speaking of heroics, he’s done it so many times, it’s easy to lose track. If Gerrard were a few inches taller and a few pounds more slight, we would marvel at his pure technical ability. Instead, we focus on his bruising workrate and other more obvious qualities. Don’t worry about fitting him into your side. Just do what Rafa does. Line up your nine other outfield players and let Gerrard do whatever he likes.

6. Gigi Buffon (Juventus)

Simply put, he’s a freak of nature. No man his size should be so athletic. His agility belies the laws of physics and he is about as unflappable as they come. Having a guy like him in your side means that defeats turn into draws and draws into victories. That alone is worth an extra ten to 15 points at the end of a season.

5. Michael Essien (Chelsea)

A one-man wrecking crew. Is there anything he can’t do? You could probably let the rest of the team go off for a fag break in the middle of the game and let him man the fort in midfield. Terrifyingly gifted already and, if given more responsibility, likely to get even better.

4. Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona)

He’s tired of playing second fiddle to Ronaldinho and with good reason. If he were anywhere else, people would be writing odes and sonnets to him. Eto’o is freakishly quick, an outstanding finisher, with a supernatural eye for goal. Plus, he’s happy to do the dirty work when the other side have possession. Just make sure you continue to massage his ego.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)

In the P.C. era (pre-Cristiano) wingers were slight, nippy and small. He redefined the position marrying size and brawn with pace and trickery. You get the sense that, when he’s running at defenders, he could go around them or straight through them. As an added bonus, he’s also an aerial threat on set pieces.

2. Ronaldinho (Barcelona)

There’s a reason he’s always smiling. You’d be smiling all the time too if you knew that you were the best player on the pitch and you were about to make some poor defender look a jackass. He is the poster child for Brazilian football, the proud heir of those who came before him. He didn’t adapt to the European game, he forced it to adapt to him. Put him on the team sheet, sit back and enjoy the show.

1. Kaka (Milan)

The top four are incredibly tight, but he just edges it for one simple reason: he combines Brazilian flair with European directness like nobody else. He truly is a product of two footballing cultures, a man who has all the virtues and none of the vices of either. Speaking of vices, he really, really doesn’t have any. A committed Christian, he announced proudly that he was a virgin on his wedding night. He likes to parade around in his favourite T-shirt, the one that reads “I belong to Jesus” (thereby opening a whole can of worms regarding third-party ownership).

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Google is ready to start letting users customize its famously spartan home page with photos of their own gets a bit more customizable
The company announced Wednesday afternoon that over the next few days, U.S. visitors to will be able to drag photos from their computer or a Picasa library onto the home page, giving it a unique background. Users outside the U.S. will get the feature a little bit later as Google gradually rolls it out around the world, said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience and the keeper of the Google Look, in a blog post.

Google's approach to its home page has always been minimalistic: it even removed all extraneous links from last year until the user moved their mouse, based on the belief that those quickly searching for info didn't need distractions. It has allowed users to set up customized iGoogle pages, but has otherwise left the basic page alone other than the usual holiday doodles or occasional promotions for things like Chrome or the Nexus One.

This is a major shift in the company's design philosophy, and one that shows it's paying attention to the competition. Microsoft's revamped Bing search engine is a year old, and since the redesign went live has featured a striking photo linked to various search terms as the background for its home page. That's not a custom picture, of course, but it's an eye-pleasing addition to the page and one that Google was sure to have noticed.

Microsoft responds to Google's Windows moves..
Google has started easing Windows PCs out of its internal network based on security concerns, related in part to the attacks on its infrastructure late last year. Google has so far declined to confirm that report, but Microsoft released a blog post Tuesday afternoon defending Windows security and pointing out that security concerns helped derail a Gmail deployment at Yale University.

"When it comes to security, even hackers admit we're doing a better job making our products more secure than anyone else. And it's not just the hackers; third party influentials [sic] and industry leaders like Cisco tell us regularly that our focus and investment continues to surpass others," Microsoft said in its blog post.