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Friday, February 1, 2008

Simply birolliant - the incredible 10ft 'photographs' drawn with a ballpoint pen

Last updated at 11:46am on 1st February 2008

They may look like pin-sharp photographs - but these amazing pictures are actually drawings created with the humble ballpoint pen.

The stunning pictures, measuring up to 10ft high, were drawn by a rising star of the art world, Juan Francisco Casas.

Casas, 31, can use up to four 14p ballpoint pens for a canvas and his works are already a sell-out at exhibitions.

Formerly a traditional painter, Juan began the drawings three years ago based on photographs of nights out with his friends.

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Bic money: Casas can use up four 14p ballpoints on one picture, but his prizewinning works already fetch up to £3,750 each

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Speaking from Rome yesterday, he said he admires the "simplicity" of the ballpoint pen, invented in 1938 by Hungarian Laszlo Biro.

Casas said: "I guess it started off as a joke, to try and make something so realistic that people would think is a photo.

"I also wanted to create it with something that everyone has - a Biro. I don't think it has ever been done before.

"For me it's not that different from painting. I was trying to show that it doesn't matter what material you use, it's what you do with it."

Casas only uses blue Bics and can get through several to make one drawing.

He has just spent two weeks drawing his largest piece, which is 10ft high by 3ft wide.

The only drawback is that he can't erase any errors. He said: "Mistakes are the main problem. It's better if I make them at the beginning."

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Penman Juan Francisco Casas with his work. He said, 'It started off as a joke, to try and make something so realistic that people would think is a photo'

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Casas studied Fine Art at the University of Granada, in southern Spain, and then worked there as a teacher for six years.

He submitted a ballpoint-pen drawing to a national art competition in Spain in 2004 - and was shocked to be awarded the second prize.

He said: "It's a very serious, and academic sort of competition, and I knew they would think my entry was a joke. It was just on a normal piece of paper in biro.

"I had previously done painting - oil on canvas - and this was something new. But they liked it, and it went from there."

He has exhibited in Chicago and in his native Spain, and is preparing an exhibition in Rome where he now lives.

At an exhibition in Madrid last week he sold 60 works for between 1,000 and 5,000 euros apiece (£750 to £3,750).

He said: "It was a real shock that it was so successful. I would love to come to England, but at the moment I haven't got a lot of work, as I've sold everything."

A British firm took over the ballpoint pen patent to make them for the RAF shortly after their invention, and the first ones went on sale in the UK in 1946. The Bic pen, a variation on Biro's original design, went on sale in France in 1950.

Zap Alias

ZAP Says its $30K Electric Sports Car Is Coming in 2009

By Chuck Squatriglia EmailJanuary 31, 2008 | 1:11:24 PMCategories: Electric Vehicles

Zap_alias So you want an electric sports car but don't have $98,000 to drop on a Tesla Roadster? Never fear, the ZAP Alias is here. Almost. Maybe.

The company known for its funky Xebra electric commuter cars said it will break into the high-performance market with a 320-horsepower, three-wheeled sports car by mid-2009. That timeline seems wildly optimistic, if not downright impossible, given the company only recently invited suppliers to design components for the $30,000 car.

"Right now, ... it takes GM and Toyota three-to-five years all told to go from a clean-sheet to vehicles selling on showroom floors," said Aaron Bragman, an auto industry analyst with Global Insight who worked for nearly a decade as both a salesman for a parts supplier and a buyer for an automaker. "And this is with staffs of trained engineers, processes, plants and suppliers already in place."

Nevertheless, ZAP - which has a history of announcements that seem to peter out -- said it can meet that deadline.

"Looking at our initial project development plan and our discussion with a number of key engineering and technology partners, I believe we can go into production by the second quarter of 2009," said Albert Lam, former CEO of Lotus Engineering and chairman of the joint venture developing the Alias.

ZapaliaselectriccarvehicleLotus Engineering helped develop the Tesla Roadster, and ZAP says it's lending a hand with the Alias. The car looks good - from a performance, if not an aesthetic, perspective - on paper.

ZAP says the Alias will feature two in-wheel motors producing 320 horsepower, giving the car a zero to 60 time of 5.7 seconds. It claims the Alias will have a top speed approaching 120 mph and a range of "at least" 150 miles per charge.

"The performance goals are attainable because the pace of new technology is accelerating,' said Steve Schneider, the company's chief executive officer.

ZAP says it is considering options like fast-charge capacity and a hybrid range extender.

The idea for the Alias was hatched last year when ZAP started developing the $60,000 ZAP-X crossover utility vehicle that ZAP plans to launch later this year.

ZAP and China Youngman Automotive Group - one of China's leading bus manufacturers - have launched a joint venture to build the Alias, which will be sold under a new brand name. Lam said the Alias will be built on Youngman's assembly lines. ZAP says it will outline its progress on the Alias at the National Automobile Dealers Association conference in February.

We're trying to get ahold of ZAP to learn more about the Alias. Actually, we're about to post a story about the Alias and used some of the info from that piece to update this post. We'll link to the story as soon as it's up.

8 Bills Games Set for Toronto

by R News staff

The NFL will announce Friday that the Buffalo Bills will play one regular season game in Toronto each of the next five years.

League owners provided unanimous support for the scheduling plan, which the Bills proposed last year as a way to expand their regional reach in one of the NFL's smallest media markets.

The official word on those plans is expected to come Friday from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during his state of the league address in Arizona.

The Bills announced last year that they'll play an annual regular-season game in Toronto starting this year. Goodell will also announce that the Bills will play three preseason games at Rogers Centre in Toronto over the same five-year span.

Team officials said the regular season games to be played in Canada's largest city will not be part of the Bills' season ticket package. The Toronto games are also expected to be scheduled for December.

Bills officials say December games at Ralph Wilson Stadium have been among the hardest games to sell over the years. A December game at Rogers Centre would also allow the facility's retractable dome to provide a comfortable environment for fans.

It's also the only month of the NFL regular season that does not conflict with the Canadian Football League's schedule. Rogers Centre is home to the CFL's Toronto Argonauts. It's run by Ted Rogers, owner of the Argos and Toronto Blue Jays, who's been reported to be an interested in buying the Bills when the franchise becomes available.

Funky turbines could be cheaper than coal

Written by Hank Green
Thursday, 31 January 2008

Wind turbines don't seem to have changed very much in the last few decades. Yes, they've gotten a heck of a lot bigger. And I will tell you that the innards of the devices have been the subject of industrial espionage and patent wars.

But they look pretty much the same.

Which might lead you to believe that there's not much we can do to make wind turbines much more efficient than they already are. But "FloDesign" seems to think that is not the case. For the first time since I started EcoGeek, I'm seeing horizontal axis wind turbine that doesn't look like a great-big propeller.

What it does look like is a great big jet engine. And maybe that makes sense, as jet engines are more efficient than props in driving airplanes. I'm afraid I can't explain the technology, because fluid dynamics are way over my head, but the designers of the turbine are making some fascinating claims.

There is a theoretical limit to how efficient wind turbines can be. But the designers of this turbine say that it removes whatever limitation makes that constant apply, and thus these turbines can be far more efficient and cost-effective:

A stator-rotor turbine cascade design is used to more effectively extract energy from the flow. For a given wind velocity, a MEWT having a maximum diameter 50% smaller than an existing 3-Bladed HAWT can potentially generate over 50% more power, and can potentially cost 25-35% less than the same HAWT.

So we're talking about a 25% decrease in cost with 50% more power generated. If I'm doing the numbers right, that makes wind significantly cheaper than coal throughout the entire Midwest United States. But this is still at the early stages of research and development. There needs to be a lot of work done before we'll know anything for sure. But I will say that FloDesign is officially in my RSS reader...I can't wait to hear what news they've got next.

80% efficient solar panels use nano antennae to turn IR light into power

Written by Hank Green
Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The most expensive, carefully designed, and complicated solar panels in the world operate at about 40% efficiency. That means that, for every bit of sunlight that hits the panel, only 40% of it is turned into electricity.

Scientists think that this is just about as good as silicon panels can do and are now looking at ways to make it cheaper, instead of making them more efficient. But suddenly, from nowhere, comes Steven Novack of the Idaho National Laboratories with an inexpensive, foldable solar panel that may turn out to be up to 80% efficient.

The trick is nanotechnology. The surface of the material is printed with miniscule nano-antennae that capture infra-red radiation, the kind that the sun puts out in abundance, and is even available at night. Television antennas absorbe large wavelength energy, so in order to absorb ultra-small wavelength energy (photons) they had to create ultra-small antennas.

The material is fairly simple to create, and scientists are confidient that it would scale easily out of the laboratory. But there is a bit of a hitch: There's currently no way to capture the energy being created.

So while there are electrons pouring out of the nano-antennas when exposed to the sun, there is no way to capture those electrons. But don't worry, those geniuses in Idaho are working on that already. By putting a tiny capacitor, or AC/DC converter in the center of every tiny tiny antenna, they think they could make this new kind of solar panel export all that energy it's created without raising the price, or lowering the efficiency too much.

Source: Idaho National Labs via Groovy Green

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Stoned Dubya: Bush Is A Stoner

It is amazing the world is not a more friendly place. You would think that a regular intake of weed by the world’s most powerful leader would mellow him out more and stop him from being such twat. Don’t believe Bush is a stoner? Check him out here. The tell tale signs are all there.


Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman have dated for years now, but it turns out she's had a secret all this time. This video was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night and I think it's for real. Isn't Damon married? This is gonna send shockwaves through Hollywood today. Stay tuned for breaking news as it happens.

Smart Badges track human behavior

In the corporate and academic worlds, conferences and networking events are necessary. But while some people trade business cards with aplomb, others clump with coworkers, rarely venturing beyond the safety of their pre-existing social circle. New research from MIT's Media Lab has shown that a sensor-laden conference badge might be able to help people venture out, form new connections, and gain insight into how they interact with others at such events.

Ben Waber, an MIT researcher who worked on the project (and blogged about it here), gave souped-up badges to 70 participants at a Media Lab event. These badges use an infrared sensor to gather data about face-to-face interactions, a wireless radio to collect data regarding proximity to other badges and send it to a central computer, an accelerometer to track motion of the participant, and a microphone to monitor speech patterns. At the event, the data from the infrared sensors was wirelessly transmitted to a computer that crunched the numbers, producing a real-time visualization of the event's social graph.

This project illustrates the increasing popularity of sociometrics, a discipline in which sensors collect fine-grained data during social interactions and software makes sense of it. Waber works with MIT professor Sandy Pentland, who is credited with much of the early work in sociometrics and coining the term "reality mining." (See "What Your Cell Phone Knows About You" and "The iPhone's Untapped Potential.") But Waber and Pentland aren't alone. Researchers at Intel are using sensors to help monitor the health and behavior of the elderly. And others are using position data gleaned from cell phones to help develop more-comprehensive models of how disease spreads.

The Rise of Systematic Risk

MIT's Andrew Lo describes how one person can roil the entire market.

Yesterday, a week after Societe Generale disclosed a $7.2 billion loss by a single rogue trader, Bank of France chairman Christian Noyer declared to a French senate finance committee, "None of the controls within Societe Generale seem to have worked as they should have."

But beyond the evident failure of internal control technologies lie wider vulnerabilities in the global financial system. It is possible that the deeds of 31-year-old Jerome Kerviel at Societe Generale triggered global stock sell-offs, says Andrew Lo, director of MIT's Laboratory for Financial Engineering. And that points to widening systemic risk in ever more complex financial markets.

Technology Review: First, what do we know about the failures of those Societe Generale controls?

Andrew Lo: They are still trying to piece together the different methods he used, but apparently, it was his intimate knowledge of Societe Generale's systems infrastructure that allowed him to circumvent various controls. From news reports, it appears he was able to access internal financial databases and not only alter the stated holdings of the accounts he was trading, but was also able to circumvent the checks and reconciliation processes that were put into place to make sure these were accurate. Apparently, the standard reconciliation processes did run, but he was able to alter the records both before and after these processes ran so as to avoid detection and maintain his portfolio.

TR: Can't we just build better software and other technologies to prevent a recurrence?

AL: Yes, but anytime there is an interface between technology and human behavior, you open yourself up to the potential for fraud. Systems don't build themselves: humans program them. A big event like this happens every so often, and then people say, "Gee, we have to spend more time and money to improve our systems," and the systems become safer. Once the systems become safer, we get lulled into a false sense of security and complacency. And eventually, we experience a rude awakening when the next disaster strikes. I would argue that it is impossible to prevent these disasters with 100 percent certainty.

TR: Okay, so bad things will happen. I take it you are mainly concerned about the ripple effect when they do?

AL: Exactly. The financial system as a whole is getting more complex. Financial institutions rely on ever more elaborate systems architecture and electronic communications across different counterparties and sectors. The number of parties involved, the nature of transactions, the volume of transactions as the market grows--taken together, the dynamics among these aspects of financial markets imply that the complexity is growing exponentially. No single human can comprehend that complexity. And as the system grows more complex, it is a well-known phenomenon that the probability of some kind of shock spreading through the system increases as well. Systemic shocks become more likely. Today, we are looking at some significant exposure to relatively rare events.

TR: In what way was the Societe Generale matter such a shock?

AL: One natural hypothesis is that the global sell-off that happened early last week was a direct outcome of Societe Generale's unwinding of these rogue trades. We don't have any conclusive evidence yet, but it's not an outlandish conjecture given the circumstances surrounding the massive fraud that was allegedly committed. According to Societe Generale, the problem was discovered on Saturday [January 19], and the firm began unwinding their portfolio at the first possible opportunity. If it turns out that this "unwind" was on the scale of a billion dollars or more, it is plausible that the unwind itself triggered the global sell-off--first in Asia, then in Europe, and then in the U.S.

TR: So one person, in this case Mr. Kerviel, can move the entire global financial system.

AL: It's a larger-scale version of what happened in August of 2007--in particular, August 7, 8, and 9. A large number of quantitative equity hedge funds lost money on those dates simultaneously, yet there is no market event that you can point to that can explain why these funds lost money at the same time. But looking at circumstantial evidence, we [at MIT] pieced together a story that one large quantitative equity fund decided to unwind its portfolio, for reasons we don't know for sure, but which we conjecture to be related to credit problems from the subprime mortgage market. Because the conjectured liquidation involved a big fund that needed to be liquidated quickly, this implies that the impact of the liquidation on other similarly positioned quantitative equity funds would be negative--and large. You get a snowball effect. Everybody is heading for the exit door at the same time, and you get a crash. But in August 2007, it was not a crash of the market as a whole, but of portfolios that are similarly structured to the fund that started the snowball.

TR: So how can we mitigate these kinds of wider risks?

AL: Probably the best way to reduce the impact of systemic shocks is to provide investors with some transparency as to their likelihood and severity, and let the investors decide how much risk to bear. This is probably best accomplished by creating a government organization like the National Transportation Safety Board, charged with the mandate of analyzing every financial blowup or crisis and producing publicly available reports that describe the nature of the crisis, the circumstances leading up to it, and proposed methods for avoiding such incidents in the future. In the same way that the NTSB has improved the safety of air travel by sifting through the wreckage of every airplane crash and publishing a detailed study of its findings and recommendations, a Capital Markets Safety Board would give investors more insight into the risks of any given investment. Over time, the aggregate information produced by the CMSB would shed additional light on the nature of systemic risks for the entire global financial system.

Cheap Hydrogen using titania and sunlight??

A new process uses sunlight and a nanostructured catalyst to inexpensively and efficiently generate hydrogen for fuel.

Nanoptek, a startup based in Maynard, MA, has developed a new way to make hydrogen from water using solar energy. The company says that its process is cheap enough to compete with the cheapest approaches used now, which strip hydrogen from natural gas, and it has the further advantage of releasing no carbon dioxide.

Nanoptek, which has been developing the new technology in part with grants from NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE), recently completed its first venture-capital round, raising $4.7 million that it will use to install its first pilot plant. The technology uses titania, a cheap and abundant material, to capture energy from sunlight. The absorbed energy releases electrons, which split water to make hydrogen. Other researchers have used titania to split water in the past, but Nanoptek researchers found a way to modify titania to absorb more sunlight, which makes the process much cheaper and more efficient, says John Guerra, the company's founder and CEO.

Researchers have known since the 1970s that titania can catalyze reactions that split water. But while titania is a good material because it's cheap and doesn't degrade in water, it only absorbs ultraviolet light, which represents a small fraction of the energy in sunlight. Other researchers have tried to increase the amount of sunlight absorbed by pairing titania with dyes or dopants, but dyes aren't nearly as durable as titania, and dopants haven't produced efficient systems, says John Turner, who develops hydrogen generation technologies at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in Golden, CO.

Nanoptek's approach uses insights from the semiconductor industry to make titania absorb more sunlight. Guerra says that chip makers have long known that straining a material so that its atoms are slightly pressed together or pulled apart alters the material's electronic properties. He found that depositing a coating of titania on dome-like nanostructures caused the atoms to be pulled apart. "When you pull the atoms apart, less energy is required to knock the electrons out of orbit," he says. "That means you can use light with lower energy--which means visible light" rather than just ultraviolet light.

The strain on the atoms also affects the way that electrons move through the material. Too much strain, and the electrons tend to be reabsorbed by the material before they split water. Guerra says that the company has had to find a balance between absorbing more sunlight and allowing the electrons to move freely out of the material. Nanoptek has also developed cheaper ways to manufacture the nanostructured materials. Initially, the company used DVD manufacturing processes, but it has since moved on to a still-cheaper proprietary proces

Social Search

A New web site will base results on the user's social network

People are flocking to online social networks. Facebook, for example, claims an average of 250,000 new registrations per day. But companies are still hunting for ways to make these networks more useful--and profitable. In the past year, Facebook has introduced new services aimed at taking advantage of users' online contacts (see "Building onto Facebook's Platform"), and Yahoo announced plans for an e-mail service that shares data with social-networking sites. (See "Yahoo's Plan for a Smarter In-Box.") Now a company called Delver, which presented at Demo earlier this week, is working on a search engine that uses social-network data to return personalized results from the larger Web.

Liad Agmon, CEO of Delver, says that the site connects information about a user's social network with Web search results, "so you are searching the Web through the prism of your social graph." He explains that a person begins a search at Delver by typing in her name. Delver then crawls social-networking websites for widely available data about the user--such as a public LinkedIn profile--and builds a network of associated institutions and individuals based on that information. When the user enters a search query, results related to, produced by, or tagged by members of her social network are given priority. Lower down are results from people implicitly connected to the user, such as those relating to friends of friends, or people who attended the same college as the user. Finally, there may be some general results from the Web at the bottom. The consequence, says Agmon, is that each user gets a different set of results from a given query, and a set quite different from those delivered by Google.

"We have no intention of competing with the Googles of the world, because Google is doing a very good job of indexing the Web and bringing you the Wikipedia page of every search query you're looking for," says Agmon. He says that Delver will free general search queries such as "New York" or "screensaver" from the heavy search-engine optimization that tends to make those kinds of queries return generic, ad-heavy results on Google. "[As a user], you're always thinking, how can I trick Google into bringing me the real results rather than the commercial results?" Agmon says. "With this engine, we don't need to trick it at all. You can go back to these very naive and simple queries because the results come from your network. Your network is not trying to optimize results; they just publish or bookmark pages which they find interesting." As a consequence, the results lean toward user-generated content and items tagged through sites such as

A person can improve the results he gets from Delver by registering and allowing it access to connections made on sites where information is usually kept private, Agmon says. Registered users can also add connections found through Delver, such as a friend of a friend who consistently leads to interesting sites. Although the registration feature will be available, Agmon says that it's important that people be able to use the site without registering, so it will be available to more casual Web users. One consequence of this design as it currently stands is that it's possible to search the Web as someone other than yourself. Agmon acknowledges the possibility and its potential for use and abuse, but he notes that once a person builds a profile, he must log in to search, and that identity can no longer be used as a proxy.

The 25 Most Memorable Super Bowl Ads

The 25 Most Memorable Super Bowl Ads

squares_most.jpgThe Times is reporting today that this year's crop of crazy expensive Super Bowl ads is going to be tamer than usual. Basically babies talking on webcams. Awesome. This got me thinking about Super Bowl commercials that were actually memorable, and after some searching I put together this list of 25 (after the jump.) Once you've watched all these you and that chick at your party who doesn't give a shit about football will have something to talk about.

to many videos to post right click here:

The 25 Most Memorable Super Bowl Ads

WiFi-enabled universal remote pulls codes from the web

You probably won't be seeing TVcompass's SR 1500 universal remote released looking exactly like this (or even bearing the TVcompass name) but we have high hopes some other company will rebrand the WiFi-enabled unit soon. Featuring a QVGA display,and Windows CE, the SR 1500 pulls device codes from the web using the built-in browser, which supports Flash and J2ME, backup settings to a server, and do custom guide displays. There's no pricing yet, but hopefully that'll get sorted when this thing gets picked up for resale.

Del Toro to take charge of The Hobbit

Guillermo del Toro
No small challenge ... Guillermo del Toro is to direct two Hobbit films. Photograph: Sarah Lee

Staff and agencies
Thursday January 31, 2008

Guardian Unlimited
Guillermo del Toro has officially signed up to direct The Hobbit, according to reports leaking out from a film premiere in France. The Pan's Labyrinth creator will oversee a double-bill of films based on JRR Tolkien's fantasy adventure, which paved the way for The Lord of the Rings. Peter Jackson, director of the Oscar-winning Rings trilogy, will serve as executive producer.

The announcement was made at last night's French premiere of The Orphanage, a Spanish horror film that Del Toro helped produce. Introducing the film-maker, the host told the audience: "Today is a big day because we are announcing what everyone wanted to hear, which is that he will be directing The Hobbit." Del Toro had previously been reported to be in negotiations to take charge of the project.

The Hobbit charts the adventures of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who joins a band of dwarves on their mission to liberate their treasure from a dragon's lair. Along the way, Baggins takes possession of a magical ring of invisibility. The ring is later revealed to be the chief weapon of the dark lord Sauron. The author devised this twist after completing the original tale, laying the ground for his famous Lord of the Rings trilogy of novels.

The Hobbit films will be backed by New Line with a reported budget of $150m (£78m). Production begins next year, with the pictures following in 2010 and 2011.

Patriots Analytics in Football

Football coaches have never been known to be particularly intellectual, tending to favor their "gut feelings" over objective data. But that is slowly changing. Professional-football general managers and coaches are increasingly using analytics--the intensive use of data and statistics to make decisions--both in evaluating a player's performance and in calling plays during the game. Some experts credit part of the success of the New England Patriots, who are competing for their fourth Super Bowl in seven seasons on Sunday, to this trend in analytics.

"It is generally accepted that the Patriots are one of the most analytically advanced franchises in the NFL," says Aaron Schatz, the creator of, a site that uses statistics to analyze the game.

Such heavy use of analytics has already transformed the management of professional baseball, and now it is making inroads into football. KC Joyner, author of Scientific Football 2007, a book that uses a performance-based metric system to analyze nearly every measureable statistic in the NFL, says that analytics began to emerge in football in the past five years as teams have gone from just analyzing game footage to putting a quantitative value on a player's performance.

One of the more widely used metrics is the quarterback rating. It is a complex rating that's computed based on complete passes, pass attempts, passing yards, touchdown passes, and interceptions. "This is a pretty critical metric since quarterbacks are one of the most important players," says Tom Davenport, a professor of IT and management at Babson College and author of Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning.

Teams continue to analyze video to track, tabulate, and calculate how many times the opposing team, for example, blitzes when its defense is in a nickel formation, but they are also starting to use video to track the number of times that a cornerback misreads a slant route or runs into another defender when covering a pick play. "It's not just about doing advanced scouting on teams' formations, but targeting players so teams say, 'We can run this play at this lineman,' or 'This cornerback can't cover this particular route,'" says Joyner.

Beyond targeting players, football is beginning to use analytics to select the best players for the lowest price. "The Patriots are particularly good at optimizing their payroll," says Davenport. "This is what a corporation would call human resource analytics, and in any sport, that is probably the single most important thing to do."

On the field, the Patriots do not shy away from using analytical data to make play-calling decisions--whether it is deciding to punt on fourth down, or deciding if they should go for one point or two after a touchdown, says Davenport. After the team's head coach, Bill Belichick, read a paper by well-known economist David Romer about how teams are generally too conservative on fourth down, he began using historical data to develop a table to determine when the team should punt and when it should go for the first down. In the past couple of years, Belichick has been one of the most aggressive coaches when it comes to going for it on fourth down, says Schatz.

Analytics in sports have been most commonly used in professional baseball. One early advocate was Bill James, a statistician who is now a senior advisor to the Boston Red Sox. "Bill James has been prolific in coming up with new metrics for team and player performance, gathering those statistics and publishing them," says Davenport.

But baseball lends itself to an analytical mind-set. "The sport is individually oriented and, thus, it is easier to measure the individual's contribution," says Davenport. "Plus, there is just a lot of data available, and when data emerges, people start taking advantage of it."

In football, the use of analytics is harder because there are only a few statistics that are popularly tracked, like yardage and downs. But football, like baseball, is now working to bridge the gap between what the "scouting eye" sees and what the numbers are saying, says Joyner. "Football is still in the early stages," he notes.

The analytics trend "is not going to take off in football until someone wins with metrics like the Red Sox did in baseball," says Joyner. "The Patriots are going to help, but what it will really take is a team to go from a losing record to winning the championship." Until that happens and everyone catches up, analytics are going to give teams that are already using the methods, like the Patriots, a competitive edge, he says.

Aston Martin vs. Roller Blader With A Jet Pack

Microsoft wants to purchase Yahoo


Microsoft has offered to buy the search engine company Yahoo for $44.6bn (£22.4bn) in cash and shares.

The offer, contained in a letter to Yahoo's board, is 62% above Yahoo's closing share price on Thursday.

Yahoo cut its revenue forecasts earlier this week and said it would have to spend an additional $300m this year trying to revive the company.

It has been struggling in recent years to compete with Google, which has also been a competitor to Microsoft.

In a conference call, Microsoft's Kevin Johnson said that the combination of the two companies would create an entity that could better compete with Google.

It is a shotgun marriage, but the person holding the shotgun is Google
Tim Weber, business editor, BBC News website

"Today the market [for online search and advertising] is increasingly dominated by one player," he said.

Chairman quit

Yahoo confirmed that it has received an unsolicited offer and said that its board would evaluate the proposal, "carefully and promptly in the context of Yahoo's strategic plans and pursue the best course of action to maximize long-term value for shareholders."

If Yahoo accepted the offer, competition authorities both in the US and the European Union would be likely to investigate the tie-up.

Yahoo chief executive, Jerry Yang, announced on Tuesday that he intended to lay off 1,000 staff as part of a restructuring plan.

Terry Semel, who stepped down as chief executive last June, also quit as non-executive chairman on Thursday.

Microsoft said that Yahoo shareholders could choose to receive either cash or shares.

Oct to Dec 2007 down 23%
July to Sept 2007 down 5%
April to June 2007 down 2%
Jan to March 2007 down 11%

Yahoo shares have fallen 46% since reaching a year-high of $34.08 in October. They opened 51.2% higher.

Microsoft opened 4.3% lower while Google shares fell 6.8%.

"Ultimately this corporate marriage was forced by the rise of Google, which has grown into a serious competitor for both Microsoft as a software company and Yahoo as an internet portal," said Tim Weber, business editor of the BBC News website.

"It is a shotgun marriage, but the person holding the shotgun is Google."

'Exorbitant premium'

According to its letter to Yahoo, Microsoft attempted to enter talks about a deal a year ago, but was rebuffed because Yahoo was confident about the "potential upside" presented by the reorganisation and operational activities that were being put in place at the time.

"A year has gone by, and the competitive situation has not improved," Microsoft's letter said.

But there has been some concern about the price that Microsoft is offering.

HAVE YOUR SAY This smacks of desperation from Microsoft who have consistently failed to achieve a meaningful online presence Matt, UK

"To me, the premium seems exorbitant, for what is a dwindling business," said Tim Smalls from the brokerage firm Execution LLC.

"I personally don't see how the synergies of Microsoft-Yahoo is going to take on Google."

Other analysts were more enthusiastic about the offer.

"It is a fantastic offer. It is game on," said Colin Gillis from Canaccord Adams.

"This consolidates the marketplace down to Google versus Microsoft. These two companies will be going head to head."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2008/02/01 14:52:43 GMT


Watch Berman melt down

Van Damme Friday: The One after the SuperBowl: Friends 1996

and a special added bonus: