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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Copper too expensive for the Penny- steel instead?

Chismillionaire says get rid of it all together. Make all prices end in 5 or 10 increments and make taxe rates change accordingly.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Further evidence that times are tough: It now costs more than a penny to make a penny. And the cost of a nickel is more than 7 1/2 cents.

Surging prices for copper, zinc and nickel have some in Congress trying to bring back the steel-made pennies of World War II, and maybe using steel for nickels, as well.

Copper and nickel prices have tripled since 2003 and the price of zinc has quadrupled, said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., whose subcommittee oversees the U.S. Mint.

Keeping the coin content means "contributing to our national debt by almost as much as the coin is worth," Gutierrez said.

A penny, which consists of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper, cost 1.26 cents to make as of Tuesday. And a nickel -- 75% copper and the rest nickel -- cost 7.7 cents, based on current commodity prices, according to the Mint.

That's down from the end of the 2007, when even higher metal prices drove the penny's cost to 1.67 cents, according to the Mint. The cost of making a nickel then was nearly a dime.

Penny, nickel cost taxpayers $100 million last year. Gutierrez estimated that striking the two coins at costs well above their face value set the Treasury and taxpayers back about $100 million last year alone.

A lousy deal, lawmakers have concluded. On Tuesday, the House debated a bill that directs the Treasury secretary to "prescribe" -- suggest -- a new, more economical composition of the nickel and the penny. A vote was delayed because of Republican procedural moves and is expected later in the week.

Unsaid in the legislation is the Constitution's delegation of power to Congress "to coin money (and) regulate the value thereof."

The Bush administration, like others before, chafes at that.

Just a few hours before the House vote, Mint Director Edmund Moy told House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., that the Treasury Department opposes the bill as "too prescriptive" in part because it does not explicitly delegate the power to decide the new coin composition.

The bill also gives the public and the metal industry too little time to weigh in on the new coin composition, he said.

"We can't wholeheartedly support that bill," Moy said in a telephone interview. Moy said he could not say whether President Bush would veto the House version in the unlikely event that it survived the Senate.

Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., who is retiring at the end of the year, is expected to present the Senate with a version more acceptable to the administration in the next few weeks.

Get rid of the penny? The proposals are alternatives to what many consider a more pragmatic, but politically impossible solution to the penny problem: getting rid of the penny altogether.

"People still want pennies, which is why we're still making them," Moy said.

Even Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged in a radio interview earlier this year that getting rid of the penny made sense but wasn't politically doable -- and certainly nothing he is planning to tackle during the Bush team's final months in office.

In 2007, the Mint produced 7.4 billion pennies and 1.2 billion nickels, according to the House Financial Services Committee.

Other coins still cost less than their face value, according to the Mint. The dime costs a little over 4 cents to make, while the quarter costs almost 10 cents. The dollar coin, meanwhile, costs about 16 cents to make, according to the Mint. To top of page

What can you do with a second Ethernet port?

"Purchase a new PC or motherboard soon, and the chances are good that it will come with two built-in network interfaces -- either two Ethernet jacks or one Ethernet and one Wi-Fi. Tossing in a second adapter is an inexpensive way for the manufacturer to add another bullet point to the product description -- but what exactly are you supposed to..."

read more | digg story

Cubicle Culture: Tech's top 10 workspaces

What makes for an appealing workspace? The envelopes they leave in your mailbox every two weeks. But after that, it comes down to design and amenities. Also, we like windows and brick. Lots and lots of brick. After spending some time on Office Snapshots, we present the ten best-looking offices in tech, below.

read more | digg story

Chrysler gives customers $2.99 gas. FOR THREE YEARS!

Buy a new Chrysler product and the automaker gives you a card to pay for gas... at $2.99 a gallon... for three years.

read more | digg story

Breastfeeding Associated With Increased Intelligence, Study Suggests


A new study suggests that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding makes kids smarter. (Credit: iStockphoto)

ScienceDaily (May 6, 2008) — The largest randomized study of breastfeeding ever conducted reports that breastfeeding raises children's IQs and improves their academic performance, a McGill researcher and his team have found.

In a new article, Dr. Michael Kramer reports the results from following the same group of 14,000 children for 6.5 years.

"Our study provides the strongest evidence to date that prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding makes kids smarter," said Kramer, a Professor of Pediatrics and of Epidemiology & Biostatistics in the McGill University Faculty of Medicine and lead investigator in the study.

Kramer and his colleagues evaluated the children in 31 Belarusian hospitals and clinics. Half the mothers were exposed to an intervention that encouraged prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding. The remaining half continued their usual maternity hospital and outpatient pediatric care and follow-up. This allowed the researchers to measure the effect of breastfeeding on the children's cognitive development without the results being biased by differences in factors such as the mother's intelligence or her way of interacting with her baby.

The children's cognitive ability was assessed by IQ tests administered by the children's pediatricians and by their teachers' ratings of their academic performance in reading, writing, mathematics and other subjects. Both sets of measures were significantly higher in the group randomized to the breastfeeding promotion intervention.

"Although breastfeeding initiation rates have increased substantially during the last 30 years, much less progress has been achieved in increasing the exclusivity and duration of breastfeeding," the authors conclude.

"The effect of breastfeeding on brain development and intelligence has long been a popular and hotly debated topic," says Dr. Kramer. "While most studies have been based on association, however, we can now make a causal inference between breastfeeding and intelligence -- because of the randomized design of our study."

Journal reference: Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2008;65[5]:578-584

Adapted from materials provided by McGill University.

Turn Your Point-and-Shoot into a Super-Camera

If you're using a consumer grade point-and-shoot Canon digital camera, you've got hardware in hand that can support advanced features way beyond what shipped in the box. With the help of a free, open source project called CHDK, you can get features like RAW shooting mode, live RGB histograms, motion-detection, time-lapse, and even games on it

read more | digg story

6 Excellent Firefox Extensions Made To Save You Time

If you are a die-hard Firefox user then I am sure you are always on the look-out for tips and tweaks to get more out of Firefox in less time and hence be more productive.

Keeping that in mind, I decided to list six Firefox extensions, which I use in my daily life and which have been extremely helpful in saving me a great deal of time. I hope you will find them useful too.

1: Hyperwords - All in the Right Click!

Hyper words logoThis is undoubtedly one of the best Firefox extensions available and my favourite too. It adds a huge number of options to the mouse right click, thereby saving you a lot of time.

For example you want to look up the meaning of a word, translate it to a different language, check it in Wikipedia, find the Whois or Google links info about a page, you get all that in the right click. You don’t need to open a separate tab and go to another web page. These were just a few examples and once you install this and explore it, you will be amazed to find the number of options there. See screenshots below.

Hyperwords screenhot 1

Hyperwords screenhot 2

2: Paste Email - No more repetitive typing!

The Paste Email extension helps you to paste repetitive texts in forms or emails with one or two clicks through the context menu / right-click. It is very helpful if you deal with a lot of emails everyday and have to type words like ” See ya ” or ” Thanks buddy ” again and again. This extension will help you to insert these repetitive words easily and save your time there.


3: Read it Later - Just a click to Save!


There may have been times when you are in a hurry and you want to save a webpage for reading later. Now adding it to the Bookmarks could be a little tedious and you just hope if you could have done it with a single click. Thats when Read it Later comes into play. Mark has already described it in great detail here.

4: Shareaholic - The easiest way to share!

If you are active in multiple social networks like Facebook, Stumbleupon etc and you want to share a link with your friends then going to each of the sites separately and submitting the links there could be quite time taking. Here the Shareaholic Firefox add-on comes into the picture. It creates a small button just beside the browser address bar from where you can easily share the link in multiple networks. You can customize it and it also supports Twitter and Friendfeed. It also helps you to email a page if you have a Bzzster email account.


5: Next Tab - Open links in the next tab

next-tabIf you are a heavy tab user like me, then you will find this extension to be very useful.

Lets say if you have 10 tabs open and you click on a link in the first tab. You will find that the link opens at the end and you need to go to the end of the list to check the page. Next Tab firefox add-on solves this everyday problem and helps you to open the link just beside that tab. Simple and effective solution.

6: TinyUrl Creator - Easy Tiny Url Creation

If we want to shorten a long link to a short one we know we can go to and do it from there. This add-on creates an option in the tools menu to easily create a tiny url from a web page. Now I know that you can use the tiny url bookmarklet too, but this is better. Thats because it also saves you from the hassle of copying the tiny url. It saves it directly to the clipboard. See screenshots below.



I hope you like these extensions and they help you become more productive with Firefox.

By - Abhijeet Mukherjee is addicted to the internet and loves blogging and freelance writing. He blogs about tech tweaks, blogging tips and productivity hacks at Jeet Blog

21 Amazing Under Water Pictures (PICS)

Capturing the beauty of the world beneath the oceans is a challenge, but the rewards are worth it. Here are some beautiful underwater pictures; which might give you some inspiration, when you are going for your next adventure.

read more | digg story

Vend Me Over: Bizarre Vending Machines

For most Americans, vending machines are a convenient way to get their afternoon soda fix or to cure the munchies with a bag of Flaming Hot Cheetos. In other countries, vending machines are host to the bizarre, the wacky, and sometimes, the perverted. We’ve come a long way from soda.

read more | digg story

5 DIY Inventions That Might Outperform Big-Name Predecessors

The 3rd annual Maker Faire here this weekend had all the key ingredients: tools, geeks, BBQ. Equally celebrating creativity, innovation and the future of science education, this backyard on steroids deployed hundreds of the country’s top tinkerers—including this handful of genius minds whose creations could someday upstage the corporate competition

read more | digg story

Harley Davidson Musuem opens July 12th

Hdmuseum500 It's been in the works for years, but the Harley-Davidson Museum is finally set to throw its doors open to the public with a grand opening celebration July 12. Planned festivities include a custom bike build, a tattoo artist, live music and dining at the museum's restaurant and cafe.

More than 450 motorcycles will be on display at the new 130,000-square-foot museum, which sits on 20 acres in Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley. While the motorcycles Harley-Davidson has manufactured in its 105 years are the main draw, the culture of Harley-Davidson will also be brought to life with photos, videos, clothing and never-before-seen archival documents.

The Harley-Davidson Museum is located at 400 W. Canal St., Milwaukee. Tickets for the grand opening go on sale May 20 at You can also watch the museum being built on Harley's live webcam, complete with time lapse photography.Hdmuseum500_2

-- Susan Carpenter

VW Confirms 1L Concept Will Become Reality in 2010


Image source: wikipedia

There’s been talk about the VW 1L concept for years. Since VW built the original, fuel economy, safety, price, and release date has been speculated upon and argued about, and I’d finally stopped thinking it was ever going to happen. However, according to VW’s CEO, it should hit the market in 2010.

The VW 1L is so named because, in theory, it only consumes one liter of fuel per 100 kilometers traveled. For those of us in the US, this translates into about 235 MPG. Definitely far and above anything on the market currently. The concept, developed in 2002, actually got better fuel economy, scoring a sweet .89L/100km in VW testing. It’s likely to use more fuel in real world use, but with that kind of mileage in testing it’s unlikely that anyone would complain about an “unsatisfactory 200 MPG.”

The thing is, that kinda of fuel economy comes at the price of riding in an extremely small two seater, with the two seats being one in front of the other, a la jet plane, rather than a standard side by side. The 1L also looks frighteningly close to the ground, which is part of how it pulls off a drag coefficient of .159, much better than any current production vehicle. While the final design isn’t done, VW will probably power the car with a 1 cyclinder diesel engine of displacement lower the .5 L, meaning the car’s speed will top out at 120 km/h.

The other obvious issue is the one I’m sure you’re all wondering about too. How safe is this thing? While I’m not usually one to complain about small cars, the 1L is extremely light and low to the ground. If it were released in the US I could easily see it being run over by any old F150 or Hummer. Nothing is out right now about safety, but as the production date nears, I’m sure VW will be doing lots of testing to reassure the public.

2010 isn’t that far off, in fact, it’s about the same time the Volt is supposed to be hitting the streets, so you’ll likely hear a lot more good and bad about this car in the coming months.

BMW engines tops this year according to Ward's

STUTTGART, Germany — BMW's 3.0-liter twin-turbo engine won the top prize in the 2008 International Engine of the Year competition on Wednesday, besting such rivals as the Porsche turbocharged 3.6-liter engine that powers the 911 Turbo.

It was the second consecutive year that the BMW engine took home top honors.

The judges noted that the BMW unit was "one of seven engines to triumph in the 2008 awards that use turbocharging to achieve high power output from smaller-displacement engines that use less fuel and produce less CO2."

The BMW 2.0-liter diesel twin-turbo engine, which delivers 204 horsepower, was named Best New Engine of the Year. The co-engineered BMW-PSA 1.6-liter turbo engine that churns out 175 hp won the 1.4-liter-to-1.8-liter category. BMW also won honors in the 3-to-4-liter and above-4-liter categories.

The Toyota 1.5-liter with Hybrid Synergy Drive that powers the Prius was lauded as Green Engine of the Year. The best performance engine of the year is the Porsche 3.6-liter turbo.

The awards are judged by 65 automotive journalists from 32 countries.

What this means to you: According to some of the world's most critical judges, BMW engines are tops. —

No Vacation for AT&T for rollout of 3G Iphone

We have a launch window for the 3G iPhone.

Around this time last year, AT&T Mobility sent a memo to employees asking them not to schedule vacations between June 15 and July 15. The company wanted all hands on deck for the launch of the original iPhone. The thing arrived on Friday, June 29, in the dead center of the vacation-free zone.

Well, they’ve done it again. With the 3G iPhone widely expected to be released in June, AT&T (T) sent a similar memo, which has fallen into the hands of The Boy Genius Report. It’s copied below in full. As you can see, the launch window this year seems to be between June 15 and July 12, with a midpoint during the weekend that starts Friday, June 27.

Apple’s (AAPL) Worldwide Developers Conference runs from June 9 to June 13, with a Steve Jobs keynote expected (but not yet scheduled) on the first or second day. Friday June 27 is two days before the anniversary of the launch of the first iPhone. Mark your calendars.

The memo:

AT&T Mobility

Vacation Schedules

To: All Employees

Last year at this time we asked that all vacations be scheduled before June 15 or after July 15, to ensure adequate store staffing and to give everyone an equal opportunity to benefit from an exciting product launch. Thanks to your hard work, we experienced excellent sales during the mid-summer period. This year, the numbers you produced in 2007 will be hard to beat; but as a business, we must rise to the challenge, and make every effort to exceed last year’s sales results. Your management team is counting on you!

We’ll meet the challenge “head-on” by providing an exciting Summer Promotional Launch to enable your sales to soar. We again anticipate heavier than normal customer traffic in our stores, providing an excellent earning opportunity for every front line retail sales consultant (RSC) in company owned retail stores.

To ensure proper staffing during this period, Sales personnel planning to take approved time off are encouraged to schedule their vacations before June 15 or after July 12 to participate in the heavy selling period

Previously approved vacation will be allowed where voluntary rescheduling is not feasible

No additional vacation will be approved for 6/15 – 7/12

If customer traffic is manageable, there may be an opportunity to approve vacation toward the end of the period. Managers will communicate updates as they become available.

Supercharge Outlook with Xobni

Windows only: Freeware Microsoft Outlook plug-in Xobni (that's inbox backwards) adds a handful of killer features to its new Outlook sidebar. Among those features: Email analytics, extraordinarily useful contact cards, fast search, threaded (Gmail-like) conversations, and more. The video above gives an excellent overview, so give it a look. Seeing as Xobni has successfully made Outlook appear exciting (which is no easy feat), this freeware, Windows-only plug-in looks like a winner. Currently Xobni is in a closed beta, but the first 50 readers to head to the download page and enter the code "lifehacker" can download. Once you're in, you should be able to invite friends, so if you use the code, keep an eye on the comments and help out a fellow Outlook user. Outlook lovers, let's hear how it works for you in the comments.

Tuesday Tunes with the Pig Roaster

(Yes, the Roaster is aware that today is actually Wednesday. Yesterday was so crazy, and so long - the Roaster didn't go home until after 10pm - that it all feels like one long day, so cut me a little slack!)

Today we go back to 70's cool - to the Soundtrack that set the tone for all other 70's soundtracks, especially those in the realm of the great "Blaxploitation" films such as Shaft, Black Caesar and Blacula. They all had great music that was as integral to the films as the scenes themselves, but none stood higher than Superfly. The music put forth by that genius, Curtis Mayfield, to accompany that film is superb by any measure. I would highly recommend everyone grab themselves a copy of the 25th Anniversary Remastered 2-Disc Edition of the soundtrack.

Don your polyester (no, really... don't), grab a stiff drink and a stiffer smoke, relax and revel in the smooth falsetto voice and whacked out guitar of one of the true masters.

Freddie's Dead:

Little Child Running Wild: