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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

360desktop is an Unlimited Scrolling Desktop

Windows only: Freeware application 360desktop turns your Windows desktop into a 360-degree virtual desktop. Using the application's unobtrusive slider, 360desktop scrolls around a cylindrical, widget-enabled desktop until it returns back to the start. As you can see in the video, some of the application's features are a touch frivolous, and unfortunately you can't yet use your own panoramic photos as your 360desktop wallpaper. That said, if you've always been interested in organizing your workspaces with virtual desktops or extending the size of your desktop but haven't found an application that fits your likes, 360desktop might be worth a look. 360desktop is freeware, Windows only.

Syd Barrett (6 January 1946 – 7 July 2006) - RIP

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun. Shine on you crazy diamond. Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky. Shine on you crazy diamond.

read more | digg story

The Top 20 most influential Rock Producers

I tried to find a list on the internet of greatest producers, a top-10 or top-100 and found none; top guitarist lists are a dime a dozen. But think of some of rock's most well-known records; Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Pet Sounds, "Be My Baby", Nevermind, Remain In Light, Licensed to Ill, Dark Side of the Moon, et. al.

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10 Steps to Becoming Fluent in a Language in 6 Months

Even if you don’t feel linguistically-inclined, it’s possible–with patience, diligence, and a sense of humor—to become fluent in a language in six months or less.

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Lindsay Lohan Confirms Lesbian Lover

The Daily Mail says that Lindsay Lohan has finally told the world she and Samantha Ronson are dating. And that's not really true but whatever. She does say she wants to continue to spend time with the person she cares about, and she’s with Samantha Ronson 205 hours a day, so it's assumed that is who she means, but she still won't come out and say it.
Talking about her special someone Sam, Lindsay said: "I just wanna live a happy, healthy year, continue on the path that I've been on and be with the person that I care about. And my family."
And Sam must feel the same way because she posted a pic of her and Lindsay kissing on her MySpace page.
Sam enjoyed her first public outing with Lindsay's family at Disneyland in LA.
Then the girls partied all night in Teddy's nightclub, where Lindsay joined Sam in the DJ booth and whispered sweet nothings in her ear.
A pal said: "Sam and Lindsay are inseparable. Sam has been a really good influence on Lindsay.
"There is no one else special in Lindsay's life apart from Sam but it has taken her a while to feel like she can talk about their relationship.
"Lindsay hasn't dated any men since she started hanging around with Sam, and there has hardly been a day in the last two months when they have been apart.
"They have been shacked up in Lindsay's place and they spend weekends like a married couple going to the supermarket together.
"It's really sweet that Lindsay has found someone she can rely on and trust."

Lindsay Lohan admits lesbian affair
Kiss of love ... the picture of Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson on Ronson's MySpace page.

Whatever. Lindsay is doin' this chick, but she's not gay. She's lonely and confused, or more likely she's just up to the R's in the Hollywood phone book.

G-Park iPhone App Lets the Forgetful Bookmark Their Car

Park your car and tap "Park Me" to take a GPS reading; on the way back, hit "Where Did I Park" for turn-by-turn directions back to the whip. It'll work for first-gen and iPod touch users (although not as well, I would imagine) via Wi-Fi and cell-tower positioning but 3G users will get turn-by-turn directions via GPS. Sure, you could just drop a pushpin in Google Maps, but part of the charm of these apps is going to be the simple execution of simple ideas, Xbox Live Arcade style. I recommend just remembering where you've parked. [PosiMotion]

Making a Six Figure Salary as a Superfan

Cameron Hughes earns a six-figure salary for being the crazy, sometimes annoying, superfan in the stands.

Job Title: Superfan
Employers: Professional sports teams
Openings: Booking agents, word of mouth
Salary Cap: Low six figures
Number of Jobs: 1
Cameron Hughes is his team's biggest fan. Depending on his mood, he might pull off one of the multiple team jerseys he wears and spin it wildly in the air, scream at the top of his lungs, and exhort fellow supporters to do the same. Or he might pull an old lady from her seat and dance her through the arena.

A big, imposing redhead with energy to burn, Hughes is a traveling "superfan," paid by team owners to whip the crowd into a frenzy, create some fun, and generally manufacture team spirit for the locals.

"I'm that guy—the funny, happy, dancing, possibly very drunk guy you've seen at the ballpark at least once," says Hughes, adding that he himself never drinks on the job unless you count the three Red Bulls he downs as a pre-game ritual.

Baseball teams like the Toronto Blue Jays and the Los Angeles Dodgers pay him an average of $2,000 a game to do his thing, as do N.B.A. teams like the L.A. Lakers and New Orleans Hornets and N.H.L. teams like the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. All told, he works about 80 to 90 major- and minor-league games a year, and difficult as it may be to believe, Hughes makes a comfortable six-figure salary just by being a crazy sports fan.

"I basically just play myself," says the 36-year-old Ottawa native. "It's just amazing when you put on a team jersey that people are loyal to, how much they'll cheer you and how much they'll support you."

Needless to say, a career as a traveling sports fan was not something Hughes envisioned when he finished college, even if he had been a mascot for his school team and was an avid supporter of his beloved Ottawa Senators.

A few years after college, Hughes moved to Los Angeles, where he still lives, hoping to make it as an actor. While strutting his superfan skills for fun at a Dodgers game, he was approached by the team about hiring out his services as a fan. Soon acting fell by the wayside and a new career was born.

Hughes initially got his gigs through a booking agent specializing in minor-league mascots and event sideshow or halftime acts. But word of mouth began to spread, and soon he was getting unsolicited offers from across the country.

"It's not just a job, it's something I live to do, so I get antsy sitting in the dugout," says Hughes.

He now has the field largely to himself. While there are a handful of mascots who freelance for different minor-league franchises, there's no one like Hughes—a fair-weather fan who, underneath all that romping and cheering for the home team, is truly loyal to none.

In the Future You Will Control Machines With Your Mind

When you link the brain to a device, it could allow scaling in force and time—things that, today, your body can’t do. For sci-fi fans, the implications don’t need spelling out: prosthetics that are faster & stronger than normal limbs, with the same level of control as flesh-and-blood. The recent animal-robot trials are just the beginning.

read more | digg story

Toyota Prius to Get Solar Power

Toyota’s next generation Prius, due out as early as next spring, will be outfitted with solar panels to help run the on-board electronics, according to a report from the Nikkei newspaper.

Prius Badge

Smaller start-up car companies, such as Th!nk, have plans for solar power augmented cars on the books too, but the incorporation of solar panels on the Prius would mark the first time a major car manufacturer has done such a thing with one of its models.

Currently in its second generation, the third generation Prius has been widely anticipated for some time now. Due for a complete overhaul, the addition of solar panels to the Prius would corroborate the expectation of major changes in both style and function in the next generation model.

According to Marketwatch, the Nikkei reported that the solar panels would provide a portion of the two to five kilowatts needed to power the air conditioning unit. The solar panels would be supplied by Kyocera.

Toyota plans to pump up production of the Prius next year to 450,000 units. This would represent a 60% increase in production over 2007 numbers, Marketwatch also reported.

Although that sounds promising, Toyota has kind of dropped the ball this year by failing to meet demand for the popular hybrid and causing a worldwide Prius shortage. Blaming a lack of battery production capacity, Toyota has promised to open another battery facility soon.

Let’s hope they can actually meet demand for the Prius next year, especially if they plan on including such excellent and logical features as solar powered on-board electronics.

Gillian Anderson So Sexy In Esquire UK

Gillian Anderson

Wow, these pics of Gillian are really hot! Only a couple of more weeks until the release of X-Files in the theater and I’m just as excited as any X-Files fan.

Click to enlarge.


Gillian Anderson

Gillian Anderson

The Most Badass Rock 'N' Roll Graves

A photo gallery of the most witty and rebellious celebrity tombstones.

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Cities Near Beijing Close Factories to Improve Air for Olympics

Tangshan, a city about 90 miles from Beijing, ordered 267 businesses to suspend operations ahead of the Olympic Games.

BEIJING — With Beijing struggling to clear polluted skies before the Olympics in August, the nearby industrial port of Tianjin has ordered 40 factories to suspend some operations for two months as part of a broader effort to improve air quality during the Games, state news media reported.

The planned shutdowns in Tianjin, about 70 miles east of Beijing, are one piece of a regional plan that is expected to result in temporary factory closings or slowdowns across a large swath of northern China during the Games. Few details are known about which factories might close or when, so the announcement in Tianjin offers a window into one piece of the plan.

Beijing’s air quality remains a major concern for the Games as the city continues to struggle with pollution, despite a $20 billion government cleanup campaign. Beijing is also a victim of its neighborhood: pollution blows in from surrounding regions that are dotted with coal mines, coal-fired power plants, steel mills, cement factories and other clusters of heavy industry.

The Olympics’ opening ceremony is Aug. 8, and meteorologists have said officials must begin closing factories a few weeks beforehand to make a difference.

The shutdowns in Tianjin will be from July 25 to Sept. 30, concluding after the end of the Paralympics in Beijing, according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency. Tianjin is a host city for the Olympic soccer competition, and work at 26 construction sites near the city’s Olympic stadium will be suspended.

In addition, the city of Tangshan, one of China’s busiest steel centers, about 90 miles from Beijing, is ordering 267 businesses to suspend operations by Tuesday, according to Reuters. Of those, 66 small steel mills, coking operations, cement factories and small power generators will be closed, Reuters reported. The companies will be able to reopen at an unspecified date after undergoing an environmental review.

In recent days, rainfall in Beijing has been unusually high. When it has not rained, the skies have been clotted with haze. The city will begin alternate-day driving restrictions on July 20 to ease traffic and reduce pollution. By then, experts say, announcements of more temporary factory shutdowns are expected elsewhere in the region.

Sunday also brought good news: the first truly blue skies in Beijing in many days.

Know your road signs

Thomas D. Elias: No good reason for medipot decision counter to voters' wishes

It is almost certain that the 56 percent of California voters who approved Proposition 215 in an attempt to legalize medical use of marijuana did not intend for employers to discriminate against persons who take advantage of the law they passed.

As it has evolved since passage, the 1996 initiative lets cities and counties issue medipot usage cards to users who smoke the weed to ward off pain caused by ailments from migraine headaches to a wide variety of cancers. Where they exist, the cards can only be obtained with a doctor's recommendation.

With that background, the question before the state Supreme Court earlier this year was whether an employer can fire a worker for using medical marijuana with a doctor's recommendation.

Given that court's longtime background as a bastion of civil liberties, most recently seen in a gay marriage decision very much in line with its tradition of ensuring Californians have even more rights than the U.S. Constitution guarantees, the answer was surprising.

Yes, the court said, a worker can be fired for using medipot with a doctor's permission even if that use has zero effect on his or her job performance.

"The Compassionate Use Act (Proposition 215) does not eliminate marijuana's potential for abuse or the employer's legitimate interest in whether an employee uses the drug," said the 5-2 majority opinion written by Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar. She somehow thought she was backing up that statement by adding that "Under California law, an employer may require pre-employment drug tests and take illegal drug use into consideration in making employment decisions." What about legal drug use, as defined by California voters?

The case itself was totally new judicial ground. Because California and only a few other states have okayed any form of legal medical marijuana use, no similar case has reached the U.S. Supreme Court, the only venue whose decisions form a binding precedent for the top state courts.

It's clear the court majority reacted with a knee-jerk against any kind of pot use.

That's essentially what dissenting Justices Joyce L. Kennard and Carlos Moreno said in their minority opinion. The court ruling "renders illusory the law's promise that responsible use of marijuana" will not be penalized, they said.

In this case, neither employer RagingWire Com-munications of Sacramento nor anyone else ever claimed that computer technician Gary Ross was less than competent during the 11 days he worked there.

Rather, company lawyers said the firm feared it might be subject to federal raids if Ross stayed.

Federal agents have staged hundreds of raids on city- or county-sanctioned medical marijuana clinics and arrested many medipot growers. But never on those who employ users.

Prosecutors maintain federal laws making all uses of pot illegal trump the state initiative and any local ordinance designed to make it work. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed in 2005, ruling Proposition 215 does not exempt medical marijuana users from prosecution, no matter how severe their illness.

So when a standard pre-employment test detected Ross' pot use, the state's high court said, RagingWire was free to bounce him even though he had shown his medipot card prior to the drug test.

When Ross sued, the company responded that it would "arguably be complicit in an activity that's illegal under federal law" and might lose federal contracts if it kept Ross.

All this left medipot activists frustrated until the state Assembly in late May passed a bill essentially revoking the court decision. This putative law would let medipot patients work, like anyone else. But they could not smoke on the job.

Yet to be determined is whether the state Senate will go along. If it does, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - an admitted pot smoker with no medical justification during his bodybuilding and movie days - would have to be a complete hypocrite to veto it.

If that law doesn't pass, the message delivered by several medical marijuana backers at a news conference just after the court decision came down will stand. "People are going to endure pain and suffering because Supreme Court justices don't feel marijuana has any medical value. It doesn't matter what citizens and patients say. It doesn't matter what doctors say."

What's more, the dissenting justices were absolutely correct in saying the decision, if it stands, means medipot users can be punished for trying to kill their pain. They would then continue to face what Kennard called a "cruel choice" between losing their jobs or giving up the only medication that provides significant comfort in coping with some illnesses and with cancer chemotherapy.

The ruling also opens up other problems for patients who use legal narcotics like morphine for pain. They, too, could fail a drug test, get fired and have no legal recourse.

For if employees can be dumped for using one drug, who's to say they can't also be fired for using another?

Thomas D. Elias is a syndicated columnist who writes about California issues. Contact him via e-mail at

6 Absurd Phobias (And The People Who Actually Have Them)

In a relatively safe world, the part of our brain that alerts us to danger just seems to get bored sometimes. Thus, phobias (from the Latin 'phobus' meaning 'Seriously, you're scared of that?'). Some truly ridiculous ones actually do affect people, including some that you've heard of.

read more | digg story

Olympics a 'billion-dollar research lab' for NBC will offer streaming video and video on demand during the Beijing Games in August. Online viewers were able to watch Michael Phelps qualify during the swimming trials in July.

The Associated Press
updated 3:39 p.m. ET, Sun., July. 6, 2008

NEW YORK - NBC is using the Olympics as a "billion-dollar research lab" to get a sense of how people are using different media platforms to experience the Beijing Games that begin Aug. 8.

Besides giving advertisers a clearer picture of how much consumers are paying attention to the games, NBC hopes its research provides a comprehensive picture of how people are supplementing TV viewership with tools such as video streaming, video on demand and mobile phones, said Alan Wurtzel, the company's research chief. ( is a joint venture between NBC and Microsoft.)

"The billion-dollar lab is an extraordinary research opportunity," he said.

NBC has scheduled 3,600 hours of Olympics programming on its main network, along with Telemundo, USA, Oxygen, MSNBC, CNBC and Bravo. That's the equivalent of eight days of programming packed into each day.

In addition, the company is planning to make 2,200 hours of streaming video available on Consumers may also get video on demand via their computer and Olympics content through their mobile phones.

NBC relies on Nielsen Media Research for a count of how many people are watching the Olympics on their TVs at home, but there is no existing research tool that pulls together all the different types of exposure, Wurtzel said. With the help of outside companies and its own research staff, NBC is using about 10 methods for measuring the audience.

NBC has contracted with Quantcast Corp. to get a sense of who is using Besides video streaming, computer users are being offered reams of Olympics data, blogging of live events and gaming. NBC wants to know how many people will visit, what pages they are viewing and how much time they are spending on the computer.

The information could be used on the fly to program the Web site. If one sport is doing particularly well with video on demand requests, might feature it on its home page.

Same thing with mobile phone content: Will phone owners be interested in updates on events or in streaming video?

"I have no idea how people are going to use this stuff," Wurtzel said.

NBC will also be working with another company, Integrated Media Measurement Inc., that will distribute special cell phones to consumers. They will measure, through a signal included in Olympics audio, how much people are exposed to Olympics programming when they aren't at home.

NBC is conducting an online survey of 500 consumers each day, a total of 8,500 throughout the 17-day games, to ask detailed questions about how much they are using different media platforms. The company is also running different focus groups.

In an old media world, television companies didn't particularly want evidence that consumers were doing anything other than watching their content on television. That's not so anymore, Wurtzel said.

"The whole idea is to get the same person and to touch them across all different sorts of platforms," he said.

The information NBC gleans is not yet currency, meaning it won't be recognized in the advertising community to set prices for commercial time. Wurtzel concedes that some of the research efforts may not work in practice as they are designed.

But he's considering it a step toward producing what NBC calls a TAMI — Total Audience Measurement Index, which takes into account TV, online, video on demand and mobile phone usage. It may eventually be used for all programming going forward.


Porn cuts into TV sports programme

By Yvonne Tahana

Sky has apologised for a technical glitch which caused pornography to screen on thousands of televisions yesterday.

Toyota Grassroots Rugby was showcasing its usual fare of premier and senior club rugby on Prime TV yesterday when adult channel Spice:xcess interrupted.

About four minutes of the hour-long sports show was replaced by Spice at about 3pm for digital subscribers in Auckland and Northland.

Spice, one of three Sky adult channels, offers "sexy, exotic women, fetish lifestyle, ethnic and gonzo for those who believe variety is the Spice of life," according to the broadcaster's website.

North Shore Sky subscriber Mike Steenson was watching the rugby show with his 3-year-old son when porn rolled across his screen.

At first he thought it was a prank. "I'm not sure how many people were watching but it's not something you expect to come on, on a Sunday. You can't make mistakes like that."

Sky's director of communications, Tony O'Brien, said a technical fault in the system which manages the distribution of programmes was to blame.

"We apologise for any offence which may have been caused," he said.

The fact that it happened on a Sunday when kids and parents were likely to be at home was "doubly" embarrassing.

Steps had been taken to ensure that it would not happen again, Mr O'Brien said.