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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

ZVBox lets you watch anything from your PC on any HDTV

Incredible device- like a Slingbox, but in reverse. Bargain priced at $499.

Technical Details

  • Watch anything you can get online or on your computer from all your HDTVs
  • Avoid new subscription fees
  • Access ANY computer application from your HDTVs
  • Enjoy the same great resolution you get at your computer
  • Use existing cable wiring to reach all HDTVs in the house

ZvBox™ - Everything on your computer at every HDTV.

ZvBox image ZvBox image ZvBox image
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Not available separately

Included in the Zv-100 Bundle


  • Creates your own in-home HD channel called Zv, showing whatever is on your computer
  • Uses your existing in-home cable wiring to broadcast Zv to all your HDTVs
  • Delivers the same great HD resolution that your computer displays
  • Delivers crisp Dolby Digital® sound
  • Only one ZvBox needed for your home, and no new device near your TVs

ZvBox™ turns the output of your computer into a real HDTV channel called Zv, and then "localcasts" that channel over your existing cable TV wiring to every HDTV in your house. Tune in Zv, and everything you can do at your computer is now available at your HDTVs.

ZvBox changes everything. Instead of flipping channels endlessly or huddling around a computer to watch your favorite shows, ZvBox lets you use your HDTVs to watch internet TV shows and movies, check your e-mail, view photos, listen to music, or browse your favorite web sites. ZvBox gives you all of this in the same great high resolution that your computer displays, along with crystal-clear Dolby® digital sound. And since one ZvBox serves all your HDTVs, there's no need for a new device at each TV. With ZvBox, if it's out there, you can watch it on your HDTVs from the comfort of your couch.

SWAY...........----- 25th Hour

Either you have it....or you don't...

Liquid Nitrogen Into A Swimming Pool

At Penguicon 4 in 2006, Nifty Guest Howard Tayler of took this video of Penguicon co-founder Rob Landley throwing a bowl of liquid nitrogen in the swimming pool, and the resulting billow of fog.

100-year old Polynesian settlement in Utah desert uncovered

In Utah’s Skull Valley, there was a short-lived town where Polynesian converts to Mormonism lived between 1889 and 1917, when most of them returned to Oahu. Archaeologists are conducting the first survey of the site, and what they want to know is how pioneers from paradise lived day to day in such a desolate place.

read more | digg story

The World's Youngest Women Billionaires

The number of young billionaire women under the age of 40 jumped to seven from just two a year earlier, bringing the number of women under 50 with 10-figure fortunes to 20, up from 17. The average age of female billionaires has dropped from to 61.5 from 62.5 in just the past year.

read more | digg story

Making Music with John Mayer

I still think his pop crap sucks, but his bluesy stuff ain't half bad.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

How to Take Portraits - 19 Killer Photography Tutorials

So if you’re interested in improving your portrait photography - grab a cup of coffee, set aside a little time and enjoy.

read more | digg story

10 Multi-Use Items You Should Consider Packing

Written by Rachel Turner

Next time you hit the road, pack these reusable, space-saving, and lightweight items.

It seems like airlines are placing new restrictions on luggage everyday. With bag space at a premium, consider packing items that have more than one use.

Reduce clutter and free up space with these 10 multipurpose items.

1) Shampoo

There is no reason to carry four or five bottles of cleansing liquids such as body wash or shampoo. When you get down to it, it’s all soap. So consolidate by choosing a mild shampoo for all your cleaning needs.

  • Body Soap - In addition to using shampoo to wash your hair, you can use it to wash your body and as a facial cleanser.
  • Laundry Detergent - Shampoo works just as well for washing clothes…and it smells better, too.
  • Dish Washing Liquid - Use it to clean dishes in poorly-stocked hostel kitchens.

2) Dental Floss

This waxy string is not only great for getting food out of your teeth, it also has other practical uses.

  • Clothesline - Double up a length of floss and string it across the room for a place to hang socks and undies.
  • Thread - You can use this super-durable string as thread for rips and tears.
  • Knife - Dental floss won’t cut through a steak, but it will nicely slice cheese and bread.

3) 5-in-1 Survival Tool

Weighing in at just 50 grams, this superlight tool is great in emergencies. Check out its multipurpose features below:

  • Waterproof Matchbox
  • Safety Whistle
  • Compass
  • Signal Mirror
  • Fire Starter Flint

4) Sarong

Sarongs are meant to be worn, but there is no limit to other ways this strip of fabric can be used.

  • Use it to towel off.
  • Hang it as a curtain for privacy.
  • Tie the ends to make a bag.
  • Use it as a beach mat or picnic blanket.
  • Never rent sheets at hostels again.

5) Swiss Army Knife

This go-go gadget is a must for travelers. Swiss Army makes pocket widgets that range from a simple knife to a 34-use mega tool.

Attachments for travelers include:

  • Corkscrew
  • Bottle opener
  • Thermometer
  • Compass
  • Scissors
  • Flashlight

Note that airlines will not allow you to carry on a knife so throw this gadget in your checked luggage.

6) Safety Pins

These little metal clasps are a lifesaver when it comes to holding fabric together. But they have a few other uses as well.

  • Clothespins - After stringing up your dental floss clothesline, hang your socks up to dry with a safety pin.
  • Backpack Security - A safety pin won’t replace a lock, but use one to connect a pack’s zippers for a little added security.
  • Needle - Turning a safety pin into a needle is tricky, but it can be done. Use smaller gauge pins to minimize the size of the holes you’ll leave in your clothes.

7) Trailguide Compass Watch

Do more than check the time with this handy gadget which provides additional features below:

  • Alarm - Leave your alarm clock at home and use the wake-up function on the watch instead.
  • Compass - The built-in compass will help keep you headed in the right direction.
  • Thermometer - Helps you monitor the temperature to help pick appropriate clothing.
  • Altimeter - Keep an eye on your altitude with the altimeter function.
  • Timer - Just in case you need one!

8 ) Rain Poncho

Unless you’re heading to a rainy destination, you might pass up the poncho while packing. However, before you do, check out other ways it can be used.

  • Tarp - Lay your poncho beneath your sleeping bag when bedding down underneath the stars.
  • Picnic Blanket - Lay out the picnic spread over your poncho which will keep things dry and is a breeze to clean.
  • Bag Liner - Empty your bag and line it with your poncho to keep wet clothes from seeping through.
  • Emergency Rain Shelter - String it up and use it as a shelter during rainstorms.

9) Waterproof Pelican Dry Case

Pelican makes a line of cases to keep your valuables from getting wet. Higher end cases are tailor-made for cameras and electronics. Smaller micro cases are great choices for backpackers.

  • Keep the Dry Things Dry - Put wet clothes or swimsuits in the case to separate them from dry clothes.
  • Lunchbox - Store leftovers and snacks in the case for long bus rides or picnics.
  • Organization - The boxes can also be used to organize things like socks and camera equipment in your pack.

10) Credit Card Survival Tool

The ultimate multipurpose tool, it is the size of a credit card, made of stainless steel, cheap as chips, and has 11 different uses listed below:

  • Can opener
  • Knife edge
  • Screwdriver
  • Ruler
  • 4 position wrench
  • Butterfly screw wrench
  • Saw blade
  • 2 postion wrench
  • Key chain hole
  • Bottle opener
  • Direction auxiliary indication

Whether you’re packing for a weekend getaway or a year-long venture, travel lighter and smarter by packing items that serve many functions without taking up a ton of space.

Consumer confidence surprisingly gains in July

NEW YORK ( -- A key measure of consumer confidence rose modestly in July after declining for six months in a row, according to a report issued Tuesday.

Despite the small improvement in consumer sentiment from June, consumer outlook remains "very pessimistic," according to the report by the New York-based Conference Board, a business research organization.

The board said its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 51.9, up from a revised 51 in June. Economists had expected the index to decline to 50, according to a consensus compiled by

While the July measure showed some improvement over the previous month, the board said that consumers' perception of the economy has not shifted dramatically.

"Consumers' assessment of current conditions was little changed, suggesting there has been no significant improvement, nor significant deterioration, in business or labor market conditions," said Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement.

While the consumer confidence number increased in a month-over-month comparison, the reading was still much lower than it was even in May, when the reading stood at 58.1.

"In arithmetic terms, yes it is higher, but in economic terms this is still bad, severely depressed," said Robert Brusca, chief economist at Fact and Opinion Economics. "This is certainly not a rebound in economic terms," added Brusca.

"We are kind of focused on month-to-month changes," said Brusca. "That is a relative standard."

In order to really understand how the reading fits into a bigger picture, however, Brusca said that the Consumer Confidence measure for July needs to be considered "in absolute terms."

Consumer confidence in July 2007 stood at 111.9. "Up and down the line, these are extraordinarily weak numbers," said Brusca.

Present conditions. The Present Situation Index, which measures where the average consumer feels the economy is right now, was virtually unchanged at 65.3 versus 65.4 last month.

Consumers' read on the economy right now remained grim, according to the report.

Those who think business conditions are "bad" increased slightly to 32.8% from 31.9%, but those claiming business conditions are "good" also rose to 13.1% from 11.5% last month.

Those Americans saying jobs are "hard to get" increased to 30.3% from 29.7% in June, and those claiming jobs are "plentiful" declined to 13.5% from 14.1%.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor will announce the unemployment rate for July. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 5.6% from 5.5% in June, according to a consensus estimate from

The most recent reading on initial claims for unemployment benefits came in 406,000 for the week ended July 19, according to the Labor Department.

Future conditions. The Expectations Index, which measures what consumers think will happen to the economy in the coming months, increased moderately to 43 from 41.4 in June.

"Looking ahead, while consumers remain extremely grim about short-term prospects, the modest improvement in expectations, often a harbinger of economic times to come, bears careful watching over the next few months," said Franco.

While consumer sentiment remained mostly negative, "we have had some good news in the month in terms of energy prices breaking off," said Brusca.

The survey period for this reading was July 22, and while gas prices at the pump had not come off significantly at that time, Brusca said consumers understand that falling crude oil prices will eventually mean cheaper gas prices.

Consumers who think business conditions will get worse in the coming six months decreased slightly to 32.4% from 33.5%, and those expecting conditions to improve increased to 9.3% from 8.5% in June.

But consumers remained pessimistic about their job prospects.

Consumers expecting fewer jobs in the months ahead increased to 37.1% from 35.7%, and consumers expecting more jobs remained virtually unchanged at 8.2%.

However, Americans expecting their paycheck to increase rose to 14.2% from 13.1%.

The index - based on a survey of 5,000 U.S. households conducted for The Conference Board by TNS - had declined for six months in a row before reversing direction in July. The index uses 1985 as its benchmark, setting the index at 100.

Keira Knightley refuses breast enhancement for 'The Duchess'

Monday, July 28th 2008, 6:34 AM

Keira Knightley's bosom was enhanced in photos for 2004's 'King Arthur.'

We'll always have "King Arthur."

Keira Knightley has refused to allow any enhancement of her cleavage on publicity photos for her upcoming movie, "The Duchess," Britain's Daily Mail reports.

Studio heads reportedly want to enlarge Knightley's bosom in the photos, but the actress, 23, put her foot down.

"She has insisted that her figure stay in its natural state," an insider said. "She is proud of her body and doesn't want it altered."

This isn't the first time Knightley has faced this dilemma. The actress drew negative attention in 2004 with her larger-than-usual breasts in publicity stills for "King Arthur."

"Those things certainly weren't mine," Fox News quoted her as saying in 2006. According to Knightley, the studio marketing team was behind her suddenly C-cup breasts, but gave her final approval on the photos.

"I was like, 'OK, fine. I honestly don't give a s---,'" she recalled.

Knightley has expressed dissatisfaction with her small bustline. "I would love to have [breasts]!" she told Britain's GMTV last year, adding, "I'm never going to get [them]. I'm naturally who I am."

While she's a fan of going au naturale in "The Duchess," Knightley looks "flat-chested in the whole movie," the source says.

12 Foods You Don't Have to Buy Organic

The Environmental Working Group ( is a nonprofit organization that advocates in Washington D.C., for policies that protect global and individual health. Among the many valuable services they provide is a Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce. It is based on the results of nearly 43,000 pesticide tests performed on produce and collected by federal agencies between 2000 and 2004. Nearly all of the data used took into account how people typically wash and prepare produce - for example, apples were washed and bananas peeled before testing.

Of the 43 different fruit and vegetable categories tested, the following twelve foods do not have to be organic. These had the lowest pesticide load, and consequently are the safest conventionally grown crops to consume from the standpoint of pesticide contamination:

  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant
  • Cabbage
  • Banana
  • Kiwi
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet corn (frozen)
  • Avocado
  • Onion

Why should you care about pesticides? The EWG points out that there is a growing consensus in the scientific community that small doses of pesticides and other chemicals can have adverse effects on health, especially during vulnerable periods such as fetal development and childhood.

To this list, I would add one caveat: When it comes to pesticide use, there is more to consider than just the residues that are ingested by the consumer. Although peeled foods such as bananas, mangoes, avocadoes and kiwis may spare the consumer from significant pesticide exposure, it is possible that large amounts of pesticides and herbicides are used on the farms from which these originate, contaminating groundwater, promoting erosion and otherwise damaging local ecosystems. To help promote the health of the planet as well as your own health, it's best to buy organic whenever possible, including when you are purchasing the foods listed above.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, check out the list of 12 foods that you should always buy organic.

9 ways you can take advantage of this terrible economy

All right, we get it… Gas prices are high; the real estate market isn’t good, stocks are down, and many banks are in a mess. The media keeps drilling it into our heads like we had no idea.

Despite their negativity this may actually be an excellent time to better your life and the lives of those around you. Tough times are some of the best times for people to become resourceful, innovative, and make positive changes.

Here are 9 ways you can take advantage of this “terrible” economy.

1. Buy foreclosures and invest in real estate

It’s a buyer’s market for sure. You don’t want to look back in ten years from now and have a “shoulda, coulda, woulda” moment. Even if prices aren’t low in your area, explore different towns and states for commercial locations and empty lots. Even if you don’t have the resources and funds to develop right now, stake your claim while you can.

2. Invest in green technology

High oil prices are igniting interest in alternative fuels and green technology. If you’re active in the stock markets, perhaps you should consider doing some research on emerging green companies. If you’re not an active trader, another way to invest is to explore purchasing a hybrid or electric car. It might be costly now, but in a few years you’ll be happy.

3. Start a company

Sure, there are a lot of companies shutting down but this maybe the right time to start a company up. Here are some tips to think about if you want to launch a start up:

- Look for an industry or market with a large number of businesses closing. Are the big competitors shutting down? If so, you’ll have less competition.

- Research the reason why they closed.

- Find a solution and an opportunity in what they did wrong.

- Many of the companies shutting down are large corporations. So one of the best things going for you is being small but thinking big.

4. Switch careers

I know exactly what you’re thinking or even saying right now, “well there are no jobs, and my job’s safe.” Is it really though? Do you like what you do? Is there a long commute? And many expenses? You must ask yourself questions like these. Wouldn’t you rather be your own boss? Or have a job that you enjoy so much you don’t care what you get paid or what it costs you to get there?

5. Move somewhere you’ve always wanted to

A location or town you’ve dreamed about living in might be at its most affordable right now. Seize this window of opportunity to make a big change.

6. Learn

During times like these there is plenty that you can learn. Such facts as:

- Where the US gets most of its foreign oil from.

- How much gasoline the US uses.

- How big of a role the media plays in driving up fuel prices and striking fear in the public about their finances.

Become aware and educate yourself. You can prevent yourself from letting any future economic troubles giving you trouble.

7. Go on vacation!

Many people are skipping vacations because prices aren’t affordable for them. But you shouldn’t let that hold you back. While everyone else is staying home you can live it up and enjoy yourself with smaller crowds.

8. Get your voice out there

If increasing prices, the bad economy, and politicians are making you frustrated, then take action. Harness the power of new and old media to voice your opinions. Offer new ideas and solutions, be controversial, and be a leader.

9. Break bad habits & modify your lifestyle

Old habits die hard, but they might die quickly in a tough economy. Think about walking or riding a bike instead of driving everywhere. You’ll stay fit, save cash, and help out the environment. It’s a win-win-win situation.

Rumor: MacBook updates to include glass trackpad, other goodies

As I hinted in my "fun" blog, I have been hearing some interesting things about Apple's upcoming line of portable computers. The talk amongst insiders on the new MacBooks is kind of scattered but here's a summation of what I've heard:

  • The new models are thinner than current MacBook and MacBook Pros and slightly more rounded, taking design cues from the MacBook Air.
  • The trackpad is glass, multi-touch and uses gestures. The screen isn’t multi-touch.
  • The body is manufactured out of one piece of aluminum. Eco-friendly, yet sturdy. Manufacturing process is completely different.
  • Release Date: Last week(s) of September.

There are some other things that I can infer but have heard nothing about in the next versions of the MacBook/Pros:

  • They will most likely have Intel Centrino 2 platform chips.
  • 16:9 screens which come in slightly bigger sizes: 14 inch and 15. 6 inch with different resolutions, obviously.
  • The Macbook Air line should get a 45nm processor (Atom?) to help with that battery life.
  • I have no idea if this will be called MacBook Touch or if they will keep their current monikers.
  • It will be the best thing since sliced bread...

So, if the rumormill is correct, will these updates be enough to keep you from buying a Mac laptop for the next two months?

Stonehenge NOT releated to alien landings! (pics)

Now that's a pretty impressive tombstone. New research suggests that Stonehenge was used as a cemetery for more than 500 years, much longer than previously thought.

read more | digg story

The moment 100 skydivers came together mid-air to form a 747-sized diamond

For a few precious seconds these 100 skydivers linked up, thousands of feet above Florida.

It was all the time they needed to break the world record for the largest number to gather in a single formation.

One slip and their huge diamond of pinks and greens would have collapsed, sending them crashing into one another and plummeting from the sky.

The 100 skydivers were able to 'dock' together - gripping the canopies of each other's parachutes - on their second attempt

Take two: The 100 skydivers were able to 'dock' together - gripping the canopies of each other's parachutes - on their second attempt

Roughly the size of a 747 jet, the successful formation broke the previous record of an 85-way canopy formation set in 2005.

A canopy formation, one of the most difficult manoeuvres for parachutists, is built by parachutists flying their parachutes in proximity to each other and then taking grips ("docking") on other jumpers' parachutes.

The practice of building such formations is known by several names; canopy formations (CF), canopy formation skydiving (CFS) or canopy relative work( CRW or CReW).

The 100 jumpers were able to join together on a second of two attempts, using their hands and feet to hook up to adjacent parachutes.

The skydivers exited five planes flying at staggered altitudes to execute the formation. Enlarge The diamond formation, made of 100 skydivers jumping from five different planes, is roughly the size of a 747 jumbo jet

Sparkling: The diamond formation, made of 100 skydivers jumping from five different planes, is roughly the size of a 747 jumbo jet

The stunt took seven years of planning and training. Each skydiver had to learn how to link up with his lower neighbours by locking his feet into their lines and grabbing their canopies with his arms extended behind him.

Brian Pangburn, a participant and one of the organisers of the record jump, explained the technical complexities behind the record.

'The canopy formation is probably only done by about five per cent of skydivers in the world,' explained the 43-year-old.

'The planning for this was very precise.

'We had five planes, three Otters and two CASAs, which carried the jumpers.

'The way you build it is that the gut on top starts and then he grabs the guy coming from underneath and so on. So we actually built it from the top going down.

'The first plane, which was at 21,000 ft carried the first nine jumpers. They pulled their cords immediately after exiting the plane to get into position.

Starburst: The formation begins to break apart - the most dangerous part of the stunt

Starburst: The formation begins to break apart - the most dangerous part of the stunt

'Exactly two minutes later we had another plane empty out the next 25 jumpers and two videographers from 18, 000 ft.

'Two minutes after that at 15,000 ft we had another aircraft with another 25 jumpers.

'And then at 12, 000 ft we had the last two planes carrying 20 and 21 jumpers.

'It took us 11 minutes from the moment the first jumpers exited to when everyone hit the ground so we didn't have much time.

'We also knew we had to break apart at no lower than 4,000 ft so that everyone to land safely on the ground.

'It was close but we got the record just at the last moment.'

Using specially designed advanced technology and aerodynamic PD Lightning CReW parachutes the jumpers were travelling at 1, 200 ft per minute.

The success of the formation was built around solid communication.

'Only three people out of the hundred could transmit messages - two in the air and one from the ground,' explained Brian.

'Each docking had to be exactly right so the communication had to be spot on.

'The most dangerous portion was breaking the formation which is know as a 'starburst'.

'When we broke it down we send off the bottom row and start counting backwards.'

Buckle up: The skydivers in one of the five planes prepare for the dangerous jump

Buckle up: The skydivers in one of the five planes prepare for the dangerous jump

For Brian one of the hardest tasks was to find enough participants to break the world record.

'The canopy formation is probably only done by about five per cent of skydivers in the world,' explained the 43-year-old.

'It was very difficult for us to find the talent and we had to look around the world to get this record done.

'Fifty-six per cent of the team were from America, the other 44 per cent were from countries all over the globe - Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Russia, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Egypt, Argentina and Canada.'

Brian, who is also a member of the US Skydiving team and trains canopy formations all over the world, has been part of the organising team since 2000.

'I got involved in the 100 way record because after the Germans broke the 53 record back in 1996 they proclaimed it to be a physical impossibility to build anything larger.

'That sounded like a challenge to me so we decided to see how big we could go.

'But we never dreamed of going to 100 until 2003 when we put up a 70 way and then in 2005 we got the world record 85 way.

'It wasn't until then that we thought 100 might actually be doable.

'Over the years we have gained a pretty good group of people from around the world who could get it done.

'As we got more and more credibility we were able to attract better people from around the world.'

However such was the skill levels involved, Brian and his team had to assemble the best skydivers in the business - from all over the world.

'We started the training camp in February and we would invite people from around the world to what we called a try out/raining camp and we would evaluate their performance and we had a certain criteria they had to meet.

'They had to dock with in a certain time period and they docked nice and smooth. Then we gave them a formal invitation to participate in the record.

'From the time we started in February I was only home 21 days. We were going around the world evaluating people it took a lot of time to do that.'

Brian found that not only the language, but also the different styles of techniques played a large factor in deciding the final team.

'It is kind of difficult with the language barrier and with all the different cultures of skydiving.

'Some people are used to doing things some ways and we ended up having to change a few mindsets to say we are going to go out and do things this way. Everybody had to thinking the same way.

'Between the actual language communication and the techniques they were two of our biggest obstacles that we had to face.

'Three of us went around to pick the talent and it was a difficult chore because there were a lot of talented people around the world and some were better than us but we had to have the same techniques in order to make this thing work.

'The Russian were talented but some didn't make the team because they wouldn't adopt the same techniques.'

Videographer Norman Kent documented the world record as he parachuted next to the formation.

'In the case of the 100 record my job was much more complicated,' said the 52-year-old.

'The concept of the 100 canopy is a little bit crazy. You jump out of an aeroplane and arrive and open your parachute and then you're going to go and mess with it so that is off the wall.

'I know a lot of skydivers look at them and say to these guys, are you nuts?'

Despite the months of planning, Norman still had to work on instinct to get the best shot.

'There's a lot of guess work involved in this type of photography,' he explains.

'This is a nerve wracking drama and you are in the middle of it.'

$1,000 Spray Makes Electronic Gadgets Completely Waterproof

Technology Could Help Emergency First-Responders

A new $1,000 spray claims to protect notebook computers, iPods, cell phones and other electronic gadgets from liquid, making them completely waterproof.

The spray, called Golden Shellback Splash Proof Coating, is one thousandth of an inch thick.Sid Martin of the Northeast Maritime Institute, which created the product, said the spray forces the water to roll off electronic gadgets like water off a duck's back or "just like after you waxed your car," KPIX-TV reported.A reporter tossed a Blackberry in a tub of water and it continued to play."Not only is it still working, but we are still getting audio from the iPod Touch in the connected speakers," the woman said. "You really don't see much of a coating or feel much of a coating."Martin said the technology could be used for emergency first-responders, bio-medical devices and historic preservation.The product should be available to the public later this year.Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.

British Airways, Iberia mull merger

LONDON (AP) -- British Airways PLC and Spain's Iberia SA said Tuesday they are in talks over a potential all-share combination.

BA and Iberia, which are long-term partners in the "oneworld" alliance, said that each would retain its branding under the tie-up.

The pair said the negotiations are supported unanimously by both boards, but did not disclose any financial details in a statement.

BA and Iberia have also been in discussions for several months with American Airlines to potentially form a trans-Atlantic joint venture, but they did not provide any immediate update on those talks.

BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh said airline consolidation is long overdue as the aviation landscape changes.

"The combined balance sheet, anticipated synergies and network fit between the airlines make a merger an attractive proposition, particularly in the current economic environment," Walsh said in a statement.

The pair said they expect it will take "several months" to reach agreement on the terms of the combination and to finalize a joint business and integration plan for the combined group.

They added they were confident of securing regulatory approval, noting that the European Union has already granted the two carriers approval to cooperate widely. The pair have been working closely as alliance partners for more than a decade.

Media reports earlier this month had suggested that BA, Iberia, and AMR Corp.'s (AMR, Fortune 500) American, the world's largest carrier, were close to applying for U.S. antitrust immunity to form a trans-Atlantic joint venture.

BA and American have failed in the past to win an exemption from U.S. antitrust laws to work more closely together because of their dominance at London's Heathrow Airport, where the pair have more than half the capacity to and from the U.S.

In the meantime, BA has steadily been increasing its shareholding in Iberia, from 9% in 1999 to 13.15% currently.

Iberia revealed Tuesday it has recently acquired a 2.99% direct shareholding in BA and financial exposure to a further 6.99% through "contracts for difference" linked to BA's share price.

A contract for difference is an agreement to exchange the difference in a share's value between the time a contract is opened and the time it is closed. Holders of CFDs are financially exposed to the share price but do not own the shares and therefore have no voting rights.

The pair said that the corresponding shareholdings "reflect the mutual interest of both companies in each other." To top of page

911 Targa gets refresh as well

STUTTGART, Germany — Porsche has finally revealed the upgraded look for the glass-roofed Porsche 911 Targa — and given details about new power options.

Two new engines are offered for the four-wheel-drive sports car, including a 3.6-liter flat-6 putting out 345 horsepower on the Targa 4 and a 385-hp 3.8-liter for the Targa 4S. The smaller unit will power the car to a top speed of 176 mph, while the bigger engine in the 4S tops out at 185 mph.

As on all the other revamped 911s, Porsche's new seven-speed double-clutch transmission will be an option. The Targa 4 will accelerate to 62 mph in 5.0 seconds with the seven-speed automatic and 5.2 seconds with the manual, while the Targa 4S makes it there in 4.7 and 4.9 seconds, respectively.

The visual highlight of the 911 Targa is the 16.5-square-foot glass roof made of two segments: tailgate and sliding front. In just 7 seconds the roof can be opened completely, offering a space up above of about 5 square feet.

Pricing and market launch info should be released somewhere around its October public debut at the 2008 Paris Auto Show.

What this means to you: Porsche gives the Targa a little more power and a few luxury goodies for the 2009 model year. — Mike Lysaght, Correspondent

2010 Acura NSX revealed!!!!

TOKYO — Honda thinks that the zebra-pattern camouflage we saw at Germany's Nürburgring in June will disguise the new look of its V10-powered Acura NSX replacement. But our sources in Japan, using some insider hints, have disrobed Honda's flagship sports car more than two years ahead of its unveiling.

Given what we see in these renderings, the grand tourer is neat but not gorgeous, and follows the 2007 Detroit Auto Show concept car's lines closer than first thought. And that's a shame, because the two-seater Acura's expected price tag of $160,000 will place it right on top of much prettier rivals in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Maserati Gran Turismo and Jaguar XKR.

Like the Nissan GT-R, the new Acura V10 has left inspired styling behind and instead has opted for a more practical aerodynamic exterior. The car's upslanting keyhole-shaped headlights and narrow grille seem somewhat ordinary sitting above a huge gaping airdam and ducts to channel gulps of cool air to the engine and brakes.

Our insider explains that Honda has employed as much F1 design as possible to generate maximum downforce and straight-line stability. That is why the NSX replacement was able to turn up at the Nürburgring and rattle off a red-hot lap time of 7 minutes, 37 seconds on its first attempt, and without any cumbersome rear wings. Our source predicts that when Honda returns to the 'Ring for the autumn testing season, it will almost certainly post a time under 7:30, giving the GT-R a real run for its money.

In contrast to Nissan and Lexus, which have used heavy rear transaxles in their GT-R and LF-A supercars to deliver equal front-rear weight distribution, Honda's trick for generating stability and downforce is pure aerodynamics. The Acura supercar will tip the scales at around 3,256 pounds, more than 550 pounds lighter than the GT-R. A quick look at the camouflaged test mule reveals extra-heavy padding around the C-pillar, which our insider hints is hiding F1-inspired design.

The secret: The whole rear section of the coupe is like one big rear wing.

Fitted with a 5.5-liter V10 generating upwards of 600 horsepower and 433 pound-feet of torque, the future Acura produces a thrilling exhaust note. And when speed is not the issue, the V10 deactivates five cylinders to save fuel and lower emissions. The V10 is bolted to a quick-shifting six-speed dual-clutch transmission driving the rear wheels, while a revised version of Honda's Super Handling AWD system generates the car's prodigious grip levels, enabling such a quick 'Ring lap time.

What this means to you: Aiming to be faster than the GT-R and ZR1 and yet delivering more luxury and a better ride than the LF-A, Honda is working hard to pull off a double-whammy.

House Prices Drop 15.8%

NEW YORK ( -- May home prices dropped a record 15.8% from a year ago, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index of 20 cities. It was the 22nd consecutive month of decline recorded by the index. Prices fell 0.9% from April to May.

Each of the 20 metro areas covered by the index posted annual declines; nine posted record lows and 10 cities recorded double-digit drops.

The Case-Shiller 10-city Index posted a year over year decline of 16.9%, and a 1% month over month dip. Both the 10-City Composite Index and the 20-City Composite Index are reporting record annual declines.

"Since August 2006, there has not been one month where we have seen overall price increases, as measured by the two Composites," said David Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor's.

Case-Shiller has been tracking the 20-city index for 19 years, while the 10-city index is 21 years old. The current price decline streak has been unprecedented in both length and depth. Starting in April 1990, the 10-city index streaked down for 10 consecutive months. But that total loss was just 6.5%.

Since the 10-city index peaked in July 2006, it has plunged 19.8%. The 20-city is down 18.4%.

The 20-city index's Sun Belt cities, which recorded the biggest price gains during the boom, have led the charge down. Las Vegas prices have plummeted 28.4% during the past 12 months; Miami prices fell 28.3%; and Phoenix homes lost 26.5% of their value.

Midwest metro areas, which have endured tough economic times for years, are also feeling the pain. Detroit prices are off 17.4% for the 12 months, and Cleveland is down 8%.

Northeast cities like Boston, down 6.2% for the 12 months, and New York, off 7.9%, have been less volatile than the Sun Belt.

The smallest year-over-year declines were recorded by Charlotte, N.C. (down 0.2%), Dallas (down 3.1%), and Denver (down 4.8%).

Optimistic observers might point out that price declines appear to be slowing. The 10-city index's 1% month to month dip in May was less than April's, when it registered a 1.5% decline, while the 20-city index fell just 0.9% in May after dropping 1.3% in April. To top of page

Automobile's take on the Works Mini

By Jason Cammisa

2009 BMW 750 first drive review

A somewhat less honorable way to stand out is to at first purposely hold back and then impressively show huge improvement. Has BMW done just that with its 7-series?

Even though the new, fifth-generation 7-series follows suit as the technology pacesetter by adding a bunch of high-tech features including active suspension damping, rear-wheel steering, night vision with pedestrian detection, lane-change warning, and side-view cameras, the biggest news is BMW’s backpedaling from some of the previous 7’s, uh, “breakthroughs.” Last time around, BMW rethought the whole business of ergonomics and moved the shifter from the center console to a somewhat confusing lever on the column. It’s now been moved back. The seat controls on the previous 7 were moved to the center console and operated in a way that made them about 10 times more difficult to use. For ’09 they’re back on the outboard side of the seat and operate conventionally, just as on every other BMW.

Easier-to-Use iDrive

Furthermore, the 7-series’ most controversial piece of technology, iDrive, with its multifunction central control knob that has been copied to varying degrees by Mercedes, Audi, and Honda, has been completely revamped and rethought. In fact, continuing to call it iDrive is almost an insult to the new system’s vastly improved menu structure and control strategy. There’s no more convoluted nudging of the iDrive knob in one of eight directions to choose a submenu; now you simply scroll through a straightforward list and click the knob to select it. Nudging the knob to the left always takes you back one menu. Also, there are a number of shortcut buttons around the knob’s periphery to ease the learning process and the climate controls have been removed from iDrive’s clutches altogether and are now more easily operated by buttons and knobs on the dash.

Has all of our complaining finally paid off? We’re cautiously optimistic that BMW understands that complexity does not necessarily equate with sophistication.

Serious Chassis Complexity

But that’s not to say the latest 7-series isn’t complex. In what must be a tuning nightmare for chassis engineers, the new car features standard active dampers that vary compression and rebound characteristics independently in an attempt to maximize handling without sacrificing ride, in addition to the active front and rear anti-roll bars that are included as part of the Sport package. Also new is rear-wheel steering, which is bundled with the optional active steering that varies the steering ratio. The new car features an unequal-length control arm front suspension—a first for a BMW sedan—as well as a redesigned multilink rear.

At speeds up to 37 mph, the rear wheels turn by up to three degrees in the opposite direction of the fronts, which reduces the turning circle by more than two feet. At higher speeds, the rears turn in the same direction as the fronts to improve responsiveness. If the stability-control system decides things are getting out of hand, the rears can also be called upon to countersteer. From a brief drive in prototypes with all of these available goodies at BMW’s Miramas, France, proving ground, the new 7-series certainly felt capable and willing, with lighter steering effort more in line with that of a 3-series, helping it feel much smaller from behind the wheel. The 7-series was already strong dynamically and it’s safe to say that it will continue to be among the best in its class; this is a luxury sedan that doesn’t shy away from hustling when called upon.

A new driver-adjustable system called Driver Dynamic Control attempts to simplify things with four chassis settings: Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Sport+. Heading from Comfort towards Sport+ causes the suspension and steering effort to firm up, the transmission to shift later and more aggressively, and the stability control to back off. A fifth mode is simply switching the stability control off altogether. The various settings do provide tangible differences, with Comfort yielding a softer ride than is BMW-typical while Sport and Sport + are tailored toward aggressive drivers. On a wet-handling course, the 7-series showed impressive balance and, with the stability control switched off, was eager to drift its rear end around when prodded. But even Sport and Sport+ modes allow moderate sideways action as long as steering and throttle inputs remain measured.

A Twin-Turbo Shove

On sale in March of 2009, the 7-series will be initially available in 750i or long-wheelbase 750Li guise. A little confusion: despite retaining the “750” label both models get a new engine—the 400-hp, 450 lb-ft, direct-injection, twin-turbo 4.4-liter V-8 that recently debuted in the top-of-the-line X6. That’s 40 hp and a whopping 90 pound-feet more than the previous 750i’s 4.8-liter V-8. In fact, BMW says the new 750i outperforms the old, 438-hp V-12 760i while fuel economy improves by 15 percent. Mashing the throttle certainly generates a torquey turbo shove and we expect a quickest-in-class 0-to-60-mph time in the high-four-second range. The six-speed ZF automatic transmission carries over with small improvements in shift speed and efficiency, although a new eight-speed is rumored to be added in another year or so. Compared with the outgoing 750i (15/23 mpg city/highway), BMW says fuel economy has been improved by three percent. Models we won’t get here—at least not initially—are the 740i/740Li with a more powerful, 322-hp version of the twin-turbo 3.0-liter six and the 735d with a new, 241-hp, 3.0-liter diesel.

Weight-saving measures include an aluminum roof and doors, while the hood, front fenders, and much of the suspension remain aluminum, as with the previous 7-series. BMW says torsional rigidity is up 20 percent while overall weight gain is roughly 80 pounds, putting the 750i just shy of 4600.

Better Looking?

BMW also appears to have remedied to some extent another shortcoming of the previous car: styling. Both inside and out, the new car is far more conservative and evolutionary; although our first impression is that the interior doesn’t seem to have the richness of an S-class. The exterior is spruced up with a strong crease that runs the length of the car as well as a far less bulbous trunklid, although, in person, what most caught our attention was the nearly vertical and dramatically enlarged grille. The bumper-mounted exhaust tips appear to be a near copy of the Lexus LS460’s and are a move away from the 7-series’ traditional hidden pipes.

There’s no question that the new 7-series is a technological powerhouse, will dynamically be a strong competitor and, with much improved ergonomics, is now even easier to use. To say that it’s more appealing than its predecessor is perhaps faint praise, but does it have what it takes to stand out in the impressive luxury flagship crowd?

Betting with TWEEDS!!

This guy tries to bet at a casino with weed. He lays it down on the table as a bet. It was all caught on camera.