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Monday, January 26, 2009

New device allows you to charge your laptop with foot pedal.


This compact device called the YoGen Max from a company called Easy Energy allows you to charge up your laptop anywhere in the world with the power of your foot. If you are at an airport with no outlets in sight or on a plane and you don’t mind looking a bit silly and getting weird looks this could be perfect for you. More importantly this can keep your laptop going in rural parts of the world where you won’t look silly at all foot pumping your laptop.

Folded up it is small enough to fit into most laptop cases and easily go with you anywhere. The YoGen Max produces 60-80 watts of power when in operation and when your foot and leg cramp up it can also hold 12 rechargeable AA batteries to keep the power flowing. Easy Energy claims this is enough to keep a typical laptop going.

This isn’t for sale quite yet, but they say they have a working protype and are starting to take orders from distributors. I also don’t see any information about how much this retail for, but hopefully it will be reasonably affordable. This portable charger could help many people that need power on the go.

For more information head over to Easy Energy’s site.

Here’s a video demonstration of the YoGen Max.

Beer and pizza on way to Iraq for soldiers' Super Bowl party

Schlitz beer, Lou Malnati pizza going to Iraq for GIs' Super Bowl

January 23, 2009

For thousands of soldiers in Iraq come Super Bowl Sunday, when they're out of Schlitz, they really will be out of beer.

Earlier this month, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. Raymond Odierno, issued a waiver allowing military to drink beer on Feb. 1 -- a break from rules prohibiting alcohol that were established in light of occupying an Islamic country.

But soldiers will only be allowed two beers, max.

By that measure, Louis Glunz Beer Inc., a Lincolnwood Schlitz distributor, is sending enough free suds for 2,016 fighters.

"It won't be cold on our end but I'm sure it will be in the future,'' said Glunz general manager Jerry Glunz.

Three pallets of brew, along with 2,000 pizzas from Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, will be packed up Friday and flown to Iraq courtesy of delivery company DHL.

Glunz said Schlitz has a tradition of providing beer to soldiers -- part of the brand's post-World War II dominance was because of its distribution to the military, he said.

At the height of World War II, the company advertised that one out of every four bottles produced went to American fighters serving overseas.

Drinking will be limited to dining areas and commanders were ordered to keep a lid on the partying.

Alcohol isn't illegal in Iraq but is forbidden by the Quran. The Super Bowl falls during a holy period for Iraq's majority Shiite Muslims.

List of 2009 Sundance Film Festival awards winners

By The Associated Press

-- The Sundance Film Festival's 2009 audience and jury awards, presented Saturday in Park City, Utah:

_ Grand jury, U.S. drama: "Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire"

_ Audience, U.S. drama: "Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire"

_ Grand jury, U.S. documentary: "We Live in Public"

_ Audience, U.S. documentary: "The Cove"

_ Grand jury, world cinema drama: "The Maid (La Nana)"

_ Audience, world cinema drama: "An Education"

_ Grand jury, world cinema documentary: "Rough Aunties"

_ Audience, world cinema documentary: "Afghan Star"

_ Waldo Salt screenwriting award: Nicholas Jasenovec and Charlyne Yi, "Paper Heart"

_ Directing, U.S. drama: Cary Joji Fukunaga, "Sin Nombre"

_ Directing, U.S. documentary: Natalia Almada, "El General"

_ Directing, world cinema drama: Oliver Hirschbiegel, "Five Minutes of Heaven"

_ Directing, world cinema documentary: Havana Marking, "Afghan Star"

_ Screenwriting, world cinema drama: Guy Hibbert, "Five Minutes of Heaven"

_ Editing, U.S. documentary: Karen Schmeer, "Sergio"

_ Editing, world cinema documentary: Janus Billeskov Jansen and Thomas Papapetros, "Burma VJ"

_ Cinematography, U.S. drama: Adriano Goldman, "Sin Nombre"

_ Cinematography, U.S. documentary: Bob Richman, "The September Issue"

_ Cinematography, world cinema drama: John De Borman, "An Education"

_ Cinematography, world cinema documentary: John Maringouin, "Big River Man"

_ Special jury prize for originality, world cinema drama: "Louise-Michel," directed by Benoit Delepine and Gustave de Kervern

_ Special jury prize, world cinema documentary: "Tibet in Song," Ngawang Choephel, director

_ Special jury prize for acting, world cinema: Catalina Saavedra, "The Maid (La Nana)"

_ Special jury prize, U.S. documentary: "Good Hair," Jeff Stilson, director

_ Special jury prize for spirit of independence: "Humpday"

_ Special jury prize for acting: Mo'Nique, "Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire"

_ Jury prize, U.S. short filmmaking: "Short Term 12," Destin Daniel Cretton, director

_ Jury prize, international short filmmaking: "Lies," Jonas Odell, director

_ Alfred P. Sloan prize: "Adam," Max Mayer, director

Iceland's Coalition Government Collapses

Iceland's government collapsed Monday, days after its prime minister called for early elections amid popular anger over a financial crisis that has gutted a once-flourishing economy.

Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced Monday that he and his cabinet would resign immediately. The move came after his Independence Party failed to come to terms with the Social Democrats, its main partner in Iceland's coalition government. Mr. Haarde was due Monday afternoon to present his resignation to Iceland's president.

Mr. Haarde was working to form a new government, his spokesman said, but Social Democrat leaders were demanding a fresh face.

Iceland's Prime Minister Geir Haarde, right, addresses journalists at the parliament in Reykjavik on  Monday.
Associated Press

Iceland's Prime Minister Geir Haarde, right, addresses journalists at the parliament in Reykjavik on Monday.

"The government's actions in the last weeks and months were not swift enough," Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, the leader of the Social Democrats, said Monday, according to Agence France-Presse.

It is far from clear who will run Iceland until elections scheduled for May. Ms. Gisladottir proposed a fellow Social Democrat, Johanna Sigurdardottir, but Mr. Haarde's spokesman said the Independence Party—which has a plurality of seats in parliament--is determined not to hand over the prime minister's office.

That could open the door for the Independence Party's second-in-command, Thorgerdur Katrin Gunnarsdottir, currently education minister.

Iceland's president, who holds a largely ceremonial post, has authority to designate a person responsible for forming a government.

How Iceland Collapsed


WSJ's Andy Jordan examines how Iceland's economic miracle came to an abrupt end and explains why the world should care about the collapse of the small country's financial system.

Iceland becomes the second European nation to lose its government in the global crisis -- Belgium's resigned last month after a scandal involving aid to a fallen bank. It is perhaps the world's hardest hit: Last fall, three big banks -- virtually the entire banking system -- collapsed, and the island's currency went into freefall.

The twin currency and banking crises have caused a startlingly swift reversal of fortune for Icelanders, per capita once one of the world's wealthiest people. Today, inflation and unemployment are soaring, debt is mounting and the banking sector that provided cushy jobs and fueled a consumption boom has vanished.

Anger at Iceland's leaders has been palpable for months. Protests in front of the parliament that began last fall drew crowds of thousands that quickly turned raucous—pelting the parliament building with eggs and rolls of toilet paper, and displaying effigies of Mr. Haarde.

Up until last week, Mr. Haarde had been defiant, saying Iceland—which has accepted a $2.1 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund—could not afford political chaos as it tries to rebuild its economy.

But Friday, he said his doctors had discovered a tumor of the esophagus, and that he would call for early elections in May and stand down as the party's chief. Leaders of the protests said that wasn't enough. Demonstrations continued over the weekend. By Monday, the coalition had broken and Mr. Haarde faced open criticism from his partners.

At the root of Iceland's troubles was a outsized banking system, which grew wildly overseas and built up foreign liabilities many times the size of Iceland's economic output. When the credit crunch struck, the banks faced difficulty making payments, and Iceland's central bank didn't have the foreign currency needed to bail them out.

Write to Charles Forelle at

Alcatraz Launches Sun and Wind Powered Hybrid Boat

by Jorge Chapa

hornblower hybrid, hybrid boat, alcatraz ferry, wind powered ferry, solar powered ferry, hybrid ferry

1.4 million people visit San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island each year, which adds up to a considerable carbon footprint when you factor in all of the gallons of fuel used to power those ferries. To help reduce this environmental impact Alcatraz Cruises recently launched their very own green solution - the Hornblower Hybrid ferry. The multi-hulled hybrid boat uses two wind turbines and a solar array to generate power for its navigation tools, lighting, and even part of its propulsion system.

hornblower hybrid, hybrid boat, alcatraz ferry, wind powered ferry, solar powered ferry, hybrid ferry

The Hornblower Hybrid is capable of carrying around 160 passengers from San Francisto to Alcatraz. When the boat is idling or in low propulsion mode it is powered by its batteries, which are charged by its wind turbines and solar panels. Otherwise, the boat runs on Tier 2 marine diesel engines, which the company claims, are cleaner than the standard ones found in these catamarans.

In addition to its energy efficiency, the Hornblower Hybrid meets all the requirements for LEED’s recycled content, including its carpets and the countertops, which are made from recycled vodka bottles. The Hornblower Hybrid recently launched, and Alcatraz Cruises plans to eventually add a second hybrid vehicle to its fleet.

+ Hornblower Hybrid

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Man Helped Mexican Drug Lord Dissolve 300 Bodies in Acid

Relatives of missing want to show pictures to alleged drug operative

Image: Santiago Meza Lopez
Santiago Meza Lopez, 45, center, who allegedly worked for a drug kingpin from the Tijuana area, is escorted by Mexican soldiers and federal police agents in Tijuana, Mexico, on Friday.

TIJUANA, Mexico - Relatives of 100 missing people want to show photos of their loved ones to a man arrested in Tijuana for allegedly helping a druglord dispose of his slain enemies by dissolving their bodies in acid, a victims' group said Saturday.

Santiago Meza Lopez, known as the "Pozole Maker" after a local stew, is accused by Mexico's military of disposing of 300 bodies for Teodoro Garcia Simental, a suspected former lieutenant of the Tijuana-based Arellano Felix drug cartel.

The relatives have asked authorities for permission to meet face-to-face with the 45-year-old Meza, said Cristina Palacios, president of Citizens United Against Impunity, a group that represents families of missing people in Tijuana.

Meza was arrested Thursday and paraded by soldiers and federal police in front of reporters on Friday at a cement-block shack where he allegedly got rid of many of the bodies over several years.

The security officers had Meza tell reporters how he did it: first dumping the corpses in large plastic bins filled with acid, then burying any remains. Surrounded by soldiers, Meza told reporters he helped get rid of 300 bodies.

Meza has not been charged. Investigators have not identified any of Meza's alleged victims or provided evidence to back up the 300 victims claim.

"We are here because this arrest has given us a ray of hope," Palacios said after meeting with Baja California state authorities.

Most vanished in eastern Tijuana
State Attorney General Rommel Moreno said Meza would be shown the photos to see if he recognized any as among his victims, and authorities were considering allowing the relatives to meet with him.

The relatives did not say whether they believed their missing loved ones were involved in drug trafficking. But Fernando Ocegueda, whose son disappeared in February 2007, said most of the 100 people vanished in eastern Tijuana, which is believed to be Garcia's stronghold.

The group believes that Garcia "had a lot to do with the kidnapping of many of the people we are looking for," he said.

Moreno said investigators were searching the shack and two other locations for any possible remains. He said investigators would ask the New Mexican and California state governments for DNA-testing equipment.

Meza told police his busiest period was in December 2007 when he claims to have gotten rid of 32 bodies, Moreno said. The attorney general said there was also a spike in disappearances that month in Tijuana.

Surge of violence
Homicides and kidnappings have surged in Mexico recent years as cartels battle each other for territory and fight thousands of troops deployed to drug hotspots across the country.

Drug violence claimed more than 5,300 lives last year, double the number in 2007.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration identified Garcia as the chief rival of alleged Arellano Felix cartel leader Fernando Sanchez Arrellano.

Mexican officials have blamed the power struggle between the two men for a surge in violence in Tijuana.

Slumdog Millionaire: Mumbai's real slumdogs [PICS]

Following the success of Slumdog Millionaire, set in the squalid underbelly of Mumbai, Nigel Richardson reports on a growing phenomenon: the slum tour.

read more | digg story

'Absolutely Fabulous' U.S. pilot a go

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Fox has picked up a pilot episode of a U.S. adaptation of the British comedy "Absolutely Fabulous," industry sources say.

The Hollywood Reporter said Friday the U.S. adaptation will be set in Los Angeles and original "Fabulous" actress Jennifer Saunders will be the executive producer.

Saunders not only starred as neurotic fashion publicist Edina in the BBC version, but also wrote for the British series.

The pilot order for a U.S. version of "Fabulous" comes after several past attempts to adapt the quirky comedy

for U.S. audiences failed to reach the pilot stage.

Sony Pictures TV, BBC Worldwide Productions and Tantamount will produce the U.S. adaptation.

The Reporter said "Fabulous" follows Edina and her best friend, Patsy, as they enjoy wild lives that frustrate Edina's restrained daughter, Saffron.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

See the original image at — Guitar Hero: Metallica full tracklisting revealed

Another piece of the Guitar Hero puzzle . . . the track listing! In case you're just tuning in now, the all 'Tallica Guitar Hero will be hitting the streets on March 29 with some really cool features like different classic venues such as the L.A. Forum, Tushino Airfield, and The Hammersmith Odeon, the ability to play as us or in single instrument mode, and even the Expert+ setting with double bass drum kick pedals.

So without further ado, here are the songs on the game . . . both from us and from some of the bands we admire and even call friends:

Metallica Tracks

All Nightmare Long
Creeping Death
Disposable Heroes
Dyers Eve
Enter Sandman
Fade To Black
Fight Fire With Fire
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Hit The Lights
King Nothing
Master of Puppets
Mercyful Fate (Medley)
No Leaf Clover
Nothing Else Matters
Sad But True
Seek And Destroy
The Memory Remains
The Shortest Straw
The Thing That Should Not Be
The Unforgiven
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Wherever I May Roam

If you downloaded the "Death Magnetic" album for Xbox and PS3, those ten songs will play in their entirety in the full game mode. PS2 and Wii versions (coming in the Spring, most likely in early May) will include "Broken Beat & Scarred," "Cyanide" and "My Apocalypse" since they are not compatible with the Death Magnetic downloadable content.

Other Artists

Alice In Chains - No Excuses
Bob Seger - Turn The Page
Corrosion of Conformity - Albatross
Diamond Head - Am I Evil?
Foo Fighters - Stacked Actors
Judas Priest - Hell Bent For Leather
Kyuss - Demon Cleaner
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Tuesdays Gone
Machine Head - Beautiful Mourning
Mastodon - Blood And Thunder
Mercyful Fate - Evil
Michael Schenker Group - Armed and Ready
Motorhead - Ace of Spades
Queen - Stone Cold Crazy
Samhain - Mother of Mercy
Slayer - War Ensemble
Social Distortion - Mommy's Little Monster
Suicidal Tendencies - War Inside My Head
System of a Down - Toxicity
The Sword - Black River
Thin Lizzy - The Boys Are Back in Town

*tracklist subject to change*

Keep watching here and on your favorite gaming sites for more info, previews, reviews, etc. . . .

Barack Obama's First Days in Office [PICS]

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton annouce new envoys for Middle East, India and Pakistan at State Department in Washington

U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smile during an event where they announced the appointment of two new envoys to the Middle East, India and Pakistan, at the State Department in Washington on January 22, 2009. Former Senator George Mitchell will serve as envoy to the Middle East and former Ambassador Richard Holbrook will serve Pakistan and India. (UPI Photo/Matthew Cavanaugh/POOL)

Click here for the whole collection

GM Delaying CTS Coupe until Summer 2010

With product delays and cancellations the norm as of late, it's no real surprise that General Motors has now officially postponed the introduction of its Cadillac CTS Coupe until next summer, which had been rumored for some time. Rather than deliver the striking coupe to its already swamped dealerships later this year, GM spokeswoman Joanne Krell now says the automaker will wait until summer 2010 -- when it believes the market will have recovered enough to add the two-door model to the Caddy lineup.

2010 Cadillac CTS Coupe Concept
2010 Cadillac CTS Coupe Concept

"We made a few changes to the overall portfolio," says Krell. "Obviously we are in a challenging economic time, and one of the changes is to move the coupe back a year. Instead of coming out this summer, it will come out next summer."

The CTS Coupe was originally scheduled to make its world debut at November's Los Angeles International Auto Show, but was delayed indefinitely as a result of financial circumstances. GM had wanted the coupe to make its 2009 market introduction alongside its 2010 CTS Sport Wagon and 2010 SRX crossover siblings, both of which are still expected to arrive later this year.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

It's Official - Honda Kills S2000

Honda's long-in-the-tooth, but always entertaining, S2000 sports car will not live on passed the 2009 model year, the automaker announced today to little surprise. The car first made it to U.S. shores back in 1999 as a limited edition in celebration of the brand's 50th anniversary, but was later permanently integrated into Honda's lineup as a result of overwhelming consumer and industry praise. The S2000 was the automaker's last true rear-wheel drive sports car and will likely be known as such for a few years, as the automaker is emphasizing smaller, more fuel efficient models in its upcoming product cycle.

2009 Honda S2000

According to Honda number crunchers, the drop-top four-cylinder has sold around 110,000 units since 1999 in 65 countries -- with about 65,000 of those sales coming from the U.S. alone.

Honda recently revamped the already nimble, high-revving model with a track-oriented edition labeled the S2000 CR (for "Club Racer"). As its name suggests, the car features a lighter, stiffer chassis setup, unique aero bits, as well as a small (unofficial) bump in power designed specifically for circuit duty. In either stock or CR form, the Honda drop top S2000 never failed to put a smile on our faces while pushing hurriedly through the twisites or cruising idly on PCH.

2009 Honda S2000 CR

Honda's been making the news lately with its surprising portfolio adjustments in the wake of poor global sales and associated weak profit margins. The Tokyo-based automaker recently stopped all Formula 1 racing operations, cancelled the near-production-ready NSX supercar, and reportedly nixed its next-generation eight-cylinder -- all in favor of adopting more fuel efficient passenger vehicles. As such, no plans for a S2000 successor have been revealed, but it's largely believed Honda's upcoming CR-Z hybrid car will try to fill the sporty void left by the venerable S2000.

Stay tuned for more news on Honda's future model portfolio.

Source: Honda

Shelby Supercars Plans 1000hp Electric Supercar

Aero EV

WEST RICHLAND, Washington — Shelby SuperCars' Ultimate Aero, which holds the title as the world's fastest production car, is going green with an electric powertrain. But don't expect the Ultimate Aero EV to offer any sacrifices; the more ecological car will make 1000 horsepower and 800 pound-feet of torque.

The SSC Ultimate Aero EV will be capable of sprinting to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds. With a top speed of 208 mph, the electric supercar will pursue the title of "World's Fastest Production Electric Car." SSC already holds a similar record for all production cars with the V8-powered Ultimate Aero.

The electric Ultimate Aero uses SSC's new All-Electric Scalable Powertrain. In the Aero EV, a twin-motor AESP is mated to a three-speed transmission capable of switching gears in 0.24 second. The car is expected to have a 150-to-200-mile range and will be capable of fully recharging the battery in 10 minutes from a 220-volt power source.

But the powertrain isn't just for supercars. Shelby says the electric unit can be adapted for a variety of applications, from 200-hp midsize cars to buses and delivery trucks making 1,200 hp. SSC plans to have prototypes of the Ultimate Aero EV on the road by spring 2009, with sales possibly beginning before the end of the year.

Inside Line says: Big claims from a company that's proven it can do big. — Eric Tingwall, Correspondent

Mo. neo-Nazis join `Adopt-A-Highway' trash cleanup

Traffic passes by an Adopt-A-Highway sign along U.S. Highway 160 in Springfield, AP – Traffic passes by an Adopt-A-Highway sign along U.S. Highway 160 in Springfield, Mo., Thursday, Jan. …

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A neo-Nazi group has joined the state's "Adopt-A-Highway" volunteer litter pickup program, taking advantage of a free speech court fight won four years ago by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Springfield unit of the National Socialist Movement has committed to cleaning up trash along a half-mile section of Highway 160 near the Springfield city limits.

Two signs noting the group's membership in the Adopt-A-Highway program went up in October but drew attention only recently when the group picked up litter as part of a gathering in Springfield.

The state says it had no way to reject the group's application. A 2005 U.S. Supreme Court ruling arising from a similar effort by the Ku Klux Klan says membership in the Adopt-A-Highway program can't be denied because of a group's political beliefs. At the time, the state could reject applications for the program from groups that denied membership based on race or had a history of violence.

"It's a First Amendment thing, and we can't discriminate as long as they pick up the trash," said Bob Edwards, a spokesman for the transportation department's office in Springfield.

The state can deny an organization's application only if it has members who have been convicted of violent criminal activity within the past 10 years.

The NSM Springfield unit decided to take part in the highway project because it wants to clean up the community, said Ariana Glass, a 16-year-old member of the youth division of the group.

"We wanted to prove that we're not out here just to have fun, we want to make the community look good," Glass said.

The group heard both honks of support and jeers when about 30 members and supporters picked up trash Saturday. Greene County sheriff's deputies ticketed one man who group members said became threatening but there were no other incidents, Glass said.

Members of the highway cleanup program are required to clean up trash at least four times a year. Edwards said about 600 groups pick up trash in the 12 counties surrounding Springfield.

Edwards said his department had received only one phone call asking why the National Socialist group was allowed to adopt the highway. Louise Whall, spokeswoman for the city of Springfield, was not aware of the group's action until contacted by the AP, but said the city had no jurisdiction because it's a state program.

Most other states have programs similar to Missouri's. Ten states — Alabama, Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Vermont — had joined in filing a brief backing Missouri's side in the court fight.


Associated Press Writer Chris Blank in Jefferson City contributed to this report.

VW’s Diesel Roadster Gets 54 MPG, Offers Eco-Mode

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Volkswagen showed off its latest roadster — the BlueSport Concept. The BlueSport features a 177 hp diesel engine with rail injection and a downstream NOx storage catalytic converter, all in a 6-speed DSG dual clutch transmission.

With a top speed of 140 mph, the 2.0-liter turbodiesel (TDI) delivers 258 lb-ft of torque. The Euro 6 compliant version gets 54.7 mpg where as the US version will get around 42 mpg. I am happy for the Tier II emission standards we have here in the US, and T2B5 standards are close to California’s stricter Level II standards, but do we really lose 12 mpg by those standards?

It’s VW’s eco mode that accounts for the boost in fuel economy: an automatic start-stop system and energy regeneration. Together they propel the Concept BlueSport to an additional fuel savings of up to 0.2 liter per 100 kilometers in city driving.

The roadster is barely over a ton. It’s lightweight construction includes a soft top that is the lightest in its class. It paid off. It will take less than 6-seconds to hit 60 mph. Of course, its weight also pays off in fuel consumption.

Editor’s note: this post was updated 1/24/2009 at 4:12 PST to change a reference to the vehicle hitting “top speed” in under 6 seconds. It should have said it will hit 60 mph in under 6 seconds.


Surprise! The New F1 Cars Aren't Ugly

By Tony Borroz Email


Grand Prix auto racing is the pinnacle of motorsports. Nowhere are the cars so technologically advanced or success so dependent upon talent, bravery and money. Lots and lots of money.

Hundreds of millions of dollars flow into the hands of some of the best engineers and designers this side of the aerospace industry, then runs head-on into the FIA. The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile are the Draconians who think up rules even Melvin Belli couldn’t get around and enforce them with such zeal a Catholic school nun would shake her head at the injustice.

So here we stand at the cusp of a Formula 1 season that has seen some huge changes in the rules. What happens when the clever and the quick run into the convoluted and unjust, and what does it mean for the cars we'll see on the grid?

First, a quick-and-dirty rundown of the biggest changes for 2009. If you want more, get all the detail you can handle by downloading the FIA's F1 regs here.

First up, KERS. Kinetic energy recovery systems capture some of the energy generated during braking and stores it - either electronically in a battery or capacitor or mechanically in a flywheel - for use at the driver's discretion. Often called "push to pass," the driver could opt to use the added power to accelerate out of a corner or on a straight to pass another car.

KERS is part of FIA boss Max Mosley's campaign to make F1 technology more relevant to road cars. But it's proven such a bear to develop that teams have the option of running it this year. It will be mandatory next year. Or not. The FIA keeps waffling on that. The problem is KERS is bulky, hard to package in the tight confines of an F1 chassis and so far works about as well as Windows Vista. When BMW first tested it in public, it shocked a mechanic hard enough to knock him on his ass. Ferrari says the technology's proven more expensive than expected, and it remains to be seen how many teams run it this year.

This year also sees significant changes to the tires, which arguably are the most important component of any car. This year we say hello to slicks - again - and goodbye to grooved rubber. The FIA banned slicks in 1998 but brought them back this year to improve safety. Slick tires put more rubber on the road, which increases grip, which makes it easier to slow down should things go pear-shaped. It also makes it easer to put down power making for better acceleration and, potentially, more frequent passing.

But the biggest changes have been to aerodynamics. Gone are all the bits and bobs tacked on to the cars in an effort to increase downforce. By the end of last season, the cars had so many winglets, exhaust stacks and other baubles they looked like something that might wash up on the beach. They're all gone this year, as are the barge boards.

What's left is significantly smaller, starting with the rear wings. They're a hell of a lot narrower, and, frankly, look ridiculously out of proportion. At the other end of the car, the front wings are bigger and deeper, yet simpler.

When the rules were announced, everyone feared the resulting cars would be ugly. Turns out they were wrong, based upon the three teams we were able to get photos from.


Look, for example, at the McLaren MP4-24 above, the car Lewis Hamilton will use to defend his title. Although that dinky rear wing throws the balance off, the car's overall shape is quite pleasing. The clean, flowing lines of the sidepods are gorgeous, and the entire body appears to be shrunk-wrapped over the components underneath. The same is true of the Renault R29 shown below.


Renault has the distinction of having a "shark fin" trailing from the air intake. The fin, like the slick sidepods, is all about smoothing the airflow to the rear wing. Smaller wings generate less downforce, which as a general rule is a bad thing, so the aero engineers do everything they can to maximize what they've got by making airflow to the wing as smooth as possible.


Note the simplicity of the front wing of the McLaren. Not nearly as complex as in the past. That same simplicity can also be seen on the BMW F1.09 shown below.


Somewhere under the BMW's bodywork is the kinetic energy recovery system. BMW seems to have worked out the bugs and plans to run the system this year at it makes a run for the championship.

We've gotta say the naysayers were wrong. Oh sure, the rear wings are absurdly small, but we like the leaner, cleaner look of the '09 cars. Bottom line? They're pretty freakin' hot.

More photos that, like all others, are courtesy of the respective teams.




Property in New York: Bling’s still king in Manhattan

Property in New York: Bling’s still king in Manhattan

A Madison Avenue hotel is being converted into glitzy new designer apartments, attracting A-listers such as Bob Dylan. Anna Tyzack checks out the high life .

Property in New York: the luxurious Mark Hotel on Madison Avenue has been a favourite haunt for Johnny Depp and Kate Moss and Bob Dylan
Chic: the luxurious Mark Hotel on Madison Avenue has been a favourite haunt for Johnny Depp and Kate Moss and Bob Dylan

You’d have thought there would have been better times to launch a $60 million (£41m) Manhattan penthouse onto the market, along with 41 other uber-expensive apartments. The top end of the New York property market is now at a standstill; home owners that need to sell up are slashing their prices. But James Sherwin, whose job it is to run the exclusive new residences, couldn’t be more excited. “We’re still in the business for something fun,” he says. “If you buy a landmark building, in a landmark location, in a landmark city, you can’t go wrong.”

The building in question is the Mark Hotel on Madison Avenue, a block away from Central Park, in New York’s glitzy Upper East Side. It was built in 1927 and was a well-known (if slightly fusty) four-star hotel until it closed for refurbishment last year. The Mark hit the headlines in the Nineties when Kate Moss and Johnny Depp trashed one of the hotel suites but Sherwin, who used to manage the Carlyle hotel, on the opposite side of Madison Avenue, would rather it was remembered for its better-behaved guests, such as Nicholas Sarkozy, Bob Dylan and Princess Caroline of Monaco.

Landmark buildings in New York's prime locations: 447 West 18th Street From $1.285 million (£865,000)
Landmark buildings in New York's prime locations: 447 West 18th Street From $1.285 million (£865,000) The 47-unit Chelsea Modern building, with its shimmering façade, had won several awards before it was built

In its new guise, it will be part hotel, part apartments, part trendy local haunt (New Yorkers use hotels to entertain much more than Londoners) – and no expense is being spared on transforming the jaded interior into a glittering designer-label palace. Sculptor Guy de Rougemont will be creating the bar, Jean Georges (New York’s answer to Gary Rhodes) is in charge of the restaurant, and Turnbull & Asser will be dressing the staff. “All they’ll be wearing of their own will be their underwear,” says Sherwin, nothing if not a perfectionist. “I’m a great believer in having two colours on the blazers.”

Meanwhile the Mark’s owners, Izak Senbahar and Simon Elias of Alexico Group, have commissioned French designer Jacques Granges to devise the building’s new look. “There’s a huge amount of anticipation about the opening and the design,” says Senbahar. “It’s a very traditional building so we had to come up with something unique. Jacques Granges has done houses for Valentino and Yves St Laurent, so we thought he was perfect.” Granges’s vision for the Mark includes bespoke furniture, fabrics, carpets, art and sculpture by contemporary designers such as Patrice Dangel, Mattia Bonetti and Eric Schmitt.

“Every piece of furniture will be numbered – it is going to be a collector’s item,” says Elias “The art work in each room costs the same as the Four Seasons would spend on an entire suite.”

Downstairs the lobby will have a black and white striped marble floor and pony skin sofas; the apartments have Crestron touch-screen room control panels to operate the blinds, temperature and music, and in place of the minibar will be a chilled chest of drawers, brimming with delicacies. Right at the top, the 1,200sq ft penthouse will gaze out across the Manhattan skyline, with domed ballroom, master bedroom suite with separate sitting room, and a glass lift to a roof terrace above. “There’s nothing in New York like this,” says Elias.

Property in New York: 24 West 11th Street $17.5 million (£11.7 million)
24 West 11th Street $17.5 million (£11.7 million) New York's first fully serviced town house is situated on a tree lined street in Greenwich Village, a few blocks from Sarah Jessica Parker's home.

The owners of the Mark residences will have access to all the hotel facilities, including Italian linen, a Frederic Fekkai beauty salon, fitness centre, valet and dry cleaning, 24-hour room service and use of a hotel car. “I wanted a Bentley, so we’ve got one,” says Sherwin. “It’s granite-coloured with a 'beluga’ interior. It will be connected to the switchboard in case anyone calls your apartment while you are in it.”

Annual service charges for the properties are not cheap (approximately $7,000/£4,700 per year), but owners can earn an income by letting their apartment through the hotel (provided they sign a 10-page contract promising to keep it spick and span).

Sherwin will be charging from $1,000 (£680) per night for a hotel suite and owners will take 60 per cent of the earnings. “Hollywood film stars take apartments for a month or two when they’re filming – there’s a good chance you will rent it out,” says Senbahar.

But who is actually going to buy one of these apartments? With more than 90,000 finance workers in New York expected to lose their jobs by the end of 2009, there will be precious little bonus money sloshing around.

Jack McCabe, from McCabe Research and Consulting, has been predicting an American real estate crash since 2004.

“We’ve been analysing the vast amount of speculators and the overbuilding compared to historical absorption levels,” he says. “New York has been an isolated market compared to the rest of the US – and specifically Manhattan has been driven by the bonuses on Wall Street. But it started to flatten out at the end of February 2008 and I believe it will drop like a rock in 2009 – between 20 and 25 per cent over the next four quarters. Every building from top to bottom will take some kind of hit but the best locations will fare best.”

Property in New York: 400 West 12th Street From $1.675 million (£1.13 million) Superior Ink, on the site of a former factory in West Village, is a 17-storey luxury waterfront condominium tower with 68 residences.
400 West 12th Street From $1.675 million (£1.13 million) Superior Ink, on the site of a former factory in West Village, is a 17-storey luxury waterfront condominium tower with 68 residences.

David Wine, vice chairman of Related Companies, who represents Knight Frank in New York, is more optimistic about the future, having sold more than $50m (£34m) worth of property in the newly launched Superior Ink development in the West Village in the past few months. The market in prime parts of Manhattan remains stable, he says, with prices levelling off in the emerging neighbourhoods. “Properties in good locations with amenities designed by celebrated architects will always have enduring value,” he says.

“There will always be a demand for New York real estate as it remains a place where people want to live and own property. In years past, buyers were making decisions very quickly. Now they’re doing their research for enduring value.”

Elias and Senbahar are expecting the Mark to sell to overseas investors and celebrities in search of a pied à terre in New York. The penthouse has already attracted interest from Russian and Middle Eastern buyers.

Sherwin believes the Mark is exactly what New York needs to cheer it up this of all years. “The more stressful life is, the more like a comfortable home a hotel needs to be,” he says.

“New York is the kind of city where you can’t go wrong and the Mark is in a quiet and highly exclusive residential area – you won’t need to worry about anything.”

  • Apartments in the Mark, 25 East 77th Street, NY 10075, cost from $1.975 million (£1.33m) for a studio, to $23.5 million (£15.8m) for a five-bedroom suite and $60 million (£40m) for the penthouse. For more information call: 001 212 772 1600 or visit
  • Conversion from Sterling to US dollars correct at time of press.

America's Most Wired Cities

By Elizabeth Woyke,

Seattle takes the lead in our annual list of the most broadband-connected U.S. cities.

Move over, Atlanta. Seattle, Microsoft and's home base, is now the country's most wired city.

While these marquee names have long lent the Emerald City tech-y cachet, it was Seattle's increased use of broadband that powered it up Forbes' annual list of the 30 most broadband-connected cities in the U.S. High marks in two other wired city categories--broadband access and wi-fi hot spots--helped Seattle clinch the top spot.

Since 2007, Forbes has measured cities' wired quotient by computing the percentage of Internet users with high-speed connections and the number of companies providing high-speed Internet. Since many urban residents access the Internet by wi-fi, we also measure the number of public wireless Internet hot spots in a particular city.

In Pictures: Top 30 Most-Wired American Cities wired2_419x98.jpg

Our formula remains the same as previous years with one exception: the addition of broadband penetration data from Scarborough Research. The change was made to complement similar data from Nielsen Online.

Though Atlanta, Forbes' top wired city in 2007 and 2008, has been dethroned, the Big Peach continues to ride high at No. 2. The Southeast telecommunications hub boasts plenty of broadband users and lots of broadband service providers.

Washington, D.C., rocketed from No. 11 last year to a solid No. 3. Like Seattle, it made dramatic progress in its broadband adoption rate. It also improved its wi-fi hot spot showing to rank second only to Seattle.

D.C. scoops up another honor this year, as the wired city to watch, thanks to technophile president Barack Obama. Obama's support for universal broadband and fluency with mobile devices is expected to boost Internet and wi-fi access nationwide. Results could appear in the president's home city soon.

Rounding out the top five wired cities are Orlando and Boston. As the location of Walt Disney World, the destination of millions of tourists a year, Orlando is packed with broadband providers and wi-fi access points. Boston's strengths include a plethora of universities and urbane population that help keep its broadband and wi-fi usage high.

The surprise of the list is Minneapolis, which improved its standing from No. 11 to No. 7, beating New York and Portland, Ore., among others. Minneapolis' secret? A particularly broad range of service providers, including a number of neighborhoods with 20 different access options for high-speed Internet.

North Carolina suffered the biggest drop, with Raleigh declining to No. 15 from No. 3 and Charlotte dropping to No. 20 from No. 7.

Three California powerhouse cities--Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco--shifted places this year to occupy the middle of the list. Los Angeles and San Diego improved their standings while San Francisco dropped seven places due to a relatively low number of broadband providers and wi-fi hot spots. However, its No. 1 rating in broadband adoption means that San Francisco can take pride in having the most tech-savvy residents of any U.S. city.

After California, Florida and Ohio placed the most cities on the list. Under Governor Ted Strickland, Ohio has invested several millions of dollars in promoting Internet technology across the state. The ultimate goal is "100% broadband access in Ohio and greater awareness of the personal and economic growth potential" broadband can bring, says Keith Dailey, a spokesman for the Ohio governor's office.

Each year, a few cities slide off the list and a handful make their debut. Dallas and Houston fell just short of the top 30 this year while New Orleans (No. 18), Honolulu (No. 25), Cleveland (No. 26) and Austin (No. 30) were added.

While this ranking aims to be as current as possible, advances in broadband technology sometimes outstrip the data available. Take No. 10 Baltimore and No. 14 Portland. The two cities are the first U.S. markets to be outfitted with Clearwire's (nasdaq: CLWR - news - people ) new brand of super-fast wireless broadband, WiMax. But the time lag inherent in collecting broadband data and the difficulty in measuring wireless broadband coverage by city means that neither city's standing takes WiMax into account.

That could change as soon as next year. A Federal Communications Commission spokesman says the agency plans to collect "considerably more detailed" information on broadband access in coming months. Mobile data usage is flourishing, which in turn is affecting the number of wi-fi hot spots that restaurants, cafés and retailers offer.

Obama's technology policies may have the biggest impact. In October, the Senate approved the Broadband Data Improvement Act, which calls for better federal and state data on the availability and quality of broadband service in the U.S.

Last week, Obama's broadband policy came into focus with a proposal from House Democrats and Obama's transition team for $6 billion in grants for broadband infrastructure as part of the economic stimulus package. The funds are intended to "provide business and job opportunities ... with benefits to e-commerce, education and health care" in under-served areas, according to the bill.

Technology policy groups are hoping for even greater government support. "It's a step in the right direction, but not as effective as what we need," says Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. ITIF would like to see tax credit provisions for broadband as well as grants, which Atkinson calls "cumbersome" for companies.

"Investing in broadband will have an impact on jobs, education, health care and carbon emissions," says John Davies, vice president of Intel's (nasdaq: INTC - news - people ) World Ahead Program, which promotes technology access and education. So expect the next year or two to bring vast changes to all American cities, whatever their "wired" rank.

See full list of cities here.

Europe's Sexy New Gravity Satellite

By Clara Moskowitz Email


A sleek new European Space Agency satellite set to launch this year, perhaps as early as February, aims to map out the planet's gravitational field in unprecedented detail. The Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, or GOCE, will gather data useful for research in oceanography, solid Earth physics and climate change.

"ESA's gravity satellite will measure Earth's gravity from place to place around the globe to provide a uniform global picture," said GOCE project scientist Mark Drinkwater in a press release. "It will do this with a level of detail and accuracy never before achieved. This fundamental reference dataset will give access to new scientific insights into ocean circulation and its impact on climate, as well as into the structure of the interior of the Earth in critical locations such as earthquake and volcanic zones."

What goes up must come down. That simple explanation of gravity serves us well in most cases, but at a certain level, it breaks down. For example, the strength of Earth's gravity actually varies by small amounts at different spots around the planet.

GOCE will use ultrasensitive instruments called accelerometers to measure tiny variations in Earth's gravitational tug due to the planet's rotation, the positions of mountains and ocean trenches, and variations in the density of Earth's interior.

Orbiting low at just 155 miles above the surface of the planet, GOCE will compile its precise 3-D map of Earth's gravitational field over a period of about 20 months.

The information it gathers will also help scientists finally gauge accurate heights for major Earth features such as Mount Everest, for which today's best estimates vary by more than 16 feet.

"Measuring our planet's peaks using a standardized reference will help us better understand the Earth," said Bente Lilja Bye, research director from the Norwegian Mapping and Cadastre Authority.

"GOCE will result in an improved accuracy of the geoid and will facilitate the establishment of a unified global height system so that heights of the highest mountains in the world can be directly compared," she said. "Another benefit will be an improvement in our capabilities to predict the behavior of the Earth, and hence provide information needed to help mitigate disasters and economically damaging events."