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Friday, March 6, 2009

MacBook Pro 17-inch unibody review

There's not much that can be said about the 17-inch version of the MacBook Pro that hasn't already been said about the 15-incher (and to some extent, the MacBook). Still, the big, big brother of the family has a few key differences that make it stand out from the rest of the gang. The first being its non-removable battery, built out of tech which Apple claims will result in groundbreaking lengths between charges. The second difference, available only as an option, is a non-glossy display -- an addition which many have pined for since Apple's full throttle decision to move to extremely high-glare screens. Are these changes compelling enough to induce users to upgrade? Will previous 17-inch fans find a slam dunk or a dud underneath the unibody exterior? Read on for the full scoop.

There's no point in going as in-depth on this model of MacBook Pro as we did on the 15-inch version. In terms of hardware, build quality, and general patchwork inside, this is the same computer (albeit somewhat more gigantic). The same unibody construction is used here, and Apple calls the laptop the "world's thinnest and lightest 17-inch notebook." We won't argue -- it compares favorably to the smaller entry in the family, and besides it's obviously larger footprint, we didn't feel it was excessively heavy for a device of this size (it actually weighs 6.6 pounds, just a little over a pound heavier than the 15-inch version).

All of the other details, like the glass trackpad and new keyboards are completely intact. Actually, if you saw one of these from a distance, it might not be immediately obvious that it was the 17-incher (save for how tiny the human using it would look in comparison).


The version we received was the fully kitted out iteration of the laptop. The base configuration (a not-super-cheap $2,799) is outfitted with a 2.66GHz CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and the switchable NVIDIA GeForce 9400M / 9600M GT GPUs. The version we have came fully loaded with a 2.93GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and (yes) an anti-glare display. Needless to say, performance wasn't much of an issue -- but the final cost ($4,899) might be a little extreme for most.

In terms of day to day tasks, this computer is simply overkill. If you're working on even somewhat graphically intensive projects, you can probably get by just fine with one of the smaller models. It's not as if the GPU is more super-charged than any other system in the line. The real advantage here is the massive screen real estate, matte display, and the supposedly gargantuan battery life. The 17-inchers do seem suited to those working in the video or photography fields, and Apple clearly isn't too interested in trying to shill these to the mainstream. The company is actually touting features like a 60 percent greater color gamut in the display panel (which incidentally is the same in both the gloss and non-gloss versions).

Performance on our system was insanely fast, though. From cold boot to active desktop took roughly 30 seconds, which is blazing (at least to us). Jumping from app to app, dealing with huge images / editing, multiple tabs of CPU intensive websites, and having scores of projects open at once didn't faze the Pro. The biggest performance gains were in disk access, and obviously the SSD is a major player here, but even general UI elements seemed snappier and more responsive than on our other computers. Of course, none of that should come as a surprise, this is -- after all -- Apple's top of the line laptop.

So let's talk about that display for a moment. Our biggest gripe about the other new unibody Macs was the lack of a matte option for the screens. In our review, we noted that the glare on the new LED displays is so intense that it's actually quite distracting in anything other than a lowly lit room. Apple chose to solve the problem on the bigger versions by introducing an anti-glare option (for an additional $50, of course). Interestingly, the company prefers the term "anti-glare" to "matte," which is odd, since "anti-glare" quite obviously suggests the other option is, well... "glare."

MacBook Pro 15-inch vs. MacBook Pro 17-inch

Regardless, the new display is stunning. Not only is the thing massive in terms of resolution (going back to the 15-incher made us feel like we were working on an OLPC XO), but the color depth and contrast are stunning. Apple seems to have really honed the art of light sensing, and we found the display accurately adjusting itself to a room's light. When cranked up to full brightness, the screen beams -- it's crisp, clear, and colors pop. We're not designers, and we're not professional photographers, but as far as we can tell, this display would be pure win for folks in those lines of work.

Of course, the big question on the hearts and minds of gadget fans everywhere is: does the battery deliver on Apple's promises? First, a little background.

As you likely know, the battery in the 17-incher is the non-removable type, much like the MacBook Air... with one major difference. Phil Schiller went on and on at Macworld this year about the lengths the company went to in developing a battery which is not only built into the system, but extends life far beyond that of a typical unit. The result was a The claim from Apple is that the 40 percent larger, lithium-polymer-based bricks they came up with can provide up to eight (yes, 8) hours of use on a single full charge, and can be re-juiced 1000 times before needing to be replaced. Once you need said replacement, the packs can be swapped out by Apple for a low, low fee of $179.

So, the claim: up to eight hours with the on-board graphics, and seven hours with the discrete GPU switched on -- how did they fare?

In our tests, under normal use (image editing, heavy web surfing, blogging all over the internet, YouTube / Viddler video watching, really serious AIM sessions), the laptop nabbed an average of 4:40 on a single charge with the low-power GPU, and, surprisingly, just under four hours (about 3:50) with the discrete chip. Those numbers fall right in line with other reviews we've seen of the laptop, and our feeling was that they're fairly consistent across the board. So, we're dealing almost four hours discrepancy with what Apple claims -- but what does that mean? According to the company, they tested a 2.66GHz model with the screen at half brightness while browsing the web over WiFi and editing a text document to achieve that eight hour number. We put the system to a more average and complete test, and frankly, we're impressed with the results. The new battery bests the typical lifespan of a MacBook Pro removable by almost double. Having seen what it's capable of, we could get comfortable with Apple adding batteries of this variety into other new laptops they produce, but let's revisit this again in a year or two -- we still have no idea what the long term experience would be like with one of these. Will it live up to the promise of a 1000 charges? We have our doubts.

Still, if we had to choose a swappable scenario over this, it would be hard to choose. From experience, being able to quickly swap to a new battery is a huge benefit when you're on the move and don't have a second to recharge. On the other hand, the huge stretches of time between charges we saw on the new 17-incher are extremely encouraging, and likely long enough to make the system viable for field use.

Wrap up

Ultimately, the decision about whether to buy the bigger MacBook Pro is probably already made -- if you're a power user who needs the real estate, there's little to deter you from making this purchase. Apple has cleaned up the design in all the right ways, improved the display and guts considerably, and proved that it can milk a substantial amount of time from a non-removable battery. The cost may still be a major barrier here for most, but something tells us if you really need a computer of this size, you'll find a way to pay for it. Our actual gripe comes not in the form of problems with this particular system, but in Apple's methodology of rolling out options for their laptops. Unlike competitors such as Dell, if you want a 15-inch Apple laptop, you're stuck with one type of display (the same resolution and same obnoxious glossy finish), and your options for other components aren't much better. Apple: you've proven that you can turn in a beautiful, clear LED display without resorting to the reflective sheen of the current models -- why not extend that kindness to the rest of your users?

'Vampire' discovered in mass grave

The dig site reveals a mass grave with the "vampire" indicated and, inset, a 3D model of the skeleton with brick (Image: Matteo Borrini)"

The dig site reveals a mass grave with the "vampire" indicated and, inset, a 3D model of the skeleton with brick (Image: Matteo Borrini)"

A SKELETON exhumed from a grave in Venice is being claimed as the first known example of the "vampires" widely referred to in contemporary documents.

Matteo Borrini of the University of Florence in Italy found the skeleton of a woman with a small brick in her mouth (see right) while excavating mass graves of plague victims from the Middle Ages on Lazzaretto Nuovo Island in Venice (see second image here).

At the time the woman died, many people believed that the plague was spread by "vampires" which, rather than drinking people's blood, spread disease by chewing on their shrouds after dying. Grave-diggers put bricks in the mouths of suspected vampires to stop them doing this, Borrini says.

To stop the "vampires" supposedly chewing shrouds and spreading disease, grave-diggers put bricks in the mouths of plague victims (Image: Matteo Borrini)
To stop the "vampires" supposedly chewing shrouds and spreading disease, grave-diggers put bricks in the mouths of plague victims (Image: Matteo Borrini)
The belief in vampires probably arose because blood is sometimes expelled from the mouths of the dead, causing the shroud to sink inwards and tear. Borrini, who presented his findings at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences in Denver, Colorado, last week, claims this might be the first such vampire to have been forensically examined. The skeleton was removed from a mass grave of victims of the Venetian plague of 1576.

However, Peer Moore-Jansen of Wichita State University in Kansas says he has found similar skeletons in Poland and that while Borrini's finding is exciting, "claiming it as the first vampire is a little ridiculous".

Borrini says his study details the earliest grave to show archaeological "exorcism evidence against vampires".

Female athlete was really a man

A Chinese woman athlete who won dozens of medals has thrown most of them away after learning she is really a man.

Xiao Nan wins another medal /Quirky China News

Xiao Nan, of Chengdu, won more than 40 medals as a women in student competitions after graduating from high school.

But after hospital tests confirmed Xiao's suspicions that she was really a man she has thrown out all but 10 of them.

"Being a champion was never a happy thing to me. Standing on the podium made me feel guilty, and I always thought the real champion should have been the one standing next to me," Xiao said.

Xiao's extraordinary athletic performances in schools and in provincial and national competitions, won her great honour and free access to university education.

But, inside, she felt confused: "I felt I often had an impulse or desire for women instead of men. And my body is more like a man than a woman."

Xiao had a check-up at a local hospital and the result confirmed she had male chromosomes.

He is now living as a man and has begun a course of sex change surgery at Sichuan Xichan Plastic Surgery Hospital which will take nine months.

"The first thing I want to do after the surgery is to go swimming, wearing only boxer shorts," Xiao told Chengdu Business Daily.

The WTF Blanket (Snuggie Parody)

Featured on CNN, "CollegeHumor" and "Today's BIG Thing!" Regular blankets are confusing. The WTF Blanket will cripple your social life!

Final 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' Trailer Bursts Out

20th Century Fox has debuted the final trailer for "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" starring Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, Danny Huston, and Ryan Reynolds.

I'm actually quite shocked how good this trailer is and how awesome Deadpool looks. But then again that's what a trailer is suppose to do for you...they always show you the good parts.

But for sure this looks like a good way to start the summer movies with.

Meanwhile USA TODAY, posted some character pics from the film as well. Click on the Deadpool to check out the rest.

Have a look at the trailer below (or for a Hi-Def version go HERE) and let us know what you think about the final trailer.

Hugh Jackman reprises the role that made him a superstar - as the fierce fighting machine who possesses amazing healing powers, retractable claws and a primal fury. Leading up to the events of X-Men, X-Men Origins: Wolverine tells the story of Wolverine's epically violent and romantic past, his complex relationship with Victor Creed, and the ominous Weapon X program. Along the way, Wolverine encounters many mutants, both familiar and new, including surprise appearances by several legends of the X-Men universe whose appearances in the film series have long been anticipated.

Video Killed the Video Store

By Ryan Singel Email

Blockbuster_p2p The Blockbuster is dead, long live the blockbuster.

At least that's what the technology omens are saying.

The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Blockbuster Video, whose shares are trading below $1, is seeking advice on how to file for bankruptcy. Blockbuster counters it's only trying to get help to restructure its debt.

No matter. The days of tromping to the video store to find the night's entertainment are past. Now the question is only how long will it be until walking to the mailbox to get a DVD is considered antiquarian.

Driving or walking to the video store to bring home less than a gig of data — data that may or may not even be in stock — just doesn't make much sense anymore.

At least not when compared to Netflix's easy ordering system, its recommendation engine, lack of late fees, deeper inventory and clever use of the Postal Service to have movies delivered quickly.

Blockbuster tried to keep up, with an innovative mail rental plan that let people trade in movies at the store as well, but the plan turned out to be too complicated and too late.

But even the notion of even leaving the room to get a movie, doesn't make sense if you have a fat internet connection and the willingness to explore some legal and less-legal ways to download movies to a computer.

Note that also on Tuesday, cable provider Comcast announced that it was rolling out "wideband" in the San Francisco Bay Area (including a 50 Mbps downstream offering for $140 a month) and doubled the download speed of its current basic plus service to 12 Mbps down for free. That marks the 10th urban area in the United States that the cable operator is offering real broadband.

Think YouTube, Hulu, NetFlix's streaming movies, iTunes and Amazon overpriced rentals on demand, as well as dozens of others striving — yet again — to find a way to stream Hollywood video across the internet.

On Wednesday, ZillionTV announced that by the end of the year it will sell a $50 internet-connected set-top box that will stream HD and standard movies and premium TV, letting people choose to pay for entertainment or watch ad-supported shows.

No one has created a popular computer-in-the-living room solution yet — which makes DVDs still very practical, but that's just details. Some company — or several — will and then the notion of leaving the house to get a movie to watch will seem as quaint as writing a check at the grocery store.

The only question is what will become of all those old Blockbuster video stores and their signature blue awnings? My money is on an innovative pizza delivery company with a blue logo to start up and take over where the DVD business died.

Because at least so far, the internet has not yet figured out how to deliver a pizza better than a brick-oven pizza place can.

Photo: RocketRaccoon/Flickr

The 5 Best iPod Car Adapters, and How to Install Them

So your car doesn't have an iPod dock. Rather than scrapping your mp3 player for burned cds, (or scrapping your car, for that matter) owners of dockless vehicles can patch together a method for streaming their MP3s through the built-in stereo. Effort and expense will vary, and some setups will sound much better than others. Here are five options to connect your iPod to your car.

Option 1: Wireless FM Transmitter

FM transmitters are the most popular and convenient way of playing an MP3 device through a car stereo. They typically plug into an iPod’s dock or headphone jack to create what is essentially a low-wattage pirate radio station—powerful enough to be picked up by your car radio inches away, but not strong enough to interfere with neighboring car radios. Unfortunately, these transmitters need to compete with real (and far more powerful) radio stations and are easily swamped by 6000 watts of classic rock. When this happens, the sound that comes out of the speakers can be a cacophonous mix of static, local radio stations and whatever your iPod is playing. This problem is exacerbated by FCC regulations, which prohibit FM transmitters from broadcasting at greater than 18.75 nanowatts, essentially ensuring that they won’t work well. And while this problem is particularly pronounced in cities with crowded airwaves, the issue exists nearly everywhere in the country. There’s another downside to FM transmitters: Even under ideal conditions, FM radio just can’t deliver excellent sound quality.

That being said, FM transmitters are extremely convenient and, with many models selling for as little as $15, affordable. If you decide to use one, choose a model that lets you pick any FM frequency (some restrict you to a few stations on the top or bottom of the spectrum). This will increase your odds of finding an open channel.

Option 2: Cassette Adapter

Audio cassette adapters take advantage of an increasingly rare feature: a car’s tape player. These adapters are shaped exactly like a cassette tape. They are cheap (around $15), commonplace and deliver decent sound quality. To use one, simply plug one end into the MP3 player’s headphone jack and the other into the tape deck. If your automobile has a cassette player, there is no easier way to get interference-free listening.

Option 3: Wired FM Modulator

With wireless FM transmitters, the signal has to travel through high-traffic airwaves on its way to your car antenna. Wired FM modulators, which usually come as small boxes with a few cords running out from them, intercept the connection between the car’s antenna and radio, allowing you to inject your iPod’s signal directly into this wired pathway. The result is dramatically improved sound quality—although the final result is still hampered by the limitations of FM radio, which is far from audiophile-friendly.

These modulators are inexpensive (they can be found online for as little as $15) and relatively easy to put in, as long as you are comfortable fiddling with your car stereo’s wires. To install one, position yourself underneath the dash. Reach up and unplug the antenna from the back of the stereo and plug it into the modulator’s antenna input. Take the modulator’s output cord and connect it to the stereo’s antenna input. You can then set the modulator to run at any FM frequency. Pick one with weak competing signals (usually at the very top or bottom of the spectrum), and plug the modulator’s audio output cord into your iPod’s headphone jack.

Option 4: Stereo With Line-In Port

If you’re lucky, your car stereo has a headphone-size line-in port right on the front. If so, all you have to do is jack your MP3 player into this hole, tune your stereo source to “Auxiliary,” and crank some tunes. Unfortunately, most car stereos lack this port. Installing a new car stereo that has one is one method for getting excellent sound using your iPod. New stereos with the port can be purchased for under $100 and installed either by you or a professional. (Some shops offer free installation with purchase.)

Option 5: RCA Port

Some car stereos—primarily ones with CD players—include an RCA jack in the back. Hijacking this audio connection from the CD player will provide excellent sound quality for music coming off an iPod. First step: Remove the stereo. If there is an RCA port, you will see dual jacks—one with a red and one with a white input (similar to the RCA jacks on home stereos). RCA-to-headphone cords can be bought for a few dollars at just about any electronics store. Plug the red and white ends of this cord into the stereo’s RCA jack and the other end into your MP3 player’s headphone jack. Finally, tune your stereo to either “CD” or “Auxiliary” (the exact setting depends on your stereo).

Best tour of the Summer! NIN/Jane's and Morello!

"Our tour this summer with Jane's Addiction just got that much cooler. I'm happy to announce the addition of Street Sweeper - the new project featuring Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine / The Nightwatchman) and Boots Riley (The Coup)." Follow the link for an exclusive first listen of Street Sweeper!

read more | digg story

Opinion: Medical Marijuana Benefits

Mitch Earleywine Argues For The Use Of Medical Marijuana

Has medical marijuana gotten a bad rap? Dr. Jon LaPook talks with Dr. Herbert Kleber and Dr. Mitch Earleywine on the pros and cons of using medical marijuana for your health. |

(CBS) Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D. is an associate professor of psychology at SUNY Albany who believes marijuana should be legalized for medical purposes.

Therapeutic use of marijuana has a history spanning over 4,500 years.
The most humane and just approach to helping the sick requires that we continue the availability of medical marijuana. Evidence supporting medical marijuana for appetite loss, glaucoma, nausea, vomiting, spasticity, pain, and weight loss is quite impressive. Evidence for its use for arthritis, dystonia, insomnia, seizures, and Tourette’s syndrome is also very promising.

Opponents of medical marijuana mention that other drugs are available for each of these disorders. Nevertheless, people differ. We have multiple treatments for almost every human problem. Some patients do not respond well to other medications and need medical marijuana to alleviate their symptoms. Many pharmaceutical drugs create aversive side effects that these patients cannot endure. In addition, medical marijuana is often markedly cheaper than these other medications.

Opponents of medical marijuana often point to dronabinol, the synthetic version of one of marijuana’s active ingredients that is available in pill form. The use of only one active ingredient makes dronabinol less effective than medical marijuana. Many ailments respond better to a combination of marijuana’s active ingredients rather than just one. In addition, because dronabinol is a pill, it is difficult for people with nausea and vomiting to swallow. Finally, like any medication that’s swallowed, dronabinol takes a long time to digest and have its effects. Inhaled marijuana vapors can work markedly faster.

Concern over marijuana’s impact on respiratory health is easily remedied. There are no links between marijuana use and lung cancer or emphysema. The associations between smoked marijuana and symptoms like coughing and wheezing can be remedied with the vaporizer. The vaporizer heats the plant so that active ingredients boil off into a fine mist but the plant itself never ignites. The mist contains no tars or noxious gases, making respiratory complications a thing of the past.

To read Dr. Kleber's opinion piece on medical marijuana click here.

NBC: 'Heroes' will return next fall

NBC: 'Heroes' will return next fall

Heroes NBC plans to bring back “Heroes” for another season, said entertainment president Angela Bromstad.

The action-drama’s ratings decline has caused some media reports to speculate as to whether the show will return next fall. As part of Hollywood Reporter’s annual Q&As with the five broadcast network chiefs, Bromstad was asked if “Heroes” could be considered “on the bubble” for a renewal.

“No,” she said, and added that the network plans to order 18-20 episodes of the show for next season.

That's fewer hours than "Heroes" first (23) or current third season (25), with season two having been cut short due to the writers strike.

For all its headline-making audience erosion, “Heroes” is still tied with NBC's “The Office” as the network’s top-rated series among adults 18-49 this season.

Also being factored: NBC's pilot project “Day One,” about a group of survivors in the wake of a catastrophic global event. If the serialized “Day One” goes to series, having an established sci-fi drama like “Heroes” could help the new show in a few ways, including possibly airing as part of the same Monday night block.

"'Day One' is a big event and we're looking at that to come into the 'Heroes' spot," Bromstad said. "It's right now being looked at as a 13-episode run -- something people could commit to and we could make a big splash with."

If “Day One” does launch in the “Heroes” time period, “One” would get the advantage of its strong sci-fi-established slot for a number of weeks. With a slightly shorter episode order, “Heroes” can then continue its usual pattern of airing with few breaks by virtue of debuting later in the season. A second potential home for “Day One" is on Sundays, she said, where quasi-futuristic “Kings” will premiere March 15.

Another point in “Heroes” favor is the show performs well internationally. Bromstad said she experienced the drama's global popularity first-hand in her previous NBC post, heading the network’s international efforts based in London.

"Every single place you go has heard about 'Heroes' -- whether you’re in China or Japan or Russia," she said. "And to me, that is global content."

The network has privately discussed setting a series end date for "Heroes," which would followed the creative model used with critical success by ABC's “Lost,” Sci Fi's ”Battlestar Galactica” and FX's “The Shield.” But even if NBC ever made such a move, Bromstad said, they wouldn't want to make next season the conclusion.

"Heroes" fans aren't entirely in the clear yet: a renewal isn’t a deal until it’s a deal. If the show took a sudden dire ratings turn, the network still has time to reevaluate this strategy. But barring something dramatic happening, NBC is not deterred by the current ratings and will bring back "Heroes" for a fourth round.

International Space Dominance: 7 Nations Launching the Next Space Race

North Korea is about to launch its first satellite. Iran launched theirs last month. India's space agency recently got the green light to send people into space, and China's announced plans to build a space station. Getting to space is no longer for a few, technically apt nations. Here's a look at seven countries that have their sights on orbit and the capabilities to get there.

A Russian Proton-M rocket. (Photograph by STR/AFP/Getty Images)

With a flurry of international efforts toward satellite launch capability (from one's home country), getting back to the moon and putting citizens in space, some experts say we are looking at a new space race–one focused on total space dominance. Should we be worried? After all, the first space race had at its core a battle for who could build the biggest intercontinental ballistic missiles.

No doubt about it, says Henry Hertzfeld, research professor at George Washington University's Space Policy Institute, "there are a lot of new starts." But he cautions that it's important to put them in perspective. "There are different launch vehicles and different capabilities, too. Comparing a manned capability that India might want to spend some money on with Iran launching a very small, very low Earth orbit satellite is really apples and oranges." Here is a look at the capabilities of the top–and most-talked-about–space-faring nations in what may be a new world order. The race is on for space dominance.


Last month, France signed on for a sat launch on a Chinese Long March rocket. The deal circumvents U.S. restrictions on Chinese commercial launches by using a satellite made without American parts. It should boost China's economic clout by setting an important precedent in the lucrative commercial-launch market. Meanwhile, China continues to send taikonauts to orbit aboard its Shenzhou spaceship and has just announced plans to build a space station. Is a manned moon landing next?
Capability: High, along with its ambition.


The European Space Agency has seemed content to sit back and watch the rest of the space-faring world pour money into manned spaceflight and exploratory missions while focusing on lower-cost satellite launches. But plans to convert its Automated Transfer Vehicle from a space cargo container into a manned spaceship—unveiled last year—could make Europe the fourth world power to develop manned spaceflight capability, if it so desires.
Capability: Moderate, limited mainly by its own ambition, or lack thereof.

United States

While waiting on the new NASA leader, the United States continues its focus on the moonwith Martian aspirations—with its technically troubled Constellation system. After the space shuttle retires in 2010, NASA will find itself without a manned spaceflight capability until Constellation is completed–as early as 2015.
Capability: High, but subject to change with the retirement of the space shuttle.


Six private cosmonauts have paid tens of millions of dollars each for rides on Russian Soyuz ships, and the demand is now so great that the Russian space agency plans to launch the first mission dedicated to paying passengers next year. Russia seems to have found its niche, serving the emerging commercial spaceflight industry—including selling rides to NASA's astronauts. It has even approved plans to send a manned commercial mission to the moon–if only two passengers will step up with $100 million each for tickets.
Capability: High, limited by private capital.


"Relapse" marks Eminem's first album of all-new material since 2004's "Encore." A second disc of all new tunes had been rumored in recent weeks, with some speculating "Relapse" would be released as a double CD.

The new album's first single and its accompanying video will both be released April 7, according to the release. "Crack a Bottle," a song featuring Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent, was released last month, and shot to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart, marking Em's first No. 1 hit since "Lose Yourself." "Crack a Bottle" will be included as an album track on "Relapse," but is not, as was assumed, the album's first official single.

The news of Eminem's return to record stores comes as a verdict is expected in a Los Angeles courtroom over digital royalty rights as concerned with Eminem's music. FBT Productions and Em2M, Eminem's former publishing companies, are suing Universal Music Group for $1.3 million in damages, alleging they are owed royalties from downloaded sales of Em's music. The case could turn out to be a game-changer with regards to royalties and downloaded music, according to those familiar with the case.

You can reach Adam Graham at (313) 222-2284 or

The Beatles: Rock Band Hits Sept. 9 for $250 With Instruments

The Beatles: Rock Band will hit worldwide on Sept. 9, MTV, Harmonix and Apple Corps. announced today.

The Beatles: Rock Band will allow fans to pick up the guitar, bass, mic or drums and "experience The Beatles extraordinary catalog of music through gameplay that takes players on a journey through the legacy and evolution of the band's legendary career," according to the release.

The game will also have a limited number of new hardware offerings modeled after instruments used by John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr throughout their career.

The game will be sold as standalone software and hardware as well as a limited edition bundle. It will also be compatible with all Rock Band instrument controllers and other current music-based video game peripherals.

Available on 9/9/09:
The Beatles: Rock Band Software - Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3, Wii: $59.99 MSRP
• The Beatles: Rock Band Standalone Guitars - Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3, Wii: $99.99 MSRP
• The Beatles: Rock Band Limited Edition Premium Bundle: Xbox 360, PLAYSTATION 3, Wii: $249.99 MSRP

The pricing for the game outside the U.S. have not yet been announced.

Giles Martin, co-producer of The Beatles LOVE album project, is providing his expertise and serving as Music Producer for the game, which is being developed by Haromonix, published by MTV Games and distributed by Electronic Arts.

Exclusive content created by Apple Corps, MTV Games and Harmonix will be made available to people who pre-order the game over the next few months. More details on The Beatles: Rock Band game and pre-order will be revealed in the coming months.

The Beatles: Rock Band

Scientists closer to making invisibility cloak a reality

J.K. Rowling may not have realized just how close Harry Potter's invisibility cloak was to becoming a reality when she introduced it in the first book of her best-selling fictional series in 1998. Scientists, however, have made huge strides in the past few years in the rapidly developing field of cloaking. Ranked the number five breakthrough of the year by Science magazine in 2006, cloaking involves making an object invisible or undetectable to electromagnetic waves.

A paper published in the March 2009 issue of SIAM Review, "Cloaking Devices, Electromagnetic Wormholes, and Transformation Optics," presents an overview of the theoretical developments in cloaking from a mathematical perspective.

One method involves light waves bending around a region or object and emerging on the other side as if the waves had passed through empty space, creating an "invisible" region which is cloaked. For this to happen, however, the object or region has to be concealed using a cloaking device, which must be undetectable to electromagnetic waves. Manmade devices called metamaterials use structures having cellular architectures designed to create combinations of material parameters not available in nature.

Mathematics is essential in designing the parameters needed to create metamaterials and to show that the material ensures invisibility. The mathematics comes primarily from the field of partial differential equations, in particular from the study of equations for electromagnetic waves described by the Scottish mathematician and physicist James Maxwell in the 1860s.

One of the "wrinkles" in the mathematical model of cloaking is that the transformations that define the required material parameters have singularities, that is, points at which the transformations fail to exist or fail to have properties such as smoothness or boundness that are required to demonstrate cloaking. However, the singularities are removable; that is, the transformations can be redefined over the singularities to obtain the desired results.

The authors of the paper describe this as "blowing up a point." They also show that if there are singularities along a line segment, it is possible to "blow up a line segment" to generate a "wormhole." (This is a design for an optical device inspired by, but distinct from the notion of a wormhole appearing in the field of gravitational physics.) The cloaking version of a wormhole allows for an invisible tunnel between two points in space through which electromagnetic waves can be transmitted.

Some possible applications for cloaking via electromagnetic wormholes include the creation of invisible fiber optic cables, for example for security devices, and scopes for MRI-assisted medical procedures for which metal tools would otherwise interfere with the magnetic resonance images. The invisible optical fibers could even make three-dimensional television screens possible in the distant future. The effectiveness and implementation of cloaking devices in practice, however, are dependent on future developments in the design, investigation, and production of metamaterials. The "muggle" world will have to wait on further scientific research before Harry Potter's invisibility cloak can become a reality.

More information: The paper is co-authored by Allan Greenleaf of the University of Rochester; Yaroslav Kurylev of University College London; Matti Lassas of Helsinki University of Technology; and Gunther Uhlmann of the University of Washington. To read this article in its entirely, visit

Source: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics

New Star Trek Trailer!!

This is why I love the internet...well most of the time. The wait is over because the new trailer for J.J. Abrams' "Star Trek" movie starring Chris Pine, Karl Urban, Zachary Quinto, Simon Pegg, and Eric Bana is OUT!

Now I'm not a Trekkie at all, but this shit looks freaking good.

The film is due out May 8th 2009.

From director J.J. Abrams ("Mission: Impossible III," "Lost" and "Alias") and screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman ("Transformers," "MI: III") comes a new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time, "Star Trek," featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no man has gone before. The film is a chronicle of the early days of James T. Kirk and his fellow USS Enterprise crew members.

Check out the trailer below AND tell us what you guys/gals think about it? HIT or MISS?

Tron 2 Scored By Daft Punk

Author: JT

daftpunk Tron 2 Scored By Daft Punk

Well here’s a sign that someone over at Disney gets it. Tron tells the story of a man trapped inside a computer, and so it uses an electronica score, of the type that was soon to be sheik in the 80s. While the electronica score is no more, they’re resurrecting it for Tron 2.

Upcoming Film Scores reports that Daft Punk has been hired to score the movie. Daft Punk is just about the only well known electronica band left out there and as a bonus, they’re pretty awesome. They even, occasionally, dress like Tron. Here’s a taste of their music. It’s just what Tron needs: more…

Plot Summary:

tron2q423 Tron 2 Plot Revealed!Disney’s been pretty vague when it comes to talking about what their new Tron sequel will be about. But today AICN posted what they claim is the real deal, spoilerific breakdown of what the movie will be about.

Read no further if you fear spoilers.

Short version: It takes place 25 years after the original movie. Flynn has a son named Sean. Flynn disappears. Alan encourages Flynn’s son to go looking for him. Flynn’s son gets brought into the computer world, where he find’s Flynn’s old CLU program has turned evil. Sean must fight CLU, and somewhere in the mix is the old Flynn riding around on a classic light cycle.

For even more specific, spoilery details head over to AICN.

Chronicles Of Riddick May Get More Sequels

Author: JT

riddick Chronicles Of Riddick May Get More Sequels

Until tonight I thought Vin Diesel and I were the only two people on the planet who might actually want to see another Riddick movie. The last one, Chronicles of Riddick wasn’t exactly a box office sensation. But it seems another movie may actually happen.

In an interview here, Ian Stevens, one of the head honchos in charge of the Riddick video game series drops this throwaway line: “New Riddick films are in the works.”

They are? Where? How? He could be talking about more of those direct-to-dvd animated movies they were producing for awhile, but tonight I’m feeling optimistic, and he doesn’t offer any clarification, so I’m going with. Could another Riddick movie happen? Does anyone besides Vin and me actually want it?

According to Stevens, the Riddick franchise has found new life on DVD and in videogames. It is this popularity which may be what’s prompting the push for another entry, despite the poor box office performance of the second film.

Baby Olympian? DNA test screens sports ability

MSN Tracking Image

Duane Hofmann /

But some worry about mental toll the results of at-home test may bring
By Bill Briggs contributor
updated 9:04 a.m. ET, Wed., March. 4, 2009

Ava Anderson can’t run — not yet anyway. And the only iron she pumps comes via her tiny spoon. Then again, she’s just 13 months old.

But Ava was born with a genetic blend that will infuse her body with the explosive bursts of a power athlete and the steady engine of marathoner. Someday, this baby may blossom into a multisport, cross-training double threat. That’s not parental conjecture. That’s her DNA profile.

Her mom and dad had her tested.

Like more than 200 other parents to date, Hilary and Aaron Anderson paid $149 to Atlas Sports Genetics — a Boulder, Colo. company — for a sneak peek at their kid’s athletic horizons.

The Andersons received a home-analysis kit to check whether Ava has the inborn knack for strength sports (like sprinting) or endurance sports (like cycling). Then, to get the genetic scoop, they simply brushed the inside of Ava’s cheek with two cotton swabs, sealed the samples in a baggie and mailed them to an Australian lab used by Atlas. Although there are 20,000 strands of human DNA, the lab hunts for variations of just one: ACTN3, which can predict certain athletic skills, some experts believe. Five weeks later, the Andersons heard the verdict.

“She’s a mix,” said Hilary Anderson, who wasn’t surprised by the results given that she is tall and lean and that her husband once trained for the U.S. Olympic weightlifting team. “If she came back all endurance, we’d probably focus more on the long-distance type things. Likewise, if she was all strength, we would direct her toward power sports. This will let her try all sorts of things.”

Added pressure?
But the Andersons also understand one more thing about the test: It is drawing fire from scattered coaches, therapists and genetic experts who worry some parents will misuse the data and that the young science will inject even more pressure and politics into childhood games.

“It is simply dangerous,” said Casey Cooper, a sports psychologist who hosts a radio show on KLAA-830 AM in Anaheim, Calif., and mother of a 5-year-old. “The more we professionalize sports younger and younger, the more we contribute to the youth drop-out rate for sports. My reaction: Save your money because to (genetically) type your child like this is only going to land them in my office later. And I charge $150 [per session].”

At the same time, some coaches say locker-room chemistry could be shattered if roster cuts or playing time are influenced by the knowledge that one player is genetically gifted — or not.

“Wow, I just think you’re opening a Pandora’s Box with team dynamics,” said Chad Onken, an assistant coach of the swim team at the YMCA of the Triangle in Raleigh, N.C. The youthful squad has won six national titles. “You’re talking about a small problem that could blow up to something pretty huge. “

Still, the Andersons know all about the possible parental pitfalls. They have seen overbearing, overexpectant moms and dads up close. (The couple ran strength and conditioning camps for kids a few years back.) Consequently, they are sensitive to those emotional snares, they say.

“So many parents thought their kid was going to be the next Bo Jackson (a former pro football and baseball star). There are going to be those parents, unfortunately, who push their kids, who live through their kids,” said Hilary, a personal trainer who played college volleyball. “For us, this was just a little side thing to help make it be fun. If Ava would rather do music or dance, that’s fine.”

Atlas president and co-owner Kevin Reilly acknowledges being uneasy about clients who receive DNA results that dampen the sports dreams they hold for their kids — for example, if they learn their little boy is not genetically apt to excel at a power sport such as football.

“I think this may be a gut check for parents to look at their motives as well: What’s in the best interest for my child, (to ask themselves) what do I want them to be and what do they want to be,” Reilly said.

What’s more, the test can’t predict a future NFL star, Reilly said. It merely reveals if a child has the genetic markers common to people who succeed in either power or endurance events. In short, Reilly is selling the product as a parental “tool,” a DNA roadmap, a device to eventually expose children to the sports they were born to play.

The sports-DNA test has one gaping blind spot as well, YMCA coach Onken said. It can’t measure an athlete’s desire, while natural talent doesn’t always translate into a winner. The YMCA of the Triangle, which includes 350 kids from ages 7 to 18, has produced Olympic hopefuls and college-scholarship swimmers. Some of those, Onken said, excelled purely on heart and hard work. He compared them to the tiny-but-driven Notre Dame football player profiled in the 1993 movie “Rudy.”

“I can think of too many ‘Rudy’ types who overachieved here,” Onken said. “And I can think of too many playground basketball legends who could jump over a backboard but never made it off the playground.”

Science in question
The science, however, has doubters.

This much is known: We all have the ACTN3 gene; we get one copy from each parent. As with many genes, though, ACTN3 can take different twists. One version of the gene — the R variant — steers the body to produce a protein that builds more fast-twitch muscles, used for potent surges of energy. The X variant, meanwhile, blocks that protein. People who inherit two sets of the R variant may be naturally engineered for power sports. Those who carry two X variant copies may have better stamina.

The “mixed pattern” people — like Ava Anderson — “may be equally suited for both endurance and sprint/power events,” says the Atlas Web site.

But Carl Foster, who co-authored an ACTN3 study and who heads the human performance lab at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, points out that multiple genes fuel athleticism, and scientists are just beginning to learn which are most vital.

“So why do you want to spend money looking for one gene?” Foster asked. “You want parents to be supportive of their kids’ endeavors. You don’t want them to try and program their kid. And the kinds of people with disposable income are probably the kinds of people where that’s always a trap for them. They’re accomplishment-oriented.

“They say, ‘Well, I want my kid to be the best he can be.’ Of course. It’s God, mother and apple pie. You can’t vote against it. But at some point you’d like to say: Maybe just go to the Y and put your kid in a sports class and just see if they like it.”

3D TV: Television with a new dimension

3D televisions could be on sale next year - and you may not need the silly glasses.

The pace of technological change can seem overwhelming. Gadgets that were once the preserve of science fiction films – watch phones, pocket computers, even flying cars – are slowly filtering down into modern life. Next on the list could be 3D television, with some of the biggest electronics companies convinced that this will be the next big thing.

Film makers, broadcasters and manufacturers are all throwing their weight behind 3D television. Sky has claimed that the technology could be in UK homes in time for the London Olympics, while at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, every manufacturer from Sony to LG was showing off 3D sets.

And this week, at another gadget showcase in Germany, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications have demonstrated a 3D television that can be controlled by gestures. Viewers of the iPoint 3D TV don’t need to wear silly glasses to watch, and can change channels simply by flicking a finger towards the screen.

There’s real momentum building behind 3D. Movie studios are investing heavily, particularly in animated films. The recent Disney movie Bolt was shot in 3D, and forthcoming releases Shrek Goes Fourth and Toy Story 3 will also get the three-dimensional treatment. Even older films are being buffed up to cash in – reversioned re-releases of Chicken Little and The Nightmare Before Christmas made significant profits.

But it’s not just animated films that are going 3D. Director James Cameron is rumoured to be working on a live action 3D movie, believing it to be the ultimate way to enjoy a film. “When you are viewing 'in stereo’, more neurons are firing, more blood is pumping through the brain,” he says. “This is the ultimate immersive media.”

Watching television in three dimensions seems a natural evolution. After all, we see the world in 3D. The difficulty is that, even despite recent advances, some elements of the viewing experience are less than ideal.

While the red-and-blue 3D specs of the 1950s have made way for slightly more sophisticated polarised glasses, the fact remains that in order to watch most 3D televisions, you have to wear special headgear. That’s because in order to experience 3D, each eye needs to see the image slightly differently, as in real life, to build a multidimensional picture.

Not only that, but the viewing angle for many 3D televisions is quite restrictive, with viewers needing to sit face-on at the correct range in order to see the three-dimensional image clearly. Although this works fine in cinemas, it’s less appropriate for living rooms.

Some companies, such as Philips, are attempting to overcome this hurdle by developing screens that don’t require glasses. The prototype Philips WOWvx television, for example, produces a 3D image that can be comfortably viewed from a variety of positions and angles by using a lenticular lens over the TV’s LCD panel.

The question is, of course, whether consumers – many of whom have only just splashed out on the latest high-definition flat-screen televisions – are willing to upgrade to 3D sets, particularly in the current economic climate.

The lack of 3D material is also a problem. Movies aside, broadcasters are yet to agree on a common standard for filming and transmitting in 3D, and for many, the cost of the equipment needed to capture and generate 3D footage is prohibitive. Filming a sporting event in 3D, for instance, would require two cameras, placed closely together to mimic the alignment of human eyes, for every desired camera angle.

“I think it will be a long time before 3D television is cheap or compelling enough to be mass market,” warns Tom Dunmore, editor-in-chief of gadget magazine Stuff. “The technology is almost there, but I’m not sure the interest is.”

It's coming right at you

The biggest barrier to the success of 3D television in the home is not the glasses or the cost of having to buy a new TV — it’s persuading people that the technology is worth having. For that, there’s no substitute for seeing 3D in action, which is why Panasonic spent £14,000 shipping its 103in prototype to Amsterdam for a European premiere.

It’s only after you’ve seen all the old 3D tricks – balls whizzing at your head so fast you duck, for instance – that its qualities become compelling. A state-of-the-art 3D TV doesn’t give you a headache like previous models and, for the first time, it doesn’t feel like a gimmick.

Panasonic showed footage from the Olympics – lines of Chinese drummers streaming off into the distance – and also from a football match. If there was a shock, it was simply in how much it felt like being there, although the size of the massive TV screen helped.

Panasonic uses high-definition Blu-ray technology for its 3D system, and the company hopes to bring the TV manufacturers and Hollywood studios together to deliver the common, open technical standard that’s crucial for commercial success.

The system offers full high-definition resolution, but the company says that represents a fairly minor tweak of pre-existing technology. With the standards of HDMI cables and Blu-ray DVDs already well established, this new system represents a lesser challenge than, say, developing DVDs to replace video. None the less, producing products ready to go on sale next year, as Panasonic hopes, is remarkably ambitious.

Why is it pushing a new technology so hard? Hollywood studios reckon, privately, that there is three times as much profit in a 3D DVD than in a conventional one. Live 3D TV, however, remains some way off.

Breaking: NY Yankees Alex Rodriguez Out 10 Weeks

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez will have surgery to remove a cyst from his right hip and will be out 10 weeks, Rodriguez's brother told on Thursday.

read more | digg story

Caught at 100 mph -- now what?

By Craig Howie

(AOL Autos) -- Basketball phenom LeBron James has one. As does actor Matt Dillon. So, famously, does politician Al Gore's son.

A triple digit speeding ticket results in different punishments in different states.

A triple digit speeding ticket results in different punishments in different states.

You may think it's a Bentley, Benz or even a Prius, or the latest celebrity accoutrement, but we're not talking about that. All of these famous individuals have a speeding ticket citation for allegedly driving above 100 mph.

As the three drivers were cited in three different states, they all face varying combinations of penalty fines, courts fees and possible license suspensions. But even if a prospective fine won't hit LeBron's oversized pocketbook too hard, it often adds up to a pretty penny for the average motorist once an insurance adjustment -- or policy cancellation -- is taken into account.

What does it mean to get caught going triple digits? We take a look.

When you hear about it

Maybe you were driving too fast on a straight section of freeway and heard that ominous siren that means a hefty speeding fine is on the way. Maybe you were opening your mail over a cup of morning coffee and noticed a letter with a funny-looking city insignia on it.

Or maybe you were sitting watching TV when you noticed a police car pulling up outside then heard a knock on the door. However the police got to you -- and it varies by the state you live in - you've now been cited for driving above 100 mph.

Likely police method

Vince Ramirez of the California Highway Patrol says a 100 mph-plus driver may be caught either by radar or by cruiser (known as a "bumper piece"). He says: "Upon a stop, the officer will issue a citation and then it goes to county, where a court determines the fine. He says most offenders are caught on "the outskirts of big cities, high desert areas or rural populations."

Arizona is the only state with a permanent freeway camera system, while others including Florida enforce by aircraft.

Know your rights

When you've been pulled over, most attorneys will advise you to not admit guilt, as it may complicate challenging a ticket later. Likely a police officer will ask you how fast you thought you were going, but you are under no obligation to answer. Be polite and do not challenge the ticket right there, as it may annoy the officer, undermining your case.

Do not offer a bribe, a felony offense. There's nothing to stop you asking for a warning only but, at 100 mph or more, it's not likely you'll get it.

Varying ticket penalties

Penalties vary across states and jurisdictions. In California, for example, a first offender likely will face a fine not exceeding $500, two points on a license and possible jail time. The infraction becomes a misdemeanor if the police can prove a driver was reckless. In Virginia it's a fine of up to $2,500 and mandatory jail time.

Some states like Florida and New York use a sliding scale for speeds up to 50 mph over the limit. Many including Oregon enforce mandatory license suspensions. AOL Autos: Best-Selling American Cars

Reckless driving?

Whether an infraction becomes a reckless driving offense depends on road conditions, how you were driving, the officer serving your ticket and the state in which you received it. Factors include if you were seen making unsafe lane changes or had a passenger in your car (even more so if it's a child). Reckless driving is usually a misdemeanor criminal offense. In Florida, a third offense for driving 50 mph over the limit is a felony. In Virginia, driving above 85 mph is considered reckless.AOL Autos: 10 Best Car Names

The numbers

100 mph citations, case study: Oregon, 2006-2007. Source:

• 79% of the cited drivers were male.

• 81% of the citations were issued to drivers on freeways, and 19% were issued on secondary state highways.

• The highest percentage age group for male drivers was 20-24 (34%) followed by age group 15-19 (21%).

• For all violators cited, 51% involved drivers ages 15-24.

• In 2005, troopers cited 464 people for driving 100 mph or faster Between 2000 and 2004, troopers cited more the 2,600 drivers.

What about insurance?

Raleigh Floyd at Allstate says a citation "typically won't affect the insurance situation unless it involved a crash." In terms of a policy cancellation or increase, Floyd says it's impossible to determine as "more than 1,000 factors that go into it, including age, past driving record and where you drive."

He says that the offense will appear on DMV records and will be noted for new customers or a policy renewal. His advice? "Slow down for your own safety. You'll also save on gas." AOL Autos: Smaller Cars More Expensive to Insure

Do you need a lawyer?

David Haenel, at Florida's, says a lawyer's job is to "explain the legal defense fully and make sure the officer can prove the case beyond reasonable doubt, to the same standard as a criminal case."

He will check that a police radar has been properly calibrated and that citation records written up in a patrol car or aircraft match those on the ticket. More often than not, a driver's financial situation will dictate whether they hire a lawyer.

Repeat offenders

Most states will escalate punishment when a second offense has occurred within a given time period -- often five years. In most states, license suspension becomes mandatory and jail time also lengthens. In the case of a third offense, jail time could be mandatory. Officer Ramirez of the CHP confirms that these offenses are known as "significant abuses" and could merit jail time.

Advice? If possible avoid getting one in first place. And if you get a second or third, look out!