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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saint Patrick's Day Drinks


A wise man once said that anyone acquainted with Ireland knows that the morning of St. Patrick’s Day consists of the night of the 17th of March flavored strongly with the morning of the 18th. So yeah, one can infer there’s definitely some drinking going on. But the real question is, what do you drink?

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Passwords of Comcast Customers Exposed



A list of user names and passwords for customers of Comcast, one of the nation’s largest Internet service providers, sat unprotected on the Web for the last two months.

The list was 8,000 lines long, but Comcast said late Monday that just 700 of those lines contained information for active customer accounts.

Kevin Andreyo, an educational technology specialist in Reading, Pa., and a professor at Wilkes University, came across the list Monday on Scribd, a document-sharing Web site.

Mr. Andreyo was reading a recent article in PC World entitled “People Search Engines: They Know Your Dark Secrets… And Tell Anyone,” when he was inspired to find out what information about him was online. He searched for his own e-mail address on the search engine Pipl.

The list on Scribd was one of four results, and it also included his password, which was a riff on his love for a local sports team. Statistics on Scribd indicated that the list, which was uploaded by someone with the user name vuthanhan2004, had been viewed over 345 times and had been downloaded 27 times.

Mr. Andreyo informed Comcast, the F.B.I. and several technology journalists about the file on Monday morning, but the document disappeared only at 1:45 p.m. when I contacted Scribd about it.

“That isn’t just my password for Comcast, it’s my password for everything that is not tied to my credit card,” Mr. Andreyo said in an interview. “It’s one thing to publish a credit card number, but to hand over user IDs and passwords for accounts is another. Someone could just go in and pull up all your archived messages, and then they have everything about you.”

I have asked Comcast how the information got online. It is possible that the people on the list divulged their passwords in response to some kind of phishing message, and that Comcast itself is not to blame.

Update: Comcast said it did not believe the information came from inside the company, pointing to duplicated data on the list and the lack of structured information like account numbers.

“We have no reason to believe this came from Comcast. It looks like a phishing or related type of scheme,” said Jennifer Khoury, a Comcast spokeswoman. (Asked about this possibility earlier today, Mr. Andreyo said that he doubted he was ever the victim of a phishing scheme.)

Ms. Khoury said that Comcast was freezing the e-mail accounts of the customers on the list and contacting them to educate them about using safe passwords. She said the company would also urge them to download McAfee Security Suite, software that is made available free to all Comcast users.

Update: Ms. Khoury said in an e-mail message late Monday: “We have scrubbed the list that was on ScribD and have found that about 700 names are user ID’s that are for Comcast customers not 8,000. The other names on the list are either not customers, duplicates or older inactive accounts (no e-mail address currently).

Boy with 176 IQ is 1 in a million

Six year-old Pranav Veera, who has a photographic memory and has tested in the very upper ranges of intelligence, poses with letters spelling his name, at home in Loveland, Ohio. Enlarge image
Enlarge By Glenn Hartong, The Enquirer

Six year-old Pranav Veera, who has a photographic memory and has tested in the very upper ranges of intelligence, poses with letters spelling his name, at home in Loveland, Ohio.
LOVELAND, Ohio — Pranav Veera can recite the names of the U.S. presidents in the order they served in office. He can say the alphabet backward. Give him a date back to 2000, and he'll tell you the day of the week.

He's only 6 years old.

At first glance, Pranav is a typical young boy who is highly competitive at playing Wii video games and likes to play outside. A closer look reveals he's anything but typical.

Pranav has an IQ of 176. One person in 1 million has an IQ of 176 or above. Albert Einstein's IQ was believed to be about 160. The average IQ is 100.

When Pranav was 4-and-a-half, his parents noticed he seemed unusually intelligent while playing with alphabet sets. He could even recall which letters were certain colors.

"That kind of puzzled us," said his father, Prasad Veera. "You have to have not a normal memorization, but some other means of recall."

Now, he loves all kinds of alphabets.

"He loves to collect them, like different colors, different sizes, different materials," said his mother, Suchitra Veera.

The Veeras decided to have Pranav tested three months ago at Powers Educational Services in Hyde Park, Ohio.

"I said, 'Let's try it out, because he seems to do a lot of stuff kind of not quite normal for his age,' " his father said. "He tested 176."

He seems to have a photographic memory, so keeping Pranav engaged and learning is a big challenge for his family.

His mother and grandmother, Shanta Sastri, work with him at home.

They're guided by his focus and interests.

"The way to get him interested is to associate something with numbers, like presidents' birthdays … and when they came into office," his mother said.

"Once we introduced him to the idea, he was asking more and more questions, so we created a spreadsheet for him in Excel, and he keeps on asking us to add more types of information to it, like sort them in the order that they came into office, sort them in the order when they were born," she said.

In prekindergarten, his teacher had him do more challenging work, such as division and telling time. In kindergarten, his classmates are learning the alphabet and numbers up to 100. He's counting over 1 million.

"He's an amazing child," said Marci Taylor, his teacher at McCormick Elementary in the Milford School District. "He knows so much, yet he's probably more excited about learning than any child I've ever seen. He shakes with excitement."

Pranav knows so many incredible things, she said, but what's also impressive is that he's still a 6-year-old boy.

"He loves to go play at recess and climb on the monkey bars," Taylor said.

It's possible that Pranav might eventually have his learning accelerated, even by skipping grades, but his father said they would have to consider that with his social needs. "We want him to be as normal as possible," his father said.

"Right now, it's kind of early, and we can do a lot at home," his mother added. "We have to figure out what works best, because I think it's different for each child."Pranav draws his intelligence from both sides of the family.

His father has a Ph.D. and his mother has two master's degrees.

What does Pranav want to be when he grows up?

"An astronaut," he said without hesitation.

Truly, for Pranav, the sky's the limit.

Drug Murders And Gold Machine Guns In Mexico [PICS]


Gold guns and smuggling shoes in the Mexican museum teaching soldiers fighting the war on drugs.

read more | digg story

Awesome Zelda/Hip-hop Mashup: The Ocarina of Rhyme


Oh no you did not. That’s right, these utter geniuses have taken tracks from The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time and combined them with hip hop from Dre, Jay-Z, Common, and more. The result: Team Teamwork’s “The Ocarina of Rhyme.” Listen to it here: http://8tracks.com/teamteamwork/the-ocarina-of-rhyme

read more | digg story,

10 Best St. Patrick’s Day Festivals in the U.S.

St. Patrick’s Day started out as a religious holiday commemorating the patron saint of Ireland. Today “St. Paddy’s” in America has become a celebration of Irish food, culture, and drink, as well as anything having to do with the color green. Typically observed with loud music, dancing, parades and green beer, St. Patrick’s Day festivities happen everywhere in the country, and they are perfect opportunities for beer enthusiasts everywhere to come together and have their fill.

No matter where in America you live, chances are there’s going to be a festival in a city near you come March 17. Below is a list of what we think are the top 10 St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the U.S.

Green River ChicagoSt Patricks Day Parade Cart

1. Downtown Chicago
Downtown Chicago hosts one the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country. It begins with the world-famous dyeing of the Chicago River. The huge, vibrant green river flowing through the middle of the city is a must-see sight.

After the dying of the river, people cluster up along Columbus Drive to witness the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, replete with pipe bands, giant floats, Irish dancers and tons of other entertainers commemorating Irish culture. Then it’s on to the nightlife, as the party continues in the many Downtown Chicago bars and nightclubs.

St Patricks Day Parade BostonSt Patricks Day Parade Fun

2. Boston
St. Patrick’s Day first came to America in 1737, and the holiday was first celebrated in none other than Boston, Massachusetts. Over 850,000 people show up every year to this Irish bash, many of them from out of state. And with the population of the city being 16% Irish, Boston hosts one of the most enthusiastic St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country.

Boston starts partying a full week before St. Patrick’s Day. This year, the city will host the fourth annual Gaelic Gourmet Gala, featuring top chefs from Ireland and Boston. Throughout the week there will be Irish band concerts as well as beer and food specials at bars and restaurants, like the 75 Chestnut, for those who dress their Irish best. On the 15th, South Boston hosts one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country, with an estimated 600,000 people showing up.

Union Station ParadeSt Patricks Day Celebration

3. Washington D.C.
There are many, many celebratory events and activities throughout the Nation’s capitol come St. Paddy’s Day. The most famous of these is probably the Shamrock Festival at the RFK Stadium. It happens on March 14 and it’s an all-day event showcasing over 50 Irish bands, dancers, games and other activities.

There’s a huge parade the following day, featuring bagpipe players, and Irish folk dancers, as well as the required floats and marching bands.

St Patricks Day Parade ScotsonDC St Patricks Day

4. New York City
New York City has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a parade since 1762. They expect well over 1 million people to show up. There are over 150,000 marchers alone. Green beer and the sound of bagpipes will be everywhere in the streets of NYC.

If you get there a few days earlier, take the time to make the pilgrimage to the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral as well as the many Irish Pubs and Bars scattered throughout the city.

St Paddys Day CelebrationSt Paddys Celebration

5. St. Louis, Missouri
St. Louis is by far the best mid-western city for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. To start, Michelob sponsors a 5 mile run on the 14th. There is then a huge St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown St. Louis, featuring character balloons, Irish dancers, equestrians and large floats.

At night, the celebration crescendos as people head off the many bars and pubs in the area offering festive drinks, plenty of green beer and Irish food.

St Patricks Day Parade DublinSavannah Flag Bearers

6. Savannah, Georgia
Savannah has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with parade since 1825. What started out as a modest affair has turned into one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the country. Savannah’s parade draws crowds of over 400,000 people.

Dying the city’s fountains green is one of the traditions unique to the city. Seeing the green fountains, as spring starts creeping up on the Georgia city is one of the most enjoyable sights you can witness.

St Patricks Day Parade San FranciscoSt Patricks Day Parade

7. San Francisco, California
In the western United States, you won’t find a St. Patrick’s Day celebration that’s bigger or richer in history than the one that takes place in San Francisco. Called one of the most fashionable parades in the country, San Francisco’s St. Patrick’s Day parade follows the city’s iconic trolley tracks.

Afterwards the nightlife gets livelier throughout the city’s many Irish bars and pubs, as the celebration draws thousands of people from all over the state.

St Patricks Day Parade PhiladelphiaCelebrate St Paddys Day

8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia has been celebrating the famous Irish holiday since 1771. The city’s annual parade is the second oldest parade in the country, and it is organized by the Saint Patrick’s Observance Association. The parade draws about 500,000 people and this year, it will be held on March 15th. There will be thousands of marchers and CBS will be broadcasting the event live.

St Patricks Day Parade KiltsBagpipe Players

9. Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City first held a St. Patrick’s Day parade in 1873. Today the event draws a crowd of about 200,000 spectators. One of the things unique to this particular parade is that the grand prize winner of the procession gets an all-expense paid trip to Ireland, so participants really give it their all.

After the parade, head over to Westport, where you’ll find some of the best post-parade drinking and partying establishments in town.

St Patricks Day CarOhio St Patricks Day Parade

10. Dublin, Ohio
There are nine cities in the United States named Dublin, but Dublin, Ohio is the one that lives up to its name the most, especially when St. Patrick’s Day comes around. The city hosts a miles-long parade featuring floats, bands and leprechauns. There are plenty of post-parade bashes to attend.

If you are in the mood to explore some of the city’s Irish heritage, you can head over to the Historic District, and enjoy some Irish food and Celtic music.

iPhone 3.0 OS Guide: Everything You Need to Know

iPhone 3.0 OS, the next generation operating system for the iPhone, iPod touch, and whatever Apple device comes next. New features, new apps, here you will find all the information you need.

NEW IPHONE OS 3.0 FEATURES

The new iPhone OS 3.0 adds over 100 new features including—at friggin' last—cut and paste.

Copy & Paste text. When you double-tap over text, you will get a "cut, copy, and paste" bubble dialog. Double-tap again and a "paste" bubble will appear if there's anything stored in your clipboard.

This works across applications. You can expand your selection points using your thumbs and, if you accidentally paste something you didn't want to paste, just shake your iPhone to undo it.

Copy & Paste photos. You can also copy and paste photos. Now you will be able to select multiple photos by tapping the action button, copy some of them, and paste them in an email, ready to send.

New Spotlight. iPhone OS 3.0 will allow you to search across the entire information contained in your device, no matter where, as soon as the information is supported it. If an application is written to support the new Spotlight, its data will also be available in the search.

In this screenshot you can see Spotlight bringing results from your address book, maps, your iPod, and apps in your springboard.

Search in Mail, Calendar, and iPod. These Apple applications have specific search interfaces. The search in Mail doesn't support the message content yet, but it supports searching in IMAP servers—that will save a lot of time logging into Gmail.

3G Tethering. This feature will allow you to connect your iPhone 3G to a laptop, to use it as a modem to access the internet. Carriers still have to sign-off on it, and probably charge more for it. None have announced it yet.

Landscape keyboard. Apple has added the landscape keyboard mode to other applications, like Mail, SMS, and Notes.

Multimedia messaging. A big one to send rich content to people without mail-enabled telephones: The new MMS function will allow you to include everything, from images to sound to vcards (no word on video, however.) Personally, I find these usesless having email, but some people seem to want it.

Support for new calendar types. In iPhone OS 3.0 you will be able to subscribe to calendars on the web using two protocols: CalDAV—supported by Google and Yahoo—and subscriptions via the .ics format—which is what Apple uses in iCal.

Improved stocks application. The stocks application now allows you to read related news, so you can enjoy yourself learning about the latest market scandals, stock crashes, and executives getting bonus packages from government aid while their companies sink into hell. Thank you, Apple.

Stereo Bluetooth A2DP audio. You will be able to pair your iPhone 3.0 with a stereo Bluetooth A2DP device, like headphones or speakers.

Note synching with iTunes.

Automatic login in Safari. The new version of Safari will remember login credentials, so you won't need to introduce your username and password again while accessing Scoreland your work intranet.

Shake to shuffle music. If you are in your iPod application, you just need to shake it to start the shuffling mode. Hopefully this will be optional for sports people out there.

Wi-Fi auto-login. In case you have a subscription to a paid hotspot, your iPhone or iPod touch will autolog into it.

Anti-phising. Mobile Safari now can warn you against malicious sites trying to scam you.

Extended parental controls. Adult content filters can now be applied to movies, TV shows, and applications, in addition to web sites and music (porn apps, here we come).




NEW APPLE APPLICATIONS

Apple will include new widgets in the new version of the iPhone operating system:

Voice memo application. Obviously, allows you to record voice or any other sound, so you don't forget any idea or want to play FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper.

Send and receive files. A dedicated application to exchange files between iPhones or iPods touch.




NEW THIRD PARTY APPLICATIONS FEATURES IN IPHONE OS 3.0

The new iPhone OS 3.0 adds 1,000 new APIs to extend the capabilities of new applications.

Peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connectivity. A new API will allow for two iPhones to connect directly—peer-to-peer—via Wi-Fi, without needing any Wi-Fi network.

They will be able to discover each other using Bluetooth, and then start a Wi-Fi connection transparently (we saw this technology at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, so you can check the video about how it works here.)

This opens a lot of possibilities. I doubt they will allow you to pass music, but you would probably be able to pass any other information, as well as directly communicating between applications in the two devices. One example: A pets game that allows two dogs to play with each other.

This feature could be combined with push notification, so your iPhone may receive a note from another iPhone, inviting you to play a game one-on-one.

Browse remote content. While the built-in iPod application doesn't allow you to browse songs in other people's iPhones or iPod touch, third-party applications will allow you to do that, according to Apple's Forstall.

Use your iPhone/touch to control peripherals. A new API will let you use your iPhone or iPod touch as a control to your accessories. In this example, the iPhone is being used to equalize the sound in a loudspeaker.

However, the applications are endless. Johnson and Johnson is releasing LifeScan, an app that connects to a glucose monitoring device. The application can even alert other people automatically, in case something is wrong.

Maps inside other applications. New applications will be able to use Maps directly, which is now an API.

Turn-by-turn directions. Developers will also be able to create turn-by-turn applications using the GPS information from the iPhone and combining it with their own maps, without depending on 3G connectivity or Google.

Push notification finally coming. Hopefully this time it will be true. Push notification means that your iPhone OS 3.0 applications will finally be able to receive messages from the intarwebs automagically, so you can have an Instant Message application and have your iPhone vibrate or make a sound when a new message comes in, even if the application is not running.

Voice communication in applications. iPhone 3.0 applications will also be able to access a Voice over IP service. This means that you will be able to chat with other users while playing against them in a game, for example. This won't use the telephone, but the internet over a Wi-Fi connection.

Rumbling. Games—or any other application—will also be able to rumble, like your console joystick.

Audio recording. Audio recording will also be possible from third-party applications using a standardized API, instead of custom workarounds.

Access your music from applications. Future applications will also be able to access the iPhone/iPod music library. This means that applications will be able to play your own music while they run.




NEW FEATURES IN THE APP STORE

The new OS will also offer an enhanced App Store, opening new possibilities for developers and consumers.

• Subcriptions to apps.
• Purchase additional content for apps, like new cities for a city guide application.
• Purchase additional levels for games.

Basically, this will allow developers to sell more things on top of their apps, and to consumers to expand their experience with those apps.

• This will work straight from the applications, so you can purchase new things through the software itself, even while it still goes through the App Store internally.




PRICE

iPhone OS 3.0 will be a free upgrade to all iPhone users, including the first generation (not all features will be supported in the first generation, like Stereo Bluetooth support). iPod touch users will be able to but it for $9.95.

If you dare, you can sign up for the beta here.

Radiohead Accuses Miley Cyrus of "Entitlement" After Insult


From left: John Shearer/WireImage.com; Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Buzz up

A war of words has erupted between Miley Cyrus and her former rock Gods Radiohead.

The argument started when Miley tried to use her clout to meet her heroes backstage at the Grammys. The notoriously shy band refused.

See photos of Miley's biggest celeb fans.

Miley then blasted the group on a syndicated radio show as “Stinkin’ Radiohead!” and said, “I’m gonna ruin them, I’m gonna tell everyone.”

But the band aren’t taking the insult lying down.

A spokesperson for the band responds on their behalf, “When Miley grows up, she’ll learn not to have a sense of entitlement.”

Look back at Miley's biggest scandals.

Miley says the Radiohead dis was a huge disappointment to her, “I was so upset.”

But Coldplay exceeded her expectations. “Coldplay was so nice. Chris Martin hung out with me the whole time,” she gloated.

Breakthroughs in Post-4G (12.5Gb/s) Wireless Communications

ScienceDaily (Mar. 14, 2009) — With much of the mobile world yet to migrate to 3G mobile communications, let alone 4G, European researchers are already working on a new technology able to deliver data wirelessly up to 12.5Gb/s.



The technology – known as ‘millimetre (mm)-wave’ or microwave photonics – has commercial applications not just in telecommunications (access and in-house networks) but also in instrumentation, radar, security, radio astronomy and other fields.

Despite the quantum leap in performance made possible by combining the latest radio and optics technologies to produce mm-wave components, it will probably only be a few years before there are real benefits for the average EU citizen.

This is thanks to research and development work being done by the EU-funded project IPHOBAC, which brings together partners from both academia and industry with the aim of developing a new class of components and systems for mm-wave applications.

The mm-wave band is the extremely high frequency part of the radio spectrum, from 30 to 300 gigahertz (GHz), and it gets it name from having a wavelength of one to 10mm. Until now, the band has been largely undeveloped, so the new technology makes available for exploitation more of the scarce and much-in-demand spectrum.

New products from Europe

IPHOBAC is not simply a ‘paper project’ where the technology is researched, but very much a practical exercise to develop and commercialise a new class of products with a ‘made in Europe’ label on them.

While several companies in Japan and the USA have been working on merging optical and radio frequency technologies, IPHOBAC is the world’s first fully integrated effort in the field, with a lot of different companies involved. This has resulted in the three-year project, which runs until end-2009, already having an impressive list of achievements to its name.

It recently unveiled a tiny component, a transmitter able to transmit a continuous signal not only through the entire mm-wave band but beyond. Its full range is 30 to 325GHz and even higher frequency operation is now under investigation. The first component worldwide able to deliver that range of performance, it will be used in both communications and radar systems. Other components developed by the project include 110GHz modulators, 110GHz photodetectors, 300GHz dual-mode lasers, 60GHz mode-locked lasers, and 60GHz transceivers.

Truly disruptive technology

Project coordinator Andreas Stöhr says millimetre-wave photonics is a truly disruptive technology for high frequency applications. “It offers unique capabilities such as ultra-wide tunability and low-phase noise which are not possible with competing technologies, such as electronics,” he says.

What this will mean in practical terms is not only ultra-fast wireless data transfer over telecommunications networks, but also a whole range of new applications (http://www.iphobac-survey.org).

One of these, a 60GHz Photonic Wireless System, was demonstrated at the ICT 2008 exhibition in Lyon and was voted into the Top Ten Best exhibits. The system allows wireless connectivity in full high definition (HD) between devices in the home, such as a set-top box, TV, PC, and mobile devices. It is the first home area network to demonstrate the speeds necessary for full wireless HD of up to 3Gb/s.

The system can also be used to provide multi-camera coverage of live events in HD. “There is no time to compress the signal as the director needs to see live feed from every camera to decide which picture to use, and ours is the only technology which can deliver fast enough data rates to transmit uncompressed HD video/audio signals,” says Stöhr.

The same technology has been demonstrated for access telecom networks and has delivered world record data rates of up to 12.5Gb/s over short- to medium-range wireless spans, or 1500 times the speed of upcoming 4G mobile networks.

One way in which the technology can be deployed in the relatively short term, according to Stöhr, is wirelessly supporting very fast broadband to remote areas. “You can have your fibre in the ground delivering 10Gb/s but we can deliver this by air to remote areas where there is no fibre or to bridge gaps in fibre networks,” he says.

Systems for outer space

The project is also developing systems for space applications, working with the European Space Agency. Stöhr said he could not reveal details as this has not yet been made public, save to say the systems will operate in the 100GHz band and are needed immediately.

There are various ongoing co-operation projects with industry to commercialise the components and systems, and some components are already at a pre-commercial stage and are being sold in limited numbers. There are also ongoing talks with some of the biggest names in telecommunications, including Siemens, Ericsson, Thales Communications and Malaysia Telecom.

“In just a few years time everybody will be able to see the results of the IPHOBAC project in telecommunications, in the home, in radio astronomy and in space. It is a completely new technology which will be used in many applications even medical ones where mm-wave devices to detect skin cancer are under investigation,” says Stöhr.


Adapted from materials provided by ICT Results.

4 Tips For Winning Your Office March Madness Pool

I have four tried and true, nearly infallible rules that will help you win your NCAA pool.

I have four tried and true, nearly infallible rules that will help you win your NCAA pool or bracket contest.

These were posted in a similar column on KING that you can find here

This is a 2009 reboot.

1) Your team must have a head coach who understands the difference between a fast break and a lunch break. Since 1980, Steve Fisher, who led Michigan to the 1989 title with the interim tag, is the only coach not already in the hall of fame—or probably headed there—to win a championship. You could argue the resumes of Tubby Smith, Nolan Richardson and Gary Williams, but I think they’ll eventually be in. The rest of the winners read like a who’s who of college coaches, including names like Crum, Thompson, Dean, Pitino, Calhoun, Tubby, Roy, Coach K, Roy and Donovan. Poor Wake Forest…

2) You must have an animal in the paint that can devour opposing frontlines without regard for his wellbeing or safety. I’ll concede Arizona’s perimeter-oriented team from 1997, UConn’s Richard Hamilton-led upset of Duke in 1999 and the Carmelo Anthony-driven Syracuse triumph in 2003 as rule deviants. You won’t find a team since 1990—outside of those mentioned—that hasn’t had an all-conference caliber post player patrolling the paint. Sorry West Virginia, Boston College, Marquette, Villanova, Marland, Xavier, UCLA, Illinois and Syracuse, all clubs who lack such a big man this season.

3) You must have an experienced point guard–freshman point guards don’t win national championships. Mike Bibby and Gerry McNamara are the only freshman point guards—ever—to lead their teams to a title. The curse struck Memphis hard last season. Despite Derrick Rose’s great play, the freshman missed a couple of free throws and eventually succumbed to this stone-cold rule.

Thanks for playing Washington and Memphis. Kind of sucks for the Tigers—two years in a row that a freshman point guard will keep them from winning the title.

4) An unwritten and very unscientific rule is that you must have three potential NBA players on your roster to compete. Not just guys who might get drafted, but players who will stick in the league. At first glance that might sound a bit farfetched, but again the rule proves to be true. Since 1990, only four teams that went on to win the championship, ’93 UNC, ’95 UCLA, ’99 UConn and ’03 Syracuse, have lacked at least three players to stick in the NBA. They’ve all had two. So, so long to Utah, Cleveland State, Dayton, North Dakota St., Michigan State, BYU, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Missouri, Utah St, Cornell, California, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Butler, Arizona State, Temple and Clemson.

So there you have it. One of the following five teams—Louisville, UConn, Pittsburgh, UNC or Gonzaga—will raise the nets in Detroit in April. I know that’s not exactly going out on a limb, but that is what the rules give us.

Mark it down. Type it. Send it. Fax it. Ship it.

The Sexy Girls of Saint Patrick’s Day


 The Sexy Girls of Saint Patrick's Day
The Sexy Girls of Saint Patrick's Day (flag)
www.gunaxin.com — sexy-st-patricks-day-girls-135 Top o’ the morning to you! For most people St. Patrick’s Day is about two things, the wearing of the green and getting drunk (forget the corned beef and cabbage). Now we have a whole category on this site devoted to beer, so I think the latter part is well covered. ...

How Is Your Credit Score Calculated?

Pay on Time, Wipe Out Debt, Raise Your Credit Score

By ELISABETH LEAMY
ABC NEWS Consumer Correspondent

A young reader asked me last week how your credit score is calculated, how it's related to your credit report and how you find out your score. It was a great reminder that a lot of the consumer vocabulary I use is just mumbo-jumbo to folks who don't work in this world every day like I do. So here goes: Credit Scoring 101.

Your credit score is simply a three-digit number that predicts whether you'll pay back your loans and pay them on time. Scoring formulas are closely guarded but a typical scale ranges from 300 to 850. Before the economic crisis , a score of 680 or more qualified you for the very best mortgage interest rates. Now, credit has tightened up, and lenders are only offering the best rates to people with scores of 720 or even 740 and above. Your credit score is not static. It changes with every single payment you make or fail to make.

Keep in mind that every bank does it differently, so your score could vary depending where you apply for credit. That's why if you are turned down for credit at one institution, you should apply to others. They may have different data on you or different standards.

So how is your credit score calculated? Statisticians studied peoples' payment patterns for years. They looked at things like late payments, kinds of credit, home ownership, how long you'd had credit cards, and the ratio of debt to available credit. They learned which factors are good predictors that you're likely to pay your bills. Then they assigned numerical values to those predictors and created statistical models.

Where does the raw information come from to create a score? From the credit reports kept on you by the big three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. If that raw data is inaccurate, it will hurt your score. That's why it's so important to order your credit reports regularly at www.annualcreditreport.com, the only truly free source of credit reports. Check the reports and if you find mistakes, fill out the simple form to dispute them. But I digress.

Boost Your Credit Score: No Accounting for Empathy

Banks are not allowed to make race, gender, marital status, national origin or religion a factor in their credit scoring models. They are allowed to use age as a predictor, if they can prove their model is well designed and doesn't discriminate against the elderly.

Credit scores are less biased than bankers. After all, scoring applies the same mathematical, methodical standards to everybody. The one thing that's missing is human empathy. If your late payments are the result of an illness in the family, for example, the scoring model won't account for that. In those cases, many banks allow you to plead your case to a real live human.

Credit scoring is fast and impartial but it's not perfect. Here are a couple of examples. A person can be filthy rich and have a terrible credit score. Credit scoring models give preference to people who have credit, use it and pay it off responsibly. If somebody is so wealthy that they pay cash for most things, they won't have much of a credit history and that will hurt their credit score. That person could be turned down for a Sears card. For that matter, if you're not rich, but you just don't believe in using credit cards, you could score low and have trouble qualifying for a bigger loan when you want it.

Credit card companies were the first to use credit scoring. Auto loans came next. Banks started basing their mortgages and small business loans on credit scores in the 1990s. Today, even insurance companies use credit scores to decide whether they want to issue you a policy. They've discovered a correlation between people who pay their bills late and people who make excessive insurance claims. Credit scores are bound to come into play in other industries too.

If you're going to win at this game, it's important to "know the score." For many years, banks and credit scoring companies resisted telling consumers their scores. Not anymore. Now they're eager to sell them to you. Equifax, Experian and Transunion all sell credit scores for about $15. But I would order from www.myfico.com first. That's the site run by Fair Isaac, the company that invented credit scoring. The "FICO" score is still the most commonly used.

Pay on Time, Wipe Out Debt, Raise Credit Score

If you are pursuing a major loan, you may want to order from the credit bureaus as well, because your score with each is slightly different based on the different data they have on you. You could try to find out which credit bureau your lender uses and focus on that one.

If you don't like what you see, can you improve your score? Yes. Fortunately, scoring models put more emphasis on the present than the past. So with every bill you pay on time and every debt you wipe out, your score will rise.

Japan's HRP-4C 'fashion model robot' unveiled, already harassed (update: video!)

While that perv in the back is busy shooting HRP-4C's firm buttocks shaped from a glossy Stormtrooper alloy, the rest of us can marvel at the fact that Japan has produced a walking, talking fashion robot. Standing at just over 5-feet tall and 95-pounds, HRP-4C, developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, will make its catwalk debut next week at the Tokyo fashion show. The she-bot features 30 motors spread throughout its body with an additional eight motors in its face for expressing general boredom and disgust with the help. Its main purpose is entertainment and to attract crowds much like its fleshy counterparts -- so don't expect home cooked meals and laundry service should you take the $200,000 robot home. Unfortunately, HRP-4C didn't function as planned today. Reports say that the robot, "kept looking surprised, opening its mouth and eyes in a stunned expression, when the demonstrator had asked it to smile or look angry." Hmm, sounds like a fully functional model-slash-actress to us.

Update: Video posted after the break that's equal parts creepy and uh, creepy.



[Via Straits Times and Pink Tentacle]

'MacGyver' Is Coming To Big Screen Using Gum and Duct Tape

New Line developing pic based on ABC's 1985-92 series

By Borys Kit and Jay Fernandez

New Line is using twine, bubble gum and a pencil to throw "MacGyver" into development as a feature film.

Raffaella De Laurentiis, daughter of Dino De Laurentiis, is producing through her Raffaella Prods. along with Martha De Laurentiis and series creator Lee Zlotoff.

Dino De Laurentiis is exec producing.

"MacGyver" was a science-oriented adventure series that ran from 1985-92 on ABC. Richard Dean Anderson, later of "Stargate: Atlantis" and "SG-1" fame, starred as an incredibly resourceful secret agent for the Phoenix Foundation who frequently would escape from dangerous situations with ingenious and lightning-quick engineering trickery.

Two telefilms starring Anderson aired in the years after the show's cancellation. The character eventually achieved enough cultural penetration to become a reference for anyone attempting to jury-rig a solution out of household items. "Saturday Night Live" took the concept to the next level with its spoofs "MacGruber," starring Will Forte.

No writer is attached, but the studio hopes to find a script that can acknowledge how the concept has staked a place into pop culture yet still makes for a serious and fun adventure movie.

"We think we're a stick of chewing gum, a paper clip and an A-list writer away from a global franchise," said New Line's Richard Brener, who will oversee with Sam Brown and Walter Hamada.

2nd Generation of 'Microsoft Surface' Coming in 2-3 Years

By Darren Waters
Technology editor, BBC News website, Texas


Microsoft Surface is helping re-think how we interact with computers

A second generation of Microsoft's Surface computing device is two to three years away, the South by SouthWest Festival has heard.

Developer Joe Olsen, whose company Phenomblue writes applications for the Surface, said he had been told the device was still in the development stage.

"They haven't even got to point where they are going to commercialise," he said.

Chris Bernard, user experience evangelist for Microsoft, said he could not confirm a release date.

Surface is a multi-touch computer in the shape of a table, with a flat screen that can "read" multi-touch gestures, as well as content from printed material placed onto the device, thanks to five cameras inside the machine.

It is being developed with enterprise, tourism and public-facing solutions in mind and launches in the UK next week.

Dubbed Second Light, the Surface 2 will build on the original model and have a second projector inside the table computer that can project images onto a layer above the surface of the screen.

In effect, the device will be able to overlay secondary images above those on the screen - such as satellite imagery over a street map, or more detailed contextual data on top of images.

Shift in interaction

Surface computer
Devices like the Surface are changing how we interact with computers
The machine will also have infrared sensors that can interpret gestures and movements without having to touch the screen.

Mr Olsen said Microsoft staff at Redmond had told him that the device was still in being worked on within Research and Development.

Erik Klimczak, creative director of Clarity Consulting, which also produces applications for the Surface, said he expected the next generation to have high-definition cameras.

"Right now they are limited to how much detail they can pick up," he said.

Devices like the Surface, as well as Apple's iPhone, are at the vanguard of a shift in how we interact with computers.

"Everything is moving to touch and multi-touch so you had better jump on that bandwagon," Mr Klimczak told the conference of web developers.

Giant sand worms lived in Torbay, scientists claim

Scientists have found evidence of a giant prehistoric sand worm in an English seaside resort.

geology: giant sand worms lived in Torbay
Dr Kevin Page with fossils containing the burrowings of large sand worms believed to have existed 260 million years ago Photo: Mark Sutherland/SWNS

Proof of the creatures' existence, which lived 260million years ago, has been found in Torbay, Devon.

The worms, which grew up to 3ft long and 6in wide, are thought to have lived underground before dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Experts at the English Riviera Geopark organisation have found large burrow holes that are said to have been made by the creatures as they travelled beneath the surface.

Geologist Dr Kevin Page said the discovery of the underground holes is an unprecedented find in science and represents "life - but not as we know it".

He said: "It really is quite extraordinary. Nothing like this has ever been found before. The underground area is peppered with these burrows.

"There is no supporting evidence to suggest they were made by creatures we know about, so what were are looking at is an entirely new life form.

"It is very, very strange. They were made at the end of the Paleozoic period before dinosaurs came along when the earth teemed with creatures which are now extinct.

"We have found the holes but as yet we haven't found the animals which made them.

"They would have looked like the worms from the film Dune. It is science fiction meeting science fact.

"We know about giant millipedes at the time but this is something quite different. They are unknown to science and a completely new species. It is life, but not as we know it."

The large holes were found across an area of sediment at the bottom of what was a desert wadis (corr) - a valley or dry river bed that only contains water during times of heavy rain.

Dr Page, a lecturer at Plymouth University, said the worms lived underground and only come to the surface to drink and feed.

Kevin Rose On iPhone 3.0: Cut/Paste, Features Equal Palm Pre

Digg's Kevin Rose is again peddling his Apple rumors, this time in regards to the upcoming 3.0 preview scheduled for this Tuesday. He was dead on last time around—can he do it again?

Now the good stuff. We've had two separate tipsters ping us with the rumors today, which Rose talked about last night during the live Diggnation show at SXSW in Austin.

The breakdown of unconfirmed rumors goes like this:

- Cut and paste in 3.0
- Users magnify or double tap a word to bring up cut and paste
- Pinch "boundaries" to select word(s); Rose called them "copy boundaries"
- Then you get option to cut, paste or copy

Also, the 3.0 update will have enough new features and additions to bring it up to the Palm Pre levels. Whatever Palm Pre has shown us so far, apparently, the iPhone will have too when 3.0 becomes official. That point remains a bit hazy right now, so anyone who was at Diggnation last night who can help elaborate a bit more would be awesome in my book.

Lastly, there will NOT be video, nor will there be MMS. Boo. This last point seems to contradict BGR's MMS rumor from the other day. [Thanks, Kyle and Abdul!]

Star Wars scientists use laser gun to kill mosquitoes in fight against malaria

Scientists who worked the Star Wars anti-missile programme in the United States are building a ray-gun than can kill mosquitoes in a bid to tackle the scourge of malaria.

Mosquito: insect-killing lasers could fight spread of malaria
Insect-killing lasers could fight the spread of malaria Photo: AFP

Experts behind the 1980s missile shield idea have helped to develop a laser that locks onto and kills airborne insects.

It is thought the device, dubbed the 'Weapon of Mosquito Destruction' (WMD), could be used against mosquitoes, which kill almost one million people around the world every year by spreading malaria.

The research in Seattle, reported in the Wall Street Journal, has been funded by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates through his charitable foundation.

The WMD laser works by detecting the audio frequency created by the beating of mosquito wings. A computer triggers the laser beam which burns the wings off the mosquito and kills it.

Among those working on the research project are astrophysicists Dr Lowell Wood and Dr Jordin Kare who both worked on the original Star Wars plan to shield America from nuclear attack.

Dr Kare said: "We like to think back then we made some contribution to the ending of the cold war. Now we're just trying to make a dent in a war that's actually gone on a lot longer and claimed a lot more lives."

The laser missile defence system was proposed in the 1980s to knock Soviet missiles from the skies with beams. It was greeted with enthusiasm by President Ronald Reagan but mocked as "Star Wars" by Senator Edward Kennedy and never got off the ground.

The idea of using the same mechanism to kill insects was down to Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft executive who now runs an innovation firm call Intellectual Ventures. The firm was tasked by Mr Gates with exploring new ways of combating malaria and Dr. Wood suggested using lasers. Work on the WMD began last year.

Source says Pinto may be next Bond girl

Freida Pinto from "Slumdog Millionaire" arrives  at the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood on February 22, 2009.   (UPI Photo/ Roger L. Wollenberg)
Freida Pinto from "Slumdog Millionaire" arrives at the 81st Academy Awards in Hollywood on February 22, 2009. (UPI Photo/ Roger L. Wollenberg)


LOS ANGELES, March 15 (UPI) -- Mumbai-born actress Freida Pinto, star of "Slumdog Millionaire," could soon be the next female star of a James Bond movie, a source says.

An unidentified source said Pinto has been asked by Barbara Broccoli, who produces the James Bond spy films, about serving as the next Bond girl, People.com reported Sunday.

The source said the 24-year-old beauty, who starred as Latika in "Slumdog," has been in the sights of Bond creators before the franchise's last installment, "Quantum of Solace."

"Freida came to the attention of the Bond team when they were casting 'Quantum of Solace,'" the source said, but "she was too young at the time to have a part as a love interest for a secret agent."

Pinto recently parlayed her "Slumdog" fame into an Indian Vogue magazine cover shoot and a deal with the Estee Lauder cosmetics group, People.com said.

The Financial Crisis Just Might Lead to Legal Pot

By Marcelo Ballve, New America Media


The recession is spotlighting the rationale for decriminalizing marijuana.

NEW YORK -- In 1977, President Jimmy Carter asked Congress to decriminalize marijuana possession (it never did). The next year, the Ladies Home Journal described a summer jazz festival on the White House's South Lawn where "a haze of marijuana smoke hung heavy under the low-bending branches of a magnolia tree."

The late 1970's may have been the high-water mark for permissiveness regarding marijuana. But advocates of decriminalized pot believe a confluence of factors, especially the country's economic malaise, are leading to another countrywide reappraisal of the drug.

"There is momentum of the sort I haven't seen since I've been involved in this," says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, which supports easing marijuana laws.

He says incidents like then-candidate Barack Obama's early admission of pot use or the flap over Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps's bong-smoking may lead to initial public hand-wringing, but in the end they tend to legitimize pot use. So does the growing recognition of medical marijuana.

But, he adds, "the economic crisis is the single most important factor" in this new shift in perceptions.

That's because the ailing economy is triggering a scramble for new government savings or sources of revenue. Nadelmann compares today's marijuana laws to alcohol prohibition, approved during prosperous times in 1920 only to become unpopular during the Great Depression. Prohibition was finally repealed in 1933, in part due to the cost of reining in illegal booze and the need to recoup lost tax revenue in tough economic times.

As he signed a law easing prohibition, President Franklin Roosevelt reportedly quipped, "I think this would be a good time for a beer."

Is our recession-plagued present a good time for a joint? Legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana, would pull the rug out from under pot dealers in urban America, and create a crisis for them, but it would likely prove a boon for state budgets. In an oft-cited 2006 report on U.S. marijuana production, expert Jon Gettman used "conservative price estimates" to peg the value of the annual crop at $36 billion--more valuable than corn and wheat combined.

Three national polls this year showed a surprising number of Americans think marijuana should be legal. Zogby, CBS News and Rasmussen all recorded support for legalization hovering at around 40 percent. Nadelmann of the DPA believes support would have been higher if the question was whether or not marijuana should be taxed and regulated.

California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano has proposed a bill to tax and regulate legal marijuana, which he says would generate $1 billion in revenue for the Golden State's anemic budget. Ammiano, who represents areas of San Francisco, says his proposal, unveiled last month, is "simply common sense," considering the unprecedented economic emergency. The measure would also save California an estimated $150 million in enforcement costs.

Rising support for decriminalization has also come from drug war-ravaged Latin America. Former presidents of Colombia, Mexico and Brazil headed the 17-person Latin American Commission on Drugs, which included intellectuals and statesmen. It issued a report last month calling the drug war failed. It called, among other changes, for the personal use of marijuana to be decriminalized.

Currently, marijuana is already decriminalized in some form in 13 U.S. states, including California and New York, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Typically in these states, marijuana possession in small amounts is reduced to a minor offense punishable by a low fine. Alaska has a particularly liberal law, allowing possession of up to an ounce of pot at home without penalty.

Some eight additional state legislatures are currently considering decriminalization, or the expansion of already existing allowances, according to NORML.

No other state has gone as far as the sweeping "tax and regulate" plan Ammiano proposed for California, but all this talk of legalizing pot has Eric Voth, M.D., deeply worried. Voth, chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy, believes advocates of legal marijuana are exploiting the country's economic insecurities to advance their agenda, despite evident risks.

Pointing to alcohol and tobacco, which are taxed, he argues the resulting revenue hardly compensates for the social and public health damage wreaked by both substances, including spillover use among youth. In the 1970s, when marijuana use was at its peak, some 11 percent of high school seniors used marijuana daily, whereas today only between two and three percent do so. If marijuana were legal, more kids would smoke it and face health, addiction and learning problems, says Voth, who advised the White House under Republican and Democratic administrations. "I'm not a prohibitionist, I'm a physician and I've seen those problems face-to-face in the trenches."

But, as Voth himself admits, the lobby to decriminalize marijuana is increasingly organized, with a strong presence in state capitols and Washington, D.C. When Ammiano announced his California plan, he enlisted the DPA and the Marijuana Policy Project to back him up. "High Times," the popular pot enthusiasts' magazine, has spearheaded its own "420 campaign" for marijuana legalization. Libertarian organizations, like the Cato Institute, tend to be skeptical of pot prohibition, too.

But there are legal questions over states' efforts to decriminalize. Lenient state laws (not to mention Ammiano's legalization plan) clash with separate federal laws on marijuana, which are strict, calling for up to a year imprisonment and a $1,000 fine for possession of any amount, even if it's a first offense.

Last year, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), sponsored legislation to decriminalize marijuana federally, earning a handful of co-sponsors, but the bill quickly stalled in committee.

Ammiano says his plan isn't radical, since pot would simply be taxed just as tobacco and alcohol are now. But for his opponents that comparison sets off alarm bells.

Both industries have a bad record of facing up to the adverse health effects of their products and its availability to underage users. A legally sanctioned marijuana industry, opponents say, would open the door to another powerful, cynical, corporate dispenser of legal drugs.

N.W.A.'S STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON: THE MOVIE

Rappers Ice Cube and Dr. Dre have joined together with Tomica Wright, widow of Eazy-E, to produce a movie for New Line Cinema based upon their group N.W.A., which popularized gangsta rap from 1986 to 1991, despite limited radio airplay. Taking its title from their 1988 breakthrough album, Straight Outta Compton will chronicle the group's meteoric climb to fame and controversy (best represented by the 1988 single, F*** Tha Police), their five short years together, the tumultous break up and feuds, and finally, Eazy-E's death from AIDS complications in 1995. The trio is currently looking for a director comparable to Curtis Hanson, director of the Eminem movie 8 Mile.


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