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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Best Dad Ever Throws Party for Son & Friends

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Get a 6-foot HDMI cable for $3.19 shipped

Pay more than a few bucks for an HDMI cable and you're getting ripped off.

(Credit: Amazon)

As regular Cheapskate readers know, HDMI cables are insanely overpriced. Pity the uninformed consumer who walks into, say, Best Buy, and walks out $40 to $90 poorer. Happens all the time.

But it doesn't have to. Help me spread the word: Eforcity (via Amazon) has a 6-foot HDMI cable for just $3.19 shipped. (Actually, the cable's only 21 cents, shipping costs $2.98. That drives me nuts, so I stayed focused on the total price. Which is awesome.)

In case you're not familiar with them, HDMI cables carry digital audio and video signals between your TV and gear like game consoles and Blu-ray players.

Are they all created equal? No, but there's ample scientific and anecdotal evidence that dirt-cheap generic cables perform just as well as their pricey big-name counterparts (cough *Monster* cough). Don't get suckered into buying the latter.

Need more proof? This particular cable has a whopping 1,863 user reviews on Amazon, and the average score is 4.5 stars out of 5. 'Nuff said.

Airline appears serious about pay toilets

by Karen Datko

Travelers on European budget carrier Ryanair will likely have to start paying for bathroom use, and may wish they had a wooden (think hollow) leg.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary told the Guardian newspaper in England that he's serious about charging for toilet access -- an idea he had earlier bandied about -- and also plans to reduce the number of bathrooms on his Boeing 737-800 jets from three to one.

Those bathrooms will be replaced with six more seats -- "which means more passengers will stand in line longer for the privilege of paying to potty. This can't be good for beverage cart sales," wrote Rob Manker at ChicagoTribune.com.

O'Leary said he's asked Boeing to look into placing credit card readers on bathroom locks in new Ryanair planes and making that seat adjustment. The price to potty would be £1, or about $1.60, when it takes effect within two years.

"We are flying aircraft on an average flight time of one hour around Europe," O'Leary said. "What the hell do we need three toilets for?"

Hmm. Perhaps because the 737-800 seats 162 to 189 passengers, depending on the seat configuration, not including O'Leary's extra seats.

Carl Unger at Smarter Travel commented, "To be fair, I can see his point. Ryanair essentially acts as a bus service in the sky .... Of course, your average 737 carries three times as many passengers as your average long-distance bus."

Seeing may be believing when it comes to O'Leary, who the Guardian says is known as "O'Really" because he doesn't always mean what he says. However, it's true that O'Leary has never met an airline fee he didn't like.

In fact, ChicagoTribune.com says, "There are reports O'Leary is also tossing around the idea of requiring passengers to load their own luggage onto jets, so that the airline can cut costs by not having baggage handlers."

Stateside travelers aren't immune from rising fees. Starting Wednesday, June 10, United Airlines customers who don't pay their checked-baggage fees online will start paying an extra $5 at the airport, ChicagoTribune.com says. That will amount to $20 for the first bag and $30 for the second. US Airways will follow suit in July.

Hybrid hearts could solve transplant shortage

A "decellularised" pig's heart


Video: Hybrid heart

"IT'S amazing, absolutely beautiful," says Doris Taylor, describing the latest addition to an array of tiny thumping hearts that sit in her lab, hooked up to an artificial blood supply.

The rat hearts beat just as if there were inside a live animal, but even more remarkable is how each one has been made: by coating the stripped-down "scaffolding" of one rat's heart with tissue grown from another rat's stem cells.

Taylor, a stem cell scientist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, now wants to repeat the achievement on a much larger scale, by "decellularising" hearts, livers and other organs taken either from human cadavers or from larger animals such as pigs, and coating them in stem cells harvested from people.

This could lead to a virtually limitless supply of organs for transplantation that are every bit as intricate as those that grow naturally, except that they don't provoke the catastrophic immune response that obstructs the use of traditional "xenotransplants".

The organs don't provoke the immune response that prevents traditional xenotransplants

"We're already working with heart, kidney, liver, lung, pancreas, gallbladder and muscle," Taylor says. Rival groups are using similar procedures to create new livers and muscle too.

Human organs for transplant are scarce. One option is to engineer organs from scratch in the lab, using artificial scaffolds. While bladders and skin can be grown in the lab, growing more complex organs and their intricate blood-vessel networks, has proved tricky.

Xenotransplants from pigs are another possibility, though fraught with problems. You have to prevent the recipient's immune system from destroying the organ, and also ensure the transplant is free of pig viruses that could be passed on.

Taylor's organs avoid these problems. For starters, building an intricate scaffold from scratch is unnecessary. "It's letting nature do most of the work," she says. What's more, because the stem cells that "clothe" the naked scaffold are taken from the patient, the organ stands a higher chance of being accepted by their immune system.

The idea is fairly simple: take an organ from a human donor or animal (see image), and use a mild detergent to strip away flesh, cells and DNA (see image) so that all is left is the inner "scaffold" of collagen, an "immunologically inert" protein (see image). Add stem cells from the relevant patient to this naked shell of an organ and they will differentiate into all the cells the organ needs to function without inducing an immune response after transplant, or any new infections.

The idea has already worked with simple organs. Last year Claudia Castillo received a transplant made a stripped-down windpipe from a dead human donor. Researchers cut it to size and seeded the scaffold with her stem cells, which grew into the right tissues and gave her a new windpipe. Anthony Hollander of the University of Bristol, UK, a member of the team, says Castillo no longer needs to take drugs and is back at her job.

Taylor's team is using the same technique to create much more complex organs such as hearts, and extending it to using animal, as well as human, scaffolds.

A big challenge with complex organs is ensuring that all their cells are infused with blood. Without blood, cells in the centre of the organ would be starved of oxygen and die after transplantation. Taylor says her method overcomes this problem.

A big breakthrough came in January 2008, when her team produced a beating heart by filling a rat heart scaffold with heart cells from newborn rats (Nature Medicine, vol 14, p 213). These hearts kept their 3D shape, including spaces for all the blood vessels. When they were seeded with new cells (see image), some grew into blood vessel lining (see image).

Since then, Taylor says they have managed to "pretty much repopulate the whole vascular tree" with cells, which includes veins, arteries and capillaries. "Because we've retained the blood vessels, we can take the plumbing and hook it up to the recipient's natural blood supply," says Taylor. "That's the beauty of this."

Although Taylor only added stem cells to the hearts, these cells differentiated into many different cells, in all the correct places, which is the best part of using decellularised scaffolds. The stem cells transformed into endothelial cells in the ventricles and atria, for example, and into vascular and smooth-muscle cells in the spaces for blood vessels, just as in a natural heart. Taylor thinks this happened because she pumped blood and nutrients through the organ, producing pressure in each zone which helps to determine how cells differentiate there.

But chemical, as well as mechanical, cues seem to have guided differentiation. Taylor has evidence that growth factors and peptides remained anchored to the scaffold even after the flesh was washed off. These chemicals likely signalled to the stem cells, indicating how many should migrate to which areas and what to change into in each zone. "Our mantra is to give nature the tools and get out of the way," she says.

Her team has implanted the reclothed hearts into the abdomens of rats, where they survived temporarily and were not rejected. The next step is to see if the transplants can replace an existing heart and keep the animal alive and healthy. To do this, Taylor says they will need to come up with ways to grow more muscle tissue on the hearts. "We've built the vasculature but we don't think we've built enough muscle to keep animals alive."

The next step is to see if the transplants can replace an existing heart and keep the rat alive and healthy

She is also gearing up to repeat the rat experiments with pig hearts and livers. This could be easier because pig organs are larger and easier to handle than tiny rat hearts. Decellularised livers could also appear in humans before hearts because it may not be necessary to recreate entire livers for them to be useful.

Others are also working on livers. Steven Badylak says he has unpublished "proof of concept" that liver recellularisation works in rats and mice. A team lead by Martin Yarmush at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston has manufactured recellularised rat grafts that provide liver function "in the lab and when transplanted", according to team member Korkut Uygun. But he stresses that the team's ultimate goal is to decellularise human, not animal, organs for transplantation.

Not everyone believes that turning decellularised tissue into a complex, functional organ is as simple as it sounds. "We're a long way from being able to make functional tissues and organs," says Alan Colman of the Singapore Stem Cell Consortium. "We'll be able to make structures that look like the organ, but with almost none of the correct functionality."

David Cooper of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pennsylvania, a leading developer of xenotransplants, says that "naked" pig hearts would still carry traces of alpha-Gal, which the human immune system recognises and will attack.

But Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London points out that many decellularised pig components have been used in people without the need for immunosuppressive drugs (see "Pig parts"). He says sufficiently rigorous sterilisation destroys these residues. Otherwise, says Mason, millions of people would already have had adverse reactions to the pig heart valves and tissues they've received.

Taylor says people who find the idea of pig parts unacceptable should consider their current uses in humans. "We're not ready for prime time yet, but we're moving in the right direction," she says.

Pig parts already commonplace

IMPLANTING organs made from the scaffold of a pig organ may sound off-putting and even dangerous, but millions of patients have already been treated with decellularised pig parts without being infected by stowaway pig viruses or suffering disastrous immunological reactions.

Pig heart valves are often used to replace faulty ones in people. In the past, patients who got such valves had to take immunosuppressive drugs. But this isn't necessary with newer pig valves, made by the company AutoTissue in Berlin, which have been thoroughly decellularised.

For years, companies have also been selling decellularised pig gut to produce patches that help the healing of diabetic ulcers, hernias and strained ligaments. Cook Biotech of West Lafayette, Indianapolis, sells patches made from pig sub-mucosal collagen membrane, which provides mechanical strength to the small intestine. "Since 1998, we've treated more than a million patients," says the company's Michael Hiles. Meanwhile, Tissue Regenix of Leeds, UK, is about to start testing tissue from pig heart membranes for patching up holes in arteries.

Chris Mason, professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, says the work of these companies bodes well for the idea of one day implanting much more complicated decellularised pig organs into people.

Available thumbnails

A "decellularised" pig's heart A pig's heart before the process of decellularisation (Image: courtesy of the University of Minnesota) A pig's heart undergoing decellularisation in the lab (Image: courtesy of the University of Minnesota) A re-celled rat's heart (Image: courtesy of the University of Minnesota) A rat heart undergoing decellularisation (top three images), and during recellularisation (bottom) (Image: courtesy of the University of Minnesota)

RARE ANIMAL PHOTOS: Giant Armadillo, Bush Dog, More

RARE ANIMAL PHOTOS: Giant Armadillo,  Bush Dog, More

June 8, 2009--A male jaguar focuses on a camera trap as the device snaps his photo on April 27, 2008, in Peru's Amazon rain forest.

The camera was one of 23 set up over 8.5 square miles (22 square kilometers) in a remote and unstudied region of the country's northeast as part of the Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project, run by the National Zoo's Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability in Washington, D.C.

The project is investigating how wildlife--particularly a small feline called an ocelot--is being impacted by oil exploration by the Madrid-based petroleum company Repsol Exploracisn Peru. (See a map of the region.)

So far, preliminary results suggest that ocelots and other big cats, including jaguars, have not been disrupted by exploration operations, said National Zoo research scientist Joe Kolowski.

The project, which is funded by the oil company, is also recording the area's rare and elusive forest creatures. Between April and September 2008, Kolowski and colleagues captured at least 28 different species of mammals and 18 species of birds on film. (See more camera-trap photos taken recently in Ecuador.)

Checking the camera every ten days was like "Christmas morning," Kolowski said. "There was a lot of anticipation and anxiety about what we would find  ."

This particular jaguar--identifiable by his spot pattern--was photographed nine times at four separate camera stations, a pattern of movement that is not unusual for the wide-ranging predators, he said.

--Christine Dell'Amore
—Photograph courtesy Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project
RARE ANIMAL PHOTOS: Giant Armadillo,  Bush Dog, More

A curious ocelot trails a nine-banded armadillo in an April 29, 2008, image captured by a camera trap in the remote reaches of northeastern Peru's Amazon rain forest.

The armadillo likely wasn't on the menu: Ocelots usually go after small rodents, birds, and reptiles--and the cat would probably have had a hard time getting through the armadillo's tough armor.

Camera-trap photographs of two animals interacting are rare, Kolowski said, "and give you some idea of what the animals are doing in the forest, which is always interesting."

—Photograph courtesy Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project
RARE ANIMAL PHOTOS: Giant Armadillo,  Bush Dog, More

A prized game bird, the Salvin's curassow (pictured above in an April 2008 camera-trap photo in northeastern Peru) is declining throughout the human-inhabited areas of its range, which also includes Colombia and eastern Ecuador.

But the turkey-size bird seems to be doing well in areas without hunting pressures, such as in the secluded region of the Amazon where this photograph was taken.

For the Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project, National Zoo researchers are using a new type of digital "trail" camera with sensors that register an animal's body heat and movement. The new digital cameras also store thousands of photos, so the scientists don't need to trek off-site to develop film.

—Photograph courtesy Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project
RARE ANIMAL PHOTOS: Giant Armadillo,  Bush Dog, More

The giant armadillo--snapped by a camera trap in northeastern Peru on June 8, 2008--can weigh up to 71 pounds (32 kilograms). The beasts use their enormous front claws to dig into termite and ant colonies.

Easily hunted for their meat, the gentle giants are now scarcely seen throughout most of South America.

Seeing photographs of such rain forest animals is important, because the images can help "people to realize what's out there in a place where they'll likely never be able to go and see for themselves," the National Zoo's Kolowski said.
—Photograph courtesy Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project
RARE ANIMAL PHOTOS: Giant Armadillo,  Bush Dog, More

The few studies done on the short-eared dog (photographed by a camera trap on May 4, 2008) have centered on its diet, which mostly consists of rodents and fruit.

Many people don't realize two species of wild dog roam the Amazon rain forest, the National Zoo's Kolowski said, so these photos show people "animals that they know nothing about and may not [have] even thought existed."
—Photograph courtesy Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project
RARE ANIMAL PHOTOS: Giant Armadillo,  Bush Dog, More

An image of two rarely seen bush dogs taken on April 14, 2008 is perhaps the "most exciting" of all the camera-trap photos recovered so far as part of the National Zoo's Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project, Kolowski said.

Almost nothing is known about this species, which is rarely seen even by indigenous people who live and hunt in the rain forest.

"It's fascinating how elusive these guys can be," Kolowski said, adding that it's unusual for a large dog species to go unstudied for so long.

What scientists do know is that the animals are social, Kolowski said. In both camera-trap photos that have been taken so far during the project, bush dogs appeared in pairs.
—Photograph courtesy Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project
RARE ANIMAL PHOTOS: Giant Armadillo,  Bush Dog, More

A collared peccary and her very young piglet get their photo taken as they pause for a rest in a remote area of northeastern Peru on August 18, 2008.

In addition to counting species and estimating population numbers, camera-trap photos provide scientists with unusual insights into animal behavior, such when different species reproduce.

For instance, scientists could estimate the age of the piglet in this photo and figure out when peccaries usually birth, Kolowski pointed out.

The zoo researcher hopes the Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project will allow "people to see the huge diversity of animals that live in the Amazon," as well as make the public aware of some of the threats, such as hunting and habitat loss, that exist for these rare creatures.
—Photograph courtesy Peruvian Amazon Biodiversity Project

'My Name Is Earl' might see new life on TBS

Cable network in talks to order 13 new episodes

By Nellie Andreeva


"My Name Is Earl" might live on.

TBS is in preliminary talks to order 13 new episodes of the single-camera comedy from 20th Century Fox TV, sources said.

The news comes a couple of weeks after NBC pulled the plug on the 4-year-old series starring Jason Lee in what became one of the highest-profile cancellations of the upfront season.

Ever since "Earl" was put on the bubble for renewal at NBC in the spring, rumors began circulating that the series, which has won five Emmys, might look for another home. Early speculation included 20th TV's sister network Fox, whose entertainment president Kevin Reilly launched "Earl" while at NBC, and ABC, which has been open to acquiring series that have aired on other networks.

"Earl" would make a good fit at TBS, which will run repeats of the offbeat comedy beginning in the fall as part of an off-network syndication deal with Twentieth TV inked in 2007.

Still, sources stressed that the conversations between 20th TV and TBS for new episodes are in the very early stages, and a deal is far from a lock as the sides have to figure out whether an expensive network single-camera series can be produced under a basic cable network's economic model.

Also, while still under a hold at 20th TV, "Earl's" cast has not been lined up for a lower-budget reincarnation.

A cable afterlife for canceled broadcast series often is considered, especially for shows with a devoted fan base, but the idea rarely pans out.

In 2005, Showtime flirted with the idea of picking up Fox's Emmy-winning single-camera comedy "Arrested Development" after it was canceled, but a deal couldn't be reached.

It is easier when the cable network is part of the corporate family.

In 2007, the NBC drama "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" moved to sister cable network USA, with the broadcast network getting a second window on the crime series. The show, which underwent budget trims, is produced by UMS, another NBC Universal entity.

'My Name Is Earl' might see new life on TBS

Cable network in talks to order 13 new episodes

By Nellie Andreeva

June 8, 2009, 07:09 PM ET

Updated: June 8, 2009, 09:36 PM ET

"My Name Is Earl" might live on.

TBS is in preliminary talks to order 13 new episodes of the single-camera comedy from 20th Century Fox TV, sources said.

The news comes a couple of weeks after NBC pulled the plug on the 4-year-old series starring Jason Lee in what became one of the highest-profile cancellations of the upfront season.

Ever since "Earl" was put on the bubble for renewal at NBC in the spring, rumors began circulating that the series, which has won five Emmys, might look for another home. Early speculation included 20th TV's sister network Fox, whose entertainment president Kevin Reilly launched "Earl" while at NBC, and ABC, which has been open to acquiring series that have aired on other networks.

"Earl" would make a good fit at TBS, which will run repeats of the offbeat comedy beginning in the fall as part of an off-network syndication deal with Twentieth TV inked in 2007.

Still, sources stressed that the conversations between 20th TV and TBS for new episodes are in the very early stages, and a deal is far from a lock as the sides have to figure out whether an expensive network single-camera series can be produced under a basic cable network's economic model.

Also, while still under a hold at 20th TV, "Earl's" cast has not been lined up for a lower-budget reincarnation.

A cable afterlife for canceled broadcast series often is considered, especially for shows with a devoted fan base, but the idea rarely pans out.

In 2005, Showtime flirted with the idea of picking up Fox's Emmy-winning single-camera comedy "Arrested Development" after it was canceled, but a deal couldn't be reached.

It is easier when the cable network is part of the corporate family.

In 2007, the NBC drama "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" moved to sister cable network USA, with the broadcast network getting a second window on the crime series. The show, which underwent budget trims, is produced by UMS, another NBC Universal entity.

Sell San Quentin prison? Inmates don't want to go

In this Wednesday, May 20, 2009 picture, inmate Ron Martin sits in his cell and AP – In this Wednesday, May 20, 2009 picture, inmate Ron Martin sits in his cell and watches television at …

SAN QUENTIN, Calif. – It's some of the most prized waterfront land in the country, a large piece of rich and beautiful property sitting right on San Francisco Bay, and the owner has proposed selling it to raise needed cash. But many of the current residents don't want to leave, and uprooting them would be costly.

The property in question is San Quentin State Prison, a maximum-security penitentiary where some of the state's toughest inmates have access to a variety of programs such as tennis and drama, thanks to the many prison volunteers who live in the Bay Area.

"Some places you go for punishment," said inmate John Taylor, a catcher for the prison baseball team, the San Quentin Giants. "Here, it's more rehabilitation. I just don't know why the governor would want to shut us down."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed selling the 432-acre prison and several other state-owned properties and using the proceeds to help ease the state's $24.3 billion budget deficit.

It is widely assumed that any buyer would be interested primarily in the land. Developers might tear down all or some of the prison to make way for condos or other projects.

Taylor, who is 35 and serving up to life for murder, had done nearly 10 years in three other state prisons before he asked for a transfer to San Quentin two years ago.

The prison is a collection of buildings constructed during the Gold Rush, including some with fanciful, fortress-like touches such as the crenellations normally seen on medieval castles. There are also more modern, square buildings.

Taylor's duties include fighting weeds in the courtyard.

"This is the first place visitors see when they come in," he said. "We want it to look good."

Prison volunteers come from around the Bay Area and include professional artists, graduate students and professors at nearby universities, including the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco State University. Others are retirees. Most are experienced teachers in their field.

San Quentin currently has 5,300 inmates and holds California's death row, a unit that has expanded beyond 600 occupants since a federal judge deemed the cramped gas chamber unacceptable and halted all executions.

The state recently spent more than $164 million on new medical facilities at the prison and has budgeted $356 million for a new complex to house condemned inmates.

The land San Quentin occupies — only a 10-minute drive from the Golden Gate bridge — could fetch an estimated $2 billion even in a down economy. The state could net $1 billion after construction of a new prison elsewhere.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has started an analysis of what it would take to sell the property, said spokesman Seth Unger.

Previous legislative efforts to close the prison and sell its land have all stalled, largely because doing so would lead to more prison overcrowding while a new facility was being built. The politically powerful prison guard union has also lobbied against the idea.

Jared Huffman, a state Assembly Democrat from San Rafael, the city closest to the prison, has proposed converting the 40- to 50-acre parcel reserved for the new death row into a "transit village" with a deep water ferry terminal.

"This is a simple plan for San Quentin that's very doable for that part of the property," Huffman said.

But inside the walls of San Quentin, talk of a sale is seen as a threat to the prison programming that depends on volunteers.

The programs include a Shakespearean drama program, football, baseball, basketball, soccer and tennis teams, and the Prison University Project, which offers inmates classroom instruction that leads to associate's degrees.

Should San Quentin close, the university project would certainly shut down.

"We would probably try to reconstitute it at another prison, but it would take a long time," said Jody Lewen, the program's founder and executive director.

San Quentin is no summer camp. Inmates live two to a 4-by-9-foot cell.

The intake center, with 2,700 inmates, has spilled over into a gym, where 300 inmates await their assignments to other prisons. And there are prison gangs, too.

Still, during one recent visit, the tennis team was practicing. And inmates with clear natural talent worked in a studio on art projects commissioned by the prison.

"The prison is unique," said Vinny Nguyen, 31, who is serving 25 years to life for murder. "We're surrounded by a lot of universities, and we get a lot of help and contact from the outside. It makes us want to be positive. That would all be destroyed along with San Quentin."

Apple plans to ship Snow Leopard in Sept. for $29; execs tout new laptops

New OS will beat Microsoft's Windows 7 to market
Gregg Keizer

June 8, 2009 (Computerworld) Apple today announced that it will launch its next operating system, dubbed Snow Leopard, in September, and charge just $29 for the upgrade.

A Family Pack, which includes five licenses to the new OS, will cost $49.

If Apple makes its September ship date, it will beat rival Microsoft to market. Last week, Microsoft announced that it would have Windows 7 on sale Oct. 22. Microsoft has not yet revealed prices for Windows 7, but recent analysis by Computerworld noted that if the company cuts prices by the same percentages it did for Vista more than a year ago, some editions of Windows 7 could run about $100.

That made the price for Leopard stand out even more. "Leopard was $129 but we want all Leopard users to upgrade to Snow Leopard, so we're pricing it at $29," said Craig Federighi, the vice president of Mac OS engineering, during the WWDC keynote presentation Monday.

Snow Leopard, also known as Mac OS X 10.6, was introduced a year ago at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the same locale for today's announcement. In 2008, Apple touted Snow Leopard as a performance and stability update that would "take a break" from major new features.

The company continued that line today. "We love Leopard, we're so proud of it [that] we decided to build upon Leopard," said Bertrand Serlet, senior vice president of software engineering. "We want to build a better Leopard, hence Snow Leopard."

Even so, Serlet bragged that company engineers refined more than 90% of Leopard's core code to create Snow Leopard, rewrote the Finder and added new features such as Expose integration with the Dock.

He touted Snow Leopard's improved performance, as well as faster speeds in some of the Apple-provide applications, such as Mail. Snow Leopard also adds in-box support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, and synchronization support to Mail, Calendar and Address Book on the Mac from Exchange.

As expected, Snow Leopard requires an Intel-based Mac, the first time that Apple has crafted an operating system that drops support for the older PowerPC-based Macs.

Apple also launched an upgrade program for people who buy new Macs between today and Dec. 26, 2009. Dubbed "Mac OS X Snow Leopard Up-To-Date," the program provides customers who bought a qualifying Leopard-powered Mac with a copy of Snow Leopard for a shipping and handling fee of $9.95.

On the hardware front, Apple unveiled an updated 15-in. MacBook Pro. The new laptop, which starts at $1,699 and can be configured up to a 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, has an integrated battery that Apple said will last seven hours.

The $1,699 model has a 2.53GHz chip; the pricier one, at $2,299, uses a 2.8GHz processor. Both models are $200 less than their predecessors.

And in something of a surprise, Apple also made numerous changes to its other laptops, moving the unibody aluminum MacBooks into the MacBook Pro line, leaving just the white Polycarbonate MacBook to soldier on under the old moniker.

The new 13.3-in. MacBook Pros start at $1,199 and also get an integrated battery that can last up to seven hours, a new display and an SD card slot. (The latest 15-in. MacBook Pro sports the same new slot.)

The now-renamed 13-in. MacBook Pro also gets a backlit keyboard across both models and Firewire 800. The entry-level model sports a 2.26GHz Core 2 Duo.

Apple also dropped the prices on its ultra-thin MacBook Air, reducing the price of the 1.8Ghz model to $1,499 and offering it with a solid-state drive for $1,799, $700 less than before.

Officials were expected to wrap up today's keynote with information about iPhone OS 3.0 and new iPhone hardware.

In other software announcements, Apple said that it had wrapped up work on Safari 4 and was launching the final version today for both Mac and Windows.

Computerworld's Ken Mingis contributed to this report.

World's Smallest Microwave Is USB Powered

Submitted by LiveScience Staff


The Beanzawave is said to be the world's smallest microwave.

The microwave oven was invented during WWII when Percy Spenser was conducting radar experiments and leaned up against a microwave-emitting tube and accidentally melted the candy bar in his pocket. Here's how they work.

The Beanzawave is special: It is powered by a laptop computer's USB port. So now you don't have to leave your computer even for a cup of coffee or a delicious bowl of piping hot Top Ramen.

View Web Link Read full story at The Daily Mail

iPhone 3GS Complete Feature Guide

As expected, the new Apple iPhone 3GS is out. We were right: The photos of the new iPhone were real. Here you have a comprehensive guide to the iPhone 3GS' new features:

Speed
The "S" stands for "SPEED!" And according to Apple, it is faster launching applications or rendering Web pages.

• The iPhone 3GS has a new processor built-in. Apple claims that it is up to two times faster than the previous generation: Launching messages is 2.1 faster, load the NY Times in Safari: 2.9 times faster. It also consumes less, which has an impact on the improved battery life.

Camera
This is one of the strong points of the iPhone 3GS, according to Apple. They increased the resolution to 3 megapixels, which—judging from the shots they showed-seems much better quality under all conditions.

• 3 Megapixels sensor.
• New camera, with auto focus, auto exposure, and auto white balance.
• You can also tap to focus, changing white balance in the process. That is really neat, if you ask me.
• Special macro and low light modes.
• The camera also supports photo and video geotagging.
• Any application can access all the camera functions now.


• It supports video, 30 frames per second VGA with auto focus, auto white balance, and auto exposure.
• You can trim the video shot just using your finger, then share it via MMS, email, MobileMe and YouTube.

Connectivity
The other part of the "S" is the support for the faster 7.2 Mbps 3G standard, which in theory will deliver data faster to your iPhone.

• Three band UMTS/HSDPA.
• Four band GSM/EDGE.
• Wi-Fi 802.11b/g.
• Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

Graphics
• The new iPhone 3GS includes new 3D graphics support in hardware. This means faster and more complicated 3D games.
• Same 3.5-inch widescreen multitouch display, but this time it has a fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating. I wonder if it will withstand a full frontal Shake Shack burger attack.

Design

• Same design as before, including the glossy finish of the back (so much for all the rumors about the matte back.)
• Same size as the old iPhone 3G: 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.48 inches.
• The weight increases a bit: One ounce to 4.8 ounces (135 grams vs 133 grams).
• Greener materials: Arsenic-free glass, BDF-free, Mercury-free LCD.

New special features
• It has a magnetometer, which works with a Compass application, third parties, and it is integrated into the new Google maps app, showing your orientation with a small semitransparent cone.
Voice control. You can now talk with your iPhone, Enterprise-style. You can instruct it to play similar songs to the one you are playing, or call people.
• Nike + support built in.
• Supports accessibility features, like zooming on text, inverting video, and voice over when you touch whatever text is on screen.

Battery life
• One of the more important new features is the increased battery life.
• According to Apple, you will get up to 12 hours of talk time on 2G and 5 on 3G, with a up to 300 hour standby time.
• On 3G, it will deliver 5 hours of internet use.
• On Wi-Fi, Internet goes up to 9 hours.
• Video playback is 10 hours vs 30 hours for audio.


Price and availability
• $199 for 16GB version.
• $299 for 32GB version.
• Available on June 19th.

If you are "a valued AT&T customer," AT&T offers an "early iPhone upgrade with a new 2-yr commitment and an $18 upgrade fee." The price? $399.00 for the 16GB iPhone 3G S and $499.00 for the 32GB iPhone 3G S. It gets worse: For non-qualified customers, including existing AT&T customers who want to upgrade from another phone or replace an iPhone 3G, the price with a new two-year agreement is $499 (8GB), $599 (16GB), or $699 (32GB).

Insane. Way to go AT&T.

Derinkuyu: lost city found



Derinkuyu is situated on Nevsehir-Nigde roadway at 30 km in south region of Nevsehir. The history of the district of Derinkuyu named as Melagobia (Malakopi) which was meaning in the period of Eti the hard living is very old. In the district there are many underground cities and churches. As all of the underground cities from region of Cappadoccia it was the first place where the Christians have hidden. It has been used as hiding and refuge place at the time of wars occurred in the zone in the different periods of the history. The Derinkuyu Underground City with seven floors and depth of 85 mt has the dimensions of a city able to shelter thousands of persons. Inside there are found food stores, kitchens, stalls, churches, wine production places, ventilation chimneys, water wells and a missionary school.
Pretty amazing stuff!

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