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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Many injured in German motorway crash

More than 60 people were injured in a motorway crash involving 259 cars in Germany. The accident happened on the A2 autobahn between Hanover and Peine.

German motorway police said 10 people suffered life-threatening injuries and 21 others were seriously injured in a series of accidents believed to have been caused by a combination of excessive speed and heavy rain.

ROTTEN TOMATOES: Growing Pains: When Child Stars Become Adults

ROTTEN TOMATOES: Growing Pains: When Child Stars Become Adults

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Beastie Boys' MCA Tells Fans He Has Cancer via Youtube Adam Yauch, a.k.a. MCA, announced that he has throat cancer in a YouTube email to fans today. The band is cancelling some of their upcoming shows, but fortunately, the impending surgery and radiation are not expected to affect his voice. Speedy recovery, sir.

Black Eyed Peas Have Officially Written The Worst Song Ever

OffiSync Provides Google Syncing and Searches Inside Office

Windows: Free Office 2003 & 2007 plug-in OffiSync lets desktop users open documents from, and save to, Google Docs' online servers, but that's nothing amazingly new. A newer Google Search option does, however, integrate powerful image and web searches.

That means that, rather than relying on Microsoft's Clip Art repository, or switching away from Office to search for a usable picture, you can hit the Google Search button on your Office toolbar. Hit that button, click the drop-down box to choose the license you want or need, set parameters for sizes and faces, and then find, click, and quickly insert that picture into your document or presentation. That feature, and OffiSync's basic functionality, are pretty well explained in the video introduction below.

OffiSync is a free download for Windows systems with Microsoft Office 2003 or 2007 installed. What's your favorite Office/web syncing solution? Tell us in the comments.

Never-before-seen photo shows Neil Armstrong's face as he first walks across the moon

By Daily Mail Reporter

An amazing new photograph showing Neil Armstrong's face through his space suit visor has come to light on the 40th anniversary of the first manned Moon landing.

The image was shot by the movie camera mounted on the lunar lander famously called 'Eagle', but the frame lasts for only a fleeting moment.

It shows Armstrong's face in clear view as he walks across the lunar surface.

new still image that shows Neil Armstrong's face for the first time as he walks on the moon

Face first: Neil Armstrong has been presented with a copy of the picture

He was the first man to walk on the moon, taking that one giant leap for mankind - yet most of the famous shots are of his fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin, as it was Armstrong who manned the stills camera.

Spacecraft Films, an Ohio-based specialist in historical space footage, has transferred the footage into high definition format and captured the split-second scene as a still image, now released for the first time in a new book, Voices from the Moon, by author Andrew Chaikin.

'This is the first time that the public are seeing it,' said Chaikin, revealing that even Armstrong - despite his modest ways - was quietly impressed to receive one of the new prints of himself as a souvenir.

'All the iconic pictures from the moon are of Buzz...there really hasn't been one of Neil. I gave him a copy and he seemed pleased to have it.'

The moment was captured as Armstrong gathered samples of moon rocks during his 21-hour visit to the lunar surface exactly 40 years ago, on July 20, 1969. They spacemen only spent two and a half hours outside their spacecraft.

'Armstrong raised his outer visor, the gold reflective visor that normally obscures an astronaut's face,' explained Mr Chaikin.

'Right after he collects the sample, he turns towards the lunar module and it's at that time that time, as he's standing there, that we can see his face inside the helmet.'

Astronaut Edwin

Iconic: Photographs taken by Armstrong of fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin

Astronaut Edwin

Chaikin first spotted the momentary image while browsing film footage at Nasa's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, in 1986, during research for his first book, A Man on the Moon.

'I made a mental note of it as being something extremely cool, a really rare glimpse,' he said.

(L-R) Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edward

Legends: (L-R) Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edward "Buzz Aldrin

'Now all these years later, for the first time, we have a high definition version as a still image and the world can see the face of the first man walking on the moon.'

As America marks the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing today, Armstrong, Aldrin and third Apollo 11 crewmate Michael Collins will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House to be honoured for their pioneering mission.

It is likely that it could be the last ever reunion of the ageing space heroes, who were all born in 1930 and last met up in 2004 for the 35th anniversary.

Anniversary festivities and ceremonies will be held at Nasa centres and other venues throughout this week, with Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins also due to deliver a joint address on human spaceflight at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington tonight.

While Aldrin and Collins are expected to advocate sending astronauts on a two-year, 500,000-mile round-trip to Mars, Armstrong, 79, is known to favour the idea of establishing a lunar base first.

McCartney Makes History at Citi Field With Billy Joel, Beatles Hits

Photo: Bill Bernstein/MPL Communications Ltd/Getty

Forty-four years after the Beatles‘ legendary show at Shea Stadium, Paul McCartney returned to Flushing Meadows, Queens, last night to perform the first concert at Citi Field, Shea’s replacement. The sold-out crowd was clearly nostalgic for the Beatles’ heyday, but not as much as McCartney himself. “These occasions are so cool,” he said early on in the show, as he walked to the front of the stage to absorb the crowd’s adoration. “I’m just going to take a sec to soak it all in.”

During the first encore McCartney spoke about his most recent appearance in the area, guesting with Billy Joel during his Last Play At Shea concert. “That gentleman is with us tonight,” he said as Joel ran onstage, sending the audience into hysterics. He played piano and sang a rollicking duet with Macca on “I Saw Her Standing There.” Joel, currently on tour with Elton John, looked extremely sunburned, but clearly relished the opportunity to play again with his hero again.

For the rest of the show McCartney stuck to his tried and true concert formula: a smattering of new songs in the beginning, a handful of Wings hits and a fuckload of Beatles classics. Each time he’s toured recently he’s revived a couple Fab Four songs that haven’t been played since their original recording. This time around he dug out “Day Tripper,” and “A Day In The Life.” “Day Tripper” was scorching and clearly should have been unearthed years ago, while “A Day In The Life” was surprisingly effective and emotional considering that the original was a product of so much studio magic. At the end of the Wings cut “Let Me Roll It” the band played a snippet of “Foxy Lady,” followed by a story about McCartney seeing Jimi Hendrix cover a track from Sgt. Pepper in London days after it came out.

The middle section was heavy on material from McCartney’s recent Fireman album, and obscurities like “Flaming Pie” and “Here Today.” It also began raining, and one could feel the energy being sucked out of the stadium as masses of people begin sitting down to huddle under umbrellas and makeshift hats. When McCartney sat down at the piano for “Live And Let Die,” however, the rain stopped and the booming pyrotechnics instantly brought the crowd into the game. From here it was one Beatles song after another: “Lady Madonna,” “Yesterday,” “Get Back,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and the inevitable crowd sing-along on “Hey Jude.” Best of all was “Helter Skelter,” which managed to nearly sound as hard and menacing as the original.

The Beatles’ 1965 and 1966 Shea Stadiums gigs were certainly landmark cultural moments, but as musical events they were quite lousy. The sound was run through the stadium’s public address system, rendering it all but inaudible — regardless of the fact that the girls spent the entire time screaming at the top of their lungs. They only did a dozen songs during a barely 30-minute set. Last night, McCartney played for nearly three hours, in a voice that sounds remarkably unaffected by the passage of time. The only song played at both the 1965 and 2009 shows was “I’m Down.” While nothing could beat this version (watch John Lennon play the keyboards with his elbows), the 2009 rendition was light years better than you’d expect from a man three years short of his 70th birthday.

Update: Pot-growing 'Potter' actor gets community service

British actor, Jamie Waylett, 19, who plays Vincent Crabbe in the Harry Potter
AP – British actor, Jamie Waylett, 19, who plays Vincent Crabbe in the Harry Potter films, leaves the City …

LONDON – A judge has sentenced a cast member of the "Harry Potter" films to 120 hours of community service for growing marijuana.

Twenty-year-old Jamie Waylett, who plays school bully Vincent Crabbe in the magical movie franchise, pleaded guilty to producing the drug at a court hearing last week.

Prosecutors say police found 10 marijuana plants growing in a bedroom at Waylett's mother's London house.

Producing cannabis carries a maximum 14-year sentence. Judge Timothy Workman said Tuesday that he accepted the cultivation was on a small scale and for Waylett's own use.

He said the actor had been, "until now, a man of good character."

The Rebuilding of Hobbiton Has Begun!


July 18, 2009 reports that rebuilding of Hobbiton has begun for the filming of The Hobbit and its sequel. The first film is scheduled for a December 2011 release, followed by the second film in December of 2012. The site says:

The re-building of Hobbiton has begun, with the planting of hedgerows and fruit trees. An extension to the path that passes in front of Bag End has been marked out also. There will be several new Hobbit holes dotted along its length.

Click the pic below for three more photos!

The 10 Geekiest Pieces of Furniture in the Universe

article image

So you're a huge geek and have some cash to spend. You're not going to settle for some memorabilia to hang on your walls and some costumes to wear to ComicCon. No, you're going to trick out your whole freaking house with some awesome geek-themed furniture.

Unfortunately, in the world of geek obsessions, practicality and style are often mutually exclusive. You'll have to decide which you want when shopping for a...

Frozen Han Solo Desk

As a reminder of the coolest scene in the coolest Star Wars movie, the Han-Solo-Frozen-In-Carbonite desk is straight up awesome. Having this beauty in your office would leave even the most tangentially geeky person in awe of your furniture owning prowess. How could anyone say no to a person sitting across from them at this table? One look down at Han's frozen scream and they'd do whatever you want.

The Downside:

But then the thrill of owning Han encased in carbonite dies down a little and you actually have to sit down at your desk and start filling out those TPS reports again. Just try to concentrate while Harrison Ford's ghostly visage, twisted in rage and fear, stares permanently up past your keyboard.

Now imagine trying to eat a quick office takeout dinner on this thing, with Han Solo's gaping maw silently demanding a bite of each nacho you lift off your plate. And then there are those extended fingers, that your imagination will surely see wiggling desperately out of the corner of your eye.

Also, there are no drawers so that seems really inconvenient.

Captain Kirk's Chair

Ah, now this is better. Having a Captain Kirk chair makes even the most mundane of tasks an action-filled adventure in the 23rd century! Whether you're ordering pizza, changing channels or just masturbating gloomily, you'll feel like Captain Kirk ordering pizza, changing channels and masturbating gloomily and have all the confidence of a man who humped his way across the galaxy.

The Downside:

At some point in this setup, the Starship Enterprise stops and your sad little apartment begins. And while that chair looks awesome in the middle of a space-age bridge and blinking computers, sandwich it between the charcoal grill up there and your cat's litter box, and you have a recipe for instant clinical depression.

And the garbage men just will not take it.

Honestly, we're not sure if the full-on Starfleet uniform hurts or helps that cause. Sitting in this in your old "Federal Breast Inspector" t-shirt and a pair of Bud Light sweats would seem to dishonor the proud tradition that chair represents, but dressing up like an aging William Shatner just makes it look like your own schizophrenic delusion has come to life. It's kind of a no-win situation.

H.R. Giger Coffee Table and Chairs

H.R. Giger's aesthetic is unmistakable, his black leather dong-inspired creature from Alien is one of the most original and terrifying monsters ever to later be ruined in a retarded crossover movie.

Giger, for some reason, then felt the need to branch into home decor. For instance we have these high-backed chairs, made for the film Dune, which would be perfect for some living room activities like passively observing an orgy while petting your white Persian cat and wearing your blue alien Sting speedo.

Meanwhile, this coffee table, also inspired by Giger's work, would definitely be awesome for scaring the shit out of your dog.

The Downside:

No matter how awesome your geek cred is, at some point you're going to wind up hosting your grand parents, or in-laws. You'll create many an awkward moment as Aunt Maria comments on how lovely the funeral service was as she sits daintily in a chair seemingly crafted entirely out of Xenomorph spines.

You'll come to regret your coffee table purchase when you stumble home drunk in the middle of the night and trip on it; the teeth of its alien jaws tearing open your scrotum.

Periodic "Table"

Do you know what's awesome about chemistry? Fucking everything, that's what. Argon? Lead? Molybdenum? Hells yeah, bitches. Back in the day being a geek wasn't just about video games and a shrine to Megan Fox, you also had to be the kid with thick rimmed glasses who carried a pocket protector and actually knew what the fuck calculus was good for.

Now that everything nerdy is ultra cool, it's time to embrace that genius heritage with the Periodic Coffee Table, which has a sample of all 88 naturally occurring elements embedded in a replication of the Periodic Table. Why put your feet up on some pressboard IKEA hunk of junk when you could be resting your dogs on sleek, sexy cadmium? They even found a way to include the toxic ones!

The Downside:

At $8,550, it ain't cheap, but keeping it real never is. And while the table is a guaranteed conversation starter, each element comes in its own individual cube, meaning if you ever throw a party, you're going to wake up the next day with a table containing only shit elements like calcium and fucking xenon gas with a busted thorium cube leaking small amounts of radiation. Meanwhile some jackass is trying to pawn the chunks of gold, silver and platinum you like to rest your coffee on.

Dragon End Table

It's Friday night and you're wrapping up another rousing session of D&D. The goblins have been slain, the maidens have been won. Good job, Dungeon Master. Kick back, and set your fine drink upon a glass tray held obediently by your stone "Subservient Dragon."

If you're not into D&D, it also works great for displaying your Harry Potter books or He-Man action figures.

The Downside:

Once more, what's awesome on its own becomes sad in context. The misleading photo up there portrays our noble dragon table in a palatial room serving goblets of gold. That sucker takes on a whole new light when it's offering a 32-ounce Mountain Dew from Taco Bell in a Transformers 2 cup, next to a wrinkled bag containing bits of Cheetos dust.

Rubik's Cube Coffee Table

Rubik's Cubes were once a huge part of our culture, and back in the 80s everyone had one. The fact that most people "solved" it by breaking it apart or rearranging the stickers didn't matter.

But for some puzzle geeks, the Rubik's Cube remained the exemplar of cool. In a masterstroke of unnecessary and inexplicable inspiration, someone gambled that those people might need a table to keep coffee on, or to toss out some copies of Wired magazine when friends were coming over. And thus, the Rubik's Cube Coffee Table was born.

The Downside:

We know what you're thinking. Get a bunch of friends together to try to solve this huge bastard, and you'll have a great time.

Sorry to spoil your fun, but retailing for $600, this table combines all of the function of a table with none of the fun of the Rubik's Cube, since it doesn't actually work. So really it functions as a table in much the same way any object of a similar size would, including the box the table comes in.

The Scrabble Couch

For anyone with even a smattering of nerd genes somewhere inside them, Scrabble was the awesomest of board games for one simple reason: it made you look smart. Sure, if you walk around all day spelling difficult words at people, you'll eventually get shot. But do it in the context of a Scrabble game, and suddenly you're the life of the party.

So it only makes sense to give us the game in furniture form!

The Downside:

"Does anyone have enough letters to spell 'this party blows?'"

Oh, wait. No. That actually doesn't make sense at all. What do you do, have each player sit on the floor behind their sofa with a stack of letter pillows? The novelty of that will wear off about three seconds before you finish suggesting it to your party guests.

And what do you do between games? Shaped like the game's tile holders and probably made of the same wood, comfort couldn't have been high on the list of requirements during the design stage. Sure, it looks kind of cool and you could spend hours spelling out dirty words to make yourself laugh in those lonely wee hours of the morning. But who would want to sit on it? Its sharp edges and unforgiving angles look like something from the lab of an evil genius chiropractor.

The Star Wars Home Theater

For some folks, it takes a little more than one piece of furniture to geekify their domains. They'll turn a whole room into a shrine to some piece of pop culture. Like these wealthy nerds who decided to trick out their home theater to look like the control deck of the Death Star.

For an extra dash of coolness they added a life-size model of badass bounty hunter, Boba Fett, and a life-size model of closet case, C3PO. Throw in a massive flatscreen and a few wicked chairs, and you have the ultimate place to watch Star Wars. Having any kind of home theater is pretty awesome, but a Star Wars home theater is double deep-fried awesome with extra awesome dipping sauce. What we're saying is it's awesome.

The Downside:

It's pretty much only good for watching Star Wars. It might get a little weird having Boba Fett see you cry when Macaulay Culkin dies at the end of My Girl. And forget about porn. Can you imagine rubbing one out under the never-ending robot gaze of Threepio? His cold, robotic stare, observing you. Judging you.

The Star Trek Apartment

Not enough to just deck out one room? Well, you and Tony Alleyne of England will have a lot to talk about. A big fan of Star Trek: Voyager, he completely stripped his apartment and refitted it to look like the starship.

The Downside:

We like Seven of Nine's futuristic boobies too, and arguably there's something cool about living in an immersive world in which it seems like they're only a warp core breach away, but come on. We're talking about freaking Voyager here. While late at night after binge drinking Yoo-Hoo and schnapps it might seem like an awesome idea to model your entire home after Star Trek, but dressing it up as the second worst Star Trek series ever? Not Star Trek, not The Next Generation or even Deep Space Nine, but fucking Voyager?

This is right above the toilet.

And in the harsh light of day, the fantasy falls apart a bit. For instance, there is no longer the harsh light of day. Lacking windows as the dank starship Voyager did, Alleyne's home, the one that forced his wife to leave him, is a shut-in's dream cave making its owner a little more Gollum-like with each passing day.

The Star Trek Coffin and Urn

Any claims adjuster with glasses can live the nerd life, but it takes a special kind of geek to die a nerd death. If for some reason you want to be picked on in the afterlife as much as you were here, why not go to Valhalla in style?

The folks at Eternal Image have created two ways for you to spend your eternity safe in the knowledge that you probably were more disturbing to Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner than millions of other ravenous, reality-challenged fans could ever dream of being. The Star Trek coffin and urn can help you carry your love of sci-fi with you as you boldly go to the undiscovered country six-feet under.

The Downside:

On the one hand, it beats the shit out of the standard dollar store urn or pine box most of us will find ourselves in. But really, the funeral isn't for you. You'll be dead.

No, the funeral service is for all your friends and family to get together and celebrate the fact that you could have been a much worse person if you had really tried. But with these, you'll be reminding them that your entire days spent on this mortal coil were devoted to the show that gave us Tribbles and Ricardo Montalban's prosthetic chest.

Near Washington, D.C., construction crews watch for mystery 'black' wire

A Metrorail extension risks hitting communications lines, including some used for top-secret government intelligence operations.

Reporting from Washington — This part happens all the time: A construction crew putting up an office building in the heart of congested Tysons Corner in McLean, Va., hit a fiber-optic cable no one knew was there.

This part doesn't: Within moments, three black SUVs drove up, half a dozen men in suits jumped out, and one said, "You just hit our line."

Whose line, you may ask? The guys in suits didn't say, recalled Aaron Georgelas, whose company, the Georgelas Group, was developing the Greensboro Corporate Center. Georgelas assumed that he was dealing with the federal government and that the cable in question was "black" wire -- a secure communications line used for some of the nation's most secretive intelligence-gathering operations.

"The construction manager was shocked," Georgelas recalled about the incident in 2000. "He had never seen a line get cut and people show up within seconds. Usually you've got to figure out whose line it is. To garner that kind of response that quickly was amazing."

Black wire is one of the risks of the construction that has come to Tysons, where miles and miles of secure lines are thought to serve such nearby agencies as the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center and, a few miles away, the CIA. With work underway on a Metrorail extension, crews are stirring up tons of dirt where the black lines are located.

"Yeah, we heard about the black SUVs," said Paul Goguen, the engineer in charge of relocating electric, gas, water, sewer, cable, telephone and other communications lines to make way for Metro.

"We were warned that if they were hit, the company responsible would show up before you even had a chance to make a phone call."

So far, so good, Goguen added. But the peril remains for a project that will spend $150 million moving more than 75 miles of conduit along a three-mile stretch.

The Tysons corridor is also home to part of MAE-East, one of the nation's primary Internet pipelines installed years ago by the government and private companies. Most major telecommunications carriers link to the pipeline, meaning there's a jumble of fiber-optic wire under the new rail route.

Moving utilities quickly and cheaply is a big part of any construction work. But the $5.2-billion rail project, which will extend service to Dulles International Airport, is particularly complex.

Construction crews have been digging for more than a year to shift the wires of more than 21 private utilities out of the path of the rail line -- and they have another year to go.

And they have snapped, accidentally, dozens of those carriers' lines, because even not-so-secret commercial lines sometimes don't show up on utility maps. Goguen, the utility manager, estimates that the rail project has already hit three dozen lines.

Such issues are likely to resurface this summer, when tunnel construction is scheduled to begin. Above the tunnel's path is a giant microwave communications tower operated by the U.S. Army. And if you want to know what the 280-foot tower is for, too bad. "The specific uses of the system to which this particular antenna is attached" are classified, Army spokesman Dave Foster said.

Other government agencies near Tysons also had little to say. A CIA spokeswoman would not comment. And Mike Birmingham, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, would say only that if a communications line used by the agency was cut, the nation's intelligence-gathering would carry on uninterrupted.

"No particular project puts us at risk -- highway construction, building construction," Birmingham said. "We don't have a single point of failure. Our systems are redundant."

Georgelas, the developer whose company was overseeing the work when the Chevy Suburbans drove up, said he figured the government was involved when an AT&T crew arrived the same day to fix the line, rather than waiting days. His opinion didn't change when AT&T tried to bill his company for the work -- and immediately backed down when his company balked.

"These lines are not cheap to move," Georgelas said. "They said, 'You owe us $300,000.' We said, 'Are you nuts?' "

The charges just disappeared.

Gardner writes for the Washington Post.

Straight Bum Genius!!

British teenager Mike Perham aims for round-the-world sailing record

Mike Perham, a 17-year-old British "yachtboy", sets sail for the record books on Monday on the final leg of an epic round-the-world voyage.

Teenage round-the-world yachtsman Mike Perham sets his sights on home
The hairiest moment for Mike came as his Open 50 racing yacht was battered by storms in the southern Indian Ocean Photo: DPPI

After surviving ferocious storms, 60 ft waves and emergency underwater repairs, the teenager from Potters Bar is on course to become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe solo. He must first clear the Panama Canal and then sail through the Caribbean and home across the Atlantic.

"I'm very chuffed that the next time I step on land, I'll be home," Mike told The Sunday Telegraph as he completed repairs to his rigging before heading into the Canal. While he was awaiting the delivery of a new part in Panama, an American teenager temporarily claimed the record as the youngest single-handed circumnavigator. Zac Sunderland steered his sailboat back into his home port of Marina del Rey, California, on Thursday, aged 17 years, seven months and 17 days.

But Mike is more than three months younger than his fellow "yachtboy".

And as he expects to complete the last 5,000 miles of his 30,000 mile journey in 25 days, he will then take the crown of youngest round-the-world solo sailor in mid-August.

The two youngsters met in Cape Town as they crossed the globe in different directions and Mike insists they are not rivals. "Was it Zac vs Mike?" he wrote in a blog congratulating his peer. "No. It's two teenagers going out there, living their dream and having the adventure of a lifetime. Once again, well done Zac!" Zac struck a similarly positive note about "teen power" on his return.

"After more than a year alone at sea, I'm struck by how much people my age can actually achieve, if only they have the passion and ability to think beyond what society tells them is possible," he said.

The hairiest moment for Mike, who has learned to get by on 40-muinute catnaps, came as his Open 50 racing yacht was battered by storms in the southern Indian Ocean. One towering wave would crash at the stern as the next one was hitting the bow of, named after his main sponsor, a company that provides online financial comparisons.

"We we were picked up by what felt like a 60-ft wave and planted down on our side at 90 degrees," he said.

"I was inside the cabin, wedged in behind the table but at one point I had my feet jammed on the ceiling and it felt like we were going right over. Stuff was flying around and I just thought 'Oh crikey'."

That encounter with Mother Nature, shortly after Mike turned 17 in March, forced him to make another unscheduled stop for repairs in Tasmania. His original plan to sail non-stop around the world was scuppered by an early stop to replace his autopilot and what was supposed to be a four-and-half month trip has since stretched to about double that.

At other times, he had to fix problems himself mid-ocean, most dramatically taking a dive into the Pacific to keep his record bid on course when ropes tangled in the rudder. He donned a harness, tied himself securely to the boat, jumped into the water and went to work with a knife in 30-second dives underneath the craft to cut the rope away.

The operation lasted 40 nerve-wracking minutes. "Sure it was a pain to have to jump in and untangle the mess, but it was great to go for a swim," he noted in typically level-headed fashion. "I didn't expect to be doing that in the middle of the Pacific."

The dramas have been accompanied by amazing experiences. He has been followed by dolphins, albatrosses and sea turtles, watched the sky and sea turn a glorious pink as the sun set, sailed under heavens packed with shining stars and even seen a night-time rainbow lit up a by the moon.

His most memorable encounter with wildlife came just off Cape Town.

"This massive whale tail appeared right next to the boat and I thought 'Oh crikey'." It has indeed been a journey packed with 'crikey' moments, including dodging hulking tankers during a lightning storm on the way into Panama.

At sea, he eats freeze-dried and canned meals, complemented with chocolate bars, and uses a de-salinating machine to make drinking water and squash drinks. "I've really missed my friends and family," he added.

"That is the single hardest part of sailing."

He talks to his support team in Britain - his parents Peter and Heather and a weather expert - by satellite phone and email twice a day, but as a solo sailor, he says he is too busy to get bored. His course work at a college in St Albans has also taken a hit. "I've fallen behind but I'll catch up," he insisted.

Despite his landlocked Home Counties roots, he picked up the sailing bug when his father, a quantity surveyor and keen sailor himself, took him out in a dinghy on a local lake when he was six.

Father and son sailed separate boats across the Atlantic when Mike was 14, making him the youngest person to cross that ocean solo. That record gave him the taste for this even greater challenge.

"The great thing about Mike is that in many ways he's just a typical teenager, with lots of friends, but he's also an extraordinary young man in other ways," said Mr Perham. "He's certainly not one to waste his day in front of a computer screen. He loves to be outdoors."

He will celebrate his homecoming next month with his traditional first post-trip meal of steak and chips. And after circumnavigating the globe, he has a more mundane rite of teenage passage in his sights - learning to drive.

But he may not hold his world record for long - a 16-year-old Australian girl is due to set off on the same mission in September. That does not worry Mike. "I've got some exciting plans in mind," he said "I'll be announcing something soon after I get back."

Gold Cartridge Buyer Recreating Nintendo Championships Today

J.J. Hendricks, the Denver entrepreneur who bought the rare Nintendo World Championships Gold cartridge, is hosting an event today that seeks to recreate the original contest. He spoke to Kotaku about it and his acquisition.

Hendricks, the owner of vintage game-and-console retailer, bought the NWC Gold cart last month for $17,500. The seller was asking $25,000. So it was a nice discount for a "holy grail" of game collecting similar to baseball cards' Honus Wagner T206 or comics' Marvel Comics #1. Rather, his business bought it, and will reunite that game with a lesser known (and possibly more rare) Nintendo Campus Challenge cartridge he's in the process of purchasing for $14,000.

"My guess is that they'll increase in value over time," Hendricks said, saying he considers both cartridges to be investments held by the business he founded 10 years ago while at the University of Colorado. "I these as opposed to wine or paintings or other collectibles because of the business connection, and because I have always enjoyed video games."

Though the NWC Gold cart was a newsmaking buy back when Hendricks got it in June, the Campus Challenge cartridge was an even luckier find. That cart was the basis of a 60-college tour by Nintendo from 1991 to 1992 and, unlike the World Championships, none of the game cartridges went public as prizes or giveaways. Hendricks said his copy was found at a garage sale and might be the only known copy.

For those wondering, yes he has played the original NWC gold cart - it was advertised as a working one, after all, and Hendricks wanted to make sure it was still good. I asked if the cart - made in 1990 - required the Nintendo Blow.

"Yes, but after I played it," Hendricks said laughing, "I just wanted to make sure it was clean before I put it in a safety deposit box."

Unfortunately, the cartridge will be there, not on display, during JJGames' inaugural - and free - Retro Game Championship today in Denver. From 2 to 9 pm today (MDT) at the business's warehouse storefront in south Denver, players can try for high scores in both the World Championships and the Campus Challenge. Hendricks had duplicate carts worked up off of both games' ROMs. Ten screens will be set up, five playing one game and five handling the other.

"I got the idea earlier this year while thinking about buying the game," Hendricks said. "I wanted to have an event that would as closely as possible recreate the Nintendo World Championships - right down to the six-minute, 21-second standard time limit."

In the NWC, players have to grab 50 coins in Super Mario Bros., complete a specialized course of Rad Racer, and then rack up as many points in Tetris until the end of the time limit. In the Campus Challenge, players grab 25 coins in Super Mario Bros. 3, score 100,000 in Pin*Bot, and then play Dr. Mario until time expires. It too has a 6:21 limit.

JJGames is offering prizes, from $200 gift cards to top scorers to T-shirts for the first 20 people to show up. Reproduction carts will also be offered as giveaways. Directions and details are here.

As a collector, Hendricks says he is choosy about what he'll acquire - he won't just throw money at a cabinet or other collectible. As of now, the Campus Challenge and the World Championship are the cornerstones of a collection that has just one other specimen.

"It's a Starfox Super Weekend competition cartridge," Hendricks said. "It's worth maybe $300."

Retro Game Championship 2009 [JJGames]

I'll Take a Venti Beer, Please Starbucks adds booze to menu

After building an empire based on caffeine, Starbucks is mixing it up and giving beer and wine a shot.

After building an empire based on caffeine, Starbucks is mixing it up and giving beer and wine a shot.

Taking a page from Europe's coffeehouse playbook, Starbucks is hoping alcohol may be the silver bullet to boost its stagnant stock price.

The grand experiment begins next week in Seattle with a new store called "15th Ave. Coffee and Tea inspired by Starbucks," USA Today reported:

Starbucks plans to create two more similar stores in the Seattle area at locations that aren't currently Starbucks stores. And if the concept works, it could be tested in other cities, says Major Cohen, senior project manager at Starbucks.

For Starbucks, which has suffered a humbling mix of closed stores, employee layoffs and same-store sales declines during the recession, the move is an attempt to extend the brand into the evening, when business is typically at its slowest.

CEO of consulting firm Brandstream and former marketing chief at Starbucks, Scott Bedbury, said alcohol is common at European coffeehouses.

But Americans may not be ready for European-style coffeehouses, and if not, we may never see booze at our local Starbucks. This experiment could go down in the beverage history books as just another New Coke.

So for now, the lone test store will serve a half-dozen kinds of beer and wine, ranging in price from $4 to $7.

If all goes according to Starbucks' plan, this could be a much-needed edge in the so-called coffee wars. The caffeine giant has been in the crosshairs of McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts for some time now. Perhaps it won't be long before we see the McWine Cooler.

8 Tips To Effectively Boost Your Wireless Router Signal

By Leon

Look at it – staring you down so innocently, yet I know that your Linksys wireless router refuses to give you signal. Since you decided to place it in a corner to gather dust, using it only for its relay capabilities, it has decided to constantly bring up the feared “Limited Network Connection” bubble. Don’t you just hate those?

These routers have the power to transmit intangible signals; these signals, powerful as they may be, are prone to constant interference whether it be by physical objects, other signals floating around in the air, or even because you didn’t plug the wire in all the way.

Regardless of what the issue, there are some proven ways to try to remedy the situation of a weak Wifi signal. Some may simply be a little bit of common sense, other methods require purchasing additional parts.

Here are 8 tips on how to boost your wireless router signal.

Position it better

Unless you are living in a cave and you somehow miraculously have internet connectivity at the same time, you probably figured out that if your wireless router was in the corner of your kitchen under a pile of old newspapers and your computer was located on the second floor on the opposite side of the house — it is a great idea to place your router in an open position (preferably in the center of your house) where it isn’t obstructed by dense or metallic objects such as file cabinets or brick walls.

Other items that may interfere with your signal include (but are not limited to) microwave ovens, cordless phones, garage door openers, and even baby monitors. The bottom line is that the less objects in the signal’s way, the easier it is for it to relay information to your computer.

Change the WiFi Channel

Generally, Wifi routers transmit their signals on a radio frequency of 2.4 GHz. Many other household objects may operate on or around the same frequency, like cordless phones, for example. So, the channel becomes bogged down over time with lots of excess traffic that slows down your wireless connection. In the U.S., routers have a predefined set of 11 channels, and the default on a lot of them is channel 6. Changing the channel would reduce some interference. So how do you change the channel?

A great utility many people use is called NetStumbler, a wireless networking tool that just so happens to offer the option for you to change your wifi channel. Once opened, the program gives the choice of fooling around with all of your wireless utilities. Here is where you change your channel:


Which leads to:


Since the default for most people (at least in the United States) is 6, you may want to change your channel to something like say, channel 11. Take note that the changing of your wireless channel will NOT in any way increase your speed or bandwith. It will simply remedy your network connection if it keeps breaking off or getting lost.

Update firmware or drivers

Updates, whether related to the router firmware or your computer’s network adapter are done to fix bugs, smoothen out performance and reliability, and maybe even add new features. It is always a good idea to stay up to date with the latest releases by either of these parties.

Tim suggested using RadarSync to easily automatically update your computer’s drivers at once.

Buy your equipment from the same company

Compatibility can be a big problem, especially for two way transmissions. It may help to purchase your adapter and your router – everything, from the same company. Aside from that, some companies have embedded enhancements that improve speed or signal strength when everything is under the same brand.

Replace your antenna

Most routers come equipped with something called an omnidirectional antenna. This means that the antenna attached to the router broadcasts the signal equally within a certain circular radius. This is great if the router is positioned in the center of a hub where it needs to be able to reach ever corner of a room, but it can prove to be extremely wasteful if your router is in the corner (then again, why would it be there in the first place?). Since the signal is transmitted in a radius, if you place it in a corner, a lot of the transmitted signal is sent into the wall or outside into the open.

That is why you can manually detach your antenna and replace it with a high gain antenna. This focuses its energy to direct the signal in one general direction. Simple enough? You may have to check and see if your router has an external antenna jack/removable antenna.

Replace your wireless adapter

Since this is a two-way transmission, it may not have occured to you that it may not be the router that is the problem, but actually the wireless adapter attached to your computer. If your computer cannot send signals back to the router, the same problem ensues.

What is an adapter? It used to be the card that you inserted into your computer or laptop. These days, most of the adapters are in the form of USB devices. Consider switching to a USB adapter that houses an external antenna, like this one depicted below.


This is usually only applicable to desktop computers. If you purchased a laptop that has a built-in adapter, it probably isn’t your adapter because they are usually very high quality installations.

Add an additional Wireless Access Point (WAP) or Repeater

If all else fails, you may need to purchase a repeater or a secondary Wireless Access Point. The consensus among these two options is rather mixed. Constructing a secondary WAP requires the ability to feed an ethernet cable from your primary router to the new access point. There are also cost considerations to be aware of, as WAPs cost more than regular wireless routers. Even so, WAPs have certain flexibilities that normal routers do not have. They can be configured as gateways, bridges, clients or repeaters. But that’s another story. The bottom line is that the WAP is an extension of the original hub in order to extend the distance of the signal. The repeater works the same way.

Here is a tutorial on how to set up the WAP courtesy of Techskillsvideos:

Try weird things

Apparently aluminum foil amplifies reception and transmission. It may or may not work, YMMV.

A little bit of background: You may have seen 802.11b or 802.11g written somewhere on your router – these are merely wireless LAN standards that the particular router adheres to. The main difference between these is that 802.11b has a maximum data transfer rate of 11 Mbps, whereas 802.11g has a much higher 54 Mbps rate.

With that being said, there is no way to improve data transmission or bandwith outside of hardware applications and upgrades. The tips mentioned above are meant to help you solve the problem of an interfered or weak signal. These may or may not work for you, but there is a strong correlation between troubleshooting and success rate.

Have you any other tips to help strengthen a weak signal? Has changing channels made a big difference for you? Tried attaching aluminum foil to your router’s antenna? How did that turn out for you? Share your experiences in the comments!

Iconic Woodstock Couple Keeps Festival Spirit Alive

Forty years after the legendary festival in Bethel, N.Y., a photo of two lovebirds taken at Woodstock has become an iconic symbol of love. Having only met three months prior, the picture captures a young couple -- Nick and Bobbi Ercoline, both now 60 -- embracing underneath a dirty blanket, surrounded by exhausted concertgoers. To the Ercolines' surprise, the image became the cover of the 'Woodstock' album in 1970 and was featured on posters for the subsequent documentary film.

What resonates most about the photo is that it speaks to what many Woodstock veterans consider to be the true meaning of the festival -- not just music but a movement of peace, love and unity. In a recent interview with Spinner, Woodstock performer Richie Havens cited a Martin Luther King Jr. speech, saying "It's not him or him or him, it's all of us or nothing. That was our thing, that's what we went against the war with."

The couple themselves acknowledge the social significance of the now legendary picture. "It's an honest representation of a generation. When we look at that photo ... I see our generation," Nick told the NY Daily News.

Original Santana percussionist Michael Carabello witnessed firsthand how his generation came together for three days in 1969. "It was about the music and it was about everything else, but it was more about us getting along." Noting the hectic and exhausting nature of the festival (as evidenced by the background of the photo), Carabello told Spinner, "You know, you get so absorbed in it you just don't want to hear it anymore, you forget about it, so the only thing you can do is become a family. You just help one another out."

Certainly Woodstock has been romanticized over the years, but for many, the image of Nick and Bobbi wrapped in a blanket represents exactly what Carabello is talking about.

What's more, the couple has been together ever since.