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Monday, January 11, 2010

David Bowie, Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd Arrive on U.K. Stamps

By: Alex Vadukul

Photo: David Parry/PA

British letters have acquired a taste for rock music. Yesterday, the Royal Mail released a set of 10 special stamps featuring classic British album covers including David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed, New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies and Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head.
The Royal Mail was first created by Henry VIII in 1516 and continues to serve as the national postal service for the United Kingdom. Issuing rock stamps is not a casual matter, and only 12 special stamp sets are produced per year. “The thing about stamps is that they are 1-inch works of art,” says Philip Parker, the Head of Stamp Policy for Royal Mail. “And thinking about this we thought that the old 12-inch vinyl cover is a great work of art. We thought putting them on stamps would be a great way to celebrate this art form.” The selection process was rigorous. “We conducted huge research,” says Parker. “We spoke with music journalists and analyzed lots of existing lists.”

Check out Rolling Stone readers’ favorite album covers.

The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street, for example, was considered for the set but was rejected because its album cover image, shrunk down to stamp size, would be undecipherable. Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here was rejected because its image of a man shaking hands with a man on flames was considered possibly disturbing for the public. Many Brits have (naturally) questioned the omission of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, one of the most famous album covers of all time. “It was too black,” says Parker. “The stamps also have to do their function. They can’t just look good. If a stamp is too dark our machines will reject it.”
Once the panel of pros made their selections, the stamps had to get royal approval from the Queen. “She didn’t reject any,” Parker says. “She’s old but I think she has her finger on the pulse. I wouldn’t be surprised if she knew the majority of the bands.”
The stamps also set an interesting historical precedent: the Royal Mail isn’t allowed to depict living people on its stamps unless they are members of the royal family. A few album-cover stamps — which feature David Bowie and the Clash’s Paul Simonon — prove to be a rare exception to the rule. Parker explains that because the stamps celebrate the artwork of the album rather than the individuals in the bands, they’re permissible. But the result is clear: even on stamps, rock & roll can find a way to be rebellious.

Full list of album-cover stamps:
• David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
• Blur’s Parklife
• The Clash’s London Calling
• Coldplay’s A Rush of Blood to the Head
• Led Zeppelin’s IV
• New Order’s Power, Corruption and Lies
• Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells
• Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell
• Primal Scream’s Screamadelica
• The Rolling Stones’ Let it Bleed

California Winter Wonderland | Surfing Magazine

Google Earth helps find El Dorado - Times Online

Amazon jungle discovery. The geometric shapes are thought to be the remains of roads, bridges. moats and squares: the basis for a civilisation spanning 155 miles.

Geometric shapes dug into the earth were first noticed by a Finnish archeologist flying over the Amazon. The shapes are made up of a series of trenches topped by banks and connected by a network of straight roads. The geometric shapes are thought to be the remains of roads, bridges. moats and squares: the basis for a civilisation spanning 155 miles.

If you want to see one of the structures in Google Earth: S 08 50’ 38”, W 67 15’ 11”
or S 08 52’ 32”, W 67 14’ 42”
or S 8 43’ 13”, W 67 10’ 34”

These locations were published in "Pre-Columbian geometric earthworks in
the upper Purus: a complex society in
western Amazonia"

Google Earth helps find El Dorado - Times Online

Fandango To Offer Paperless Ticketing Via The iPhone

Fandango's mobile iPhone app has been around since March, when it was first released, using it, an end user could find movies, find theaters, and buy tickets. Soon, the app may be able to produce scannable bar codes so users don't have to bother printing a ticket, either via a kiosk or a printer.

Fandango made the statements at CES 2010. Darren Cross of Fandango said, at a session on iPhone apps, “We’re testing it now. It’s not too far away. We’ll have it pretty soon.”

At the same time, Starbucks is trialing the same sort of thing in limited locations. Rather than using your Starbucks card, you use the mobile app and iPhone will display a barcode that you can use the same way you use your Starbucks Card to make purchases. Currently, the tests are happening in Seattle, WA, Cupertino, CA and Mountain View, CA.

Here's what the Fandango app can do currently:
Browse Movies:
  • In theaters
  • Coming Soon
  • Watch trailers
  • Read synopses, cast lists, run times and view fan ratings
Find Theaters:
  • Find theaters closest to you using iPhone and iPod touch’s core location feature
  • Add theaters to a “Favorites” list for faster searching
  • Discover theater amenities such as Print at Home ticketing and stadium seating
  • Connect with Google Maps to find driving directions
Purchase Tickets in a Flash:
  • Quick and easy ticketing available for more movie screens (16,000 and counting!) than on any other app
  • Securely store credit card information for faster purchasing
  • Buy up to 10 tickets at a time
  • Ability to review your purchase history

Fandango offers multiple versions of the app and it would make sense that Android might be next

This is all great, but casual observers can see that the United States is far behind other countries in such cell phone payment systems. Examples would include both Japan and South Korea, where mobile payment schemes are already in place, and gaining popularity. Of course, it's all a sort of chicken-and-egg type thing: Consumers don't want to rely on them, unless more places will take them. More places will take them, if there's more demand from consumers.

Still, baby steps, baby steps. When Fandango comes out with this, it'll definitely make ticket buying easier, and reduce the number of trees felled somewhat. Now if they can just do something about their "convenience fee" (yes, we know they need to make money).

LaDainian Tomlinson - LT Slide Electric Glide

LT Slide Electric Glide

The 31 Places to Go in 2010

See the original image at From palm-fringed beaches in Bahia to the wilds of Norway, travel choices for nomads have never been more compelling.

click here for some interesting and different travel choice... The 31 Places to Go in 2010

Intel WiDi Wireless Display Technology - HOT

At this year's CES show in Vegas there have been more than a couple of relatively exciting announcements and of course Intel was intent on joining the party.  Today we got to spend some quality time behind closed doors with the folks in Intel's Mobile group learning a bit about some of the new features that will be coming to their Core i5 and Core i3 Mobile platforms in the weeks ahead.  We heard some fairly inspiring things about the technology back in the November time frame at a cozy bistro in New York city but today we were able to see it in action and it was impressive to say the least.

Intel's new WiDi (Wireless Display Interface) technology will start to be bundled with various Core i5 and Core i3 notebooks later this month and it promises to address the Home Theater and Multimedia PC markets with a solution that will enable wireless connectivity of your notebook over HDMI to an HDTV. Using standard 802.11n wireless technologies for transmission of data, Intel describes the product as "
a solution that requires a laptop PC based on select 2010 Intel Core processors, Intel HD Graphics, and Intel Centrino wireless with Intel MyWiFi Technology enabled. The laptop needs to have Intel Wireless Display software installed and also an adapter featuring Intel Wireless Display is required to receive the signals from the PC that display them on the TV. This adapter is connected to the TV via either HDMI or standard AV cables."

Netgear has stepped out early with a receiver product dubbed Push2TV and their block diagram below lays out the solution for you here...

Netgear partnered with Intel to develop the Push2TV WiDi Receiver

What was rather refreshing about this announcement was how close the product was to retail roll-out.  It's in fact shipping in a matter of weeks, bundled with select Sony, Toshiba and Dell laptops.  Here we have Intel's Josh Newman demonstrating Intel WiDi technology for us.  Take a look, it's definitely worth a few extra bits of your bandwidth...

Here are a few close-ups of the Sony and Toshiba notebooks we saw today demonstrating Intel WiDi.  Both machines strike a stylish balance of portability and performance; Sony's machine taking ultra-thin design cues while Toshiba's machines was bit with a little more glitz perhaps, depending on your perspective.

Sony's Sleek VAIO Notebook Based On Core i5 Technology with WiDi On Board

Toshiba's New Core i5, Backlit and Cool with Core i5 and On-Board Intel WiDi Tech

We've seen more than a few sites at this year's 2010 CES but often times we're left flat with all of the pre-announcements before the show, leaving not as many new things to see live at the show and stealing some thunder from what otherwise would perhaps pique our collective geek interest.  We'd have to say that Intel's Wireless Display Technology demo definitely impressed us more than just about anything we've seen thus far, though we're not quite done yet, if you can believe that. 

Regardless, we're looking forward to the day that we can test Intel's new Wireless Display Technology on our own.  We'll be sure to keep you posted as we get product in hand.  In the mean time, we'd like to thank Intel for making the trip to Vegas a little more worth while.  

Hands-On With the Boxee Set-Top Box and Remote

LAS VEGAS — A host of video services on the web enable you to watch your favorite TV programs and movies anytime you wish, and Boxee is an open platform striving to weave them all into one neat interface. To get the Boxee experience onto a TV, D-Link has launched a set-top box dedicated to the open video platform, along with a special remote.

The Boxee box is pretty simple. Video outputs through an HDMI connector. For audio, you can plug in through an optical digital audio-out jack or regular composite audio. An SD card slot and two USB ports allow you to expand storage. For internet connectivity, the box supports 802.11n Wi-Fi and ethernet.
Boxee was previously a piece of open source software that you’d download to view media on your computer. Most users would download Boxee onto their notebook, which they’d then hook up to a TV. The box eliminates that need, and it’s also compatible with a new remote that just launched at the Consumer Electronics Show.
The remote sports a full QWERTY keyboard for typing in search queries. On the back of it there are three buttons for hitting Enter, accessing the main Boxee menu and playing or pausing video.
We’ve been fans of Boxee for some time: The menu is beautiful and intuitive, and it’s really zippy with loading multimedia files with thumbnails. The remote does indeed make the experience more enjoyable. It’s sturdy, smooth and comfortable, and the keys feel high quality.

Boxee’s primary purpose was to streamline video entertainment, but since it’s an open platform, it can do a lot more. There’s a Boxee app store for downloading third-party apps provided by developers. The main menu has buttons to access music and photos, too. Think of the Boxee as a restriction-free Apple TV.
The Boxee box and remote are shipping the second quarter of 2010. Pricing has not been announced, but Boxee estimates $200.
For a detailed look at the Boxee platform, see Epicenter’s coverage of the Boxee box launch.
Product page [Boxee]

Calif. authorities told to return 60 lbs. of pot

A Los Angeles judge has ordered that 60 pounds of pot confiscated by the California Highway Patrol during an arrest be returned to the defendant.

Superior Court Judge William Sterling on Friday ordered the marijuana returned to Saguro Doven. The 33-year-old's attorneys successfully argued that he had the legal right to transport it under medical marijuana guidelines issued by state Attorney General Jerry Brown.

Doven's attorney says his client was a member of a Venice-based medical marijuana collective.
According to court records, a California Highway Patrol officer arrested Doven after discovering the marijuana during a traffic stop. Doven initially was charged with possession of marijuana for sale and transportation of the drug. The charges have been dropped.
Information from: Los Angeles Times,
Source: AP Features

The interactive projector that turns any surface into a Minority Report-style touch screen

By Claire Bates


    Fed up of lugging a heavy laptop around? Soon you could be typing documents and browsing the web on any nearby surface with the aid of a pioneering pocket-sized projector.

    An innovative British company called Light Blue Optics has created the Light Touch, which transforms any surface into a 10.1in touch screen, reminiscent of the film Minority Report.

    Light Touch
    The Light Touch works well with social networking sites and can be used to update your Twitter account
    The system uses holographic laser projection and infrared sensors to create a screen that supports multi-touch gestures, like many smart phones.

    The device was unveiled by the Cambridge based company at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

    Dr Edward Buckley was on hand to show off its impressive features, including games, photo galleries and a video player with the brightness of 15 lumens.

    'With the photo application you can drag your pictures around into an order you like, view one by touching on it and also scroll through them. It's much like on an iPhone,' he told reporters.

    Dr Buckley from Light Blue Optics said the projectors could be useful in restaurants, shops and hotels
    Dr Buckley was even able to connect to his Twitter account online using the Light Touch's Wi Fi connection.
    Technology pundits at the show were surprised at how accurate the gadget was.

    Thomas Ricker from said: 'Despite our skepticism, we came away suitably surprised - impressed even.

    'The touch sensitivity was far more accurate than we expected - so good that we were quickly typing out phrases on the QWERTY with few mistakes.'

    Minority Report (2002)
    How the holographic projector works
    Holographic refers to the novel method of projection used by the Light Touch.
    A distorted version of the desired image is placed on a  microdisplay using diffraction patterns (the effective bending of light waves.)

    When this is illuminated with a laser it projects the correct image outwards, remaining in focus at all distances.
    It also works on curved surfaces.

    This makes it far more flexible than Microsoft Surface that needs large touchscreen panels attached to surfaces.
    Fiction to reality: Surface computers were imagined in the film Minority Report

    It currently has 2Gb of storage with SD card expansion. Dr Buckley said the technology also had the capability of connecting to other devices such as MP3 players and phones.
    'We are developing technology but we want to work with other companies to bring it to market,' Dr Buckley said.
    He said the device could be useful in restaurants, hotels and retail outlets to name a few.

    Bugatti pulled from lake after 73 yrs to be sold at auction


    A LEGENDARY car that lay at the bottom of a lake for 73 years is set to fetch more than £80,000 at auction — the same as a brand new luxury motor.

    The rare Bugatti was dumped in the water in 1936 by a frustrated Swiss official because the owner had abandoned it without paying the import tax.

    In all its glory ... in this shape, a Bugatti can be worth up to £200,000
    In all its glory ... in this shape, a Bugatti can be worth up to £200,000

    The value of the car was less than the money owed and the customs officer was compelled to destroy it.
    He drove it over the Italian border to nearby Lake Maggiore — and pushed it into the deep waters.


    The story became part of folklore in the nearby town of Ascona as locals debated whether the car actually existed.
    Thirty years on the truth emerged when a keen diver rediscovered the Bugatti lying on its side 160 feet down at the bottom of the lake.
    From then on members of the local diving club regularly visited it and last year decided to raise it and sell it for a local charity.
    Incredibly there was still air in the tyres and traces of the original Bugatti blue paint on the bodywork.
    It is believed that 20 per cent of the vehicle is salvageable and collectors and museums are likely to be keen to buy it.
    James Knight, of auctioneers Bonhams, said: "We've offered a few things in our time in the motoring department, but nothing like this.
    "Sometimes we get cars that have been hidden in barns for years, but never have we had one that's spent 70 years at the bottom of a lake.
    "The story as we know it is that in the late 1920s or early 1930s the car was taken to Switzerland by its French owner.
    "The import duties and taxes were not paid and the owner just left it. The car was ten or 11-years-old by then and not worth as much as the money owed.
    "Eventually the customs official got fed up and pushed it into the lake. He was legally obliged to destroy it and rolling it into the lake seemed the best way.
    "The story entered local folklore and in the 1960s a diver called Ugo Pillon decided to try and find it, and in 1967 he located it on its side about 50 metres down.

    "From then on divers from the local club dived on it just as a curiosity.
    "But recently one of the diver club's members was attacked and died and a foundation was set up in his memory to help combat juvenile violence.
    "The club decided to raise the car to sell it and donate the money to the Damiano Tamagni Foundation."
    The Type 22 Bugatti, built in 1925, had four cylinders, a 1.5 litre engine and reach almost 100mph. It was a touring two-seater with no roof and was very lightweight.
    Later versions of the car were made in France, but this was known as a Brescia Bugatti, after the Italian town where it was manufactured.
    The sale is on January 23 at the Bonhams Retromobile sale in France.

    Rare self-rolling giant snow balls found in UK

    They may look like winter's answer to crop circles, but these mysterious snow rolls are in fact a rare natural phenomenon usually found only in the world's most remote and frozen regions.   

    By Heidi Blake

    Also known as snowrollers, snow bales and snow doughnuts, they form mostly in unusual conditions created by a precise combination of snow, ice, wind, temperature and moisture on the prairies of North America.
    But this week's frozen weather has allowed the snow cylinders to make a freak appearance in the UK.

    The rare snow rolls are formed by a combination of strong winds and fresh, moist snow
    The rare snow rolls are formed by a combination of strong winds and fresh, moist snow Photo: Ron Trevett

    Ron Trevett, 55, and his wife Aileen, 54, readers of The Daily Telegraph, were stunned when they stumbled across the mysterious formations as they walked their dogs in a field near their home in Yeovil, Somerset.
    "We saw them from a distance on the ridge of the field, and we thought some kids had been playing up there and making giant snowballs," said Mr Trevett.

    "But when we got up there we saw there were no footprints and there were hundreds of them – too many for children to have done it. We realised it must have been the wind."

    Mr Trevett, a builder, said he and his wife felt privileged to have witnessed such a rare phenomenon. "We feel very lucky. I'm the wrong side of fifty and I've never seen anything like it in my life. We were gobsmacked to look at them there in the sunlight. It was a really impressive sight, and I took some pictures so other people could share it," he said.

    Frank Barrow, a lecturer in meteorology at the Met Office, said the rolls can only form in a precise set of unusual conditions.

    "They start off with nice thick layer of snow, with the top snow just on the point of melting either because of general temperature or sunshine on the surface," he said.

    "The top snow layer becomes a bit sticky, and you then need a fairly strong wind. The sticky layer can be peeled off the colder and more powdery snow underneath by the wind forming a roll. In the first picture you can see some of the powdery stuff sticking to the lower outside surface of the roll. I suppose it is a natural version of making a snowman."

    After being formed, the rolls eventually become too large and heavy for the wind to move, or are halted by rising ground or a tuft of vegetation.

    They are often hollow because the weak inner layers which form first can easily be blown away, and the fragile formations can collapse in the slightest change of temperature or gust of wind.

    Liz Bentley, of the Royal Meteorological Society, said despite their rarity in the UK, there is a chance of more snow rolls appearing over the next few days.

    "These rolls are unusual here because we don't tend to have major snow events like the one we're experiencing now. They happen with the combination of lying snow and high wind speeds, mostly in North America and Northern Europe, and they can be as small as a tennis ball or they can be as large as two feet across – depending on how strong the wind is and how smooth the surface of the snow is," she said.
    "There are quite strong winds predicted this weekend as well as more snow, so if people keep a look out they might see a few more of these appearing around the country over the next few days."

    The Sad State of Biosphere 2, Sixteen Years Later

    Biosphere 2 was an ambitious project to create a self-sustaining gigantic sealed structure where people can live indefinitely. It ended up as a failure in...

    Why Zippers Have YKK On Them


    ykk zipper

    Today I found out why zippers have a YKK on them.   The YKK stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha (say that five times fast).  In 1934 Tadao Yoshida founded Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha (translated Yoshida Industries Limited).  This company is now the worlds foremost zipper manufacturer, making about 90% of all zippers in over 206 facilities in 52 countries.  In fact, they not only make the zippers, they also make the machines that make the zippers; no word on if they make the machines that make the parts that make up the machines that make the zippers.

    Their largest factory in Georgia makes over 7 million zippers per day.

    In any event, Mr. Yoshida’s company zipped to number one by practicing the “Cycle of Goodness”, as he called it.  Namely, “No one prospers unless he renders benefit to others.”  Using this principle, he endeavored to create the best zippers out there that would hold up over long periods of time in the end product.  This in turn would benefit both the manufacturers who used his zippers and the end customer and because of these things benefit his company with higher repeat and referral sales, thus completing the “Cycle of Goodness” *zen moment*
    So next time you’re zipping up, take a moment to remember Mr. Yoshida; also, if you’re going commando, careful with Captain Winky on the zip up.  I can’t stress that enough.

    'Lost' producers grant Barack Obama total access

    Barack Obama can now find out any secret about the island.
    "Lost" fans have been worried that the president's State of the Union address would pre-empt the show's three-hour premiere event on Feb. 2nd. The speech is traditionally delivered around the same date.
    But in an usual move, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs reassured TV fans at a White House press briefing two hours ago that it was unlikely the president's speech would conflict with the premiere. 
    "I don't foresee a scenario in which the millions of people that hope to finally get some conclusion in 'Lost' are preempted by the president," the president's spokesperson said. 
    In response, "Lost" producer Carlton Cuse has thrown out this offer to the Commander in Chief on Twitter:
    "In exchange for moving his speech, Damon [Lindelof] and I promise to answer ANY questions the president has about LOST."
    Hear that, Mr. President?
    Not only can you find out any national security secret, you now have total access to the mysteries of the smoke monster and Jacob's cabin.
    Here's the Tweet:
    Lost tweet