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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

How to Get a Job as a Game Tester

It sounds like the ultimate gig: making a living by playing video games all day. And if you're a true game fanatic -- and we mean a real fanatic -- it can be exactly that. But being a quality assurance tester for a video game company isn't always the nerd-vana it sounds like.

Sony's offering a select group of wannabes a chance at the job via 'The Tester' -- a new reality show being broadcast exclusively through the PlayStation Network. If you don't want to suffer the indignities that go along with that programming genre, though, you can always try to get the job the old-fashioned way. reached out to a few folks in the video game industry to learn more about being a game tester and the best ways to become one.

As for getting the job, there are seven key factors:

Location, location, location.
If you want to be a game tester, you need to be where the game makers are. That means cities like Dallas, Austin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Montreal and Redmond, Washington. If there aren't a large number of developers and/or publishers around you, you're going to have a hard time being a full-time game tester. You might find occasional work in other big cities - like Atlanta, Chicago and New York -- but it will be, at best, supplemental income.

Get ready to lead a gypsy life.
Full-time tester jobs are exceedingly rare. Typically, game makers (and third-party testing houses like VMC Consulting and Babel Media) hire testers on a contract basis. When the test cycle ends for a product, the testing team is laid off -- and the search for a new gig begins (thus the reason to live in a developer/publisher-rich city). Michael Weber, director of central development at Gearbox Software, says, "In a lot of cases, a tester can go from product to product at company to company." He adds, "If you want to do this as your livelihood... you need to put yourself in a position where you can move from studio to studio when the products ship."

Personality is paramount.
You don't need a degree to be a game tester. In many cases, a GED is good enough. But, if your personality and emotional maturity don't mesh with the rest of the team, you'll never make it. Game companies say these are the most important qualities in a candidate. If you're a loner, or slip into a rage when you lose a game, you're looking at the wrong career. Testers work long hours -- and they don't need unnecessary disruptions.

Details! Details!
It probably goes without saying that when you're trying to get a job to assure the quality of a game, you need a good eye for detail. Finding bugs in the early stage of testing is simple. Anyone can do it. But when developers have polished products, it gets a bit harder.

Communication skills.
Once you find an error, you'll need to let the development team know exactly what went wrong and how you made it occur. If you're unable to do so, it doesn't matter how good you are at finding mistakes. To test for good communications skills, Gearbox asks people to describe their favorite game and what they like about it. If a candidate can't do so clearly and enthusiastically, they likely don't have what it takes for the job.

Don't like games. Love 'em.
Merely having enthusiasm for video games isn't enough for testers. An obsession is mandatory. Testers play and replay the same small part of a game again and again and again -- for eight hours or more per day. If you're unable to maintain focus and energy over that amount of time, you'll burn out quickly, and ruin one of your favorite hobbies in the process.

Don't pay to do it.
As you research where to work, you may find services that guarantee you a game tester position for a nominal fee. These are the video game equivalent of those "Work from home: Make $100,000" signs you see thumb tacked to telephone polls at intersections. If you're looking for a job, never pay to get it.

I'm qualified. Now what?

So, let's say you've got all of the above bases covered. You're the perfect candidate. Before you leap in blindly, there are a few other things to keep in mind before deciding to pursue this field.

For much of the history of game testing, employers have been almost draconian. Ridiculously long hours were the norm. That's abating somewhat these days, but you'll still put in up to 10 hours a day at some places -- and even more as a game's deadline nears. And, if you burn out, there are hundreds of people who are willing to take your place.

This is not a job to take if you want to get rich (or have a family to support). Most testers are contractors, with hourly salaries and no benefits. In 2009, Game Developer magazine put the average salary of a tester at $39,571 -- but even the magazine's publisher notes that number was likely a bit high. Other game companies put the number between $25,000 and $30,000 per year.

Foot in door:
Many people view being a tester as the way to climb the ladder of an organization. That used to be true, but it's less so today. If you take a job as a tester, and then begin wooing the development or art teams for another job, you'll kill your chances. These days, a quicker path to becoming a video game developer or artist is to make your own game -- and show off what you can do.

"The tools have gotten easier to use to make games," says Simon Carless, publisher of Game Developer magazine. "If you want to make games, you should just make games. If you have a skill, that's a lot more helpful than saying, 'I've been playing this game repeatedly and spotting errors in it'."

Jazari: The one man Wii band

It isn't often that you see the fusion of software, hardware and pure creative genius. You can't deny that this is something else entirely -- seriously, you can stop reading here and just watch the video after the cut.

If you're still here, perhaps seeking a little more convincing, get this: Patrick Flanagan, presumably a rather big nerd, has taken two Wii Remotes and bonded them to a bunch of percussion instruments -- bongos, djembes, that kind of thing. Through some homebrew software and some seriously awesome robotics/actuators, his movements and button pushes on the Wiimote make music. He can then create loops, alter the syncopation and even mess with the modulation of the beat. At the end of the video he demonstrates an 'AI mode' where the computer learns from past beats and tries to follow his lead -- awesome.

The entire ensemble is called Jazari. Please watch the video after the break; even if you don't have a single musical or geeky bone in your body, it might just convert you. And no, I can't see a download for the software... alas.

[via Gizmodo]

Pole Dancers Thrust for Olympic Status

via Crave Online

The Winter Olympics may be getting dismal local ratings, but if the pleas of poll dancers across the world to have their "sport" recognized by the Olympics are heeded, we've got a feeling ratings would shoot through the roof.

"After a great deal of feedback from the pole dance community, many of us have decided that it's about time pole fitness is recognized as a competitive sport, and what better way for recognition than to be part of the 2012 Olympics held in London," British pole dancer KT Coates writes in an email to the Associated Press.

Apparently top pole dancers train like Olympic athletes, and once you remove the g-strings and sweaty dollar bills, is it really that much different than things like ice dancing and rhythmic gymnastics?

Pole dancing has taken off as a fitness craze lately, too, but even though there is a U.S. Pole Dance Federation which hosts championships (which, hello, Miami really needs to work on hosting someday) there's still a need to standardize scoring and technique.

Pulling off an Elevated Booty Clap might net you big points in Miami, but places like Los Angeles tend to value moves like the Fake Titty Twister 360.

Plus, the AP article doesn't even breech whether or not the competition would be open to both sexes (maybe Johnny Weir can win Gold after all...)

We doubt we'll see it in the Olympics anytime soon. Just like we doubt we'll ever see Miami ever host an Olympics, but if that ever does happen we sure as hell wouldn't mind seeing it at least featured as an exposition sport.

15 Hottest Female Figure Skaters of All Time

By Manolith Team



There have been a lot of figure skaters over the years, and it’s always been a given that they tend to be hot. There are always exceptions, as there are for any rule of thumb or stereotype — but much like the cheerleading profession, figure skaters seem to defy the odds pretty damned well. These are the 15 hottest figure skaters of all time; these girls may have spent their lives on ice, but they are definitely hot.

Sasha Cohen


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2006 Olympic silver medalist and multiple championship-winning fox Sasha Cohen is fully aware of how gorgeous she is, and luckily she’s the type to share her gift by way of public appearances and photo shoots. While she does understand Russian, and her mother is a transplant from the Ukraine, Sasha was born in California and is very much your standard hottie from LA — yet somehow a staggering number of people seem to think she’s Russian. After taking a brief hiatus from the sport after her success in 2006, she made her return debut this year prior the Winter Games. Unfortunately, the judges felt that she needs a bit more practice to get her game back, and she wasn’t selected for the Olympic team this year.

Idora Hegel


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Idora Hegel is one of Croatia’s finest, and we’re not just talking about figure skating here, either. While she may not have any Olympic medals to back her up, she’s still a seven-time Croatian National Champion and world-class hottie. Idora did compete at the Games, though. She placed 19th twice — at the 2002 and 2006 Winter Games. 

Tanith Belbin


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Tanith, who seems incapable of taking a bad picture, has competed professionally for the USA since 1998 despite being Canadian-born and holding a dual citizenship. Apparently the guy she teamed up with in 1998 is something of a lucky charm, which makes sense since he’s one lucky bastard. Since their pairing, she’s gone on to win the US Championship five times, the Four Continents Championship three times, four World Medals, and some 2006 Olympic Silver. She’s at the Winter Games this year, and wasn’t doing half bad until Sunday night’s Free Dance. It’s OK though, we don’t mind if she doesn’t win this time around.

Katerina Witt


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Katerina Witt represented East Germany shortly before the Wall fell, and all of Germany afterward. She racked up a string of major wins throughout the 80s, including two Olympic Golds at Sarajevo and Calgary. She’s often called one of the very best figure skaters of all time, largely due to her massive winning record, but she’s a winner in our book for posing in many nude shots. Hit the image source on this one if you’re not at work — those black boxes were quite necessary.

Anna Semenovich


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With a last name that screams bad punnery and a penchant for posing, Anna Semenovich is a favorite for her good humor — if not so much for her record of wins. She never seemed able to find a partner that she had chemistry with, and though she did score two Finlandia Trophies, she didn’t have the best of score sheets. Now 29, she’s turned from figure skating full time for Russia to exploring a singing, acting and modeling career. We’re just fine with that, so long as more shots like this one come out of it.

Barbara Ann Scott


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1948 Olympic Gold-winner and immortalized Canadian pin-up girl Barbara Ann Scott was one hell of a figure skater before most of us were even a dirty thought in dad’s mind. She didn’t just come out of nowhere to win that one, either. Barbara won the World, European, and North American Championships twice each, all on top of winning the Canadian Championships four times. As if that wasn’t awesome enough, this lady is still alive and kicking today; she was a flag-bearer at the Winter Games opening ceremony at Vancouver.

Kristi Yamaguchi


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Making a comeback recently as champion of 2008’s Dancing with the Stars, Kristi Yamaguchi has been a household name since the early 90’s. She won the gold at the 1992 Olympics, and she’s racked up more wins and top placements than losses during her career, making her nothing short of extraordinary. In 2005, she was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame. The crazy part of her story is how she began; when she was a kid, she had club feet, so she started skating as therapy.

Tara Lipinski


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Though she was only 15 when she was actively competing in figure skating, Tara Lipinski still counts because she’s become a part of the sport. She took home the gold in the 1998 Winter Games at Nagano, after racking up some serious wins world-wide beforehand, and has since taken to acting and cameo work. She’s been in a slew of shows and movies, and now at 27, she’s looking better than ever before. We can’t wait to see her take on some more serious roles.

Oksana Baiul


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Oksana Baiul hasn’t competed since the mid-90’s, but that hasn’t stopped her from remaining a part of pop culture ever since her hay day. She came seemingly out of nowhere to grab the gold at the Ukranian and World Championships, as well as Skate America — all in 1992. She also nabbed second place in the European Championships that year, along with fourth place in the Nations Cup. One year later she scored the gold at the Winter Olympics. She’s been living in the US ever since, despite being technically Ukranian. These days she spends her time collaborating for ice dances and running her own clothing and jewelry lines — and looking great while doing it.

Ekaterina Gordeeva


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Two-time Olympic Gold Medal-winner Ekaterina “Katia” Gordeeva made a name for herself back in the Cold War days by winning just about every competition she entered — and scoring top places in the few she didn’t. She represented the Hammer & Sickle before the Wall fell, and afterward continued to skate for Russia. These days, she spends her time getting even better looking than when she was young, and working as a choreographer and mentor for aspiring hotties on ice. She’s a huge part of the sport and a star for life, and we like it that way.

Kim Yu-Na


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Helping to give South Korea a good name, 19 year-old Kim Yu-Na has been competing for the better part of the last decade — and winning. Her career’s score card is full of “first place,” and she’s not showing any signs of slowing down yet. This year she’s competing at the Winter Games in Vancouver, and her chances look pretty good so far. We’re keeping fingers crossed for this one.

Sonja Henie


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This Norwegian blast from the past is a fixture in the world of figure skating, much the same way that posters of her were probably fixtures on the walls of young men the world over when she was active in the sport. She took home the gold three times, in 1928, 1932 and 1936 — along with ten World Championships, six European Championships, and six Norwegian Championships. The woman is nothing short of a legend, and she cemented her fame when she turned to acting afterwards. She played in 15 films in her lifetime, was inducted into several halls of fame, and graced the cover of Time Magazine in 1939. We dig vintage.

Michelle Kwan


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If you don’t already have a thing for Michelle Kwan, you’ve probably spent the better part of your life under a rock, or you’re too young to be reading this in the first place. Besides her obvious level of hotness, Kwan has made a name for herself by racking up a ridiculously impressive 30 wins between 1992 and 2005. Unfortunately, the highest she ever attained at the Olympics was silver, with one bronze four years later at her next attempt. Despite her narrow misses at the Olympics, she’s regarded as one of the greats. We agree.

Jamie Salé


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Winner of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Canadian Jamie Salé led an impressive, albeit short career. Between 1991 and 2002, she won 16 golds. After her Olympic win, she decided to take it easy and now tours around the continent performing in Stars on Ice — and posing nearly naked for men’s magazines.

Peggy Fleming


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Peggy Fleming, after a blitzkrieg winning-streak starting in 1964, nabbed the gold at the 1968 Olympics in Grenoble. She basically embodied the quintessential girl of the 60’s, complete with the Bond Girl international look and all. She was stunningly gorgeous then, and she’s still got it, too. As well as staying fit and beautiful, she also likes to stay relevant; she made a cameo in Blades of Glory as a judge. We love this woman.

Demystifying the Credt C.A.R.D. Act of 2009 (Infographic)

The nine-month lead-in time for the Credit C.A.R.D. Act of 2009 has now passed and the law officially goes into effect to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices by credit card companies starting today, February 22, 2010. Here is our breakdown of the new credit card rules, who the Credit C.A.R.D. Act protects, which companies complied in advance and what protections are now guaranteed to cardholders by law.

Credit Card Act: New Credit Card Rules

Find the best credit cards at

Women of Surfing: The Mexican Adventure (Video)

Perfect Mexican Pointbreaks, the Next Generation, and How Women’s Surfing May Never Be the Same

"Back in my generation, the guys wanted the pretty girl who would sit on the beach, and now the guys are turning their heads at what the females are doing," says Megan Abubo, who's served as a role model to the rest of the girls growing up. Photo: Todd Glaser

“Are you girls going to have pillow fights in your underwear?”

Obviously. Because that’s what girls do when they get together. And that’s what comes to mind when guys hear the words “all-girls surf trip.” Most will see the yearly obligatory girls’ trip, give it a quick flip through, scanning for the inevitable bottom-turn shot or gratuitously sexy bikini photo, which deserves a few more lustful moments of meditation, maybe a second look or two, before moving on to other, more interesting subject matters. Most men will accept, or even invite, the inclusion of a few girls’ features a year, especially now that the young wave of professional surfers are openly hyped for their good looks, and “overtly sexy” seems to be the accepted marketing shtick associated with them.

I’m not going to tell you that the girls on this trip, as a whole, surf better than most of you, or that their ability should warrant respect, adoration, and even—dare I say it?—legitimate interest.

Those statements are true, by the way, but that’s not the point. This isn’t a lecture about sexism, or equality, or about how women are treated differently. Because the point is that women surfers are different. They surf differently, they compete differently, and their worlds—as professional surfers—are different.

And after a short surf and a long drive packed shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the best female surfers on the planet, that became blatantly clear...

View part one of the trip below. Stay tuned to for part two of Women's Rights.

Part Two of Women's Rights

To read the full feature, subscribe to the digital version of SURFER for just $9.00 and download the full March 2010 issue of SURFER now.

Device could create real-life Spiderman

A device inspired by a tiny purple beetle that feeds on palm leaves could one day allow humans to walk up walls like the comic book hero Spiderman.
Engineers at Cornell University have used the adhesive power of water to create a device capable of sticking to glass, wood and even brick and could be used to make real-life Spiderman suits
Engineers have used the adhesive power of water to create a device capable of sticking to glass, wood and even brick. Photo: AFP/GETTY

Engineers at Cornell University, in New York, have invented a palm-sized device that uses the adhesive power of water to create a reversible adhesive bond capable of sticking to glass, wood and even brick.

The researchers, whose work was funded by the US military, hope to use their invention to develop gloves and shoes that will allow the wearer to climb up even the blankest of walls.

The technology was inspired by the Palmetto tortoise beetle from Florida, which uses surface tension from tiny droplets of oil secreted by glands at the top of its legs to clamp its shell down onto a leaf when it is under attack from ants.

Once attached, the beetle is capable of holding loads 100 times its own weight.

Professor Paul Steen, a biomolecular engineer at Cornell University, found that by pumping tiny droplets of water through microscopic holes in a flat plate, he could exploit the surface tension of the water to "glue" the plate to another surface.

Using an electrical field to pump the water through the holes, he was also able to reverse the process, allowing the plate to become unstuck on demand simply by changing the electric field.

While each droplet is only able to hold a small force, together they are able to hold a far greater force. An early version of the device can hold weights of around one ounce using water droplets about a sixth the size of a pinhead.

Professor Steen has found that the more droplets there are between surfaces, the stronger the adhesion becomes.

He found that by making the holes, and so also the water droplets, smaller it was possible to get more droplets on the surface of the device and so increase the amount of weight it is possible to hold.

He believes that by using microscopic water drops, around 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, it would be possible to create a 3 inch wide pad that could hold up weights up to 20 stone.

He said: "What we have is the ability to make strong but reversible bonds and this idea of creating clothing that can give a Spiderman type ability comes from that.

"At the moment the only way it is possible to climb up the side of buildings is to use suction cups which require ungainly and heavy vacuum pumps and a lot of power. We are exploiting the cohesion of water rather than having to create the suction ourselves.

"Epoxy-strength adhesive that is switchable doesn't exist, but we realised the beetle was showing us the way. Our inspiration comes from the beetle, but our control of the "bond" is quite different."

The device consists of a flat plate covered in holes with a small reservoir of water beneath. When an electrical field is applied from a common 9 volt battery, water is pumped through the holes to form droplets on the surface that then cling to any surface they touch.

The water molecules act like a bridge between the two surfaces binding them together at the edges of each droplet.

During testing Professor Steen and his colleague Michael Vogel found that it was possible to adhere to wood, plastic, glass, metal, brick and sandpaper.

Their research has been funded by Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which is the research and development wing for the US military.

Such a device could prove useful for special forces looking to scale buildings quickly as the ability to reverse the grip of the device makes it easy to release limbs independently.

With such small power demands, the device could easily be incorporated into clothing, according to Professor Steen.

"At the moment we don't know what DARPA envisages the end use of our research will be, but having the ability to stick and release a load easily could have a number of uses."

Why People Really Watch Figure Skating [PIE GRAPH]


Figure Skating is one of the most popular spectator sports in the world. Much like the subjective scoring system it uses to crown champions, the reasons behind this popularity are open to debate.

Just The Facts

  1. Figure Skating has been a sanctioned Olympic Sport since 1908
  2. Athletes perform challenging jumps, spins and other intricate moves on ice.
  3. There is also a camp factor.

Figure Skating Rules

While Figure Skating does have a rabid, passionately involved fan base, a full 62% of the population doesn't give a rat's ass about a triple Salchow, and of that same indifferent group, approximately 93% spontaneously convulse at the mere mention of the words "Ice Dancing". For this group, many of the rules, nuances and appeal of competitive figure skating remain a mystery.

2006 Olympic Gold Medalist - 2010 Silver Medalist - Evgeni Plushenko

Competitive figure skating is governed by the International Skating Union (ISU). Founded in 1892, it is one of the oldest international sport federations, and oversees all sanctioned international competitions, including the Mack Daddy of competitive skating events, the Winter Olympic Games.

Olympic Figure Skating
Athletes compete for gold in four events: ladies' singles, men's singles, pairs and ice dancing. The singles and pairs events consist of two portions: the short program and the free skate. There are three phases of competition in ice dancing: the compulsory dance, the original dance and the free dance.

Judging Basics
Skaters receive two sets of marks for each program, one based on the difficulty and execution of the technical elements and the second mark based on artistry, interpretation and presentation. While Ice Dancing does not include overhead lifts and jumps, it does require synchronized twizzles and step sequences to be performed.

Check out his Twizzle

Like most organization started two centuries ago, the ISU has arrived at the 21st century kicking, screaming and clinging to some antiquated ideas. Plagued by accusations of homophoia, favoritism, and questionable judgement, the ISU has most recently been called to task for choosing "ethnic folk" as the required theme for the 2010 original dance competition.

Having contestants choreograph and costume themselves according to cultural stereotypes may have screamed potential disaster to some, but coming from an organization that insists its female athletes be referred to as "ladies", it's not surprising the ISU missed the red flags.

Ice Dancing image

Our athletes are more lady like

While most competitors smartly chose to insult their own country of origin, a few took the risky path of "honoring" traditions from foreign lands. Mixed success ensued. Russia's Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shablin took the most heat for their homage to the indigenous people of Australia.

Aborigine Figure Skating

Insult or Athletic Tribute?

US athletes, Meryl Davis and Charlie White competed to a (non Native-American) Indian theme, that could be construed as caricature or cliche, but their costumes and interpretation have been well received.

Bollywood Ice Dancing
Bollywood goes nuts for Davis and White's Ode to India

Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre dodged a bullet, not due to any sensitivity on their part, but for more practical reasons. According to Bommentre, "he could not grow long enough hair for dreadlocks and rejected hair extensions" for their Afro-Brazilian routine.

Afro-Brazillian ICE SKATIng

Bommentre and Navarro performing the traditional South American bitch slap

This isn't the only time costumes have caused a stir. Back in 1988, Katarina Witt showed up at the European championships wearing a skimpy showgirl costume trimmed with feathers, and no skirt. This lead to the "Katarina Rule", requiring ladies to wear skirts and pants "covering the hips and posterior" until 2004 when the rule was repealed.

Katarina Witt Topless
Skirtless Katarina Witt inspires eponymous "Katarina Rule"

Skating Scandal Timeline

Skating Scandals Timeline

At the 2002 Olympics in Utah, Russian and French judges were accused of vote swapping. Russians Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were awarded the Gold Medal over Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. The Canadians skated perfectly in their long program, but the Russians made a mistake.

It was discovered shortly after that the French Skating Federation had "made a deal" with the Russians. The "deal" was to give the French the Gold Medal in Ice Dancing and the Russians the Gold in Pair Skating. This lead to a revamp of the scoring system, in an attempt to make it more objective and less vulnerable to abuse.

Not only the Costumes are Colorful

During the 1994 US Olympic trials, skater Nancy Kerrigan was assaulted with a bat to the leg. Olympic hopeful Tonya Harding's husband, Jeff Gillooly was eventually convicted and sent to prison for his role in the attack. Kerrigan and Harding went on to compete at the Olympics that year, where the public was treated to Harding's broken lace meltdown and Kerrigan's sore loser-ness.

Nancy Kerrigan why me

Kerrigan's "Why Me?" the "Don't Tase me, Bro" of the 1990s

After losing the gold to former orphan and future drunk driver Oksana Baiul, Kerrigan's poor sportsmanship got a chance to shine. When Baiul was late to the podium to receive her gold medal because she was getting made up for her big moment, Kerrigan graciously stated on camera, "Oh, come on. So she's going to get out here and cry again. What's the difference?".

Nicole Bobek Cans

Nicole Bobek, methamphetamine and Campbell's Soup shill

Harding was eventually banned from skating for her involvement in the attack, but avoided jail time. Other figure skaters haven't been as fortunate. In 2006, Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medalist, Wolfgang Schwarz, was sentenced to eight years in prison for attempted kidnapping. Prior to this, Schwarz had been charged with human trafficking for bringing young Lithuanian girls to Austria to work as prostitutes.

The fate of former US skating star, Nicole Bobek is still to be determined, in 2009 she was charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine if convicted, Bobek faces up to 10 years in prison.

Johnny weir Fur costume

I eat meat and wear fur!

Self described "princessy" skater, Johnny Weir's received flak over the fur adorned skating costume he wore in the 2010 US Championship competition. Weir originally countered critics by stating, "Maybe I'm wearing a cute little fox while everyone else is wearing cow, but we're all still wearing animals." -BUH. HUH. URN!

After receiving death threats from animal rights activists, Weir decided to go fur free at the 2010 Olympics . He insisted his switch to pink leather tassles not be considered a victory by anti-fur activists.

"I hope these activists can understand that my decision to change my costume is in no way a victory for them, but a draw." Weir went on to cryptically explain his odd reasoning for the perceived tie.

"I am not changing in order to appease them, but to protect my integrity and the integrity of the Olympic Games as well as my fellow competitors."

Johnny Weir Roses

Johnny Weir Integrity Champion

Figure Skating Videos

Astronauts onboard the ISS have a new view of Earth

Posted February 20, 2010
Astronauts' New Window on the World
download large image (1 MB, JPEG) acquired February 17, 2010

Astronauts' New Window on the World
download large image (1023 KB, JPEG) acquired February 19, 2010

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) have a new view of Earth after the space shuttle Endeavour delivered the Tranquility module to the station. Measuring 15 feet wide by 23 feet long, Tranquility holds some of the station’s environmental control equipment, such as the system that cleans carbon dioxide from the air, and it also provides living space for exercise equipment and a bathroom. Tranquility also comes with a cupola, a dome-shaped viewing port made up of seven windows.

Shortly after the shutters were removed from the windows on February 17, 2010, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi took the top photo while looking out from the new cupola. The tan, brown, and orange Sahara Desert is visible through the windows. On February 19, an astronaut captured the bottom photo—looking into the cupola on STS-130 mission commander George Zamka, who was visiting the Space Station’s “new wing” while the shuttle was still docked to the station.

“The cupola is intended to enhance situational awareness for ISS operations like spacecraft docking, EVAs [Extra Vehicular Activities, spacewalks], and robotic operations,” says William Stefanov of the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center, a lab set up to help astronauts take pictures of Earth that will be of greatest value to scientists and the public. Many of those activities require astronauts to control tools and machines remotely while watching their progress on a monitor. (Imagine trying to mow your lawn with a remote controlled lawnmower and a fixed video camera.)

But while the view out of Tranquility was primarily designed to give astronauts a way to see the outside of the station itself, it also provides a stunning panoramic view of Earth and space. “There is no intention to focus astronaut photography of the Earth through the cupola, but it will almost certainly be used for that purpose by crew members,” says Stefanov.

In an essay published on the Earth Observatory in October 2003, Astronaut Ed Lu described the experience of seeing the Earth from the International Space Station. “When I look out a window that faces straight down, it is actually pretty hard to see the horizon—you need to get your face very close to the window. So what you see out a window like that is a moving patch of ground (or water),” he wrote. ”When looking out a sideward facing window, you can see the horizon of the Earth against the black background of space.” The cupola will allow astronauts the luxury of both views at once.

  1. References

  2. Lu, E. (2003, October 22). Watching the world go by. NASA’s Earth Observatory. Accessed February 19, 2010.
  3. NASA. (2010, February 17). Let there be light. Accessed February 19, 2010.
  4. NASA. (2010, February 7). Endeavour to deliver a room with a view. Accessed February 19, 2010.

NASA photographs ISS022-E-066972 and ISS022-E-068726 courtesy Johnson Space Center. Caption by Holli Riebeek.

ISS - Digital Camera

Epic Beard Man Explains It All

Description: Thomas Bruso has emerged from hiding to give a candid, expletive-filled recap of the punch heard 'round the world.

Maybe Hayden Panettiere's New Boobs Will Make Her Popular Again


Hayden Panettiere Opts for Bigger Boobs

quick takeLook! They've already gotten her at least one more headline than she would have had yesterday. Nice work, new fake boobs.

According to a report, the “Heroes” hottie has been wanting a bigger bustline for awhile now, and she finally went under the knife over the holidays to make it happen.

An inside source told press, “Hayden went from an A to a C cup, and she couldn’t be happier. She’s wanted bigger boobs since she was 17, but the time and scheduling were just never right. She finally decided to do it right after the holidays.

“Hayden hopes her makeover will land her better parts and finally get her out of that cute, blonde, popular cheerleader stereotype.”