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Submission + - USPTO Issues "Paper-or-Plastic?" Patent to 1

theodp writes: "On Tuesday, IBM was granted U.S. Patent No. 7,407,089 for storing a preference for paper or plastic grocery bags on customer cards and displaying a picture of said preference after a card is scanned. The invention, Big Blue explains, eliminates the 'unnecessary inconvenience for both the customer and the cashier' that results when 'Paper or Plastic?' must be asked. The patent claims also cover affixing a cute sticker of a paper or plastic bag to a customer card to indicate packaging preferences. So does this pass the 'significant technical content' test, IBM'ers?"

Feed Engadget: Call center software can re-route angry callers (

Filed under: Misc. Gadgets

We've already seen call center software that can determine the age and gender of callers, but a Japanese company called Digital Technologies says its developing software that will take actions based on the emotions of the person on the line. The data is used to rank people on a 1-10 scale of happy to displeased, but it's not clear if the system springs into action after you connect to a real person or if it starts while you try to navigate voice menus -- because if our experiences with Amtrak's "Julie" automated voice agent are any guide, you might as well just rank everyone as "angry" and be done with it.

[Image by Armend Krasniqi]

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Christmas Cheer

Submission + - Did Amazon Customers Buy the Wrong Planet Earth?

theodp writes: "In mid-December, the NY Post cited an endorsement from Oprah on her 'Favorite Things' show for making Planet Earth the best-selling DVD set on Amazon. And Amazon just reported that the $54.99 boxed set was one of its three best-selling DVDs this holiday season in terms of units sold. It'd be ironic if the huge sales numbers can be attributed to The Oprah Effect, since the David Attenborough-narrated version of Planet Earth sold by Amazon certainly wasn't the same as the Sigourney Weaver-narrated version sold by the Discovery Channel Store that was actually on Oprah's List. That the Amazon version wasn't just-what-the-Oprah-ordered wasn't evident from the Amazon web site, although some customers tried to warn potential buyers."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Bill Gates Denied Visa to Nigeria ( 1

Xight writes: "Gizmodo recently wrote an article about Nigeria recently denying Bill Gates a visa to travel there on his recent trip to Africa proving that money can't get you everything. Whats even more amusing is that he was at "initially denied the Microsoft kingpin's application on the premise that they required proof he would not reside in Nigeria indefinitely, causing a strain on social services and a general nuisance for immigration.". I guess those Nigerian 419 scams really do pay off for them."

Submission + - Porn Spammers Get Five Years

Frosty Piss writes: "Two men who sent millions of unsolicited pornographic e-mails have been sentenced to more than five years in federal prison as part of the first prosecution under the CAN-SPAM Act, U.S. Department of Justice officials said Friday. They sent millions of unsolicited e-mails, prosecutors said. During nine months in 2004, Kilbride, Schaffer and an associate transmitted more than 600,000 spam messages advertising pornographic Web sites, according to court documents."

Submission + - Researcher plans on sperm-based LEDs (

Wandalf writes: A press release by the University of Cincinnati reveals that professor Andrew Steckl, in his search for top quality biological material used for LED technology suggested salmon sperm as trap in LEDs. "Biological materials have many technologically important qualities — electronic, optical, structural, magnetic," says Steckl. "But certain materials are hard for to duplicate, such as DNA and proteins." In his search for a source that's widely available, and not subject to any organization or country he suggested salmon sperm, which is considered a waste product.

Feed Techdirt: LA Times: Publishers Think Google Is Worse Than Osama bid Laden (

While the SF Chronicle may have gone through the stages of Google grief, it appears the LA Times is still very much in the denial stage. In fact, it's such extreme denial, that it's reaching near-satire levels. Robert Niles at OJR points us to an editorial in the LA Times saying that "many publishers" believe that Google and the internet are "a greater threat... than Osama bin Laden." Niles does a good job walking through how ridiculous that statement is, including pointing out that the LA Times refuses to name a single publisher who actually believes that. However, as has been pointed out many, many times, Google is not a threat to newspapers. It's only helping them. It's funny that, on the rest of the internet, tremendous money is spent on "search engine marketing" and "search engine optimization" to get better ranked in Google. Yet, when Google ranks newspapers well, suddenly, it's worse than terrorists. You would think that a newspaper with professional reporters would actually bother to get the facts and understand this -- but apparently that's too much to ask. The editorial goes on to complain about Google's new news commenting feature, because how dare Google actually provide people involved in a story a chance to tell their side? Apparently, all information needs to be guarded by some gatekeepers who don't even seem to understand how Google works. Of course, since the LA Times wants to keep those in the story quiet, you can't comment on the article. However, if I were Google, I'd add a response to this... on Google News, to demonstrate why that comment feature makes so much sense.

A rock store eventually closed down; they were taking too much for granite.