Brazil just reduced taxes for tablets produced within the country. Apple may or may not be moving its production to Brazil, but it is certainly interesting that this speculation come right after this Brazilian gov't move. Also, there is Mercosul, which is an area of (almost) free commerce in South America that has Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile as members (Venezuela is also part of Mercosul, I think).
agrif writes "Shorah b'shemtee! Uru Live has been released for free, as a first step towards opening its source. This game, an MMO released by the makers of Myst and Riven in 2003, has been canceled, zombified, resurrected, canceled again, and is now about to be released as open source to its dedicated fan base. Massively has written a brief newbie guide if you're unfamiliar with the game."
Andrew "bunnie" Huang, whom we've discussed before for his book on Xbox hacking and development of the Chumby, has made an interesting blog post about problems he's found with Kingston microSD cards. He first encountered a batch of bad cards during production of the ChumbyOne, and found Kingston initially unhelpful when trying to get them replaced. After noticing some unusual markings on the chips, he decided to investigate for himself, comparing the ID data and dissolving the cards' casings with nitric acid to take a look inside. He found that each of his Kingston-branded samples actually had a Toshiba/SanDisk memory chip inside, and that the batch of low-quality cards he received may not be as uncommon as he thought. "Significantly, Kingston is revealed as simply a vendor that re-marks other people's chips in its own packaging. Every Kingston card surprisingly had a SanDisk/Toshiba memory chip inside, and the only variance or 'value add' that could be found is in the selection of the controller chip. ... This tells me that Kingston must be crushed when it comes to margin, which may explain why irregular cards are finding their way into their supply chain. Kingston is also probably more willing to talk to smaller accounts like me because as a channel brand they can't compete against OEMs like Sandisk or Samsung for the biggest contracts from the likes of Nokia or RIMM. Effectively, Kingston is just a channel trader and is probably seen by SanDisk/Toshiba as a demand buffer for their production output. I also wouldn't be surprised if SanDisk/Toshiba was selling Kingston 'A-' grade parts, i.e., parts with slightly more defective sectors, but otherwise perfectly serviceable. As a result, Kingston plays a significant and important role in stabilizing microSD card prices and improving fab margins, but at some risk to their own brand image."
ericatcw writes "While the US government is intent on adding new rules around the shipment and carrying of Lithium-Ion batteries on passenger and cargo planes, data from its own Federal Aviation Agency show that the risk of being on an airplane where someone — not necessarily you — suffers a minor injury due to a battery is only one in 28 million, reports Computerworld, which analyzed the data (skip to the chart here) using the free Tableau Public data visualization service. Getting killed in a car accident, by contrast, is 4,300 times more likely. Opponents say the rules could raise the cost of shopping online and add hassles for fliers and consumers."
TapeCutter writes "In a paper soon to be published (PDF) in the Astrophysical Journal, Australian researchers have estimated the entropy of the universe is about 30 times higher than previous estimates. According to their research, super-massive black holes 'are the largest contributor to the entropy of the observable universe, contributing at least an order of magnitude more entropy than previously estimated.' For those of us who like their science in the form of a car analogy, Dr. Lineweaver compared their results to a car's gas tank. He states, 'It's a bit like looking at your gas gauge and saying "I thought I had half a gas tank, but I only have a quarter of a tank."'" Fortunately, that quarter of a tank will still get us as far as we need to go and then some.
mr crypto writes "User interfaces make copious use of pictures and symbols, but how abstract should images be? Lukas Mathis has an interesting blog entry on where to draw the line."
benz001 writes "In the run-up to everyone's favourite tablet, Phil Gyford goes back through his gadget collection and compares text entry speeds to see which one comes out on top. It's not what you'd call a rich data set, and of course the Qwerty keyboard comes up trumps, but the iPhone virtual keyboard came in a surprisingly close second, just edging out the Treo — and all the keyboard solutions regardless of how small and fiddly beat real pen and paper. This probably matches most people's experience (when was the last time you had to handwrite more than a bullet point in a meeting?) and gels pretty well with Macworld's predictions but I'm still hoping for sub-vocal voice recognition. (Jump straight to the final results here)."
mliu writes "In what is sure to be a blow to the already beleaguered stand-alone GPS market, Nokia, the global leader in smartphone market share, has released a fully offline-enabled free GPS navigation and mapping application for its Symbian smartphones. Furthermore, the application also includes Lonely Planet and Michelin guides. Unfortunately, the N900, which is beloved by geeks for its Maemo Linux-based operating system, has not seen any of the navigation love so far. With Google's release of Google Navigation for Android smartphones, and now Nokia doing one better and releasing an offline-enabled navigation application, hopefully this is the start of a trend where this becomes an expected component of any smartphone."
Sabalon writes "I work at a state university with remote sites, minimal space, and all the other usual bits. We used to have some dedicated-circuit video conferencing tools but those have fallen into disuse. The administration is now interested in being able to stream a class from site to site, or at least have a student at one site have visual interaction with a person at another site. My thought is that if Skype, uStream and others can do live video, there has to be some things out there that don't cost a fortune but work effectively. Key things would be the ability to use commodity web cams as a source, viewable on a PC (preferably all the main OSes) and the ability to add in other devices (say H.323 encoders) or desktop/application sharing. Are there decent products and solutions out there for us mere mortals?"
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "A Facebook employee has given a tell-all interview with some very interesting things about Facebook's internals. Especially interesting are all the things relating to Facebook privacy. Basically, you don't have any. Nearly everything you've ever done on the site is recorded into a database. While they fire employees for snooping, more than a few have done it. There's an internal system to let them log into anyone's profile, though they have to be able to defend their reason for doing so. And they used to have a master password that could log into any Facebook profile: 'Chuck Norris.' Bruce Schneier might be jealous of that one."
rubycodez writes "Three meteorites, including one that has been in a British museum for over a century, are going to be put under the electron microscope and ion microprobe by NASA. We're 'very, very close to proving there is or has been life [on Mars],' said David McKay, chief of astrobiology at Johnson Space Center."
An anonymous reader writes "Ever wondered what the SysRq key on your keyboard does? Lenovo has decided it's so rarely used that it has started removing the key from some new Thinkpad Edge laptops. We already know that Lenovo are something of the fastidious scientists when it comes to keyboard design. Last time they fiddled with the age-old key layout, it was after painstaking research to count exactly how many times users press the Delete and Escape keys. Now it seems another relic of computer keyboards is starting to disappear."
Tisha_AH writes "A report by the Whitehead Institute indicates that the human Y chromosome present in males is evolving at a furious pace. Across the chromosome there can be as much as a 33% difference within humans alone. The portions of the chromosome evolving fastest are related to sperm production."
Terminal illness got you down? Does your future seems bleak? Channel 4 and production company Fulcrum TV would like to brighten your day by making you the star of an upcoming documentary. They would like to offer you the chance to be mummified on TV and maybe even displayed in a museum afterward. An advertisement for the project reads: "We are currently keen to talk to some one who, faced with the knowledge of their own terminal illness and all that it entails, would nonetheless consider undergoing the process of an ancient Egyptian embalming."