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Books

+ - Author David Eddings Has Passed Away, Age 77->

Submitted by
thejynxed
thejynxed writes "From the source article:

Eddings was famously old-fashioned, never using a typewriter or computer (he wrote out his scripts in long-hand) and was well-known for being self-effacing, once remarking, "I'm never going to be in danger of getting a Nobel Prize for literature."

From another article:

David Eddings, the acclaimed fantasy novelist and author of such series as The Belgariad and The Malloreon, has died at the age of 77. David Eddings was predeceased by his wife and writing partner Leigh two years ago.

It's a shame really, as The Belgariad is one of the better series out there, IMHO. I spent many hours of class time during my junior and high school years reading his novels."
Link to Original Source

Patents

+ - US Patent Office decimates Amazon's 1-Click Patent->

Submitted by thejynxed
thejynxed (831517) writes "The USPTO has finally come to a decision and made an Amazon 1-Click Patent Ruling.

From the article:

Most of the claims in Amazon's controversial patent for shopping with a single mouse click have been rejected by the US Patent Office. It follows a campaign by a New Zealander who filed evidence of prior art with funding from readers of his blog. There are 26 claims in Amazon.com's patent for Method and system for placing a purchase order via a communications network, better known as its 1-Click patent. Only five of the claims — numbered six to 10 — have been deemed "patentable and/or confirmed". Twenty-one others were rejected. Peter Calveley from Auckland has previously told OUT-LAW that he has no business interest in revoking Amazon's most famous asset of intellectual property. He worked as a motion capture performer and appeared as part of the evil armies in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy before he began his Amazon.com campaign over 18 months ago. He said at the time that it was a simply a hobby borne of an interest in patents and a frustration with an order for a book from Amazon that took too long to arrive. Amazon applied for its famous patent in September 1997, naming founder and CEO Jeff Bezos as one of three inventors.
What's really funny, is that one of the patents used as prior art belongs to...Jeff Bezos. A patent filed by him and granted in 1995 was found to nullify one of the claims in Amazon's 1-Click Patent. You would think he would have known this or at least sub-licensed his personal patent to his company..."

Link to Original Source
Biotech

+ - Japanese firm tests brain-controlled toys->

Submitted by thejynxed
thejynxed (831517) writes "From the article:

HATOYAMA, Japan (AP) — Forget the clicker: A new technology in Japan could let you control electronic devices without lifting a finger simply by reading brain activity. The "brain-machine interface" developed by Hitachi analyzes slight changes in the brain's blood flow and translates brain motion into electric signals. A cap connects by optical fibers to a mapping device, which links, in turn, to a toy train set via a control computer and motor during one recent demonstration at Hitachi's Advanced Research Laboratory in Hatoyama, just outside Tokyo. "Take a deep breath and relax," said Kei Utsugi, a researcher, while demonstrating the device on Wednesday. At his prompting, a reporter did simple calculations in her head, and the train sprang forward — apparently indicating activity in the brain's frontal cortex, which handles problem solving. Activating that region of the brain — by doing sums or singing a song — is what makes the train run, according to Utsugi. When one stops the calculations, the train stops, too. Underlying Hitachi's brain-machine interface is a technology called optical topography, which sends a small amount of infrared light through the brain's surface to map out changes in blood flow. Although brain-machine interface technology has traditionally focused on medical uses, makers like Hitachi and Japanese automaker Honda Motor have been racing to refine the technology for commercial application. Hitachi's scientists are set to develop a brain TV remote controller letting users turn a TV on and off or switch channels by only thinking. Honda, whose interface monitors the brain with an MRI machine like those used in hospitals, is keen to apply the interface to intelligent, next-generation automobiles.
"

Link to Original Source
Education

+ - MIT dean resigns over misrepresented credentials -

Submitted by thejynxed
thejynxed (831517) writes "http://www.cnn.com/2007/EDUCATION/04/26/mit.dean.a p/index.html?eref=rss_latest

To stressed-out parents and students, MIT admissions dean Marilee Jones was a rare voice of reason in the high-pressure world of college admissions. With colleges demanding kids who play sports, run student government and take the heaviest course load they can, Jones shouted back the opposite: daydream, stay healthy, and don't worry so much about building a resume just to impress an elite college. Yet it turns out that Jones was susceptible to pressure herself. She falsely bolstered her credentials to get a job with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and over the course of her career claimed to have earned degrees from three schools. MIT officials say now they have no evidence she ever graduated from college at all. The school announced Thursday that Jones had resigned after acknowledging she had misrepresented her education when she started working at the university 28 years ago, and declined to correct multiple incorrect claims since then. A senior MIT official said that by claiming degrees she had never earned, Jones could no longer lead an admissions office that occasionally rescinds the acceptance letters sent to applicants who are untruthful about their own accomplishments. "We have to uphold the integrity of the institution, because that's what we've been trying to sell and she's our chief spokesperson on that," MIT Chancellor Phil Clay said. It's "regrettable, ironic, sad, but that's where we are."
A poseur is still a poseur. She lied on her resume, and continued to lie, and didn't bother fixing her lie. Now she got caught out, and is gone. Kudos to MIT for finally fixing their error, but I have to ask: "What took them so long to confirm the credentials of a Dean?" Is it normal for corporations and schools to screw up this badly, especially in a day and age when confirming you are who you say you are is rather important? (28 years??? Yeesh)"
Microsoft

+ - Microsoft posts 65 percent profit rise - CNN.com

Submitted by thejynxed
thejynxed (831517) writes "http://www.cnn.com/2007/BUSINESS/04/26/microsoft.p rofits.reut/index.html?eref=rss_latest

Microsoft posted a 65 percent rise in quarterly profit Thursday, topping Wall Street estimates due to better-than-expected demand for its new Windows Vista operating system. Shares of Microsoft rose 5 percent after the announcement, in which the world's biggest software company also forecast 2008 profit at the mid-point of a range of analyst estimates. "The strength of Vista is really driving this," said Kim Caughey, analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group. She added that the company had set "manageable expectations for the full year 2008, which generally allows them some headroom." Microsoft posted a net profit of $4.93 billion, or 50 cents per diluted share, in its fiscal third quarter ended March 31 versus a profit of $2.98 billion, or 29 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Excluding tax benefits and a legal charge, Microsoft earned 49 cents per share, beating the average analyst forecast of 46 cents, according to Reuters Estimates. Revenue rose 32 percent to $14.4 billion. Analysts, on average, had forecast revenue of $13.89 billion, with estimates ranging from $13.73 billion to $14.09 billion, according to Reuters Estimates. Microsoft deferred about $1.7 billion in revenue from its second quarter to its third quarter to account for upgrade coupons given to customers prior to the January launch of Vista and Office 2007. Microsoft expects the latest versions of its two flagship products to underpin profit growth over the next few years. Those two product lines alone account for more than half of Microsoft's total revenue and a majority of its profits. Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell said consumer sales of Vista surpassed the company's own expectations by $300 million to $400 million. "There is very good acceptance from a launch perspective for the product. It's early days, but we're encouraged by it," Liddell said in an interview with Reuters.
Now, is it just me, or are they seriously counting OEM installs as "consumer sales"? I would have thought they had enough sense to know and say the difference between selling a copy to Dell or HP and selling a copy directly to the consumer. Especially since they all pay at different price points. I am starting to think they just pull these numbers out of their asses and everyone on Wall Street falls for it. Still, this is the largest gain that MS has posted in quite awhile. Should make the shareholders happier."
Books

+ - Novelist Kurt Vonnegut dies at 84 - CNN.com

Submitted by thejynxed
thejynxed (831517) writes "http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/books/04/12/obit.v onnegut.ap/index.html Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," died Wednesday. He was 84. Vonnegut, who often marveled that he had lived so long despite his lifelong smoking habit, had suffered brain injuries after a fall at his Manhattan home weeks ago, said his wife, photographer Jill Krementz. The author of at least 19 novels, many of them best-sellers, as well as dozens of short stories, essays and plays, Vonnegut relished the role of a social critic. He lectured regularly, exhorting audiences to think for themselves and delighting in barbed commentary against the institutions he felt were dehumanizing people. "I will say anything to be funny, often in the most horrible situations," Vonnegut, whose watery, heavy-lidded eyes and unruly hair made him seem to be in existential pain, once told a gathering of psychiatrists. A self-described religious skeptic and freethinking humanist, Vonnegut used protagonists such as Billy Pilgrim and Eliot Rosewater as transparent vehicles for his points of view. He also filled his novels with satirical commentary and even drawings that were only loosely connected to the plot. In "Slaughterhouse-Five," he drew a headstone with the epitaph: "Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.""
Announcements

+ - Nvidia purchases iPod chip designer

Submitted by thejynxed
thejynxed (831517) writes "Nvidia has announced that they are purchasing PortalPlayer, Inc. one of the main designers of microchips for the iPod and other music players for $357 million USD. From the article on CNN.com:
Analysts said the acquisition reflects growing consumer demand for video-capable digital music players and the increasingly competitive and lucrative market for supplying the chips to power those devices. Santa Clara-based Nvidia said it would pay $13.50 in cash for each outstanding share of San Jose-based PortalPlayer, a 1 percent premium over PortalPlayer's closing price Friday. Nvidia said the deal has been approved by the boards of both companies. Nvidia's stock rose 3 percent to close Monday at $33.59, while PortalPlayer's shares were down a penny to close at $13.35, both on the Nasdaq. "Modern mobile devices are miniaturized yet powerful multimedia computers," Jen-Hsun Huang, Nvidia's chief executive officer, said in a statement. "With the products created through this combination, we intend to drive the next digital revolution, where the mobile device becomes our most personal computer." PortalPlayer is best known for providing chips that power Apple Computer Inc.'s wildly popular iPod digital music players. But the company suffered a major setback earlier this year when Apple chose to use Samsung Electronics Co. chips instead of PortalPlayer's for the flash memory-based iPod Nano line, and PortalPlayer's stock price plummeted. However, PortalPlayer's technology was included in recent versions of Apple's video iPods, and analysts said the relationship with Apple and other mobile device makers made PortalPlayer a lucrative target for Nvidia, which is accelerating its push into portable music players and other handheld devices.
You can read the full article here: http://www.cnn.com/2006/BUSINESS/11/06/nvidia.deal .ap/index.html"

It is not every question that deserves an answer. -- Publilius Syrus

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