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Toys

Apple Forces Steve Jobs Action Figure Off eBay 233

Hugh Pickens writes "Kevin Parrish writes in Tom's Guide that last month, just in time for Christmas holiday gift-giving, M.I.C. Gadget began the manufacture and sale of a Steve Jobs action figure featuring an oversized head, Steve's trademark black shirt/blue jeans outfit, and a new iPhone 4 like a magical world-saving talisman in Jobs' left hand. The action figure, selling for $79.90, came with an Apple logo stand and cartoon balloons for writing custom messages. Soon a warning letter from Apple stated that the figurine violated a California statute prohibiting the use of a person's likeness in a product without prior authorization and sales ceased. But shortly after production stopped, the figurines began to appear on eBay selling for up to $2,500. Now Apple's lawyers have raided the online marketplace, zeroing in on one Canadian eBay seller who had already sold the figurine for $1,125 and eBay has removed other listings, telling sellers that the object for sale 'violates a celebrity's right of publicity.'"
The Military

Russian Army Upgrades Its Inflatable Weapons 197

jamax writes "According to the BBC: 'The Russian military has come up with an inventive way to deceive the enemy and save money at the same time: inflatable weapons. They look just like real ones: they are easy to transport and quick to deploy. You name it, the Russian army is blowing it up: from pretend tanks to entire radar stations.' But the interesting thing is these decoys are not dumb - actually they appear to be highly advanced for what I thought was a WWII-grade aerial photography countermeasures. Apparently they have heat signatures comparable with the military tech they represent, as well as the same radar signature."
Moon

Microwave Map of Entire Moon Revealed 82

Zothecula writes "The first complete microwave image of the Moon taken by Chinese lunar satellite Chang'E-1 has been revealed. Chang'E-1 is China's first scientific mission to explore planetary bodies beyond Earth and the on-board Lunar Microwave Radiometer has made it possible for the first time to globally map the Moon in microwave frequencies. Radar observations of the Moon are unable to provide thermal information, and microwave observations taken from Earth cannot reach the far side of the moon. So Chang'E-1's (CE-1) orbit was conducted at an altitude of 200km (124 miles) and allowed it to observe every location of the moon with a nadir view and at high spatial resolution."
Advertising

Did Google Go Instant Just To Show More Ads? 250

eldavojohn writes "Google, already the largest search engine in the United States, went instant a few weeks ago. MIT's Tech Review asks why Google went instant and is skeptical that users actually look at search results before they finish typing their query. Othar Hansson, Google's lead on the initiative, informs them otherwise and claims that Google's traffic monitors didn't even blink at the extra data being sent across — primarily because of its insignificance next to streaming one video on YouTube. Hansson also reveals that Google's search engine is no longer stateless and therefore takes up a little more memory in their server hives. The Tech Review claims that 'sources at the company say Google Instant's impact on ad sales was a primary focus in testing the service. Google only gets paid for an advertisement, or sponsored link, when a user clicks on the ad, and ads are targeted to specific searches. By displaying a search's ads onscreen a couple of seconds sooner, the frequency of users clicking on those ads could only go up.' So money seemed to be the prime motivator and the article also coyly notes that the average length of time a user spends between typing in any two characters is 300 milliseconds — much too fast for old JavaScript engines. Of course, you might recall Google's efforts to change all that with JavaScript speed wars. Do you find Google Instant to be useful in any way, or does it strike you as just more ad gravity for your mouse?"
Intel

Intel Unveils 'Sandy Bridge' Architecture 163

njkobie writes "Intel has officially unveiled Sandy Bridge, its latest platform architecture, at the first day of IDF in San Francisco. The platform is the successor to the Nehalem/Westmere architecture and integrates graphics directly onto the CPU die. It also upgrades the Turbo Mode already seen in Core i5 and i7 processors to achieve even greater speed improvements. Turbo Mode on Sandy Bridge processors can now draw more than the chip's nominal TDP where the system is cool enough to do so safely, enabling even greater boosts in core speeds than those seen in Westmere. No details of specific products have been made available, but Intel has confirmed that processors built on the new architecture will be referred to as 'second generation Core processors,' and are expected to go on sale in early 2011. In 2012 it is due to be shrunk to a 22nm process, under the name Ivy Bridge."
Education

Medical Students Open To Learning With Video Games 46

Gwmaw writes "A reported 98 percent of medical students surveyed at the University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin-Madison liked the idea of using technology to enhance their medical education, according to a study published online in BMC Medical Education. For example, a virtual environment could help medical students learn how to interview a patient or run a patient clinic. In the survey, 80 percent of students said computer games can have an educational value."
Image

Inmates Escape As Guard Plays Plants Vs. Zombies Screenshot-sm 87

dotarray writes "Everybody knows that there's a certain risk one takes when playing addictive, engrossing games can be trouble when you're meant to be doing something else. The prevalence of awesome games on the iPhone hasn't helped that risk. A Plants Vs. Zombies loving police officer has learned this the hard way after an escape."
Displays

Does Anyone Really Prefer Glossy Screens? 646

An anonymous reader asked a question that I've been wondering about too: "I live in a small southern European country where natural light abounds. This may sound good, but it is a pain when it comes to using laptops that come with a glossy finish, making it impossible to work unless you are doing it in the dark. To make matters worse, since we are a small market, most manufacturers only offer a subset of their product line, and don't allow you to choose any options available in other countries (like matte screens). Buying abroad is not an option since we have our own very specific keyboard layout. Why are manufacturers doing this? Does anyone really prefer using glossy screens for day-to-day activities?"
Earth

Thermosphere Contraction Puzzles Scientists 200

The thermosphere layer of earth's atmosphere begins 80 to 90 kilometers above the surface and extends several hundred kilometers into the sky; it is the home to numerous satellites and the International Space Station. It is known that the thermosphere occasionally cools and contracts, but a recent study of satellite orbital decay (due to light atmospheric drag) found that the contraction during 2008 and 2009 was significantly more severe than expected, leaving researchers at a loss for how to explain it. From Space.com: "This type of collapse is not rare, but its magnitude shocked scientists. 'This is the biggest contraction of the thermosphere in at least 43 years,' said John Emmert of the Naval Research Lab, lead author of a paper announcing the finding in the June 19 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. 'It's a Space Age record.' The collapse occurred during a period of relative solar inactivity — called a solar minimum from 2008 to 2009. These minimums are known to cool and contract the thermosphere, however, the recent collapse was two to three times greater than low solar activity could explain."
Education

Colleges Stepping Up Anti-Cheating Technology 439

Bruce Schneier's blog highlights a New York Times piece on high-tech methods for detecting student cheating. Schneier notes, "The measures used to prevent cheating during tests remind me of casino security measures." "No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student's speaking into a hands-free cellphone to an accomplice outside. The 228 computers that students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to photograph the screen — using, say, a pen with a hidden camera, in order to help a friend who will take the test later — is easy to spot. Scratch paper is allowed — but it is stamped with the date and must be turned in later. When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student's real-time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in, and both sets of images are burned onto a CD for evidence." The Times article quotes from research published a few months back suggesting that the more you copy homework, the lower your grades.
Bug

Apple To Issue a 'Fix' For iPhone 4 Reception Perception 534

Lisandro and several other readers let us know that Apple has just released a statement addressing the signal issues a lot of users are having with their iPhone 4. They claim to have discovered the cause for the drop in bars, which is "both simple and surprising" — a wrong formula used to calculate how many bars are displayed for a given signal strength. "Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. ... we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place. ... We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula. Since this mistake has been present since the original iPhone, this software update will also be available for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G." Wired notes that there is still a signal drop when the iPhone 4 is gripped in particular ways.
Announcements

Knuth Plans 'Earthshaking Announcement' Wednesday 701

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Donald Knuth is planning to make an 'earthshaking announcement' on Wednesday, at TeX's 32nd Anniversary Celebration, on the final day of the TUG 2010 Conference. Unfortunately, nobody seems to know what it is. So far speculation ranges from proving P!=NP, to a new volume of The Art of Computer Programming, to his retirement. Maybe Duke Nukem Forever has been ported to MMIX?" Let the speculation begin.

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