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Media

Submission + - Why are some HD shows S T R E T C H E D? (newteevee.com) 1

Chris Albrecht writes: "There's some science behind some TV networks distorting their shows to fit a widescreen format. TBS uses an algorithm to determine where the action is taking place. It keeps that ratio normal and stretches the rest of the image to fit the screen. Research also says people prefer the stretched image to the original. What do you think?"
Books

Submission + - Is someone selling 5 Star book reviews?

An anonymous reader writes: Is someone selling 5 Star book reviews?

I noticed a book reviewer named "Midwest Book Review" had several 5 Star book reviews, each of which looked liked book blurbs, not reviews. I then checked out the reviewer at:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A14OJS0VWMOSW O/ref=cm_cr_auth/102-4466102-9848954

I wrote Amazon.com the following:

Comments:Dear Amazon,
>
> I love the customer review feature of Amazon.com.
>
> I think a reviewer named "Midwest Book Review" may be abusing the
review process.
>
> It appears they have 31,106 book reviews on your site. The first
200 reviews I looked at all had Five Star ratings. (I only looked
at the first 200 book reviews.)
>
> I have no idea what's going on here, but the sample of reviews I
read seem more like book promotion blurbs than reviews. I'm
wondering if they are selling Five Star reviews to authors.
>
> See http://www.midwestbookreview.com/get_rev.htm
>
> Any abuse of the Amazon.com review process severly weakens my
faith in the review process, which I rely on to make good choices.
>
> I hope you will investigate this matter and find out if the review
process is being abused.
>
> Thanks.
>

Amazon responded:

Thank you for contacting Amazon.com.

We appreciate that you took the time to write to us about this
issue. I have looked into this situation and found that the reviews
posted by Midwest Book Reviewer do not fall outside of our review
guidelines. While we do not condone selling positive book reviews,
we have no way of showing that this is what is happening in this
case and cannot take any action.

We thank you for your interest in our customer reviews. Comments
such as yours help us improve our service and are always
appreciated. Let us know if you have any other concerns.

Please let us know if this e-mail resolved your question:

************************************************

I am not claiming Midwest Book Review (http://www.midwestbookreview.com/bw/index.htm)
is doing anything wrong. I could not look through all 31,000+ reviews to see if they are all 5 star reviews. The reviews may be honest appraisals. It does, however, look suspicious to me.
Sci-Fi

Purdue Unveils a Tricorder 177

aeoneal writes "According to Science Daily, mass spectrometry is no longer limited to what can be taken to the lab. Purdue researchers have created a device they liken to a tricorder, a handy 20-lb. device that combines mass spectrometry with DESI (desorption electrospray ionization), allowing chemical composition to be determined outside of a vacuum chamber. Purdue suggests this could be useful for everything from detecting explosive substances or cancer to predicting disease. Researcher R. Graham Cooks says, 'We like to compare it to the tricorder because it is truly a hand-held instrument that yields information about the precise chemical composition of samples in a matter of minutes without harming the samples.'"

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