Lev13than writes: In a plush lesson on supply & demand, the 1990s phenomenon of $10 Beanie Baby toys that resold for upwards of $10,000 each are now languishing on eBay for as low as $0.40 per toy. The Toronto Star revisited the subject of a 1997 cover story, the then-10-year old "investor" Mike Garard. Now, 15 years later, Garard is grown up, and some of those rare Beanies once worth thousands, well, “You can’t even get 20 bucks,” he says. At the height of the craze, Garard’s father told him to sell the animals, but he couldn’t part with them. He estimated he had four or five of the rare ones worth $7,500 to $10,000. When high school came, he hid them away. “It’s not the most impressive thing if you’ve got a girlfriend coming over and you’ve got a ton of stuffed animals all over the place,” Garard said.
Lev13than writes: Research In Motion just reported first quarter results for the three months ended June 2, 2012. Highlights (if you can call it that) include shipment of 7.8M phones and 260k PlayBooks, a loss of $518M on the quarter, layoffs of 5,000 staff and, probably most significantly, the delay of BB10 to Q1 2013. They were able to boost cash reserves from $2B to $2.2B and grow their subscriber base everywhere outside North America, but in all it's another bleak update from the former world leader in smartphones.
Lev13than writes: B.C.’s top health official says taking pure ecstasy can be “safe” when consumed responsibly by adults. Dr. Perry Kendall asserts the risks of MDMA – the pure substance originally synonymous with ecstasy – are overblown, and that its lethal dangers only arise when the man-made chemical is polluted by money-hungry gangs who cook it up. That’s why the chief provincial health officer is advocating MDMA be legalized and sold through licensed, government-run stores where the product is strictly regulated from assembly line to check-out.
Lev13than writes: A Toronto-based G20 activist has been acquitted on all charges after the Crown failed to prove the Toronto man was planning to combine chemicals to make bombs. Byron Sonne, a self-described security geek, said the chemicals were for his rocketry hobby. Mr. Sonne also maintained he was trying to expose gaps in the $1-billion summit’s security, which the judge agreed was plausible. At trial, his lawyer argued that suggestions Mr. Sonne was planning to blow up the summit flew in the face of his openly stated intentions to expose security gaps. Police found no bombs when they arrested Mr. Sonne, but they did seize potato guns from his cottage. Mr. Sonne's arrest was one of a series of police missteps during the G20 summit held in June 2010 in Toronto.
Lev13than writes: Art historians working in Florence's city hall claim to have found evidence of Leonardo da Vinci's lost Battle of Anghiari fresco. Painted in 1505, the fresco was covered over by a larger mural during mid-16th Century palace renovations. Historians have long speculated that the original work was protected behind a false wall. Attempts to reveal the truth have been complicated by the need to protect Vasari's masterpiece Battle of Marciano that now graces the room. By drilling small holes into previously-restored sections of Vasari's fresco, researchers used endoscopic cameras and probes to determine that a second wall does exist. They further claim that the hidden wall is adorned with pigments consistent with Leonardo's style. The research has set off a storm of controversy between those who want to find the lost work and others who believe that it is gone, and that further exploration risks destroying the existing artwork.
Lev13than writes: Christopher Hitchens, the author, essayist and polemicist who waged verbal and occasional physical battle on behalf of causes on the left and right and wrote the provocative bestseller God is Not Great, died Thursday night after a long battle with cancer. He was 62. Always a polarizing figure, his staunch support of atheism held fast throughout his illness. God speed, Mr. Hitchens...
Lev13than writes: In a rather counter-intuitive conclusion, a University of Toronto study has found that anti-social media policies increase, rather than decrease your risk of being hacked. The study concludes that employee attempts to circumvent blocking are an entry vector for hackers. The study was based on a survey of 649 firms also makes some rather odd claims for "cost per breach". I'm working from the assumption that 100% of corporate emails have been hacked, so not sure how this really makes a difference...
Lev13than writes: Research In Motion is working on software to allow the upcoming PlayBook to run Android applications, according to Bloomberg. The report quotes one analysis who estimates the move will boost sales from 30-50%. The report does not mention if the apps will run in virtualization or emulation, although both platforms are Posix-compliant. An interesting move by RIM, and could be a critical factor in helping the device succeed in an increasingly-cluttered tablet landscape
Lev13than writes: Dr. David Johnston, formerly the president of the University of Waterloo, was installed as Canada's new Governor-General on Friday. As de facto head of state and the Queen's representative in Canada he is required to design a personal coat of arms. One modern detail has attracted particular attention — a 33-digit palindromic binary stream at the base. Efforts to decode the meaning of the number using ASCII, Morse, grouping by 3/11 and other theories has so far come up empty (right now it's a toss up between random, the phone number 683-077-0643 and Morse code for "send help — trapped in a coat of arms factory"). Is 110010111001001010100100111010011 the combination to his luggage, or just a random stream of digits?
Lev13than writes: In a direct retort to Glenn Beck's Restoring Honor rally, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert have announced competing rallies on October 30th. Stewart plans to host a “Rally To Restore Sanity” on Oct. 30 on the National Mall in D.C. for the Americans he says are too busy living normal, rational lives to attend other political demonstrations. Colbert, meantime, will shepherd his fans in a “March To Keep Fear Alive.” “Damn your reasonableness!” Colbert said. “Now is not the time to take it down a notch. Now is the time for all good men to freak out for freedom!” Stewart, meanwhile, has promised to provide attendees with signs featuring slogans such as “I Disagree With You But I'm Pretty Sure You're Not Hitler” and “I'm Afraid of Spiders.”
Lev13than writes: All men watch pornographic videos but it does not impact on their sexual habits or their relationships with women, a Canadian researcher has maintained after a two-year study. The majority watches X-rated movies to satisfy a "fringe fantasy," according to his research, and it would be unfair to extrapolate from that that it leads to criminal behavior. A handful of universities permitted Montreal University associate professor Simon Louis Lajeunesse to address their campuses, and after appealing to some 2,000 mostly women students to take part, 20 heterosexual men agreed to discuss their sex lives in depth.
Lev13than writes: Rogers Wireless' stranglehold on Canadian iPhone distribution is set to end, as both Bell and Telus announced on Tuesday that they will start carrying the iPhone in November. Bell and Telus are both traditional CDMA carriers, while Rogers is the country's sole GSM provider. This move coincides with the earlier-than-expected launch of Bell and Telus' next-generation HSPA shared network.