Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
FIRST the good news:
“Using publicly available data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have found that six percent of red dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-sized planets. Since red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy, the closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light-years away.”
TO Canberra, Australia, now twinned with Darwin. A joy rider is on the police radar:
On Monday January 21, police received a complaint of a red Holden Commodore performing burnouts in the Gungahlin area. Later that day, police viewed footage of a vehicle matching the description performing a burnout in Baillieu Court, Mitchell.
The footage had been posted by the registered owner of the vehicle to his Facebook account.
TO Naples, where a man in a small car is attempting to execute a U-turn in a narrow street. The action heats up at the 1:30 mark when the cast of local Monty Python Appreciation Society arrives:
IT was no coincidence that the first Space Shuttle Orbiter was called Enterprise. Originally named Constitution (in honor of the U.S. Constitution’s Bicentennial), Star Trek fans wrote to President Gerald Ford suggesting an alternative name: Enterprise. The vehicle debuted at Palmdale California on Sept. 17, 1976. Many from the cast of Star Trek were there to see it.
THE Dark Ages are returning to France. French environment minister Delphine Batho says that from July 1, all non-residential buildings will have to switch off interior lights one hour after the last worker leaves the premises. The outside lights must all be extinguished by 1 am.
THE Sunday Times has done yet another of its pieces on how tech comapnies are avoiding tax in the UK. Given that that paper’s gated, here’s the Telegraph telling us all about it. The real problem here is that Apple just isn’t indulging in tax avoidance: this is what the system is set up to encourage it to do
Apple is estimated to have avoided more than £550m in tax in Britain in 2011. Its latest accounts show UK turnover at just over £1bn and profit at £81.3m, generating a tax bill of £14.4m.
However, analysis of its filings in America suggest a more realistic figure for UK turnover is £6.7bn. This would imply an estimated profit of £2.2bn and, at the then corporation tax rate of 26pc, a £570m tax bill, the Sunday Times reports.
HAS Iran run out of monkeys to fire into space? News is that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is ready and willing to be the first Iranian to orbit the Earth in space. As he says:
“I am ready to be the first human to be sent to space by Iranian scientists. Sending living things into space is the result of Iranian efforts and the dedication of thousands of Iranian scientists.”
To say nothing of reading textbooks of what the Russians did in the 1960s.
IRAN did not fire a monkey into space. When Anorak read the news that Iran had done what the USA had done in 1961, we feared that before long Iran’s go-ahead leaders would be wearing cheesecloth pantaloons, reinventing the TV dinner and invents computer smaller than a one-bedroom flat.
EARLIER this week Iran shot a monkey into space. It is feared that very soon Iran will firing monkeys at Israel. Anorak’s security expert tells us that at the current rate of technological progress, the next forty years should see Iran: discover Pot Noodle; build a computer smaller than a bedroom; have hands free dialling; syndicate Deal or No Deal; and learn that taking two bottles into the shower is not always necessary. For now, though, Iran is rejoicing that a monkey has made it into the great known, an event that follows the news that the country has invented a machine for amputating the fingers of thieves.
Iran’s ISNA news service has released images of three hooded officials holding a man’s hand in a vice as another turns a blade attached to what appears to be 1962 Signer sewing machine.
TIME to play Downton Abbey on the Super Nintendo:
CAR of the day is a 1959 BMW Isetta Whatta Drag with 730 hp Chevrolet V8 engine. It’s a three-wheel bubble car on fire. Would anyone be game enough to drive the thing? The Isetta never had a reverse gear. The only way in is through the front door. Once in, you stay in – unless you brake very hard and you can the car fall on your faces…
It has dual-circuit disc brakes with an AP balance bar, while the suspension is taken from an M3. The front wheels are wrapped around in B.F. Goodrich G-Force tires, while the rear custom 18×13 inch drag racing wheel has a Sumitomo HTRZ II tire.
Although developed to be fully functional, the vehicle is strictly for show and shouldn’t be used on roads or track because the “massive amount of torque produced by the Chevrolet 502 motor can be dangerous if driven improperly.”
The 1959 BMW Isetta Whatta Drag is expected to fetch between 75,000 – 100,000 USD.
So, we have Apple reporting its financial results for the most recent quarter. Profits were up (only very slightly, but they were). Sales were well up. Everything’s looking pretty rosy in hte Cupertino garden. At which point the shares drop 10% in minutes.
Despite that, Whiting says facial recognition software hasn’t been of much use to him. It’s simply too unreliable when it comes to spotting people on the move, in crowds, and under variable lighting. Instead, he and his team rely on pictures shared from other casinos, as well as through the Biometrica and Griffin databases. (The Griffin database, which contains pictures and descriptions of various undesirables, used to go to subscribers as massive paper volumes.) But quite often, they’re not looking for specific people, but rather patterns of behavior. “Believe it or not, when you’ve done this long enough,” he says, “you can tell when somebody’s up to no good. It just doesn’t feel right.”
DARPA’s mission is to prevent technological surprise for the United States and to create technological surprise for its adversaries. The DARPA SBIR and STTR Programs are designed to provide small, high-tech businesses and academic institutions the opportunity to propose radical, innovative, high-risk approaches to address existing and emerging national security threats; thereby supporting DARPA’s overall strategy to bridge the gap between fundamental discoveries and the provision of new military capabilities.
THERE been some recent whining from Microsoft about how they get to sell bugger all in China. As opposed to Apple who can’t make things fast enough. Some of this is of course because Microsoft sells software, something often ripped off in that lovely country. But there’s something else as well: and it’s a neat illustration of why Microsoft is, essentially, screwed.
China’s Internet population surges to 564 million, 75 percent on mobile
OOPS! Melanie Anderson accidentally sent a racy email intended for her finace Eric Knisz to everyone at her work. Melanie works at Aberdeen-based oil company ISS. Bruce Webster, HR director of ISS, says:
“Personal emails are not encouraged at work and we have taken the appropriate action with the members of staff concerned. They are absolutely mortified by the content of the email trail which was meant to be private and apologise for any offence caused by it going out with our organisation.”
EVER taken a photo of your meal and posted it to a social media site? No, not pictures of terrible food, like this RyanAir disaster. This is about those pictures of fine dining. Some eateries in the US have banned diners from photographing their dinners. Rebecca Jane Stokes is delighted:
I don’t like people taking photographs of their food at restaurants because it takes the food out of its context. Whatever people might say — and I’ve heard it so many times from so many diet proponents — food is inherently social. Do you need to have food around to have a good time with someone? No, of course not. But there is something primal and nourishing in sharing a meal with people you enjoy. Social interaction sustains us, so does ingesting food — and when both are of the highest quality in a place designed with respect for that, taking a quick pic with my iPhone feels like giving the entire event short shrift.
MODERN love: If pimply teenager Petter Kverneng gets 1million likes on Facebook, Cathrine will shag him.
Dr Xiuwen Yan, of the Life Sciences College of Nanjing Agricultural University in China, tells us:
“It showed potential antimicrobial activities against wide spectrum of microorganisms including bacteria and fungi, both standard and drug-resistant strains. Under the pressure of increasing microorganisms with drug resistance against conventional antibiotics, there is urgent need to develop new type of antimicrobial agents.”
IN this video a departing Space Station Commander Provides Tour of Orbital Laboratory.
Given the muscle atrophying effects of living in space, in the future, the space station might be used as a fat farm, where the super rich go to lose weight:
A 67-year-old Belgian woman set out to drive 38 miles to Brussels under the guidance of her GPS navigation system but arrived in Zagreb two days and 901 miles later.
A FEW words on Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide this week. He was 26. If you’re reading this on RSS, thank him:
At 14, Mr. Swartz helped create RSS, the nearly ubiquitous tool that allows users to subscribe to online information. He later became an Internet folk hero, pushing to make many Web files free and open to the public. But in July 2011, he was indicted on federal charges of gaining illegal access to JSTOR, a subscription-only service for distributing scientific and literary journals, and downloading 4.8 million articles and documents, nearly the entire library. Charges in the case, including wire fraud and computer fraud, were pending at the time of Mr. Swartz’s death, carrying potential penalties of up to 35 years in prison and $1 million in fines.
HOW to asnwer your iPhone, like a Japanese master. Hands are so last season: