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.
THE meteor that hit the Urals was recorded by a car’s dashboard camera. Many Russian cars have them. It’s about insurance. Can you prove that the man whose car you drove into the back of stopped very suddenly, as if - as if… – he wanted you to damage his broken old wreck? Sure, witnesses emerge from all sides to back up his claim of your recklessness, but with dash-cam you can argue your case.
Also, Russian driving is nuts. It’s not just about insurance. It’s about capturing those magic moments for posterity.
Things to looks out for:
IT’S been announced that Michael Dell is going to buy back his company and take it private. The buyout price is $13.65 a share for a total just north of $24 billion. The big questions is: why?
Clearly, the obvious answer is that they think the company is worth more than the stock market thinks the company is worth. That’s why you buy things: because other people value them at a lower price than you do. But why do they think this?
TO Taiwan, to see the road rager and his magnificent gloves:
THAT old DOS computer game, Another World. has just been ported over to the new BlackBerry operating system, BB 10. Which just goes to show that fashions in the business world really do go in cycles.
Eric Chahi’s seminal game work, Another World, is now available on BlackBerry 10 devices (so … uh, those of you with a Z10, though it also works on PlayBook). And not just any version, but the 20th Anniversary Edition, which adds updated graphics, a remastered soundtrack, and some gesture controls. The game’s one of several titles that publisher DotEmu is bringing to BB10, including notoriously difficult shooter R-Type.
CAN you see the gorilla? CBS news reports that 83 per cent of radiologists didn’t see the beast.
The 24 qualified radiologists were given lung CT scans, which each had about 10 nodules (abnormal spots), and were asked to find anything strange on the scans. On the last one, the dancing gorilla – about 48 times the size of an average nodule – was placed in the scan. The radiologists found the correct nodules 55 per cent of the time. But only 20 of them saw the gorilla, despite scrolling past it 4.3 times, on average.
FRANK Lecerf’s car wanted to go Belgium. Quickly. His adapted Renault Laguna stuck at 125mph. (Mr Lecerf is a registered epileptic.) The brakes failed. Whenever he braked, the car sped up. Mr Lecerf kept going until the petrol ran out. It turns out like most things – wine, mussels, celebrities, politicians and buter, which all have silos and lakes based in Belgium - cars also like to die there.
THIS did rather make me giggle. A company that makes outrageously expensive mobile phones. Their latest model costing £7,000.
The Vertu Ti costs 7,900 euros (£6,994) and is made at the firm’s headquarters in Church Crookham, Hampshire.
The device had a titanium frame and sapphire screen but was not 4G-enabled, said its designer Hutch Hutchison.
There’s two parts to this. One is that we’ve got the regulators trying to warn banks on the dangers of using it badly.
Both the Switzerland-based Basel Committee on Banking Supervision1 (BCBS) and the Financial Services Authority2 (FSA) in the UK have recently made it clear that when relying on manual processes, desktop applications or key internal data flow systems such as spreadsheets, banks and insurers should have effective controls in place that are consistently applied to manage risks around incorrect, false or even fraudulent data. The citation by the BCBS is the first time that spreadsheet management has ever been specifically referenced at such a high level, a watermark in the approach to spreadsheet risk.
DECADES before it went live, Robert Crumb predicted Twitter and the internet:
“Everyone will be tuned into everything that’s happening all the time! No-one will be left out. We’ll all be normal!”
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.”