THE FEDERAL BUREAU of Investigation is conducting an independent investigation of the fatal shooting of a popular 13-year-old boy by a sheriff’s deputy in Northern California.Sheriff Steve Freitas said in a statement yesterday afternoon that he will cooperate fully with federal investigators and welcomes their participation in the probe of Andy Lopez’s killing on Tuesday afternoon. The shooting has generated numerous protests and marches in the suburban town of Santa Rosa, with many residents questioning the deputy’s decision to fire on the youth.Freitas also expressed sympathy to the Lopez family and thanked the Santa Rosa community for keeping protests peaceful.Police say Lopez was carrying a pellet gun that looked like an AK-47 assault rifle.TimelineA timeline released on Thursday by the Santa Rosa police shows that only 10 seconds passed from the moment that the sheriff’s deputy and his partner called dispatch to report a suspicious person to the moment they called back to say shots had been fired.FBI spokesman Paul Lee said he did not know why his agency decided to get involved or whether local authorities had requested its help.More than 100 angry middle and high school students walked to City Hall yesterday, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported. Hundreds of people protested earlier in the week.City police and the Sonoma County district attorney’s office are also investigating.The Santa Rosa Police Department said two deputies in a squad car encountered the hoodie-wearing Lopez just after 3.14pm.“Drop the gun”Witnesses say at least one of the deputies took cover behind an open front door of the cruiser, and one yelled twice “drop the gun.”Ten seconds after their initial report to dispatch, one of the officers called in “shot have been fired.”Sixteen seconds later, the deputies were calling for medical help. Cruz was later pronounced dead at the scene. The Sonoma County coroner said he found seven “apparent entry wounds,” two of them fatal.The deputies, who have not been identified, have been placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard after a shooting, officials said.“Believed his and partner’s life was in jeopardy”Assistant Sheriff Lorenzo Duenas told the Press Democrat that the deputy who shot the teen is a 24-year veteran and his partner, who did not fire his weapon, is a new hire.Santa Rosa police Lt Paul Henry told the newspaper the deputy who opened fire later told investigators he believed his life as well his partner’s was in jeopardy. The deputy said the teen didn’t comply with commands to drop the gun and was turning toward the deputies while raising the barrel.“The deputy’s mindset was that he was fearful that he was going to be shot,” Henry said at a Wednesday news conference.Geoffrey Alpert, a professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina, said officers are typically justified in the use of deadly force when they sincerely believe lives are at stake.If the teen was raising the barrel of the gun toward officers, they had little choice about firing, Alpert said:If it’s a pink bubble gum gun and an obvious fake to most, then there is no reason to shoot. But if the gun looks real the barrel is being pointed at you … it’s unfortunate, but a perceived threat trumps age and the officers have to protect themselves.Hundreds of community members marched Wednesday night to remember the teen and protest the shooting.They covered more than three miles from Santa Rosa City Hall to the field where Andy Lopez was killed. Some lit candles and placed flowers at a makeshift memorial with printed pictures of the victim, stuffed animals and a balloon that read “RIP Andy L.”Two dead, two boys hurt in Nevada school shooting>Poll: Should the Garda Síochána be armed?>
ABOUT 630 EXISTING childcare staff will undertake extra training this year as a result of a new funding allocation of €900,000.Announcing the monetary boost for the sector today, Minister Frances Fitzgerald said it will provide subsidised support to allow the staff to fulfill imminent qualification requirements.A further €1.5 million will be provided in 2014 for upskilling and further training.The pre-school childcare sector has been going through numerous reforms since a Prime Time investigation highlighted widespread problems within creches.Responding to the programme, the government implemented a Pre-School Quality Agenda, which has seen 1,672 inspection reports uploaded to the Pobal website.Fitzgerald said that the HSE are at an “advanced stage” of recruiting five more inspectors in areas where gaps were identified, including Louth, Dublin South/Wicklow, Cavan/Monaghan and Sligo/Leitrim/West Cavan.She said the agenda represents a “building block towards the possible introduction of a second universal free pre-school year” which she has championed.Read: HSE begins publishing pre-school inspectionsMore: Childcare providers who breach regulations could be fined €100,000Did you miss the Prime Time creche expose? Here’s what happened
THE TEAM CHAIRING the recent talks in Northern Ireland have said that it is “unrealistic in the extreme” for people to believe that every element of the agreement can be to their liking.Richard Haass and Meghan O’Sullivan realised a joint statement this evening saying that in politics parties must “accept some elements it views as disagreeable”: Our experience in Northern Ireland suggests that those who believe they can ensure that each and every element of the agreement is to their liking – and still secure five party consensus – are being unrealistic in the extreme.“Politics inevitably requires that each party accept some elements it views as disagreeable in order to advance the greater good; indeed, it is only through compromise that the political parties will be able to collectively deliver the better future that the people of Northern Ireland demand and deserve,” they say.The statement expressed “disappointment” that all five parties did not endorse the final 31 December agreement but Haass and O’Sullivan welcomed that some parties had done so.They accepted that the final document was not perfect but said that if the document was supported by the parties there would be scope for minor changes during its implementation.“Unquestionably, there are details that need further refinement, but these details should be honed in the necessary legislation and during implementation,” they explain.On Monday evening the UPP unequivocally rejected the final Haass proposals, echoing the DUP who also indicated that they could not support the final draft.The statement by the negotiating team offered little to suggest that they would be willing to return to chair more talks, merely offering support to the establishment of a working group to continue talks.“The agreement that resulted, if implemented, would make real progress toward contending with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past.”NI Secretary of StateThe UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers also hinted that the work of Haass and Sullivan may be completed in Northern Ireland.She told the House of Commons today that she hoped that the Northern parties,as well as the Irish and British Government’s, could work together to “build on the valuable work which they’ve done”.Villiers also said she was disappointed that a comprehensive agreement could not be reached, noting that “it is clear that some of the parties have genuine concerns about aspects of what is in the final document”.Church leaders uniteAlso today, leaders from four Religious orders in Northern Ireland united to ask politicians in the North to “sustain the momentum and energy generated by the Haass talks”.A joint statement from the leaders of the Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, together with the Irish Council of Churches accepted the “profoundly challenging” nature of the issues to be addressed but said that there is a responsibility on politicians and individuals to keep working:We firmly believe that a peaceful and reconciled society is possible. Responsibility for building peace and the development of mutual respect and tolerance in our society does not lie with our political leaders alone, but is shared by every individual…We encourage every member of our community, church and parishes to be instruments of reconciliation and peace-building.Read: McGuinness claims ‘extreme loyalism’ is setting the unionist agenda on Haass proposals >Column: Failure of Haass talks highlights two serious problems in modern Northern Ireland >
1. When you first arrived, O’Connell Street was one of the only places you knew. Now it’s the place you avoid. Source: infomatique2. You have realised that no matter where you’re from, Dubliners will always think of it as ‘the country’ Source: The Labour PartyAh well, their loss.3. Your country friends think you’ve developed a Dublin accent while your Dublin friends insist you sound like you moved up yesterday despite having been here 14 years4. You are now hugely judgemental of people at the Red Cow/Heuston who don’t know how to use the Luas ticket machines. Source: Photocall Ireland5. That said, your first year felt something like this:6. After a while, you stopped paying attention to people shouting at each other in the street Source: WordPress7. The food is great and all, but there are a few essentials missing Source: boards.ie8. You actually really like Dublin, but there are people you’d never admit that to Source: Shutterstock9. You can impress friends or family with your ability to stand up on the Luas/Dart/bus without holding on to anything Source: infomatique10. You roll your eyes when visitors ask to go to Coppers, and insist you know much less obvious places. Then you bring them to Whelans. Source: Copper Face Jacks(Insert local delicacy here.)11. But on the whole, your friends/family from home don’t come and visit you. You go to visit them.The only exception is when there’s something good on in Dublin, when they will ALL want to crash at your house. Source: Imgur12. You have no idea what a long weekend looks like in DublinBecause to you, it looks like this: Source: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland!13. And finally, you know the endless questions about when you’re coming homeWhich begin approximately two days after your last visit Source: Shutterstock21 unmistakeable signs you’re a Northside Dubliner at heart>18 unmistakeable signs you’re a Southside Dubliner at heart>
THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT has clamped down on web anonymity by requiring users to register their real names before they upload videos.Reuters reports that the rule was passed on Monday with China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) saying it was to “prevent vulgar content, base art forms, exaggerated violence and sexual content in internet video having a negative effect on society.”Rights groups have criticised the move saying it’s another tool for the ruling Communist Party to limit criticism of it and further control freedom of expression.The country had been considering the idea of getting internet users register with their real name more than a year ago after it submitted a draft proposing an identity management policy.In September, it passed anti-defamation laws designed to reduce the spread of rumours and misinformation on social media sites like Sina Weibo, a site similar to Twitter.The government has also tried implementing similar registration for buying SIM cards and signing up for instant messaging app WeChat. However, it has had trouble implementing these rules and were easy to avoid for China’s web-savvy population.Read: European stocks mixed as Chinese economy growth slows down >Read: China has blocked its citizens from reading the Guardian >
Read: Varadkar ‘disappointed’ by Aer Lingus strike but says there are other airlines>Read: Aer Lingus cabin crew are going on strike at the start of the June bank holiday weekend> AER LINGUS CABIN crew represented by IMPACT will hold a 24 hour work stoppage tomorrow.The union says that talks aimed at resolving the issue need to demonstrate that the employer is serious about solving ongoing roster problems.Aer Lingus did invite talks on Tuesday but IMPACT said it “came too late to prevent the action from going ahead”.The stoppage on Friday will affect Aer Lingus flights from Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports.IMPACT official Michael Landers said that while the invitation from the airline was too late “we would hope that this would mark the beginning of a process that would see this issue resolved once and for all”.Aer Lingus management has already breached existing agreements and refused to implement Labour Court recommendations. An invitation to talks, on its own, simply isn’t enough to convince our cabin crew members.Máire Ní Chleirigh has worked with the airline for 25 years, she said “We would rather be doing our job than taking this action, but we can’t go on any longer the way things are.We are happy to meet the company’s productivity demands and the long days that go with it. But we need our time off, our rest time, to be better planned in order to meet those demands. 5:3 RostersLanders said that the company had refused to consider a trial period for the union’s proposed “5:3″ rosters on European short haul services.The idea was just not up for discussion. Management simply got up and left the room when we attempted to talk to them about it. Our next meeting needs to be much more productive.The IMPACT spokesman said that the cabin crew branch is confident that alternative rosters could be implemented with no loss of productivity or at any extra cost to the airline. “Our members are not seeking extra leave.”He added that when faced with a proposed “5:3″ schedule by Aer Lingus pilots three years ago, Aer Lingus was similarly resistant to making changes.“Nevertheless after thrashing it out with IALPA members, the company introduced a trial period. Three years on the pilots’ 5:3 roster pattern is working very well for Aer Lingus”.IALPA supportMembers of the IALPA (pilots) branch of IMPACT have expressed support for cabin crew staff.IALPA president, Captain Evan Cullen, said:I’m dismayed that the pilot rostering system is being denied to cabin crew.“IALPA understands that cabin crew have only asked for the exact same parameters in this proposed rostering system as the short haul (A320) pilots who have operated the system for the last three years, achieving all the productivity targets set by management”.
ON THE NIGHT of February 6 of this year the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Bill 2013 was laid before the Dáil for consideration. It was the first major Bill to be enacted following my loss of the Labour Party whip in December. As such, it fell to me to determine how to vote on this Bill and to consider its contents without the (now questionable) comforts of the party whip to direct my vote.On that night, having considered what was a highly technical Bill in the insufficient time granted to the Dáil by the Government, I decided to vote against the Bill on the basis of flaws in the Bill that gave me cause for concern as to their possible consequences. Since then many of my fears have been vindicated and I suspect that some Deputies that voted for the Bill that night either now regret or will regret passing it in such haste.We are now faced with another Bill, this one of grave importance, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013. This Bill is not being rushed through the Dáil. Significant time is being given to it, but much of this time will be spent in ‘managing’ Deputies from various parties through the vote under the careful eye of their whips. I suspect that, years from now, many Deputies will have cause to regret their vote on this Bill, given what I believe to be the likely consequences.Until now, I would have been comfortable with the label ‘pro-choice’Being honest, I have to admit that as a man I have, until recently, not given this issue the consideration that it deserves. Until now, I would always have been comfortable with the label of pro-choice but never have had to define that or reason it out for myself.It must be said that the use of labels in debates on this area is most unhelpful and serves only to cloud the debate. It can often descend into a mere exchange of slogans as opposed to being, as Roger Scruton has said ‘an endeavour to set out the human problem in its full complexity before attempting a legislative answer to it’.This Bill has forced me to think through my position and having done so I find myself in a position of saying that if, when the Bill is initiated in the Dáil, it reflects the contents and detail of the Heads of Bill that were recently discussed before the Joint Committee on Health, then I will be unable to support it.The main points of concern that I have with the Bill are mainly contained in Head 4 – those relating to the risk of loss of life from self-destruction, ie suicide. There are a number of grounds upon which my concerns rest.The idea that a baby, as anticipated in the Heads of Bill, would be intentionally delivered prematurely, which would leave it at risk of disability, and placed in an incubator under the care of the State is seems somewhat dystopian to me. Minister of State, Alex White, confirmed this understanding during his closing remarks to the Health Committee on Tuesday evening. However, neither he nor the Minister for Health have been able to provide any detail about how the welfare of such infants would be secured, including their welfare into adulthood with any disability that may arise from such an early delivery as is envisaged by this legislation.No limits on pregnancy stagesThe above arises as the Bill does not impose any limits on up to what stage of pregnancy that a termination may be carried out. There is little to suggest that the Irish People would be willing to agree to late term terminations. These issues arise, in part, from the failure of the Heads of Bill to adequately balance the right to the life of the mother with that of the unborn as the Constitution appears to me to demand under Article 40. The Heads of Bill explicitly state that “the decision to be reached is not so much a balancing of the competing rights – rather, it is a clinical assessment”. Legislators, it should be noted, have a duty under Article 15 of the Constitution to not knowingly enact any law that would be repugnant to the Constitution.Other concerns that I have with this Bill include the danger that this legislation may further normalise suicide as an option. This is at a time where this country is undergoing a suicide epidemic. We need to show some caution and understanding towards the potential effects that such normalisation may have. The provisions under Head 12 relating to conscientious objections need to be broadened so as to conform with human rights norms and I remain open to the question of extending conscientious objection to cover institutions as well as individuals.The risk of suicide should not be includedThere are substantial parts of the legislation that I would be happy to support if they had been presented as a separate piece of legislation. These include the proposed measures that deal with physical illness, including a medical emergency, but not including the risk of suicide, where the medical procedure concern is necessary to save the life of the mother from a real and substantial risk to her life.However, any such procedures must conform to the ethical principle of double effect and take an adequate account of the equal rights of the unborn as per Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution. Legal clarity in this area is to be welcomed as medical professionals must be given clear legislative direction on these issues.It is my hope that the Minister for Health will take the various testimonies that have been heard from witness before the Health Committee into account when drafting the Bill and that some of the concerns raised by myself and others will be taken into account.This is not a Bill that Deputies would wish to look back on ten years from now with regret: by then it will be too late.Colm Keaveney is a sitting TD for Galway East .Read: TDs to support abortion amendment to provide for medical terminationsRead: Amnesty International: ‘Abortion laws out of line with international human rights standards’Read: Women who had medical terminations to share experiences with TDs
POST-BOOM IRELAND is home to many empty and unused buildings – spaces that could most certainly be put to a better use.So if you wanted to turn a space into a live/work unit, where you could not only be creative but also set up home, how would you go about it?Free toolkitEmmanuelle Marion is the woman behind d.ploy Dublin, a creative group that has created an ‘urban toolkit’, which aims to give everyone the knowledge and tools to transform used and unused spaces into creative spaces.Why does this toolkit (which would be free to access) focus on live/work units?“Because, they lower costs, offer flexibility, lower rates and promote sustainable urban living. We believe this toolkit can get people back living and working long-term into the city centres, the vacant spaces, the ghost estates,” said d.ploy Dublin.Marion decided to set up d.ploy “because we thought there was a bit of a gap between policy and practice,” she told TheJournal.ie. Very early on, the issue of space came up.A lot of self employed people and small organisations as well were kind of complaining that they didn’t have the adequate space and premises. They were needing more space and spaces that were more flexible.After research and testing, d.ploy decided the toolkit approach was best. “I guess now as well in the light of a housing crisis it’s also very much teaching people how to negotiate contracts, how to do things a little bit more on their own terms,” said Marion.“The tenant is back in control a bit more. It’s very flexible. It’s going to be catering to a lot of different needs – people who want to buy, people who want to rent, people who just want to know about getting a fixed-term lease, or people who want to know about changing the use of a space.”She said that the process benefits the person at the other end of the transaction, as they could get a long-term tenant out of it.How easy is it?Is turning an empty space into a creative space easier than people think? “Absolutely – I think people really don’t know how to go about it,” said Marion.They think it’s much more difficult than it is but also because a lot of the time there’s a lot of advance planning. And that’s what we’ve been observing from people who just jumped into things like that and forgot about regulations and got closed down. It perpetrates an image of something that’s unattainable.The guide is “demystifying the whole thing a bit”.Raising fundsD.ploy Dublin has set up a Fund:it account to raise €1900 to help fund their guide. “We hope it is going to be inspirational for people,” said Marion.In the meantime, what would make things easier for people who want to set up their own live/work spaces?“I think that in terms of regulation, [councils] could involve people from the onset of the process,” she said. “If you are developing something, talk to your audience. Listen to them in the first place so that you don’t have to go over the same things to change things. So far it’s a good model because it is a flexible model even within the regulation.”Read: Here’s how you turn vacant buildings into creative spaces>Read: Communities can take back their town with pop-up museums in vacant spaces>
THE JURY IN the phone hacking trial in England has been discharged after failing to reach a verdict on two further charges made against Andy Coulson.Yesterday, the former editor of the now defunct News of the World, was found guilty of phone hacking between October 2000 and August 2006.Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire News International, and her husband Charlie Brooks were cleared of all charges.Judge John Saunders ended the trial after the jury failed to agree or whether or not Coulson and the News of the World’s former royal editor Clive Goodman were guilty of paying police officers for royal phone directories.Prosecutors will announce next week whether they are seeking a retrial.Andy Coulson resigned as editor of the News of the World in 2007 after a reporter was convicted for phone hacking. He went on to work as head of communications for British Prime Minister David Cameron, before resigning in early 2011 as the phone hacking scandal continued.The controversy led to the Leveson inquiry, a public investigation into the ethics and practices of the British press.The trial began eight months ago and focused on journalists hacking into the voicemails of celebrities and victims of crime, most notably murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.The investigation identified 5,500 victims, 3,500 of whom have been contacted to date. The Metropolitan Police said it was unlikely this figure would rise as “all reasonable efforts to contact the victims have been completed”.‘Complex and challenging’Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who oversaw the investigation, said it had been “complex and challenging”.Throughout the investigation we have done our best to follow the evidence, without fear or favour. We were conscious of the sensitivities and legal complexities of investigating a national newspaper containing confidential journalistic material.This investigation has never been about an attack on press freedom but one to establish whether any criminal offences had been committed, to establish who was responsible for committing them and to bring them to justice. The victims deserved no less. She added that those found not guilty had been “exonerated after a thorough police investigation and fair trial”.GuiltyFive people had pleaded guilty to hacking phones in June and July 2012: Glen Mulcaire, Neville Thurlbeck, Greg Miskew, James Weatherup and Daniel Evans.Stuart Kuttner was found not guilty of hacking between October 2000 and August 2006. Cheryl Carter was cleared of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice in July 2011.In a statement issued this afternoon, the Met said that the investigation, which had been dubbed Operation Weeting, “required an unprecedented level of resources”.The scale of the material that needed to be searched included millions of emails, tens of thousands of documents, complex communications data and trails of financial transactions that required painstaking analysis as evidence gradually emerged.The Met noted that “the need to build in protections for legal professional privilege and non-relevant confidential journalistic material has also had a significant impact upon the pace of these investigations”.The statement added that the police do not have the power to “search and seize confidential journalistic material unless an associated arrest takes place”.Additional reporting by Christine BohanRead: Andy Coulson found guilty but Rebekah Brooks cleared at phone hacking trial
NASA’s robots are being given Google smartphones. The Defence Forces defused a viable explosive device discovered outside a home in Drogheda, Co Louth today.UPC says it will not give An Post access to customer information to tackle licence fee evasion.Ireland’s five workplace relations agencies are being merged into two.The Oireachtas Committee on Finance has strongly criticised the Central Bank’s approach to mortgage arrears. Super typhoon Neoguri photographed from the International Space Station as the storm approached Japan. Source: ESA/NASAWORLD#GAZA: Israel has approved the call-up of 40,000 reserve forces for a possible assault on the Gaza Strip.#VATICAN: The Vatican bank has closed thousands of its customer accounts following a corruption inquiry.#PISTORIUS: The defence for Oscar Pistorious closed today, with final arguments scheduled for early next month.INNOVATION All five of the Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park have been cancelled.Enda Kenny and Joan Burton are holding further discussions this evening on the Cabinet reshuffle.A man has been charged in connection with the disappearance of Adrian Folan. The Ulster Unionist Party has called for Sinn Féin posters to be immediately removed from 12 July bonfires. NEED TO CATCH up? TheJournal.ie brings you a round-up of today’s news… A Brazil soccer fan poses for a photo before watching the World Cup semifinal match between Brazil and Germany in Rio de Janeiro today. Source: AP/Press Association ImagesIRISH This new audio device reads out printed text in real-time.PARTING SHOTThis rendition of the Game of Thrones theme will get your feet tapping [YouTube]
We already noted how Motorola was using the iPad’s dominant market share (and a successful advertising history) against Apple, but things didn’t stop at the teaser ad earlier this week. During the Super Bowl Motorola ran this “Empower the People” spot, in which a single cardigan-clad man opts for Android while all the robot-like workers around him walk around in an white earbud induced stupor. The pretty girl sees the guy’s Android tablet, her earbuds are removed, and a connection is made. The message being that the Xoom is a “Tablet to Create a Better World”. It’s also, on a more practical front, the world’s first tablet to run Android 3.0.The ad is a reference both to Apple’s famous 1984 Super Bowl commercial and to George Orwell’s book, 1984. Apple, once again, is Big Brother but instead of making telescreens that spy on you and make you exercise, they make tablets (though none are pictured in the commercial).To appreciate the commercial you’ll have to forget for a moment how nonsensical this is, how an $800 tablet probably isn’t the best tool for the repressed masses, and how communicating with someone through a glass wall with a video that you made on your tablet might not be the best way to restore the humanity that’s missing from the 1984-like world of the commercial.It’s (kind of) cool to see a tablet commercial during the Super Bowl, but, sorry Moto, this doesn’t make our top Super Bowl XLV commercials.
People were quick to name The Social Network the movie of the year, making some pretty bold pronouncements for the film, and bandying about titles like Citizen Kane a good deal. The Academy, it seems, didn’t agree. Not quite. The David Fincher-helmed Facebook film ended the night with three awards–Adapted Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin), Film Editing (Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter), and Original Score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross). The film got shut out of some of the bigger categories, however, failing to nab Best Picture, Directing (Fincher), Actor in a Lead Role (Jesse Eisenberg), Cinematography (Jeff Cronenweth), and Sound Mixing (Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten).Hopefully this all means that Mark Zuckerberg did well in the Facebook Oscar Poll. The guy can certainly use the cash.
Oh, those crazy Shanzai manufacturers. Long renowned for their… er… unconventional way of doing business, they’re the folks who churn out millions of gadgets every year that are “inspired” by devices like the iPhone, iPad, and Galaxy S2. Their latest masterpiece: the Angry Birds tablet.It’s built by the folks at Shenzen Technology Company, who have plenty of experience churning out low-cost Android devices and the Wopad V7+ Angry Birds tablet continues that proud tradition. The V7+ is nearly identical to the Wopad V7 from last year, with a 1GHz Vicom VC882 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of internal storage, VGA front camera, and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. It’s also got dual mini-USB ports, a full-size HDMI port, and microSD expansion.There are two big differences with the V7+. First, its 800×480 touchscreen display is capacitive (as opposed to the resisitive one on the V7). Second, it’s slathered with what’s probably unsanctioned Angry Birds branding.The iconic Rovio imagery is plastered on the outside of the box and it’s everywhere once you power the tablet on. There are scads of Angry Birds apps pre-installed, including the genuine articles from Rovio as well as several wannabies. Dynamic, Birds-themed wallpapers are the default, as you’d expect.Maybe the folks at Shenzen are on to something here, though. We’re well aware of the fact that Average Joes buy a tablet for the whole experience, not so much for the hardware or OS. If Amazon can sell 1,000 Kindle Fires an hour, you’ve got to think that a Rovio-sanctioned Angry Birds tablet could do pretty well.Angry Birds has long been one of the top-selling apps on iOS and Android, it’s the second most used channel on Roku, and it’s available damn near everywhere now — from the Chrome and Opera browsers to Intel’s mostly-unknown AppUp store. The Mighty Eagle Tablet might just be the next logical step in Rovio’s quest for world domination.More at TechCrunch
It may be hard to believe, but 36 years after its invention, the Rubik’s Cube is still going strong, with enough interest that the Rubik’s Cube world championships are taking place right now in Thailand. The venue for the 2011 round of the championships is the Baiyoke Sky Hotel (which is also Thailand’s tallest building). 350 competitors from over 40 countries are battling it out in 19 different competitions to see who is the fastest solver in their given category, some of which will surprise.Included events that will win one of the dedicated few the title of world champion are speedcubing, solving the cube with one’s feet, and an event where the contestant’s are blindfolded. The blindfold event is a bit, puzzling (pun intended), but there must be something that contestants can feel that will allow them to solve the world famous puzzle. Or maybe it’s a case of getting to view the cube before the blindfold goes on? Whatever the case, I think that’s more impressive than solving a Cube in X number of seconds.If one was so inclined, a live feed of the event can be viewed that will broadcast all the action from Thailand. Aspiring Rubik’s champions can time themselves against the best in the world, and if they get stumped, they can always download a solution from YouCanDoTheCube.com.A quick look at the Rubik’s Cube World Records shows just how good the contestants have to be to compete at this level. The world record for a cube solve is 5.66 seconds, which can be seen in the video below. Blindfolded the record stands at 23.06 seconds, one handed is 10.68 seconds, and using only your feet can be done in 31.56 seconds. Wow.Good luck cubeheads, may the colors be with you.
It turns out that international hard drive supplies aren’t the only tech-related casualty of extreme flooding that has been taking place recently in Thailand. The dramatic image above reveals a Sony manufacturing plant that has been closed due to the floods.The Sony plant is part of the Bangkadi industrial park, and is the seventh industrial site to have taken a beating from the surge in water. The combined damage for all of this park’s factories is estimated to have cost 30 billion baht (over $974 million). The image to the right shows the Sony plant during drier times, and lends some perspective on just how much of it is now under water.The waters is said to be nearly ten feet high, and possibly several feet higher in places. The mayor of Bangkadi expects it to take about a month for the waters to recede, followed by three months or more to get the park back into working shape. That means they may be looking at over four months of halted production at this facility.So what will this mean to you? It appears that Sony cameras are the primary products made at this particular plant, so any PS3s, Bravia TVs, or other (non-camera) Sony products that are on your holiday wishlist should still be in the clear. There is no official word on any of this, but the upcoming 24.3MP Sony NEX-7 may be shifted to another plant, and could see delays. Amazon is currently showing a “manufacturing supplies may be constrained” note on their product page for the camera.This same flooding is also causing concerns about worldwide hard drive prices. Several drive makers, most prominently Western Digital, have had their Bangkok area factories shut down for extended periods. Typical prices have yet to reflect the supply concerns, partly due to relatively low demand. But if you’re shopping for hard drives (or the systems that include them) you may want to keep an eye on this situation.More at Bangkok Post, via Sony Alpha Rumors, PDN Pulse
As Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 platform continues to flounder despite having some very good features, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the application ecosystem can make or break a platform. RIM is apparently (and finally) aware of this fact, and plans to push apps hard with its upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system. RIM’s VP of Developer Relations has gone so far as to guarantee that quality apps will make at least $10,000 in their first year, or RIM will make up the difference.The statement comes as RIM releases BlackBerry 10 beta development tools and Dev Alpha devices to revitalize a platform that has been hemorrhaging users quarter after quarter. On the face of it, this deal seems too perfect, and the kind of thing that would have developers flocking to download those dev tools. As with everything that falls into that “too good to be true” zone, there is a catch.RIM is going to be setting up a strict certification program for apps to make sure the apps eligible for that $10,000 payout are actually good. Details on the program are scant, but we do know that the approved apps have to be able to generate at least $1,000 in sales on their own before RIM will cut a check. Fast forward 18 months or so and I predict a few stories of slighted developer that fell short of RIM’s benchmarks in some way.Even if the deal comes with strings attached, it’s more of a guarantee than Android or iOS is offering. It’s possible for great apps to get lost in the shuffle on those platforms. RIM’s deep pockets could put independent part-time developers at ease knowing there is a good chance of seeing some return on investment with BlackBerry 10.via TechCrunch
Every kid wants to be an astronaut at some point. In fact, I think most adults still want to be an astronaut. Most of us don’t get much further than sitting in their bathtub with a bowl on their head eating dehydrated ice cream (or is that just me?), but we still dream. Why? Because of this the idea of doing everything in zero gravity, or even microgravity, sounds incredibly awesome.For the team on the International Space Station it seems like the appeal of sucking water bubbles out of the air and drinking everything out of a straw got a little old. So, they made special “cups” that allow them to have the closest thing the can to afternoon tea.This microgravity-friendly cup is little more than a piece of plastic and some tape. Instead of being round like a typical cup, the plastic is taped to a sharp angle. When the liquid is poured into the cup, the capillary force created causes the liquid to rise up the side of the angled plastic and stop right at the tip. When you drink from the cup, the liquid will continue rising to the top and then eventually out. These cups can now be used for coffee, tea, water, or anything else they might be drinking without the need to suck the liquid from a bag.This seems like a really simple and perhaps unnecessary thing to have, but when you consider the social aspect of sitting around a table at meal time it makes perfect sense. It is difficult to imagine a world where you are incapable of doing something as common as drinking from a cup, like we do all the time. For the guys that live on the ISS right now, these simple microgravity tea cups give them a little bit of what they left behind when they took to the stars.
When warning the public about the excesses of government, corporate, or technological power, it’s very easy to go off the deep end. These topics can lend themselves to a subtle sort of paranoia that borders on reasonable, but often steps over that threshold into crazy town.When Journeyman Pictures’ Naked Citizens began, I was sure it would be one of those, citing tired cameras per-capita statistics and inferring a nefarious government boogey-man with nothing better to do than harass law abiding citizens. What the documentary is, however, is a sobering look not just at the ubiquity of modern urban surveillance (old hat at this point), but at some of the ways that this incredible level of awareness is being used.Naked Citizens does not deal in hypotheticals, this is a film concerned with what’s actually happening, today. The documentary shows how there is a capacity to do certain tasks, not all of them good, with the sheer volume of surveillance footage being produced in today’s London. As you can imagine, much of it is startling to see.There isn’t much here that will blow your bind, in terms of technical ability. One of the earliest examples of a computational watchdog is a simple anti-loitering algorithm, one which monitors a CCTV feed and flags any human silhouette that lingers too long. Though the film finds this distressing (for some reason), it seems like a fairly reasonable way of partially automating human judgement; use computers to flag possible offenses, which are then brought to the attention of a human with the power to tell real from accidental infractions. Naked Citizens does occasionally get a bit carried away with its worrying — but just as often, it hits the nail on the head.The most interesting bit was the ability to dynamically create and check behavior profiles, letting a computer figure out what “normal” behavior looks like, and flagging any who don’t fit that profile. Whether the odd behavior comes in the form of wearing a heavy coat in the summertime or taking an abnormal route through an intersection, the cameras can and will find your abnormality and obsess upon it.Urban drone surveillance is also brought up, though I’ve never quite understood how camera mobility makes anything any more egregious, especially when you consider that a city like London is already covered several times over by the static kind.In London, there’s one camera for every 14 citizensThe truly alarming part, to me, was the segment detailing the practice of posting pictures of suspects for the public to see. It’s just the application of technology to the basic Post Office wanted poster, but now applied to ‘persons of interest’ as well as wanted criminals.There does seem to be a bit of missing information, however. It’s certainly possible that a team of police raided the apartment of one of their subjects purely on the hunch of a security camera — but I doubt it, especially considering that the subject in question was clearly somehow known to police beforehand. Additionally, things like bugged cell phones or hacked computers are hardly new, nor is the idea that these compromised devices give up all their sensitive information.This documentary definitely has an agenda, but it’s clear enough, and provocative enough, that you’ll be well-served watching and deciding for yourself. It’s a slickly made piece of video, and not too long, so you won’t have too much trouble pushing through.Even if you don’t quite buy the alarmist vibe, there’s enough solid info and incisive editorializing to make this one of this week’s internet highlights.
New Apple gear was unveiled at WWDC, and that can only mean one thing: time for a bunch of glorious iFixit teardowns! Today’s installment: the new AirPort Extreme and the AirPort Time Capsule.The AirPort Extreme is Apple’s first with 802.11AC support. It’s also got a Gigabit WAN port (let us know in the comments if that actually makes a difference at your house or apartment), 3 Gigabit LAN ports (more useful), and USB 2.0 for external storage hook-ups.iFixit awarded the new Extreme a repairability score of 8 out of 10, which is a stark contrast to Apple’s more popular devices like the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Air. They’ve posted some of the lowest scores possible. Unsurprisingly, the AirPort Time Capsule scored just as well. That has everything to do with the fact that it’s really just the same white tower with a hard drive nestled in next to the system board.The extra bits you get with the new AirPort Time CapsuleThe model iFixit chose to break down was the 2TB Time Capsule, which includes a standard 3.5-inch Seagate ST2000DM001 SATA drive. It’s a 7200RPM drive, and is attached to a proprietary ribbon cable. You’d expect that in a cramped device like this — PC OEMs do it all the time on SFF desktops, too.iFixit’s gurus are fairly certain that you could actually convert the AirPort Extreme to a Time Capsule if you really wanted to. There’s not much point, though, unless you’re just that dedicated to doing things yourself. The price difference between the two is roughly the retail price of the Seagate hard drive anyway, so you may as well just opt for the Time Capsule if you’re planning on serving up networked storage from your AirPort.