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Steve Jobs turning over in his grave? Look-alike touts rival Android

Fake_steve_jobs

Steve Jobs likeness continues to pop up in the most unlikely places. He's been immortalized as a bronze statue in an office park in Hungary, his image was painstakingly recreated in what might be the world's most detailed action figure, and now a Taiwanese commercial making its way around the Internet depicts the recently deceased Apple visionary as a shill for an Android-based tablet called Action Pad.

Oh, the irony!

The man playing Jobs in the commercial is Taiwanese comedian and impersonator Ah-Ken, according to a report in Reuters. The commercial never explicitly uses Jobs name, but Ah-Ken is dressed in Jobs trademark black turtleneck and blue jeans, his hair is a silvery grey, and he's wearing glasses. He's standing on a stage meant to mimic those that Jobs paced across during major Apple announcements and speaking excitedly to an applauding audience. One thing he has that Jobs never had: a halo and wings.

At the end of his talk he says, "Thank God I can play another pad."

Jobs of course hated Android with his whole being. His biographer Walter Isaacson writes that he never saw Jobs as angry as when he was talking about a lawsuit Apple had filed against Android.

After telling Isaacson that he considered Google's Android to be a wholesale ripoff of the iPhone, he said:

"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this. They are scared to death, because they know they are guilty."

Maybe things change in the afterlife?

Action Electronics, the company that makes the Action Pad along with other electronic gadgets, sees no problem with the advertisement. "Steve Jobs always promoted things that were good for people, Apple products, so his image can also promote other things that are good," a spokeswoman told Reuters. "It's just an impersonator, not Jobs," she said.

The reaction on YouTube has been mixed with commenters vacillating between disgust and amusement, but the video itself is rapidly racking up views.

 

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-- Deborah Netburn

Image: Screen grab from a Taiwanese commercial for Action Pad that depicts Steve Jobs as a shill for the Android-based tablet. Credit: YouTube

Facebook's S-1 already has a (fake) Twitter account

Facebook's S-1's Twitter feed wasn't born yesterday -- it was born today

Just moments after Facebook filed its long awaited S-1 on Wednesday afternoon, the S-1 itself got its own Twitter feed.

"Hey, I'm new here," it began, simply enough. And shortly thereafter, it tweeted, "Hey! Anything interesting happen today? LOL!!!"

No clever names for this silly feed -- just the straightforward @FacebooksS1. It's profile says it was born on February 1, 2012, and lists its location as Menlo Park, CA.

Can't argue with that!

Facebook's S-1's self-assigned task seems to be responding to any online remarks it can find about itself, which in the initial crunch immediately following the filing came mostly from the tech media.

When Alexia Totsis of TechCrunch tweeted "This Facebook S-1 is like an animal carcass and us bloggers are like a pack of rabid wolves," Facebook's S-1 responded: "Animal carcass?! WTH? I work out."

And when New York Times tech reporter Jenna Worthman tweeted, "curious: Facebook is alternately capitalized and written in lower-case throughout the filing." Facebook's S-1 shot back: "I like to keep it edgy."

Of course it took just about, oh, a couple of hours or so, for everything to start getting meta.

Just before 5 p.m. Pacific time, Josie Mora (@uncouthgormand) tweeted that she would be printing the Facebook SEC S-1 report, which she expected would be a fascinating read. Her friend @KrisDub wanted to know if Facebook's S-1 would be cool with her looking at its private parts.

Facebook's S-1 didn't miss a beat. "Whoa, ladies," it tweeted. "This is a G-Rated filing here. Except for the value of Zuck's shares. That's just obscene."

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-- Deborah Netburn

Image: A screen grab of Facebook S-1's twitter feed.

Facebook IPO: 'FB' on Nasdaq or NYSE?

Facebook Headquarters

Questions, questions, there are so many questions surrounding Facebook's expected initial public offering.

Of course, the main question is when will the world's largest social network file its S-1 paperwork for its IPO. Well, this much we know — it isn't happening this morning as was widely expected.

Kara Swisher, over at the website AllThingsD, bluntly called the salivating tech press out on their expectation of an early Wednesday IPO filing (with a little help from Samuel L. Jackson). Swisher reported that her sources say Facebook's IPO will arrive Wednesday afternoon at the earliest. So it'll arrive today or it won't — got that?

But other questions abound too. Such as how big will the IPO be? For months rumors have pointed to a Facebook IPO of about $10 billion, which would place the company at a valuation of about $100 billion. But on Tuesday, the website International Financing Review reported that Facebook is instead planning on an IPO worth about $5 billion instead.

Like Swisher, the IFR gave itself an out in case $5 billion isn't the number after all, stating the while $5 billion is "less than anticipated" the IPO "could be increased to satisfy ultimate investor demand."

Another question is where Facebook's stock will trade — the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq. Both Bloomberg Businessweek and the New York Post have documented the two stock markets essentially fighting to lure Facebook.

So what's at stake for the NYSE and Nasdaq? "Winning it means more fees, a boost in trading and the chance to link their brand with the largest social networking site in the world," Bloomberg Businessweek said.

"It's a very heated battle," the New York Post quoted Larry Tabb, founder of the capital markets advisory firm Tabb Group, as saying. Tabb told the Post that competition between the two markets is too close to call. So far, Facebook hasn't said where it's shares will pop up when they do.

Another question, and one the Post says it has an answer to, is what will Facebook's ticker symbol be — Fbok, FBK, Book, FceB? According to the newspaper, it won't be any of those. Instead, it will be "FB," the Post says.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A door sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. Credit: Paul Sakuma / File / Associated Press

Apple vs. Samsung: Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales ban upheld in Germany

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Samsung was dealt a loss in its ongoing patent battle with Apple as the South Korean electronics maker's request to overturn a ban on the sale of its Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet in Germany was denied.

A Dusseldorf regional appeals court upheld the August 2011 sales injunction of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and said that Samsung's Galaxy Tab 8.9 also should be banned from being sold, according to a report on the website FOSS Patents by patent expert Florian Mueller.

Although the decision hurts Samsung, the ruling may also be a setback for Apple. The reasoning behind the court's decision wasn't because of Apple's claims that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 infringes on the design patents for the iPad tablet. Rather, "the appeals court based its decision on a violation of German unfair competition law," Mueller reported.

The injunction against Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales in Germany cited Apple's design patents as the reasoning for pulling the Samsung tablet off store shelves.

In an effort to not miss out on the growing tablet market in Germany, Samsung redesigned the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and then re-released a new German version called the Galaxy Tab 10.1N, which is allowed to be sold, though Apple has requested a sales ban on that product too.

The Dusseldorf appeals court ruling is the latest in an international fight between Samsung, Apple and their respective teams of lawyers. Last week, Apple was denied a requested sales ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the Netherlands, where the two companies are locked in a patent battle.

Earlier this month, Apple filed two new patent suits against Samsung in Germany, seeking a ban on 10 Samsung phones and five tablets. Last month, a U.S. district court in San Jose denied Apple's request for a ban on the Galaxy Tab 10.1 before a July trial on Apple's lawsuit against Samsung in that court.

In December, a temporary ban on the Samsung tablet in Australia expired in a related suit between the two tech giants. The Australian dispute is set to go to trial in March, and other suits have been filed across Europe and Asia.

While the two companies are rivals and suing to block the sales of one another's products, Samsung and Apple are also business partners. Samsung, for example, manufactures the Apple-designed A4 and A5 processors found in the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 2 and iPod Touch, among other components, such as flash memory, inside of many Apple devices.

RELATED:

Apple loses bid to ban Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Netherlands

Apple vs. Samsung: Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales ban lifted in Australia

Apple sues Samsung again in Germany, calls for ban on 10 phones

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet on display this month at a company showroom in Seoul. Credit: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Gingrich vs. Romney: Whose website got the most hits?

Gingrich_romney_online

Does the number of people who click on a political candidate's website have any correlation to how many votes he or she receives?

On Tuesday night, we might find out.

Experian Hitwise, an online measurement company, has released some data on how many people have visited Mitt Romney's website versus how many people have visited Newt Gingrich's website in the last four weeks.

The results are mixed.

In Florida, Romney is the clear winner (online). Over the last three weeks, his website got 39.5% of traffic to the four remaining Republican presidential candidates' websites from Florida users. Gingrich came in second with 26.53%. Rick Santorum's site got 19.20% of the traffic, and Ron Paul got 14.75%.

But outside of Florida, the top two positions were reversed. Experian reports that last week in the U.S. overall, Gingrich's site got 35.74% of the hits, while Romney's site received just 29.31%. Then came Ron Paul, who got 20.48%, and finally Rick Santorum with 14.47%.

Weird!

And add this to the mix: Up until mid-January, Gingrich was clearly leading in online hits from Floridians. It wasn't until the week of Jan. 15 that Romney started to take the lead.

Matt Tatham, a spokesman for Expedia Hitwise, said that online visits do not necessarily translate to offline votes. "You never know what people are going to visit on," he said. "The Romney traffic could just be due to him being in the news more than the others."

He added that most of the Romney searches in the last week have centered on his tax returns and his net worth.

"Sometimes Internet users just search on people -- they want to know their background, find out what the family is like, see what the life looks like. But having said all of that, maybe it will translate to votes. You never know. You could argue both sides."

As for whether Gingrich should be heartened by his website's nationwide online hit lead over Romney, Tatham didn't think so. "If you are them, you are only worried about one state," he said.

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--Deborah Netburn

Photo: Newt Gingrich supporter Mary Gaulden listens to the Republican presidential candidate speak at a campaign rally Monday in Tampa, Fla. Credit: Jim Lo Scalzo / EPA

Helen Gurley Brown gives Stanford, Columbia $30 million

Helen_gurley_brown

The intersection of media and technology just got better funded.

Today the Columbia Journalism School and the Stanford School of Engineering announced a joint $30 million gift from longtime Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown to establish the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation.

The idea is to get the best media minds on the East Coast to start working with the best technology  minds on the West Coast and get innovating!

"David and I have long supported and encouraged bright young people to follow their passions and to create original content," said Helen Gurley Brown in a statement. "Great content needs usable technology....It's time for two great institutions on the East and West Coasts to build a bridge."

If you are thinking this bridge might be a bit arbitrary, it may help to know that Helen Gurley Brown's late husband graduated from Stanford University and the Columbia School of Journalism.

Each school will receive $12 million for "Institute activities"--enough to endow a professorship holder and to support graduate and post-graduate fellowships at both schools. Columbia will receive an additional $6 million for construction of a building that will feature a high-tech newsroom.

"New York City as the major center for the television, music, print media and advertising, is profoundly affected by rapidly evolving digital technology," said Stanford engineering professor Bernd Girod, who will be the institute's founding director, in a statement. "The Brown Institute will bring together creative innovators skilled in production and delivery of news and entertainment with the entrepreneurial researchers at Stanford working in multimedia technology."

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--Deborah Netburn

Photo: David Brown and Helen Gurley Brown in 1979. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

 

Two teens send a Lego man into near space

Two Canadian high school students have successfully launched a Lego man almost 80,000 feet above sea level--high enough to capture video of the plastic toy hovering above the curvature of the Earth.

Now the results of their experiment have gone viral, racking up more than 600,000 views on YouTube in just two daysand inspiring the young engineers to make their small astronaut his own Facebook page--Lego Man in Space.

The Toronto Starreports that the two teens, Matthew Ho and Asad Muhammed, were inspired to do the project about a year and a half ago when Ho saw a YouTube video of MIT students who sent a balloon to near space. Ho wanted to see if he could do it too.

The friends spent four and a half months working on the project, mostly on Saturdays. In a video interview with the Star, they said the hardest part was making the parachute, which they decided to hand-sew, even though neither of them had any sewing experience.

They also constructed a lightweight Styrofoam box to carry three point-and-shoot cameras, a wide-angle video camera and a cellphone with a downloadable GPS app. They purchased a professional weather balloon for $85 online. The helium that would lift it up came from a party supply store. For launch, they put two mitten warmers in the Styrofoam box to keep the cameras working at that altitude. The whole project cost them about $400.

After the balloon was constructed, the two waited until weather conditions would ensure that the Lego man would land in Canada and not somewhere in the U.S. because they didn't want to take their chances with U.S. Homeland Security, the Star reports.

Ho and Muhammed estimate that it took their balloon craft one hour and five minutes to climb 80,000 feet before it finally popped. The descent took a little more than 30 minutes.

Besides online notoriety, the two also received a congratulatory note from Lego.

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--Deborah Netburn

Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs top young adult list of greatest innovators

Lemelson-MIT-Invention-Inde
Alexander Graham Bell. Thomas Edison. Marie Curie. Steve Jobs. Which of these people would you consider the greatest innovator of all time?

A few weeks ago the Lemelson-MIT Program put a similar question to 1,000 young adults ages 16 to 25, and stodgy old purists can breathe a sigh of relief. Thomas Edison trumped everyone.

"Though part of the 'Apple Generation,' many young Americans surprisingly chose Thomas Edison (52%), as the greatest innovator of all time, demonstrating that education around the history of invention exists in today's curriculum," the organization wrote in a statement on its annual Lemelson-MIT Invention Index.

Still, nearly a quarter of respondents identified Steve Jobs as their first pick for greatest innovator, beating that old stalwart Alexander Graham Bell, who received just 10% of the votes.

Mark Zuckerberg made the list, although only 3% of respondents identified the Facebook founder as the world's greatest innovator. He tied with Amelia Earhart.

Bill Gates, however, was notably missing.

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-- Deborah Netburn

Image credit: From the Lemelson-MIT Program.

Digital painting comes alive in a not so 'Still Life'

The-not-so-still-life

Artist Scott Garner's "Still Life" has all the trappings of a traditional still life painting. The lighting is intriguing, the fruit artfully arranged, a knife resting beneath a blue patterned vase adds a slight menacing edge to the image.

But this still life is not a painting, nor is it still. As the artist writes on his website, it's an "interactive gallery piece that takes traditional still life painting into the fourth dimension with a motion-sensitive frame on a rotating mount."

To put that into plain English: If you tilt this still life to the right or to the left, the vase tips, the fruit rolls, and the knife slides around. It will all settle down eventually, but move the frame again and the upheaval within the picture begins anew.

We've seen this technology in iPad applications--Atomic Antelope's Alice in Wonderland  app comes to mind, as does Moonbot's The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, but still, seeing the technology applied to an old school style of art is pretty cool.

For those of you who want more on the tech behind the art, Garner is kind enough to describe how he put the piece together.

"On the hardware side is a custom-framed television connected to a rotating mount from Ergomart, " he writes on his website. "Attached to the back of the television is a spatial sensor from Phidgets, makers of fine USB sensors. On the software side is a simple C application to communicate with the sensor and feed the data to a Unity 3D scene. The scene itself consists of a camera tied to the sensor data with all lights and objects parented to it so they rotate in unison."

Could Caravaggio have done that?

Still Life from Scott Garner on Vimeo.

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Image: Scott Garner's Still Life. Credit: Courtesy of Scott Garner

 

The making of NASA's super hi-res blue marble Earth image

Blue-marble-earth
A new image of the Earth has been popping up all over the Internet, dazzling us with its high-def imagery of land masses, oceans and rippled clouds.

Some media outlets have reported that the image is the largest image ever made of our planet, but Norman Kuring, the NASA oceanographer who actually made the image, told The Times that  simply is not true.

"I'm surprised that it's gone viral," he said. "I think what's happening in the general public is seeing a larger image than they are used to seeing, but there have been higher sensing instruments around for a number of years."

Kuring explained that this particular image was made using data collected by the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite, which is on a satellite flying 512 miles above the Earth. VIIRS is not really a camera -- rather it has a scanning telescope that measures the difference between the amount of light coming down to the surface of Earth from the sun as compared to the amount of light that is reflected back to the telescope. Kuring made the image above by running code that translates that data into an image.

VIIRS only scans one swatch of Earth at a time, measuring about 1,900 miles across. Kuringer says you can think of it as if you were walking down the street with a broom and sweeping as you go. The images are then pieced together to make a whole.

The satellite it rides on -- Suomi NPP,  which was launched in October -- has been placed in a sun-synchronous orbit so that the satellite is over the equator at the same local ground time in each orbit. This is relevant because it explains why each slice of image is lit the same way even though the entire image of the Earth was taken over a period of several hours.

The data that VIIRS collects is still in the process of being calibrated, but eventually scientists will be able to use it to measure ocean temperatures, tell us the location of fires, and track cloud formations.

As for the above image, Kuringer said he made it as a favor to a NASA scientist who wanted a visual to use in a talk to the American Meteorological Society earlier this week. Kuringer settled on an image taken on Jan. 4 because it was a fairly sunny day, and he decided to focus on North America because the society is based in America.

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-- Deborah Netburn

Image: A 'blue marble' image of Earth taken with the VIIRS instrument aboard NASA's satellite  Suomi NPP. Credit: NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

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