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FTC Frustrates Google With Delay in Antitrust Probe Ruling




Google may not find out its fate until January

Google Inc.’s (GOOG) former CEO Eric Schmidt expressed frustration in a recent issue about the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust probe into its mobile and search offerings.  He remarked, “It’s time for them to sort of move to one resolution or another. It’s not like they don’t have a million documents and so forth. I remain optimistic.”

It looks like that optimism might have been premature as Reuters reports that the probe’s conclusion has been delayed and will likely take until January to wrap up.  The probe has been ongoing for more than two years.  The delay is painful to Google, who was hoping to find out one way or another what changes it might have to make.  FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz had previously stated that the probe would wrap up this week.

The company’s rivals have complained in various FTC filings that Google downranks rivals to its services, such as travel or shopping, in its list of search results.  Other complaints also accuse Google of improperly “scraping” data of their websites — the practice of using scripts to navigate webpages like a user and data mine values to enhance web results.  Scraping is a legal gray area; many argue it is legal, while others argue vigorously that it is an attempt to gain unauthorized access and essentially a computer crime.


Google reportedly is offering to back off its patent lawsuits against rival Apple, Inc. (AAPL) (via subsidiary Motorola Mobility).  It also is reportedly offering to make other changes to the way it handles service searches.  However, it is reportedly very opposed to sharing intimate details of its core search algorithm with federal regulators or allowing them to modify it.

Overseas Joaquin Almunia, antitrust chief for the European Union has reportedly concluded the EU’s antitrust probe of Google with a “last chance” offer to settle and make changes. If Google does not comply it could face a billion dollar or more fine, a fate other companies like Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and Intel Corp. (INTL) have recently experienced.

Google has set aside $500M USD to pay for potential antitrust fines in the U.S. or EU.

Source: Reuters

Kim Katrel Winona Ryder

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Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Holly Hunter Amy Crews

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Seattle-Area Thieves Make Off With 7,000 Wii U Consoles




Stolen hardware is valued at $2.1M USD

Nintendo Comp., Ltd.’s (TYO:7974) Wii U is a hot holiday item which is welcome news for a company looking to turn around struggling financials and continue the Wii console’s successful track record.  But this holiday some Wii U consoles may be hot in quite a different sense.

A Seattle-area warehouse, located near the SeaTac airport, was the target of a daring crime caper, which saw thieves nab 7,000 Wii U consoles. The system retails for $300 USD, indicating the thieves made off with approximately $2.1M USD (MSRP) in hardware.

The thieves rolled up on SeaTac’s Seattle Air Cargo warehouse in the wee hours of the night in two semi trucks.  The thieves also used a third box truck, which confirmed to be stolen.


Gaining entrance to the warehouse, the bandits used a forklift to lift the pallets of Wii U consoles into the waiting trucks, then sped off into the night.

 

 


The King County Sheriff’s office is not very hopeful that tracing the trucks will lead to catching the thieves, but they are hoping to maybe spot them online.  Comments a spokesperson to Kotaku, “I’d be surprised if they’re still using that truck and that trailer, but we still want people to call if they see anybody advertising for any great deals for Wii U’s on Ebay or privately, especially if there’s a large quantity of them.”

The Sheriff’s office can be reached at 206-296-3311.


Nintendo had no comment on whether the console has any sort of remote theft-prevention mechanism when connected to the internet.  A number of intriguing launch titles are available for the console, including NintendoLand, New Super Mario Bros. U, and ZombiU, although some have criticized the launch lineup as a bit anemic (similar criticism was leveled against the soon-to-be best-selling Wii at its launch).

Sources: ABC News, Kotaku

Famke Janssen Thora Birch

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With 3.7-inch touch screen and WP7.8 system, Nokia Lumia505 released

According to the information Nokia updated on the Mexico site, this new machine Lumia505 for the low-end market will be tailored to the Mexican carrier Telcel and it offers red, black and magenta three colors, and it is expected to be within the market in the coming weeks.

Nokia Lumia505 continues the past style in the appearance, the curved screen and colorful shell is still the most attractive in appearance. As for the configuration, this new machine is not so special, it is equipped with a 3.7 inches AMOLED WVGA resolution touch screen, joined Corning Gorilla Glass and ClearBlack technology, with 256MB RAM memory and 4GB ROM capacity, but it does not support memory card expansion.

Nokia Lumia505 is also loaded with Qualcomm Xiao Long processor, although the official did not disclose the specific model,according to previous news rumors there will be a 800MHz single-core processor, which makes the overall configuration of the machine is basically the same level with the Nokia Lumia510.

Nokia Lumia505 also has built-in 800-megapixel camera, but there is no Carl Zeiss lens, and also it does not support auto-focus function, and it can even only record VGA resolution video screen, while the lack of front camera is also regrettable. Still, the phone provides a thorough wireless connection, it supports WCDMA/HSPA network, Wi-Fi wireless Internet access and Bluetooth 2.1 technology.

The Nokia Lumia505 is also equipped with WP7.8 system, the upcoming new features will include providing new start screen experience, changeable dynamics magnet size.

The Nokia Lumia505 also has a big advantage that it has a long standby time, as equipped with a 1300 mA battery, it can support 36 hours continuous music playback time, and be able to get 7.2 hours talk time in 3G network and up to 600 hours standby time.

Related Posts:

Carla Bonner Claudia Schiffer

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Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Sarah Ryan Kristen Wiig

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Test Could Reveal Which Side of the Looking Glass We’re On

OK, so let’s assume that nothing is real in the sense that we understand reality. We and everyone and everything we know are part of a computer simulation created by an advanced post-human intelligence. Scientists have considered the theory and come up with arguments for and against it. Before now, though, no one has suggested a test could be run to find out one way or another. Do we want to know?

For those who spend enough time playing World of Warcraft, the line between what is “real” and what isn’t probably blurs from time to time. However, a far deeper and more philosophical question has been raised: whether life, the universe and everything is actually just a computer simulation.

The conical (red) surface shows the relationship between energy and momentum in special relativity, a fundamental theory concerning space and time developed by Albert Einstein, and is the expected result if our universe is not a simulation. The flat (blue) surface illustrates the relationship between energy and momentum that would be expected if the universe is a simulation with an underlying cubic lattice.
(Martin Savage)

The center of this theory is that any civilization that evolves to a “post-human” stage would in turn be capable of running a simulation on the scale of the universe. Given the size of the universe — with its billions of worlds around billions of suns — and its billions of years of existence, this could have happened.

If so, are we in it?

This concept, which has been the basis of such movies at The Matrix and The Thirteenth Floor, hasn’t exactly been easy to prove or disprove.

However, researchers at the University of Washington, led by Martin Savage, Ph.D., have concluded that there could be a test to determine if the world is just a simulation.

Sim Universe?

The basis of the test that Savage has theorized is itself rather complicated. It suggests that if we are in a simulation, then that simulation would have to have been constructed with the same finite resources that we could use to create such a simulation. In other words, we could see the shortcomings a programmer made.

For example, this could include the behavior of ultra high energy cosmic rays to determine if there is a set of preferred direction. This in itself wouldn’t actually prove that the universe is a simulation, but it would be the sort of thing that would be in a simulation.

To understand this further requires a bit of understanding the mechanics of the universe.

“We believe we live in a quantum universe,” said James Canton, Ph.D., of the Institute for Global Futures. “We are only now taking the baby steps to prove it.”

As for looking for those patterns that Savage would seek out, they would be there in the mechanics.

“There are some constants in the universe,” Canton told TechNewsWorld. “All matter, everything you can see, is the smallest part of the cosmos. The largest part, which we can’t see, is the dark matter. But these are still constants.”

High-Tech Creationism?

While this concept of a simulated universe is often compared to the dystopian film series The Matrix, a more apt comparison might be another film that came out at the same time. Now largely forgotten, The Thirteen Floor speculated that simulated worlds could be created, and those within it didn’t even know they were just simulations.

So while video games have created believable worlds, those bad guys and other characters are just scripted and don’t really exist. Could the next step be imbuing them with some sort of self-awareness, but not giving those characters the ability to know they are in a simulation? And if that is possible, does it then make the theory that we are in a game all the more possible?

“It seems quite unlikely that we exist as virtual beings living within a computer simulation being operated by some future species descendants,” said Glen Hiemstra of Futurist.com. “However, at the same time I do accept the proposition that the day will come when computer/AI entities will be intelligent enough to be self-aware by some definitions.

“If that is true, then of course we might in fact be those computer/AI entities,” Hiemstra told TechNewsWorld.

There are fundamental questions that would remain, even if Savage’s theory is upheld — that is, that preferred direction could suggest the universe is a simulation. However, other questions might be answered.

“Many mysteries become more sensible, such as where our energy goes when we die, or the idea that we may live many lives,” added Hiemstra. “Other mysteries remain, such as why our simulated universe still shows no clear evidence of other intelligent beings, when putting them into a simulation would make the simulation more entertaining.”

From Games to Reality

Whether this universe is a simulation isn’t easily answered, but could technology create a simulation that would be indistinguishable from reality? Today the most immersing experience is staring at a computer screen, but technology is moving quite quickly.

“We haven’t ported emotion and feeling, but that is a cognitive step. That will come,” he said.

“Big data and cloud computing will allow this immersive universe to be created,” Canton predicted. “We didn’t even have the bandwidth until recently. But and now there is more technology that exists in a single laptop than was available throughout the world in 1974.”

Whether that laptop — or world — actually exists is still to be proven.

Alexis Bledel Sienna Miller

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Could lasers help harness the power of geothermal energy?

By Charles Walford

|

It has long been thought that tapping the planet’s nearly limitless amount of geothermal power would greatly relieve the burden on rapidly depleting fossil fuel sources.

But harnessing such a renewable energy source is currently a slow and expensive progress.

However, now there may be a revolutionary solution to the problems of cumbersome and costly giant drilling equipment – lasers.

While geothermal power requires no fuel (except for pumps), and is therefore immune to fuel cost fluctuations, the capital costs are very high.

Heat is on: US company Foro says it has tested a laser drill that could make harnessing geothermal energy far easier

Heat is on: US company Foro says it has tested a laser drill that could make harnessing geothermal energy far easier

Steaming ahead: The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station in Iceland

Steaming ahead: The Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station in Iceland

Drilling accounts for over half the costs, and exploration of resources deep in the Earth entails significant risks.

But now a US company has offered its alternative solution, the New Scientist reports.

Foro Energy, a start-up company in Littleton, Colorado, has developed what it claims is an inexpensive system of high-powered lasers that can cut through rock.

Foro announced last month that a test system had sent a beam from a 20-kilowatt commercial laser through 1.5km of optical fibre.

Development has been funded by the US Department of Energy’s research arm, ARPA-E.

Borehole drilling trials are planned for next year.

Mechanical drills can easily grind through soft rocks like sandstone to tap petroleum reserves, but they wear out quickly in hard crystalline rocks such as granite and basalt, which are found near volcanoes.

Thus it is these rocks that often hide the best sources of geothermal energy.

Foro’s intense laser beam heats hard rock surfaces so fast that thermal shock fractures the upper few millimetres, leaving a crumbled layer that a normal mechanical drill can scrape away.

Power source: How geothermal energy can be harnessed

Power source: How geothermal energy can be harnessed

Global geothermal electric capacity: Upper red line is installed capacity; lower green line is realised production

Global geothermal electric capacity: Upper red line is installed capacity; lower green line is realised production

This approach could increase drilling rates, a major component in well cost, by up to a factor of 10, says ARPA-E.

However, the success of the prototype will not be guaranteed to be replicated hundreds of metres underground.

The bottom of a borehole, which is filled with rock chips and churning water that lubricates the drill bit.

But for the laser system to work, the optics must deliver the beam directly to the rock, Jared Potter of Potter Drilling in Redwood City, California, who is developing a drilling process that shatters rock with extremely hot water, told the New Scientist.

If the beam hits fluid, it will heat the liquid instead of the rock face.

Foro ‘has a long way to go to have a tool they can deploy in a geothermal or oil well, he adds.
But it is the huge cost of drilling that has hindered the adoption of geothermal energy as a legitimate power source.

If Foro can make it work, it would be a major breakthrought for the way we power our world.

Mia Farrow Jenny Agutter

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Popular Photography’s Camera Of The Year Is…

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Satoshi

It’s that time of year again–the time of year to take incredibly detailed macro shots of pointsettias. And what better camera to do it with than the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the winner of Popular Photography’s hotly contested “Camera of the Year” contest? The follow-up to one of the most important cameras in the history of photography, the Mark III bests its predecessor in every way, topping strong competitors on its way to the prize. Read more here.

Kristy Hinze Julia Brendler

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New species of slow loris found in jungles of Borneo

  • The slow loris is the only venomous primate – and could even kill a human
  • But because of its cute appearance it is targeted by the animal trade

By Charles Walford

|

A new species of slow loris has been discovered in Borneo.

Conservationists hope the finding will add impetus to efforts to protect the double-tongued animals.

Two previously known subspecies have also been accorded full species status.

But experts are warning that dividing the animals into four distinct species means the risk of extinction is greater than previously believed for the animals but could help efforts to protect the unusual primate.

Discovery: A new species of slow loris - the Nycticebus kayan - has been found in Borneo and the Philippines

Discovery: A new species of slow loris – the Nycticebus kayan – has been found in Borneo and the Philippines

The loris is the only venomous primate, producing a flesh-rotting poison that can be fatal to humans.

But they are also very cute – and in fact are known as ‘jungle gremlins’ – which makes them a target for the animal trade.

Captured animals often have their canine and incisor teeth pulled out before being sold on as pets, in a bid to protect their potential owner.

Harming the animals this way, though, can quickly lead to their death, as the toothless primates are unable to feed properly.

‘Four separate species are harder to protect than one, since each species needs to maintain its population numbers and have sufficient forest habitat,’ said lead author Rachel Munds, MU doctoral student in anthropology in the College of Arts and Science.

‘Unfortunately, in addition to habitat loss to deforestation, there is a booming black market demand for the animals. They are sold as pets, used as props for tourist photos or dismembered for use in traditional Asian medicines.’

According to Munds, slow lorises are not domesticated and are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. She contends that keeping the animals as pets is cruel and that domesticating them is not feasible.

Got it licked: The slow loris has a serrated sublingua - under-tongue - of a slow loris sticks out beneath the primary tongue

Got it licked: The slow loris has a serrated sublingua – under-tongue – of a slow loris sticks out beneath the primary tongue

A team of researchers, led by Munds and Professor Anna Nekaris of Oxford Brookes University, observed the animals living in the forests of Borneo and the Philippines and found that the original single species contained animals with significantly different body sizes, fur thickness, habitats and facial markings.

Museum specimens, photographs and live animals helped primatologists parse out four species from the original one.

But the new species of slow loris, named Nycticebus kayan, has gone unrecognised until now, in part due to its nocturnal lifestyle.

Animals that are active at night rely less on visual clues, and can therefore appear more similar to one another.

So the scientists had to look hard to discover the differences between the new species, and focused primarly on facial markings.

And the researchers found there to be four species of slow loris in the Philippines and Borneo, each with their own, subtly different but distinct head markings.

Conservatrion: Rachel Munds (left), doctoral student in anthropology at Missouri University, and Anna Nekaris, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University, pose with a tarsier, another species of nocturnal primate

Conservatrion: Rachel Munds (left), doctoral student in anthropology at Missouri University, and Anna Nekaris, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University, pose with a tarsier, another species of nocturnal primate

Previously there was thought to be just one species, called N. menagensis.

Two of these new species, N. bancanus and N. borneanus, were previously considered subspecies of N. menagensis. N. kayan, is new to science.

‘In Borneo in particular, from where three of the new species hail, this will mean that three new lorises will be added as threatened to some degree on the IUCN Red List of threatened species,’ said Prof Nekaris.

She warned of the threats to the animals that comes from their trade, driven by demand for lorises as pets

‘YouTube videos of lorises being tickled, holding umbrellas or eating with forks have become wildly popular,’ said Anna Nekaris, study co-author, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University and MU graduate. ‘CNN recently promoted loris videos as “feel good” entertainment. In truth, the lorises gripping forks or umbrellas were simply desperate to hold something.

‘The arboreal animals are adapted to spending their lives in trees constantly clutching branches. Pet keepers rarely provide enough climbing structures for them.’

The animals also are used in Asian traditional medicines. The methods used to extract the medicines can be exceedingly violent, according to Nekaris, who also is director of the slow loris advocacy organisation, Little Fireface Project.

Cruel trade: Slow lorises for sale in Möng La, Shan, Myanmar

Cruel trade: Slow lorises for sale in Möng La, Shan, Myanmar

Sick: The teeth of a juvenile slow loris being removed by an animal trafficker

Sick: The teeth of a juvenile slow loris being removed by an animal trafficker

Catherine Deelay Michelle Branch

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New species of slow loris found in jungles of Borneo

  • The slow loris is the only venomous primate – and could even kill a human
  • But because of its cute appearance it is targeted by the animal trade

By Charles Walford

|

A new species of slow loris has been discovered in Borneo.

Conservationists hope the finding will add impetus to efforts to protect the double-tongued animals.

Two previously known subspecies have also been accorded full species status.

But experts are warning that dividing the animals into four distinct species means the risk of extinction is greater than previously believed for the animals but could help efforts to protect the unusual primate.

Discovery: A new species of slow loris - the Nycticebus kayan - has been found in Borneo and the Philippines

Discovery: A new species of slow loris – the Nycticebus kayan – has been found in Borneo and the Philippines

The loris is the only venomous primate, producing a flesh-rotting poison that can be fatal to humans.

But they are also very cute – and in fact are known as ‘jungle gremlins’ – which makes them a target for the animal trade.

Captured animals often have their canine and incisor teeth pulled out before being sold on as pets, in a bid to protect their potential owner.

Harming the animals this way, though, can quickly lead to their death, as the toothless primates are unable to feed properly.

‘Four separate species are harder to protect than one, since each species needs to maintain its population numbers and have sufficient forest habitat,’ said lead author Rachel Munds, MU doctoral student in anthropology in the College of Arts and Science.

‘Unfortunately, in addition to habitat loss to deforestation, there is a booming black market demand for the animals. They are sold as pets, used as props for tourist photos or dismembered for use in traditional Asian medicines.’

According to Munds, slow lorises are not domesticated and are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. She contends that keeping the animals as pets is cruel and that domesticating them is not feasible.

Got it licked: The slow loris has a serrated sublingua - under-tongue - of a slow loris sticks out beneath the primary tongue

Got it licked: The slow loris has a serrated sublingua – under-tongue – of a slow loris sticks out beneath the primary tongue

A team of researchers, led by Munds and Professor Anna Nekaris of Oxford Brookes University, observed the animals living in the forests of Borneo and the Philippines and found that the original single species contained animals with significantly different body sizes, fur thickness, habitats and facial markings.

Museum specimens, photographs and live animals helped primatologists parse out four species from the original one.

But the new species of slow loris, named Nycticebus kayan, has gone unrecognised until now, in part due to its nocturnal lifestyle.

Animals that are active at night rely less on visual clues, and can therefore appear more similar to one another.

So the scientists had to look hard to discover the differences between the new species, and focused primarly on facial markings.

And the researchers found there to be four species of slow loris in the Philippines and Borneo, each with their own, subtly different but distinct head markings.

Conservatrion: Rachel Munds (left), doctoral student in anthropology at Missouri University, and Anna Nekaris, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University, pose with a tarsier, another species of nocturnal primate

Conservatrion: Rachel Munds (left), doctoral student in anthropology at Missouri University, and Anna Nekaris, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University, pose with a tarsier, another species of nocturnal primate

Previously there was thought to be just one species, called N. menagensis.

Two of these new species, N. bancanus and N. borneanus, were previously considered subspecies of N. menagensis. N. kayan, is new to science.

‘In Borneo in particular, from where three of the new species hail, this will mean that three new lorises will be added as threatened to some degree on the IUCN Red List of threatened species,’ said Prof Nekaris.

She warned of the threats to the animals that comes from their trade, driven by demand for lorises as pets

‘YouTube videos of lorises being tickled, holding umbrellas or eating with forks have become wildly popular,’ said Anna Nekaris, study co-author, primatology professor at Oxford Brookes University and MU graduate. ‘CNN recently promoted loris videos as “feel good” entertainment. In truth, the lorises gripping forks or umbrellas were simply desperate to hold something.

‘The arboreal animals are adapted to spending their lives in trees constantly clutching branches. Pet keepers rarely provide enough climbing structures for them.’

The animals also are used in Asian traditional medicines. The methods used to extract the medicines can be exceedingly violent, according to Nekaris, who also is director of the slow loris advocacy organisation, Little Fireface Project.

Cruel trade: Slow lorises for sale in Möng La, Shan, Myanmar

Cruel trade: Slow lorises for sale in Möng La, Shan, Myanmar

Sick: The teeth of a juvenile slow loris being removed by an animal trafficker

Sick: The teeth of a juvenile slow loris being removed by an animal trafficker

Christina Applegate Natalie Portman

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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.

ALSO:

Steve Jobs statue unveiled in Budapest office park

Demand for iPhones in China could skyrocket, analyst says

Steve Jobs action figure is advertised; will Apple respond?

– 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

Eliza Szonert Catherine Deelay

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R.I.P. Pixels?

Give the pixel five years, researchers say, and it’ll be dead–cast aside for a vector format.

Pixels Wikimedia Commons

The pixel isn’t perfect. For most everything, lining up tiny blocks and displaying them on a screen works well enough. But those blocks have limitations. Now a team of researchers is saying there’s a better way to present onscreen images–one that’ll replace the pixel in five years.

The team developed something called a vector-based video codec that attempts to overcome the challenges of a typical vector display. A typical vector display features drawn lines and contoured colors on a screen (rather than the simple, geometrical map of pixels we’re all accustomed to). But it has problems–notably, areas between colors can’t be filled in well enough for a high-quality image to be displayed, the researchers say.

A codec takes digital video and can both encode and decode it into a new format (in this case, a vector format). The team isn’t releasing many details, but says it has developed a codec that gets around the in-between color problem. With the codec, they say, they’ll have a “resolution-independent” system that delivers pixel quality without, well, the pixels.

Vector-Style Image

Vector-Style Image:  University of Bath

Famke Janssen Thora Birch

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Popular Photography’s Camera Of The Year Is…

Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon EOS 5D Mark III Satoshi

It’s that time of year again–the time of year to take incredibly detailed macro shots of pointsettias. And what better camera to do it with than the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the winner of Popular Photography’s hotly contested “Camera of the Year” contest? The follow-up to one of the most important cameras in the history of photography, the Mark III bests its predecessor in every way, topping strong competitors on its way to the prize. Read more here.

Lisa Loring Martina Warren

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Beetle not seen in UK for more than a century is spotted on the south coast after flying in on the back of a bee

By Daily Mail Reporter

|

A species of beetle thought to be extinct for more than 100 years has been spotted on the South Coast – after flying back to the UK on the back of a bee.

The Mediterranean oil beetle was last seen in Essex in 1906, and it was believed that it had simply died out.

But the insect has now been spotted on National Trust land between Bolt Head and Bolt Tail on the Devon coast.

It is thought the parasite beetle may have travelled back to England on bees flying across the English Channel; their larvae are parasites of several species of ground nesting bee.

Back in black: The Mediterranean oil beetle had not been seen recorded anywhere in the country since it was spotted in Kent in 1906

Back in black: The Mediterranean oil beetle had not been seen recorded anywhere in the country since it was spotted in Kent in 1906

Bright future: The larvae of the Mediterranean oil beetle on a flower on the South Devon coast

Bright future: The larvae of the Mediterranean oil beetle on a flower on the South Devon coast

Though experts say the nocturnal animals are difficult to spot and there is a chance it might not actually have been extinct – and the beetle has been here for decades unnoticed.

Andrew Whitehouse, south west manager for the charity Buglife, said the large matt-black beetle was between two and three centimetres long.

The Mediterranean oil beetle which has been spotted in the UK for the first time in over 100 years

Fab five: The discovery takes the total number of oil beetles species in the UK to five

Mr Whitehouse said they were nocturnal and difficult to find and were last seen in Essex in 1906.

He said: ‘We have been studying the beetles in south Devon intensely for the last two years.

‘We saw one that looked a bit different but it had previously been misidentified as a Rugged oil beetle.

‘I investigated further and was amazed to find that they were a long-lost species.’

He said the discovery of the ‘fascinating” beetles is ‘great news’ and took the total number of oil beetles species in the UK to five.

He said the beetle may have been alive and well undetected in the south west for decades or may have recolonised more recently.

Mr Whitehouse said oil beetles were reliant on bees to complete their life cycle and so acted as an ‘early warning system’ for the state of the bee population.

The Mediterranean oil beetle’s larvae are parasites of a number species of bee.

The female beetle lays her eggs close to bee colonies which eventually hatch to allow the active larvae to climb onto flowers and wait for a suitable bee before being flown to a burrow to develop.

Mr Whitehouse added: ‘As bees have declined, beetles have disappeared. if the bees are in trouble, beetles are the first thing to go.’

Andy Foster, biological survey team leader at the National Trust, said: ‘This is remarkable following the discovery of the rare short-necked oil beetle from the same area of South Devon only a few years ago, and demonstrates the value of detailed studies which can lead to such unexpected results.

‘One can’t help feeling there are other colonies out there just waiting to be found it’s crucial that we understand where these threatened species survive and understand more about their habitat requirements.’

New find: The insects had been previously misidentified as rugged oil beetles

New find: The insects had been previously misidentified as rugged oil beetles

Experts say the beetle may have been carried back tot he UK by bees

Experts say the beetle may have been carried back tot he UK by bees

The beetles were spotted on National Trust land between Bolt Head and Bolt Tail (pictured) on the Devon coast

The beetles were spotted on National Trust land between Bolt Head and Bolt Tail (pictured) on the Devon coast

read more Becky Delos Santos

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How humans have made cheese for at least 7,000 years

  • Earliest cheeses dating back to 5000BC found in Polish region of Kuyavia
  • Scientists found traces by analysing fatty acids found in unglazed pottery

By Lewis Smith

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Assortment of cheeses: A new study shows the art of cheese making dates back at least 7,000 years

Assortment of cheeses: A new study shows the art of cheese making dates back at least 7,000 years to Poland

The art of cheese-making dates back at least 7,000 years, archaeologists have concluded after finding traces of an ancient vintage.

Chemical analysis of fragments of pottery believed to have been specially designed for creating cheese has shown that it was being made in about 5000BC.

But far from coming from regions like Somerset in Britain and Brie in France that are famous today for their cheeses, the earliest vintage comes from the Polish region of Kuyavia.

By analysing fatty acids extracted from unglazed pottery pierced with small holes excavated from archaeological sites in the area, the researchers showed that dairy products were processed in these ceramic vessels.

And the nature of the sieves, close in shape to modern cheese-strainers, provides compelling evidence that these specialised vessels have been used for cheese-making.

Before the study, milk residues had been detected in early sites in north-western Anatolia (8,000 years ago) and in Libya (nearly 7,000 years ago).

However, it had been impossible to detect if the milk was processed to cheese products.

Researchers from the Organic Geochemistry Unit at the University of Bristol, together with colleagues from the U.S. and Poland studied unglazed pottery from the region of Kuyavia dating from around 7,000 years ago.

Researchers examined preserved fatty acids trapped in the fabric of the pottery and showed that the sieves had indeed been used for processing dairy products.

Milk residues were also detected in non-perforated bowls, which may have been used with the sieves.

The pit where the cheese traces were found: Far from coming from regions like Somerset in Britain and Brie in France that are famous today for their cheeses, the earliest vintage comes from the Polish region of Kuyavia

The pit where the cheese traces were found: Far from coming from regions like Somerset in Britain and Brie in France that are famous today for their cheeses, the earliest vintage comes from the Polish region of Kuyavia

The processing of milk and particularly the production of cheese were critical in early agricultural societies as it allowed the preservation of milk in a non-perishable and transportable form and it made milk a more digestible commodity for early prehistoric farmers.

Milanie Salque, a PhD student from the University of Bristol and one of the authors of the paper, said: ‘Before this study, it was not clear that cattle were used for their milk in Northern Europe around 7,000 years ago.

‘However, the presence of the sieves in the ceramic assemblage of the sites was thought to be a proof that milk and even cheese was produced at these sites.

‘Of course, these sieves could have been used for straining all sorts of things, such as curds from whey, meat from stock or honeycombs from honey.

Detective work: By analysing fatty acids extracted from unglazed pottery pierced with small holes found there, the researchers showed that dairy products were processed in these ceramic vessels

‘We decided to test the cheese-making hypothesis by analysing the lipids trapped into the ceramic fabric of the sieves.

‘The presence of milk residues in sieves (which look like modern cheese-strainers) constitutes the earliest direct evidence for cheese-making.’

The leader of the Bristol team, Professor Richard Evershed, added: ‘It is truly remarkable the depth of insights into ancient human diet and food processing technologies these ancient fats preserved in archaeological ceramics are now providing us with.’

The findings were published in the journal Nature.

Paula Jai Parker Sydney Moon

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Redesigned Technology blog moves to new address

Tech blog

The L.A. Times Technology blog has been redesigned, and with our new duds we’re rolling out a new URL. So if you’ve been a loyal follower of our work, please update your bookmarks.

Our hope is that you’ll find the new look to be cleaner and easier for reading, viewing photos and watching videos. Please let us know what you think about the new look by leaving us a comment on the Technology blog’s Facebook page or by shooting a tweet to @LATimesTech.

Thanks for reading, watching and clicking.

– Nathan Olivarez-Giles

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Image: A screen shot of the Technology blog’s new look. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Robyn Douglas Alessia Marcuzzi

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