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Hybrid cars fail

via | Times Online | Eco-friendly claims for ‘hybrid’ cars dismissed as gimmickry
Cars promoted as eco-friendly were criticised yesterday for pumping out up to 56 per cent more carbon dioxide than the manufacturers claim. Three models, including the Honda Civic hybrid, performed so badly in tests that their environmental claims were dismissed as a gimmick. A further five vehicles, including Volkswagen’s Polo BlueMotion, hailed as Britain’s greenest car when it was claimed that it emitted less than 100 grams of CO2 per km (g/km), failed to match the claims made by their makers. The Honda Civic hybrid, regarded widely as one of the lowest emitting cars, performed the worst in the tests. Instead of the 109g/km of CO2 claimed in the makers’ specifications, it was found to put out 171g/km.

May 19, 2008

Do you lie when calling in sick?

grinding.be -- No more Calling in Sick

Calling in sick has often required a certain proficiency in the art of lying. Now you’ll have to be even better…or be caught out even before the phone call is over.

Firms are starting to use lie detectors using a new generation of voice analysis systems to crack down on employees who are swinging the lead.

The technology means someone phoning in for a sickie will speak not to a sympathetic secretary but to a computer set up to check whether their voice is steady and reliable.

That system, developed by Capita and Digilog UK, is called Voice Risk Analysis.

It makes thousands of checks during a call and if it picks up changes in a caller’s voice that suggest they are under pressure - as is likely if they are lying - it gives prompts to whoever is taking the call.

They can then encourage the caller to change their mind about being sick.

May 12, 2008

Web start-up unveils semantic Wikipedia search tool

File under: What is Google buying next? Web start-up unveils semantic Wikipedia search tool
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Powerset on Sunday unveiled tools for searching Wikipedia that use conversational phrasing instead of keywords, marking the first step of its challenge to established Web search services such as Google. Powerset's technology breaks down the meaning of words and sentences into related concepts, freeing users from always needing to type the exact words they want to find. The closely watched Silicon Valley start-up is offering a way of searching millions of entries in Wikipedia's online encyclopedia, helping users find detailed answers to questions rather than isolated links that require further research.

May 11, 2008

Old Gaffers Kickin' Ass on the Wii

Technology permits the infirm to once again box and...

May 10, 2008

The crucifix-shaped MP3 player

TEO MP-301 brings Jesus and the MP3 together at long last - Engadget

Good lord. No, really. Good lord. The TEO MP-301 MP3 player from IceTech USA crams 1GB of media storage into -- as you can see -- a very Jesus-friendly form factor. The $49 player features a built-in microphone with voice recorder, mirrored front panel, and even a little speaker. According to reviews, the player has some serious interface issues and a weak screen, but if crucifixion is your thing, you can't go wrong with this necklace cross-cum-MP3 player. Or is that the other way around? Is this an MP3 player that's also a cross? Anyway, there you have it: the cross-shaped MP3 player, indeed.

May 09, 2008

Bald Eagle gets bionic beak

Disfigured bald eagle to get a bionic beak - Science- msnbc.com

ST. MARIES, Idaho - She has been named Beauty, though this eagle is anything but. Part of Beauty's beak was shot off several years ago, leaving her with a stump that is useless for hunting food. A team of volunteers is working to attach an artificial beak to the disfigured bird, in an effort to keep her alive.

"For Beauty it's like using only one chopstick to eat. It can't be done" said biologist Jane Fink Cantwell, who operates a raptor recovery center in this Idaho Panhandle town. "She has trouble drinking. She can't preen her feathers. That's all about to change."

Cantwell has spent the past two years assembling a team to design and build an artificial beak. They plan to attach it to Beauty next month. With the beak, the 7-year-old bald eagle could live to the age of 50, although not in the wild.

May 06, 2008

By ignoring procedure, all patents since 2000 are now under question

In One Flaw, Questions on Validity of 46 Judges - New York Times

But John F. Duffy, who teaches at the George Washington University Law School, is a different kind of law professor. He has discovered a constitutional flaw in the appointment process over the last eight years for judges who decide patent appeals and disputes, and his short paper documenting the problem seems poised to undo thousands of patent decisions concerning claims worth billions of dollars.

His basic point does not appear to be in dispute. Since 2000, patent judges have been appointed by a government official without the constitutional power to do so.

“I actually ran it by a number of colleagues who teach administrative law and constitutional law,” Professor Duffy said, recalling his own surprise at finding such a fundamental and important flaw. He thought he must have been missing something.

“No one thought it was a close question,” Professor Duffy said.