By Brian X. Chen

Plenty of iPhone programmers whine about their failure to strike it rich in the App Store, but Tap Tap Revenge developer Tapulous can’t complain. The maker of the popular rhythm game reported sales nearing $1 million per month.

The Palo Alto, California startup told Reuters that it generates the revenue through sales of its games, ads and selling songs inside games.

Apple has sold more than 50 million iPhone OS devices (iPhones and iPod Touch units) to date. Earlier this year, research firm ComScore estimated that one-third of iPhone OS users had installed Tap Tap Revenge, Tapulous’ most popular game title. Many compare the game to Rock Band or Dance Dance Revolution. (In Tap Tap Revenge, you tap glowing dots as they hit the bottom of the screen.)

Tap Tap Revenge 3, the latest version of Tapulous’ game, is $1 in the App Store. There are free tracks, but mobile gamers have to buy some major artists’ songs for 50 cents apiece. The strategy seems to be working for artists, as well as for Tapulous.

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Senior administration officials said that the timetable will not be tied to particular conditions on the ground in Afghanistan.


WASHINGTON — President Obama plans to lay out a time frame for winding down the American involvement in the war in Afghanistan when he announces his decision this week to send more forces, senior administration officials said Sunday.

Although the speech was still in draft form, the officials said the president wanted to use the address at the United States Military Academy at West Point on Tuesday night not only to announce the immediate order to deploy roughly 30,000 more troops, but also to convey how he intends to turn the fight over to the Kabul government.

“It’s accurate to say that he will be more explicit about both goals and time frame than has been the case before and than has been part of the public discussion,” said a senior official, who requested anonymity to discuss the speech before it is delivered. “He wants to give a clear sense of both the time frame for action and how the war will eventually wind down.”

The officials would not disclose the time frame. But they said it would not be tied to particular conditions on the ground nor would it be as firm as the current schedule for withdrawing troops in Iraq, where Mr. Obama has committed to withdrawing most combat units by August and all forces by the end of 2011.

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image by Scott Olson/Getty Images

By Brandon Keim

Alien-seeking researchers have designed a new, simple code for sending messages into space. To a reasonably clever alien with math skills and a bit of astronomical training, the messages should be easy to decipher.

As of now, Earthlings spend much more time searching for alien radio messages than broadcasting news of ourselves. We know how to do it, but relatively little attention has been paid to “ensuring that a transmitted message will be understandable to an alien listener,” wrote California Institute of Technology geoscientist Michael Busch and Rachel Reddick, a Stanford University physicist, in a study filed online Friday on arXiv.

According to Busch and Reddick, neither the Arecibo message, beamed at star cluster M13 in 1974, nor the Cosmic Calls sent in 1999 and 2003 were tested for decipherability. So the pair devised their own alien-friendly messaging system: Busch invented the code, and Reddick role-played the part of an alien trying to decode it.

Like the earlier codes, Busch’s used radio to send a string of ones and zeroes. But whereas those messages were meant to be translated into pictures, Busch’s code is supposed to be turned into mathematical equations.

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - LinkedIn and Twitter have linked up. Starting immediately, users of LinkedIn and Twitter can cross-file to each other's services, by checking a box on either Twitter or LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is the largest professional social network, with 50 million members around the world who post information about themselves, such as resumes, to help find jobs or employees, and to stay in touch with each other.

Twitter allows people to broadcast short messages up to 140 characters to subscribers, who are called "followers."

LinkedIn also has an update box, which happens to be 140 characters.

Allen Blue, a co-founder of Twitter who is its vice president of product strategy, said LinkedIn members would be able to automatically post recent Tweets if they wanted.

Blue said users will have the option of sending only selected materials to Twitter.

He said that in addition to the obvious advantage of increasing the audience for either tweets or LinkedIn information there were two other advantages to the new system.

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photo: A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles October 13, 2009 (REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni)

They are quite popular with audiences

By Tudor Vieru, Science Editor

Horror films are not the standard in cinema, and are sometimes considered to be something of a niche genre. In spite of this, they cash sufficiently large sums of money at the box office, and have dedicated fans that form strongly bound communities. In recent months, a number of horror movies have taken theaters by storm, showcasing the supernatural and the frightening. Experts have been puzzled at what makes these films popular for many years, and finally decided to investigate the matter thoroughly.

In fact, the question that had scientists scratching their heads was why people keep coming back to the theaters when these movies are running, if they were scarred out of their minds the first time around. Ask a horror buff, and they will tell you that, as soon as they get up from the edge of their seats, they are ready to go at it again. If we find the sequences in these movies so repulsive, why do we keep watching them?

Image: Horror movies gross big at the box office even if they are a niche genre (Flickr / insertinanename)

Microsoft hopes people like Windows 7 more than its predecessor, Vista

By Jessica Mintz

SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. put a new edition of Windows on sale Thursday, hoping for a fresh start after a bad reception for the previous version of the software that runs most of the world's personal computers.

Windows 7 is now available on new computers, and as a software upgrade for some older PCs.

A Fry's Electronics store in Renton, Wash., several miles south of Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, opened at midnight to give customers an early shot at buying a new PC or a disc that they could use to put Windows 7 on their existing computers. Such upgrade discs start at $120.

"We're geeks, that's what geeks do. This is our excitement," said Mike Naramor, 55, who runs a consulting business called My Computer Guy and was one of about 50 people who were waiting outside the store when it opened.

photo: A salesman works behind new Windows 7 software in a store in Rosenheim, southern Germany. Microsoft Corp. put a new edition of Windows on sale Thursday, hoping for a fresh start after a bad reception for the previous version of the software that runs most of the world's personal computers.(By Christof Stache / AP)

A new wireless standard could challenge Bluetooth for peer-to-peer sharing supremacy.

By Corinne Iozzio

Routers are the middle-men of our wireless networks; without them, our Wi-Fi gadgets (laptops, hard drives, cameras, printers, whathaveyou) can't talk to each other. But routers, like most intermediaries, don't make anything easier -- not at all. A new Wi-Fi standard is on the horizon that will let our devices talk to each other directly. Ain't that sweet?

The new specification, which the Wi-Fi Alliance hopes will start showing up in devices in mid 2010, is called Wi-Fi Direct. But that's not all, a new Wi-Fi Direct device will be backwards compatible with any previously released Wi-Fi Certified gadget you have.

We've been salivating over technologies that allow for instant transfers for a year now. At this year's CES, Sony demonstrated a new technology called TransferJet, which let data "jump" from one device to another when the two were placed within a few inches of each other. Wi-Fi Direct is the same idea, but on a broader scale; in addition to data sharing for media files like video and photos (TransferJet's forté), Direct can work with all kinds of data and software apps.

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photo: Wi-Fi Direct Môsieur J./Flickr

By Ariel Schwartz

Sure, one person's deposits into an airplane toilet don't weigh much, but what about the pee from 200 people? Japanese airline ANA thinks full bladders lead to airplanes being weighed down by excrement, so it is implementing a wacky new policy: pee before you fly.

The airline is putting up signs at airport gates asking passengers to go to the bathroom. So-called "loo attendants" stand guard as well, asking potential pee-ers if they need to take a trip to the restroom. Bathrooms will still be on the plane, of course, in case of emergency. But ANA hopes that its shaming tactics will cut down on passengers' overall weight, in turn reducing the weight of the plane and lowering fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions.

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image by FC

By Jennifer Bergen

Do not attempt to adjust your screens. Acer is planning to launch a 15.6-inch 3D notebook at the end of October 2009. It will have software for you to covert your boring old 2D movies into exciting new 3D adventures. It will also directly support 3D movies.

You won’t need any wonky headgear for it either, just a pair of steroscopic glasses. According to Digitimes, Campbell Kan, vice president of Acer’s mobile computing business unit, says Acer is developing a model that won’t even require glasses.

The 3D notebook will come with Windows 7 installed, which means Microsoft will not officially announce this product until it launches the OS.

photo by Digitimes

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Hugh Jackman on Friday slashes his way back to his starmaking role as a razor-clawed mutant in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" after his glitzy turn hosting the Oscars and starring in romance "Australia" that flopped at U.S. box offices.

The change is good for the Aussie star because of the exposure it brings, but despite the box office appeal of the "X-Men" movies, Jackman said these days he leans more toward starring on Broadway, where he won a Tony.

It's Jackman's fourth turn as tough-talking Wolverine, a role he won in the 2000 film "X-Men," fresh from starring in a London stage production of the musical "Oklahoma!"

"There's no doubt that as soon as this movie came out, that my career was like a Great Dane dragging me down the street," Jackman told Reuters about the last nine years of his career.

The 2000 "X-Men" made $296 million at worldwide box offices and helped usher in the latest wave of comic book movies. The 2003 "X2" topped that with $408 million, and the 2006 "X-Men: The Last Stand" burst past it at $459 million.

Paul Dergarabedian, president of box office tracker Media by Numbers reckons "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" could fetch from $85 million to $100 million at U.S. box offices on its debut weekend -- the first weekend of Hollywood's summer season.

Jackman, 40, said playing Wolverine has been a challenge because of the "sustained energy" he needs while shooting.

"Underneath you've got to feel he's ready to explode all the time," he said of the character.

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photo: Actor Hugh Jackman gestures as he attends the premiere of the movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" in Tempe, Arizona, April 27, 2009 (REUTERS/Joshua Lott).

By Maggie Shiels
Technology reporter, BBC News, Silicon Valley

Google has launched two experimental products it hopes will change the way users search for pictures and news.

A feature known as Similar Images uses a picture rather than text to find other matching images.

Timeline presents information already available in Google News but organised and displayed chronologically.

Alongside these features is a new version of Google Labs, in which users can take a peek at what its thousands of engineers are working on.

Amid past criticism that Google has wasted too much time and effort on projects that have little impact, the aim of the Labs upgrade is to make prototypes available earlier.

"The idea we are trying to build here with Labs and the culture of innovation is to close the gap at the point of which a new idea is hatched and the time it takes to get into the hands of users for feedback," said Google director of product management R J Pittman.

This means engineers can find out at a much earlier stage what does and does not work in a new feature or product allowing them to either reshape it or scrap it altogether.

Google said that in the present economic climate this approach made complete sense.

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image: The Timeline archives date back to the 1400s (By

By Paul Heine, Radio and Records

There is good news in the radio industry: online radio is gaining in popularity. The number of Americans that tune in weekly to online radio grew to 42 million, up from 33 million in 2008. Stuck in the 11 percent to 13 percent range for the past three years, weekly online listening now reaches 17 percent of the population, according to Arbitron and Edison Research, which released their 17th annual Infinity Dial study Thursday (April 16).

The number of monthly online listeners is 69 million or 27 percent of the population. And nearly half of the population, or 49 percent, an astounding 125 million, have ever listened to online radio.

The Arbitron/Edison survey, conducted this year from January 16 to February 15 with 1,858 participants, also showed the demographics of online radio listeners don’t skew as young as they once did, more closely resembling the audience composition of traditional radio. Twenty percent of adults 25-54 said they listened to Web radio in the last week, up from 15 percent a year earlier.

"The sharp growth in weekly usage of online radio in this year's study provides compelling evidence that radio's digital platforms may be reaching critical mass," said Bill Rose, senior vp of marketing for Arbitron. "The growth of online radio is reinforced with what we are seeing in the portable people meter. We are beginning to see encoded streams of AM/FM broadcasts with significant audience in local markets."

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By Chris Dannen

InformationWeek published results from an 1100-company survey suggesting that businesses will be extremely reticent to upgrade to Windows 7.

According to the report, 83% of the companies surveyed will delay their Win-7 upgrade until at least 2011, which means Microsoft might suffer another Vista-level adoption debacle if it doesn't move decisively to convince users to upgrade. Support for Windows XP, Microsoft's popular legacy OS, officially ends tomorrow, April 14.

The data cited by InformationWeek, which was collected by KACE, suggests that Microsoft's version confusion could be contributing to its incremental slips in marketshare. Linux, meanwhile, has seen adoption inch upward, likely at Windows' expense.

"Only a small percentage of businesses plan to migrate to Windows 7 in its first year of availability," says the KACE report. "Economic concerns and worries about compatibility" will be chief factors to blame. Only 42% of the businesses surveyed said they'd use Windows 7 after 2011, and 17% said they'd wait longer than three years before adopting.

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By Chris Nashawaty

Last night, some very lucky Star Trek fans who believed they were walking into a screening of 1982's Wrath of Khan instead got a surprise sneak peek at J.J. Abrams' new enterprise. While Abrams' reboot/prequel, Star Trek, isn't scheduled to officially hit theaters until May 8, those fortunate enough to be on hand at the Alamo Draft House in Austin, Tex., were the giddy victims of a blockbuster bait and switch. And nudging the event into total nerdvana territory, the hotly anticipated summer tentpole was reportedly introduced by the film's writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, its producer Damon Lindelhof (Lost), and (get this) Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy.

Needless to say, those in attendance -- no doubt very familiar with making their sci-fi opinions known in cyberspace -- immediately posted early reviews of the film on the Internet. And so far, the reactions range from wildly ecstatic to only barely less ecstatic. On his AICN site, Austin's blogging poobah Harry Knowles dedicated about 40,000 words to the screening, reporting that it concluded with a standing ovation that lasted five to six minutes. "After the film, the audience was a collective smile, some crying they were so happy," Knowles wrote.

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Photo Credit: Industrial Light and Magic

By Anthony France

Armed police boarded a flight at London's Heathrow Airport and arrested a trio involved in mid-air argument over a sex act.

The incident involved a model who allegedly flew into a drunken rage on a plane after catching her boyfriend engaging in a sex act with a woman sitting next to him.

Magazine covergirl Sarah Hannon, 35, is said to have woken from a nine-hour flight onboard Kingfisher Airlines to London from the Indian city of Bangalor to find partner Daniel Melia enjoying a sexual act, The Sun reports.

A police source said Ms Hannon fell asleep after drinking with Mr Melia before and during the flight.

Mr Melia then “got on well” with Ms Irby underneath a blanket but was stopped by hostesses – at which point Sarah awoke and started screaming.

“They certainly put the bang into Bangalore,” the source said.

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image: Shock ... model Sarah Hannon allegedly saw her partner enjoying a sex act with a woman next to him mid-flight (image by

By staff

A new technique has uncovered an extrasolar planet hidden in Hubble Space Telescope images taken 11 years ago

The new strategy may allow researchers to uncover other distant alien worlds potentially lurking in over a decade's worth of Hubble archival data.

The method was used to find an exoplanet that went undetected in Hubble images taken in 1998 with its Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS). Astronomers knew of the planet's existence from images taken with the Keck and Gemini North telescopes in 2007 and 2008, long after Hubble snapped its first picture of the system.

The planet is estimated to be at least seven times the mass of Jupiter. It is the outermost of three massive planets known to orbit the dusty young star HR 8799, which is 130 light-years away from Earth. NICMOS could not see the other two planets because its coronagraphic spot — a device that blots out the glare of the star —blocked its viewof the two inner planets.

"We've shown that NICMOS is more powerful than previously thought for imaging planets," said the scientist who found the planet, David Lafreniere of the University of Toronto in Canada. "Our new image-processing technique efficiently subtracts the glare from a star that spills over the coronagraph's edge, allowing us to see planets that are one-tenth the brightness of what could be detected before with Hubble."

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Kids may benefit from watching their parents resolve problems, study finds

By Linda Carroll contributor

Quarreling couples, relax. It may be OK to argue in front of your kids — as long as you fight fair.

Experts have long cautioned that children can experience serious psychological harm if they witness their parents fighting. But a new study, published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, suggests that children might actually benefit from watching their parents sort problems out.

“In some ways, kids benefit from seeing their parents disagreeing — and even being mildly angry,” says study co-author Patrick Davies, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester. “It gives them a lesson on how you can come to a mutually acceptable solution through compromise.”

The new study may ease the guilt of well-meaning parents who aren’t able to hide every dispute from their children. “I think the conclusion of this study — that not all marital conflict is destructive to children — may come as a relief to parents,” says Alan E. Kazdin, the John M. Musser Professor of Psychology and Child Psychiatry at Yale University.

That’s true for Brett Moshure, a 45-year-old executive consultant in Morgan Hill, Calif. Moshure and his wife agreed early on that they would never argue about the kids in front of the kids. But every other topic was fair game.

Sometimes things get heated, but Moshure wouldn’t do it any other way.

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image by Duane Hoffmann /

By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Skype, the Internet telephone unit of eBay Inc, is planning to launch its service for iPhone users on Tuesday and for BlackBerry in May as part of its effort to expand beyond desktop computers.

Skype has been pushing to make its service work on the most popular advanced phones with an aim to expending its more than 400 million users who were mostly lured by the promise of cheap and sometimes free calls made using its computer application.

Skype Chief Operating Officer Scott Durchslag said he has high hopes for the application's success on Apple Inc's popular iPhone as he expects Skype's most feature-rich mobile offering to appeal to new and existing customers.

"The No. 1 request we get from customers is to make Skype available on iPhone. There's a pent-up demand," Durchslag said in an interview before the CTIA annual mobile showcase in Las Vegas, where Skype plans to launch the service on Tuesday.

In May it will launch Skype for Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices, which popularized mobile email. It has already announced Skype for Nokia phones and for phones based on Android, Google Inc's mobile system, and Windows Mobile, from Microsoft Corp.

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood said the new applications give Skype a chance to boost its mobile phone position, which has been weaker than that of social sites such as Facebook, Twitter or News Corp's MySpace.

One of Skype's unusual iPhone features is the fact that it allows subscribers use to the phone numbers in their existing iPhone address book so they do not need duplicate lists.

photo: An Apple iPhone sits on a display stand during its launch at a Singtel store in Singapore August 22, 2008. (REUTERS/Vivek Prakash)

By Tony Borroz

The Obama administration, as part of the government's ongoing bailout of the auto industry, has ushered General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner out of the building and replaced him with board member Fritz Henderson.

The president, in an address this morning, said Wagoner's ouster was not a reflection on his stewardship of the beleaguered automaker but "rather a recognition that it will take a new vision and new direction to create the GM of the future." Considering GM's stock plunged from around $90 a share to less than $3 a share since Wagoner moved into the corner office eight years ago, maybe the ouster was a reflection of his leadership.

Still, the move stunned a lot of people, with Michigan Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm speaking for them when she called Wagoner "a sacrificial lamb." But Wagoner, who is known for optimism, remained upbeat.

"GM is a great company with a storied history," he said in an e-mail to employees. "Ignore the doubters, because I know it is also a company with a great future."

The press is going nuts with the story. The New York Times said the administration's move "amounts to a do-or-die ultimatum for the struggling automobile industry." The Detroit News is blunt in saying, "Obama tells automakers: No more excuses." In an editorial, the News slammed the ouster as a political move by a president who "needs a scalp to wave before both a Congress growing queasy about federal bailouts and the automaker's bondholders, who aren't happy about granting a huge discount on their GM debt."

The bottom line is Uncle Sam told Wagoner he'd have to take a hike if the floundering automaker was to get any more cash out of taxpayers. In addition to telling Wagoner to hit the bricks, the Obama administration wants to push Chrysler into a shotgun wedding with Fiat — or any other suitor that comes along.

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Photo: Wagoner with the Volt concept (General Motors)

BANGKOK (AFP) – A Thai fireman turned superhero when he dressed up as comic-book character Spider-Man to coax a frightened eight-year-old from a balcony, police said Tuesday.

Teachers at a special needs school in Bangkok alerted authorities on Monday when an autistic pupil, scared of attending his first day at school, sat out on the third-floor ledge and refused to come inside, a police sergeant told AFP.

Despite teachers' efforts to beckon the boy inside, he refused to budge until his mother mentioned her son's love of superheroes, prompting fireman Sonchai Yoosabai to take a novel approach to the problem.

The rescuer dashed back to his fire station and made a quick change into a Spider-Man costume before returning to the boy, he said.nakin (Oakland Police Dept via Getty Images)

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photo: A sufing "Spider-man". A Thai fireman turned superhero when he dressed up as comic-book character (AFP/File)

"Quantum of Solace'' hits DVD today, so we're rating the bombshells -- and bombs -- of Bond girls past, from Octopussy to Honey Ryder, with a special shout-out to the newest girls on the block, Gemma Arterton and Olga Kurylenko

By Joshua Rich

Two newly minted Bond babes, Gemma Arterton (left) and Olga Kurylenko, star with Daniel Craig in the latest 007 flick, Quantum of Solace.

In the Marc Forster-helmed movie, Arterton (RocknRolla) plays the doomed Agent Fields while Kurylenko (Max Payne) takes on the role of Bond's fiery love interest with a score to settle. Take a gander through our best and worst Bond-babe galleries, and then vote on whether or not you think the newbies make the grade or simply fade.

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photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images; Patrice Lapoirie/Maxppp /Landov


TROLLHATTAN, Sweden — Saab Automobile may be just another crisis-ridden car company in an industry full of them. But just as the fortunes of Flint, Mich., are permanently entangled with General Motors, so it is impossible to find anyone in this city in southwest Sweden who is not somehow connected to Saab.

Which makes it all the more wrenching that the Swedish government has responded to Saab’s desperate financial situation by saying, essentially, tough luck. Or, as the enterprise minister, Maud Olofsson, put it recently, “The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories.”

Such a view might seem jarring, coming as it does from a country with a reputation for a paternalistic view of workers and companies. The “Swedish model” for dealing with a banking crisis — nationalizing the banks, recapitalizing them and selling them — has been much debated lately in the United States, with free-market defenders warning of a slippery slope of Nordic socialism.

But Sweden has a right-leaning government, elected in 2006 after a long period of Social Democratic rule, that prefers market forces to state intervention and ownership. That fact has made the workers of Trollhattan wish the old socialist model were more in evidence.

“I don’t think the government knows the situation in this town, how many people depend on Saab,” said Therese Doeij, 25, a clerk at a photo shop who has several friends who work at the company. “To them it’s just a factory. They don’t see the people behind it.”

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photo: Demonstrators in Trollhattan, Sweden, protested on Feb. 26 against the threat of job cuts at the Saab factory there. The loss of 750 jobs was announced two weeks later. (Adam Ihse/Agence France-Presse)

An Oakland, California, police officer critically injured in one of two Saturday shootings that killed three fellow officers was pronounced brain dead on Sunday, a police spokesman told CNN.

Initially, Oakland police spokesman Jeff Thomason said John Hege, 41, was the fourth officer to die after a man being pulled over in a traffic stop opened fire and then battled SWAT officers at a nearby building Saturday.

However, Thomason clarified later Sunday that Hege was pronounced brain dead about noon Sunday, but being kept on life support until a decision is made on organ donation.

The man who police said was the gunman -- Lovelle Mixon, 26, of Oakland -- was fatally shot in a gunbattle with SWAT officers in an apartment complex Saturday.

Police said in a late-night news conference Saturday that Mixon had an extensive criminal history and was in violation of parole for assault with a deadly weapon. He also had prior convictions in Alameda County for grand theft and possession of marijuana, the Oakland Tribune newspaper reported. The city of Oakland is in Alameda County.

The incident began about 1 p.m. Saturday in east Oakland when two motorcycle officers tried to pull over a car for a "fairly routine traffic stop," said Dave Kozicki, the deputy police chief.

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photo: Clockwise from top left: John Hege, Sgt. Daniel Sakai, Sgt. Ervin Romans and Sgt. Mark Dunakin (Oakland Police Dept via Getty Images)

Strategy is successful

By Andrei Dobra, Games Editor

Real Time Strategy games are extremely popular on the PC. Just take a lot at the recent PC sales charts, which are currently dominated by three top strategy titles: Dawn of War II, Empire: Total War and Red Alert 3 Uprising.

But a lot of modern RTS games are also launched for consoles, some of them even being exclusive to said platforms, like the recently released Halo Wars title that appeared on Microsoft's Xbox 360. Considered Ensemble Studios' magnum opus, it was the first in the Halo franchise to branch out from the traditional First Person Shooter genre and take on a more strategic overview on the battles before the first Halo title.

We've already heard Microsoft say that it pins high hopes on the strategy title, but now it seems that these expectations have been met, as the North American company announced that Halo Wars sold over a million copies worldwide, showcasing that even strategy games could be popular if they had a successful brand attached to them, like Halo.

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image: A popular title, says Microsoft. Image credits: Wikipedia

By Scott Thill

From mind-warping revisions of comic book heroes in All-Star Superman, Batman R.I.P. and Final Crisis, to pop-cultural and philosophical exegeses like The Invisibles, The Filth and We3, brainiac graphic novelist Grant Morrison is a master of the Gordian-knot narrative.

Armed with an intellect and curiosity rivaled in comics only by Watchmen author Alan Moore, Morrison tackles M-Theory and brane cosmology, psychedelia and fascism, continuity and catastrophe while churning out comics that push the envelope well past the point of breaking. In his books, reality and narrative collide and sometimes disappear into each other without a trace.

"I’ve been trying to make superhero comics which draw attention to that aspect of participation and collusion between character, creator and reader," the 49-year-old virtuoso explained in an e-mail interview from his home in Scotland. "I’d love to see more comic book work which was aware of its real-world context."

Mission accomplished. All-Star Superman Vol. 2, released last month in hardcover, concludes a spectacular series that takes the Man of Steel through the looking glass, humanizing and deifying him in equal measure. Final Crisis, due in hardcover in June, does the same for most of DC Comics' timeless heroes, culminating in one of the most brutally catastrophic narratives ever written. By the time it was over, Morrison says he needed to lighten up.

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image: Superman mourns Batman's death in this exclusive first look at the hardcover jacket for Final Crisis, due in June. Image courtesy DC Comics

By Naoko Fujimura and Tetsuya Komatsu


Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co., Japan’s two largest carmakers, and electronics companies NEC Corp. and Panasonic Corp. were among companies that rejected union requests for higher pay as the nation’s recession deepened.

Toyota turned down the union’s demand for a base pay increase of 4,000 yen ($41) a month, it said in a statement today. Union wage requests to Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s third- largest carmaker, Fujitsu Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. were also rejected.

Japanese companies have slashed production and fired workers, which economists predict will further undermine consumer spending. Prime Minister Taro Aso last week ordered his third stimulus plan as an unprecedented drop in exports pushed the nation toward the worst recession since World War II.

“Small bonuses this summer could hurt consumer spending, which is already depressed,” said Edwin Merner, president of Tokyo-based Atlantis Investment Research Corp., which manages $3.1 billion. “The government must do more to stimulate the economy, especially on the fiscal side.”

Toyota, the world’s biggest carmaker, is trying to hold down costs after forecasting its first loss in 59 years amid the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The request for higher pay “was far from the reality, given the current economic situation and our business environment,” Satoshi Ozawa, a Toyota senior managing director, said at a press conference today in Toyota City, Japan.

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image by bloomberg


WASHINGTON — President Obama and his top economic advisers scrambled to calm a nationwide furor on Monday over bonuses paid at the American International Group, even as administration officials acknowledged they had known about the issue for months.
One day after the economic advisers insisted that their hands had been tied by contracts requiring the payments, Mr. Obama ordered the Treasury Department to “pursue every single legal avenue to block these bonuses” and make the American taxpayers whole.

“In the last six months, A.I.G. has received substantial sums from the U.S. Treasury,” Mr. Obama said. “How do they justify this outrage to the taxpayers who are keeping the company afloat?”

But as anger from lawmakers escalated and criticism of the retention bonuses overshadowed other news for a second consecutive day, White House and Treasury officials offered only a general sense of how they would carry out Mr. Obama’s order and few explanations for why they had not acted earlier.

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photo: President Obama told Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner to “pursue every single legal avenue to block these bonuses.” (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

By TMZ Staff

Howard K. Stern is turning himself in tonight -- he's being arrested and charged, along with two other doctors, for allegedly conspiring to fuel an an addict with prescription drugs -- and the addict was Anna Nicole Smith

Stern and Dr. Sandeep Kapoor (above right) and Khristine Eroshevich are being charged with a total of eight felonies.

According to the L.A. County D.A., the conspiracy counts allege the three defendants conspired to furnish controlled substances to Smith from between July 2004 and January 2007.

Stern and Kapoor were charged with one count of unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance. Eroshevich and Stern were charged with unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance between June 2004 and January 2007.

Kapoor and Eroshevich were each charged with obtaining a prescription for opiates by "fraud, deceit or misrepresentation." They were both also charged with one count of obtaining a prescription for opiates by giving a false name or address.

Kapoor and Stern were also charged with one count of "prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance to an addict." Eroshevich was charged with the same crime for separate prescriptions.

Bail is recommended at $20,000 for each defendant. We know both Stern and Kapoor bailed out Thursday night.

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photo: Booking photos/

Guus Hiddink leads Chelsea here for a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League but the temporary first-team coach admitted that Manchester United are capable of winning all five trophies they are going for.

By John Ley in Turin

Chelsea stand between United and the two remaining domestic prizes; currently second to United in the Premier League, they face the potential of an FA Cup final against Sir Alex Ferguson's side if both teams are successful in their semi-finals.

Chelsea hold a valuable 1-0 lead going into Tuesday's tie against Juventus in the Olympic Stadium where Hiddink is considering a gamble of recalling Michael Essien for his first start since August, after he returned, as a substitute in Saturday's FA Cup win at Coventry.

Hiddink is expected to recall Essien – as well as Nicolas Anelka – whose season was halted by a knee operation. "I think it's very important from now until the end of the season to have a big squad in terms of numbers and quality," Hiddink said. "Essien has come back so we have more depth in quality in the squad. He can make his contribution like he did in the past.

"He was out for many, many months, so it's not easy for him to get the rhythm of the game from the first minute he plays. But he's very strong, a very positive guy, and he can have a huge impact for the rest of the season. He's ready."

Of United's quest for glory, Hiddink said: "They'd like to have the quintuple. It's very rare. But they are on all roads, and that has to be respected how well they're doing it."

United have already claimed the Club World Cup and Carling Cup, in addition to the Community Shield, and lead the Premier League by seven points.

Hiddink could not disguise his admiration for United, both in their pursuit of the perfect season and the manner of their performances, highlighted most recently by Saturday's emphatic 4-0 FA Cup win at Fulham.

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photo: Back in action: Chelsea's Michael Essien returned to action last weekend in the FA Cup against Coventry and could face Juventus in the Champions League Photo: GETTY IMAGES

By Yinka Adegoke

March 04, Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc's YouTube and Universal Music Group are in talks to create a premium online music video service, sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

If they reach a deal, the service could mark a significant step forward in Google's attempt to generate revenue from YouTube, which it acquired for $1.65 billion in 2006.

A deal would also represent a broadening of the sometimes fractious ties between YouTube and the media industry, which has on occasion ordered the popular video-sharing site to pull down clips of TV shows or music videos uploaded by users without the media companies' permission.

Universal, the world's largest music label, and YouTube, the No. 1 U.S. video website, are in talks to create a stand-alone site to showcase music videos by Universal artists, according to three sources who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The deal would ideally be broadened out to include videos by artists at the other major music labels -- Sony Music, EMI Group and Warner Music Group -- in a concept similar to the TV shows available on NBC Universal and News Corp's

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photo: A man looks at YouTube's web site in a file photo (REUTERS/Peter Jones)

Late September, early October

By Marius Oiaga, Technology News Editor

February 26, Softpedia

When it comes down to the deadline for the general availability of Windows 7, Microsoft has been undeterred from its initial claims that the next iteration of the Windows client would ship within three years of Windows Vista's GA. However, this is not exactly the case, revealed a computer-industry executive from Asia. In fact, Microsoft seems keen to beat its three years from Vista GA estimate for the delivery of Windows 7. A report via Bloomberg indicates that the Redmond company is actually planning to wrap up Windows 7 well ahead of the 2009 holiday season, namely in the September – October 2009 time frame.

“According to current planning, it should be late September or early October,” revealed Ray Chen, president of Compal Electronics, a company from Taipei. And Chen is in a position to know. Microsoft is collaborating closely with its original equipment manufacturers with the development of Windows 7, emphasizing efforts superior to those made for Vista. Compal Electronics builds laptops for both Hewlett- Packard and Acer, OEMs that have undoubtedly let in at least on a vague Windows 7 product roadmap, more than can be said for the general public.

The Windows 7 delivery deadline indicated by Chen fits the roadmap leaked for the operating system at the start of this month by Lotta Bath, from the Microsoft Sweden Partner team. Bath also indicated that Windows 7 would be released to manufacturing in October 2009. However, RTM and GA are two entirely different milestones.

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image by windows

February 22, CNN

Perhaps it really was destiny.

"Slumdog Millionaire," the little film that overcame tremendous odds simply to earn an American release, won eight Oscars Sunday night at the 81st annual Academy Awards, including best picture.

"Most of all we had passion and we had belief, and our film shows if you have those two things, you have everything," said producer Christian Colson, surrounded by many members of the film's huge cast and crew.

It was a supremely unlikely success story. "Millionaire," which combines elements of Bollywood melodrama and documentary grit, features no stars.

It's set largely among the poverty-stricken districts of Mumbai, India, and one-third of the film is in Hindi. Its initially reluctant director, Danny Boyle, is better known for brash British films such as "Trainspotting" and "28 Days Later." And the film almost went straight to DVD in America, thanks to the folding of initial studio Warner Independent Pictures (like CNN, it's a unit of Time Warner).

But the film's orphaned, poverty-raised hero, played by Dev Patel, overcomes his challenges to earn a spot on the game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" -- not necessarily to win money, but to connect with his lost love. On the show, he's told that perhaps he is a figure of destiny.

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photo: Dev Patel and Freida Pinto star in "Slumdog Millionaire," which won eight Oscars, including best picture. (By Fox Seachlight)

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image by its own website

Social support during breast-feeding may help humans reproduce faster than non-human primates

By Joel Barnard

February 18, PopSci

For most of us, procuring a gallon of milk requires only a quick trip to the corner store. Breastfeeding mothers, on the other hand, need an estimated 30 percent more energy to keep a newborn nipper happy with fresh mama juice. Eating like a horse and lazing about are two ways to offset this extra energy demand, but another factor may contribute as well. According to a new study, support from family may play a key role in helping mothers conserve energy and therefore allow their bodies to prepare more quickly for another pregnancy.

The study, led by Barbara Piperata, assistant professor of anthropology at Ohio State University, examined the postpartum practices of new mothers in the Brazillian Amazon. In this culture, women observe resguardo, a period of 40 or 41 days after birth during which they are restricted from performing strenuous household tasks. “Humans out-produce other primates. So we are examining to what degree this is related to our cultural flexibility,” said Piperata.

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photo: Breastfeeding (By iStockPhoto)

By Eliot Van Buskirk

February 6, Wired

For some sports fans, ESPN360, the online version of ESPN's television channel, is a cornucopia of more than 3,500 sporting events each year, viewable from the convenience of a computer. For others, it's a total bust. The only difference: their ISP.

The culprit is ESPN's strategy of licensing ISPs rather than users. If your ISP doesn't want to pay for you to watch ESPN360, there's nothing you can do about it, short of switching to a provider that pays for it. While other companies strive for a more direct, one-to-one relationship with consumers, ESPN is doggedly pursuing the same strategy online that made it a success in the TV world: licensing pipes, not people. And it just might work.

"We're believers," ESPN executive vice president for affiliate sales and marketing David Preschlack told "It's just the point of view that we have: that as opposed to just selling speed, content is going to play a role in the high-speed data marketplace."

Other major media providers like Disney (ESPN's parent company) and the NFL are also charging internet providers for the right to deliver their content, and record labels are considering following suit. Disney Connection — available on Verizon but not Comcast — includes classic cartoons, games, movie previews and other content for preschoolers, kids and teens. Meanwhile the NFL Network Game Extra service offers live games on Thursday and Saturday nights with four camera angles to choose from. But unless your ISP pays, you can't see any of it.

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image by wired

January 27, YouTube

Chief operating officer, Tim Cook, will take over Jobs' responsibilities


January 15, MSNBC

Apple Inc. co-founder and Chief Executive Steve Jobs said Wednesday he is taking a medical leave until the end of June — just a week after the cancer survivor tried to assure investors and employees his recent weight loss was caused by an easily treatable hormone deficiency.

Apple’s stock plunged 7 percent.

Jobs, 53, said in a letter last week that he would remain at Apple’s helm despite the hormone problem, and that he had already begun a “relatively simple and straightforward” treatment. But in an e-mail to employees Wednesday, Jobs backtracked.

“During the past week I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought,” he wrote.

Apple’s shares have surged and crashed over the last year in step with rumors or news about the CEO’s health and his gaunt appearance. While the top executive’s health is an issue for investors in any company, at Apple the level of concern reaches fever pitch because Jobs has a hand in everything from ideas for new products to the way they’re marketed. Investors fear that without Jobs, Apple will not be able to sustain its growth of the last decade, which has seen Apple branch out from its Mac computers into the iPod and the iPhone.

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photo: Apple CEO Steve Jobs is shown in this combination of file photographs. Top row, from left, shows Jobs in July 2000, November 2003 and September 2005. Bottom row, from left, shows September 2006, January 2007 and September 2008. Jobs said Wednesday he will take a medical leave of absence until the end of June because his health problems are "more complex" than he had thought (Reuters File)

By staff writers and wires

January 12,

HEATH Ledger has won a Golden Globe award for his role as The Joker in The Dark Knight.

Ledger won the best supporting actor category at the awards, prompting a standing ovation from the audience of movie and TV stars.

The award was accepted by Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan. "All of us who worked with Heath on 'The Dark Knight' accept with an awful mixture of sadness but incredible pride," Nolan said.

"After Heath passed, you saw a hole ripped in the future of cinema. He will be eternally missed, but he'll never be forgotten."

Kate Winslet won the first award of the night, picking up the Best Suporting Actress (motion picture) trophy for her role in The Reader.

Launching into a relatively lengthy acceptance speech, Winslet said: "You have to forgive me because I have a habit of not winning things."

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photo: Winner ... Heath Ledger has taken out the best supporting actor Golden Globe today / AP

By Mike Shields, Mediaweek

January 9, AdWeek

NEW YORK Despite the popularity of the iPhone and the general touch-screen mania that has swept the U.S. over the past year, few people actually watch video on their cell phones. But the numbers are on the rise, according to a new report issued by the Nielsen Co.

According to Nielsen, 10.3 million U.S. mobile subscribers access video content on their phones during a given month -- roughly 5 percent of all wireless subscribers.

However, the audience is growing -- up 14 percent in 2008 vs. '07 -- driven primarily by the presence of more Internet-friendly phones in the market. (Back in 2005, a report issued by mobile researcher M:Metrics found that just 1 percent of mobile users watched video on their phones.)

Nearly two-thirds of viewers are watching video via the mobile Web (66 percent), though paid subscription services and purchased downloads continue to account for a sizable amount of viewership.

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image by AdWeek

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image by its website

By Clara Moskowitz

January 6, Wired

Earth-like planets may in fact be common in the galaxy, increasing the likelihood of extraterrestrial life.

By observing the remains of smashed up asteroids around dead stars, astronomers were able to deduce their chemical composition. They found that the dust of many chewed-up asteroids resembles the materials inside Earth and the other small, rocky inner planets of our solar system.

"We found evidence that this asteroid dust is similar to rocks on Earth," said UCLA astronomer Michael Jura in a press conference today at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, California. "This strengthens suspicions that Earth-like planets are common."

Asteroids and planets are made from the same stuff: the dusty material that circles around
young stars in disks. Eventually some of the dust clumps together and grows into planets, while asteroids represent the detritus left over. Because asteroids are formed from the same material as planets, observing asteroids around other stars can tell us crucial information about what ingredients are available to form planets around those stars.

"Asteroids are leftover building blocks that didn’t get incorporated into the planets," Jura said. "What we have now is a tool to measure the bulk composition of planets."

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image by Wired

By Lincoln Archer and wires

January 6,

IN one besieged city, scores of children are dying and those brave enough to try to help them are facing horrific images of human suffering just to do their jobs.
In another city used to the constant threat of attack, a disembodied voice shouts "red colour!, red colour!" and people scramble to take cover.

As some of those in the second city watch the destruction in the first, they tell of their hope that it will ultimately mean something. But they sound resigned to the likelihood that not much will change.

This is how 2009 has started.

"Whoever comes with a head, we check his pulse," a doctor in Gaza told an Associated Press correspondent on the ground as the death toll there passed 500. "If there's no pulse, he's straight to the morgue. If there's no head, well, goodbye." The hospital is running on power from generators after air strikes knocked out its electricity supply. If they fail, dozens more will die as their life support machines switch off.

In the hospital's morgue, where 70 bodies are piled into refrigerators meant to hold 35, blood was reported to be pooling on the floor next to the bodies of three children. Some reports said there were about 100 children among the dead and 20 were killed yesterday alone.

photo: Position ... it looks like a Tianenmen-style standoff, but it's just a tank being directed / AP