Bankrupt draws $13 million offer

Sunday, October 31, 2010

AN offshore holding company wants to have its way with for $US13 million.

The world's "most valuable" internet domain name went up for grabs in July of this year after US-based Escom filed for bankruptcy.

Clover Holdings Limited, based on the Caribbean island of St Vincent, made the top offer for the name after Escom LLC revealed it was being forced to sell it due to bankruptcy, according to court documents.

Escom is reported to have bought the domain name for from $US12 million to $US14 million in 2006.

Sedo, which bills itself as the world's biggest trading platform for domain names, has said the sale "offers the new owner a unique opportunity to become market leader".

There were a dozen bidders vying to get, according to court paperwork online yesterday.

Little information about Clover was included in court documents.

Attorneys representing Escom are asking a California bankruptcy court to approve Clover as the winning bidder and clear the way for the deal to be consummated and domain-name trading platform Sedo to get its commissions.

"The proposed sale to buyer was the product of arms-length, good faith negotiations in which the debtor bargained for maximum possible purchase price for the assets," Escom attorney Jeffrey Dulberg wrote in a court filing.

"The negotiations involved substantial time and effort by the parties... and (the agreement) reflects given-and-take and compromises by both sides."

Dining in space will set you back $500 per day

Friday, October 29, 2010

THE price of food rations on board the International Space Station has increased by nearly 50 per cent over the past year due to inflation, a Russian official says.

"Last year, the cosmonaut's daily ration in space cost about 11,000 rubles ($366), and today the cost is reaching 15,000 rubles ($500)," said Viktor Dobrovolsky, director of the food institute that supplies space cosmonauts, in an interview with the Interfax news agency.

The increase is caused by price inflation on natural products used in making the rations, and rising costs of required tests and analyses, he said.

Cosmonauts consume between 1.6 and 1.75kg of food per day. The menu is repeated every eight days, Mr Dobrovolsky said.

When in weightless conditions, cosmonauts generally consume moist and sticky products like buckwheat porridge, boiled eggs, pudding and ragout, since these foods stay on the forks and spoons without floating away.

Products that cause crumbs, like bread, are excluded since crumbs can scatter around the spaceship. Salt and pepper can only be used if salt is dissolved in water and pepper is mixed in vegetable oil.

Make Graphene

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Single-atom-thick sheets of carbon called graphene have some amazing properties: graphene is strong, highly electrically conductive, flexible, and transparent. This makes it a promising material to make flexible touch screens and superstrong structural materials. But creating these thin carbon sheets, and then building things out of them, is difficult to do outside the lab.
Now an advance in making and processing graphene in solution may make it practical to work with the material at manufacturing scale. Researchers at Rice University have made graphene solutions 10 times more concentrated than any before. They've used these solutions to make transparent, conductive sheets similar to the electrodes on displays, and they're currently developing methods for spinning the graphene solutions to generate fibers and structural materials for airplanes and other vehicles that promise to be less expensive than today's carbon fiber.

Whatever the end product, it's ideal to start with a high-concentration solution of graphene, but existing methods can't achieve this, says James Tour, professor of chemistry at Rice University. Graphene isn't very soluble, partly because of its dimensions, and partly because of its chemistry. Graphene is just one atom thick, but its surface area is huge. "If you want to work with graphene, you're working dilute, which makes sense, because this is a huge whopping molecule," Tour says.


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Google admits Street View cars 'mistakenly collected' URLs, emails, passwords

GOOGLE has admitted it mistakenly collected personal information using its Street View cars, saying it has now implemented changes to improve its internal privacy procedures.

A recent review of the mistakenly collected data found that the company in some instances captured entire emails, URLs and user passwords, said Allan Eustace, senior vice president of engineering and research.

In a post on the official Google blog, Mr Eustace said the company was working to delete the data as soon as possible and Google was “mortified” the information had been mistakenly gathered in the first place.

A review of privacy controls was prompted after the company announced in May that its Street View cars had inadvertently captured the unencrypted data.

In response, Mr Eustace said the company has appointed a privacy director to oversee controls both for the company’s products and internal affairs, had improved training for engineers and other employees that handle collection of data and was beefing up its internal compliance regulations.

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Paid content takes hit as News Corp drops $32m Project Alesia 'digital newsstand'

Saturday, October 23, 2010

NEWS Corp has dropped a digital newsstand project that was part of an ambitious plan by the Rupert Murdoch-owned company to help publishers charge for content online.

The Wall Street Journal reported "Project Alesia" was intended to create a single online destination for a variety of publishers to sell news to users of Apple's iPad and other tablet computers.

Citing a "person familiar with the matter," the News Corp-owned Journal said the initiative had failed to attract a "critical mass" of publishers willing to participate.

The decision to abandon "Project Alesia" was first reported by British publication Brand Republic, which said it was dropped "just weeks away from launch".

According to Brand Republic, Alesia was intended to unite content from News Corp's stable of newspapers with those of other publishers.
The Journal said more than 100 people had been working on the project in Britain and News Corp had invested around $US31.5 million ($32.3 million) in the venture.

It said a number of News Corp executives working on the project in New York would be reassigned.

Mr Murdoch is a leading advocate of charging readers for online access to news.

The Wall Street Journal currently charges for full online access and The Times and Sunday Times, other News Corp titles, recently became the first newspapers in Britain to begin charging readers on the web.

Mr Murdoch has also been a big booster of the iPad, saying recently that it could be a "game-changer" for newspapers suffering from a fall in print advertising revnue, declining circulation and free news on the internet.

In June, News Corp bought Skiff, an electronic reading platform developed by US publisher Hearst Corp.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

THE UK's new space agency is aiming high in its first year, calling for interest in partners to develop a plane that can launch into space from a runway.

The UKSA was formed on April 1 this year at a cost of £40 million ($66 million) and drawing in some £230 million ($380 million) in funds from the several existing UK space organisations it replaces.

According to the UKSA website, it plans to grow the UK's current space program into a "£40 billion a year" enterprise, increasing jobs in the sector from 68,000 to 100,000 within 20 years.

It's had no problems getting press publicity for its first big project.
Named "Skylon", the revolutionary spaceplane looks like it should be driven by a Bond nemesis and promises to "slash the cost of space travel", according to The Sun.

The Skylon - a 90m craft with no external tanks or rockets - will be able to take off and land on a runway.

The engine is developed by Oxfordshire-based workshop Reaction Engines, which claims there will be global demand for up to 90 of the Skylons at around £700 million each.

"No other technology we know of is nearly as good," creator Alan Bond told The Sun.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the Skylon - apart from the British optimism that it will be successful - is the fact that it will be pilotless.

Each flight will cost around £6.3 million and carry up to 24 passengers - just a touch over £260,000 per passenger.

Currently, it costs well into the millions to book a flight on a space craft, although Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic hopes to bring the costs down to around £125,000 by the time it launches.

THE UKSA is this week hosting a workshop aimed at attracting help to develop the Skylon commercially.

It says the Skylon could also be used for missions to the International Space Station and Mars.

Doctors use lasers to blast worm living behind man's eye for nine months

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A MAN from the USA state of Iowa lived with a worm behind his eyeball for nine months.

John Matthews from Bellevue, discovered his uninvited guest after becoming concerned when he noticed two spots obscuring vision in his left eye.

After tests at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, doctors discovered the invasive creature and rushed Matthews into a treatment room where they shot a laser into his eyeball to kill the worm.

"I could see it from behind, moving, trying to dodge the laser," he told the Telegraph Herald.

The Telegraph Herald reported that it took a second round of laser treatment before the worm was killed.

The worm's remains will be absorbed into Matthews' body, but he will suffer permanent damage to his retina.
Matthews said he either picked up the parasite on vacation in Mexico or it could have been a raccoon roundworm he caught while turkey hunting.

A film crew from Animal Planet came to Iowa to film a story about Matthews for the show Shape Shifters.