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BBC News – Ray Harryhausen, visual effects master, dies aged 92

Visual effects master Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion wizardry graced such films as Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans, has died aged 92.

The American made his models by hand and painstakingly shot them frame by frame to create some of the best-known animated sequences in cinema.

His death in London was confirmed to the BBC by a family representative.

“Harryhausen’s genius was in being able to bring his models alive,” said an official statement from his foundation.

“Whether they were prehistoric dinosaurs or mythological creatures, in Ray’s hands they were no longer puppets but became instead characters in their own right.”

Born in Los Angeles in June 1920, Raymond Frederick Harryhausen had a passion for dinosaurs as a child that led him to make his own versions of prehistoric creatures.

Films like 1925’s The Lost World and the 1933 version of King Kong stoked that passion and prompted him to seek out a meeting with Willis O’Brien, a pioneer in the field of model animation.

During World War II Harryhausen joined director Frank Capra’s film unit, which made the Why We Fight series to back the US war effort.

After the war, he made stop-motion versions of fairy tales that prompted his idol, O’Brien, to hire him to help create the ape in Mighty Joe Young – an achievement that won an Academy Award.

Harryhausen went on to make some of the fantasy genre’s best-known movies, among them One Million Years B.C. and a series of films based on the adventures of Sinbad the sailor.

He is perhaps best remembered for animating the seven skeletons who come to life in Jason and the Argonauts, a sequence which took him three months to film, and for the Medusa who turned men to stone in Titans.

Harryhausen inspired a generation of film directors, from Steven Spielberg and James Cameron to Peter Jackson of the Lord of the Rings fame.

Spielberg said Harryhausen’s “inspiration goes with us forever” while Cameron said Hollywood science fiction film-makers had been “standing on the shoulders of a giant”.

Meanwhile, Star Wars creator George Lucas, paid tribute by saying: “The art of his earlier films, which most of us grew up on, inspired us so much.”

Director John Landis described Harryhausen as a “true giant of the cinema” and said his creations were “not only the stars of those movies, but the main reason for those movies to exist at all”.

Peter Lord of Aardman Animations was quick to pay tribute, describing Harryhausen as “a one-man industry and a one-man genre” on Twitter.

Harryhausen inspired a generation of film directors

And Nick Park, Aardman’s Oscar-winning creator of Wallace and Gromit, told the BBC: “I’ve followed the work of Ray Harryhausen all my life.

Source: BBC News.

Gigabit internet finds a new home in Omaha, Nebraska

When it comes to gigabit internet, the headline buzz usually involves Google and some mid or south western American locale. But not today. No, today, the ridiculously high-speed internet spotlight falls on Omaha, Nebraska where local provider CenturyLink is poised to launch a pilot service. Starting Monday, the telco’s Lightspeed Broadband package ($150 a month for standalone service or $80 a month as a bundle) will go live for nearly 10,000 subscribers and continue to rollout to a footprint just shy of 50,000 residential and enterprise subs by October. Further expansion plans for the greater metro area all hinge upon whether CenturyLink can turn a profit on the service, but the company will continue to sign-up enterprise subs outside of this pilot zone for the next two years. The path forward — at least, to us — is pretty clear, Omahans: vote with your wallet if you want to preserve the gigabit bragging rights.

Source.

This Amazing Lego Instant Camera Even Pops Out Lego Polaroids

This Amazing Lego Instant Camera Even Pops Out Lego Polaroids


We couldn’t be happier that Lego master Chris McVeigh—aka Power Pig—is continuing to use his formidable skills to create brick versions of iconic cameras. Following up on his Leica M9-P he brings us this gorgeous Lego version of the Polaroid Land Camera 1000.

And going above and beyond the call of duty, McVeigh even made this Polaroid semi-functional with a small Lego photo that can be ejected from the front-loading slot. If real Polaroids were this adorable, they might still be around. [Chris McVeigh via The Brothers Brick]

Source: Gizmodo.

Vermont Telephone Company’s gigabit internet service is live, half the price of Google Fiber

Remember how Google Fiber‘s recent announcement for planned service in Austin by 2014 spurred immediate competition from AT&T? It’s safe to say telcos in other areas have taken note about the gigabit speeds and roughly $70 montly pricing, too. According to a Wall Street Journal Digits blog post, Vermont Telephone Company is now offering gigabit-speed service to some of its customers for the crazy low stand-alone price of $35 bucks a month. To keep things in perspective, WSJ notes that roughly 600 folks are subscribed (out of VTel’s total base of about 17.5K) and that the company is essentially going to be analyzing whether the current pricing will remain for the long-term. With Google Fiber to continuing to expand, it’s certainly promising to see how superspeed internet is trickling across the US — and how easy it’s been looking on the wallet.

Source: engadget.

Tell your Members of Congress How New Internet Taxes Will Impact You

The big internet tax is upon us. Nobody likes to pay taxes but this one in particular will do more harm than good we believe. eBay, PayPal and StubHub have come together to push back and we support them in their efforts.

Here is some of the information:

On March 22, the U.S. Congress supported legislation that could fast-track future passage of an Internet sales tax bill. Unfortunately, the debate did not highlight the impact of this proposal on consumers like you who shop with small businesses online to get great choices and value.

An Internet Sales Tax bill could greatly reduce selection and competitive prices by putting new tax burdens on small businesses. The bills proposed require very small businesses that use the Internet to collect sales taxes from out-of-state customers, increasing their cost of doing business and reducing their ability to compete with giant retail chains.


We hope that you will supports this effort as well and if you want to do so go to the Internet Taxes Alert – Step 1.

Jimmy McMillan “Rent Is Too Damn High” Anthem – YouTube

Rent Is Too Damn High

Amazingly Jimmy McMillan is back with his message. This time it’s not just to have a little fun. He is taking his message and will try to make it heard a little louder. His goal? Mayor of New York. Yes he will be in the race and below is his anthem and promotion video.

To find out more about Jimmy McMillan, his message and his race for mayor, check out the website Jimmy McMillan “Rent Is Too Damn High” Anthem.<

Aereo brings its streaming TV & cloud DVR service to Boston on May 15 | VentureBeat

Aereo

Despite continued legal attacks by television networks, controversial streaming TV startup Aereo will bring its service to Boston starting May 15, the company announced today.

Aereo offers streams of over-the-air broadcasts from channels like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and PBS and makes them available on PCs and smart devices for $8 or $12 a month. It has installed many dime-sized antennas in New York City and other areas that receive broadcast transmissions and then pushes those transmissions to customers via the web. It also offers a cloud-based DVR so you can watch shows on your schedule.

The company recently won a major court victory against TV networks that meant the service could continue running. In response to that ruling, executives from News Corp. and CBS casually threatened to turn their broadcast networks into cable channels so Aereo’s re-transmissions could be stopped. (However, that seems unlikely.)

Even with the push-back from big media players, the company intends to keep expanding. After Boston, it has plans to hit other big cities by the end of the year.

People in the Boston area who have pre-registered for Aereo will get an invitation to join on May 15. Anyone else who wants the service can join after May 30. Aereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia and several of his employees are actually Boston natives, so making the service available in that market is especially meaningful to the company.

“Consumers deserve more choice and flexibility in how they experience television and Aereo provides them a high-quality, rationally-priced alternative,” Kanojia said in a statement. “This is an exciting step forward for the company. Today’s announcement is even more meaningful and special for our more than 60 employees who call the Boston area home, including me. I’m proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time.”

New York City-based Aereo has raised $63 million to date from investors including IAC, Highland Capital Partners, First Round Capital, and High Line Venture Partners.

Read more at VentureBeat

BeagleBone Black packs 1GHz ARM CPU, 512MB RAM for just $45 (video)

BeagleBone Black packs 1GHz ARM CPU, 512MB RAM for just $45 (video)

The BeagleBone might be just the piece of kit for the DIY set itching to boot Linux in 10 seconds, but the freshly unveiled BeagleBone Black packs an even greater punch — and the same speedy start times — at just half the price of its predecessor. The $45 credit card-sized package totes a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 3D graphics accelerator, a pair of PRU 32-bit RISC CPUs, 2GB of built-in storage, a microSD slot and 512MB of RAM. Connectivity-wise, the canine-themed board carries support for USB, Ethernet, micro-HDMI and two 46 pin headers. Those pining for hardware flexibility can make use of the platform’s existing “cape” hardware add-ons. Though it ships from Texas Instruments with Angstrom Linux on board, it’s also tuned to support Android and Ubuntu, and arrives pre-loaded with the Cloud9 IDE. BeagleBone Black is already up for grabs in limited quantities, but it’s expected to ship en masse by the end of May. Hit the second source link to start ordering, or head past the break for a video tour of the pint-sized computer.

Read more @ engadget.

The world’s fastest human computer has died aged 83 | News | Geek.com

Shakuntala-devi-625-590x330

Shakuntala Devi, known as the Human Computer, has died at the age of 83 following respiratory and then heart and kidney problems in a Bangalore hospital.

Her title of Human Computer was well earned as she was a child prodigy with phenomenal math skills. Shakuntala’s father noticed her math skills at age three when she could very easily memorize numbers to beat the card tricks she was shown. As her father was a trapeze artist in the circus, he had his daughter impressing the crowds with her super human calculations by age six, but it wasn’t until adulthood her gift was really demonstrated.

In 1977 she beat a computer at calculating the cube root of 188,132,517. Even more impressive is when she was asked for the 23rd root of 201 digit number. It took her 50 seconds to answer correctly, while a UNIVAC 1108 computer took 70 seconds to check she was right. I’m sure today’s computers would easily beat her, though.

Not surprisingly, Shakuntala also holds a Guinness World Record. In 1980 she was tasked with multiplying two 13-digit numbers randomly picked by members of the Computer Department of Imperial College, London. Those numbers were 7,686,369,774,870 and 2,465,099,745,779. She delivered the correct answer in just 28 seconds. She was also capable of telling you the day for any date in the last century almost instantly.

According to DC Shivdev, a trustee for the Shakuntala Devi Educational Foundation Public Trust, Shakuntala had clear and simple techniques she used to perform such math feats. She has written several booksthat try to help children with math and numbers, but her techniques have apparently yet to be used in education.

Source: Geek.com.

Facebook said to construct huge data center in Iowa | VentureBeat

data-center-13

Your Facebook photos and likes may just be headed to a new home. Facebook is reportedly opening a new, $1.5 billion data center in Altoona, Iowa, according to The Des Moines Register.

The data center is slated to be 1.4 million square feet, compared with the already enormous 300,000 square foot Prineville, Ore. facility Facebook currently has, according to “lawmakers” who spoke with The Des Moines Register anonymously. Facebook has two other existing data centers in Lulea, Sweden and Forest City, N.C. Sweden’s bit of Facebook is much smaller at 62,000 square feet.

The lawmakers went on to say that Facebook may ask for tax credits regarding wind energy, which is increasingly becoming a preferred method of green energy. The social network prides itself on its energy consumption levels at its Prineville center, saying it hits the Department of Energy’s gold standard for data center energy “power usage effectiveness.”

Whether Facebook receives this tax credit will be up to legislators, according to the lawmakers.

Construction on the data center will reportedly happen in two segments. Facebook is said to spend $500 million on each phase. It seems the state was in competition with Nebraska for the mid-west data center.

We’ve reached out to Facebook for confirmation and will update this post upon hearing back.

Read more at VentureBeat

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