Candid shots of Bill Gates superhouse

b>Chez Gates
What do you do when you’re on vacation in Washington state? Why you stalk Bill Gates, of course. This enterprising future-restraining-order snapped some pics of Gates’ humble $125-million dwelling and assembled them into a panoramic view. It actually looks more like Tom Sawyer’s Island from DisneyWorld than a pleasure palace belonging to the world’s richest dweeb.
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Duck, duck dinosaur
In Insider’s ongoing quest to bring more dinosaurs to IT, there’s some interesting news from our own backyard (assuming of course, that you live in Edmonton). Two different varieties of duck-billed dinosaurs thought to have lived in different times and different places have been found together. Cool, yes? OK, it’s hard to dress this one as super-exciting (unlike the penguinosaur Insider was reporting on last week), but I’m always fascinated by the number of new dinosaur discoveries found each year and how they cause scientists to practically chuck out everything they learned before. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before we discover than dinosaurs actually evolved into product managers and are now gainfully employed at Microsoft. You heard it here first.

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Cellular junk
The Japanese go through cell phones like we go through . . . um . . . cell phones. Actually where your average Canadian will hold onto a phone for a few years, our neighbours to the far east dispose of them annually. Considering the penetration rate of phones in that country, that’s a whole lotta NTT DoCoMo. The problem is, it’s hard to erase personal data from them completely, and they’re apt to get swiped if just discarded in a public recycling facility. The solution? Anti-theft recycling bins! It’s the cell phone equivalent of putting a bungie cord on your garbage can to keep the raccoons out.

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The six Gigabyte dweeb
Here I was thinking I could ditch my house keys, my social insurance number, my health card, my gym membership and my Subway loyalty card and just pack the whole lot onto a chip, then cram it in my arm. Well, it turns out that embedding an RFID chip in your body is a bad idea. The American Medical Association says so (and there’s no foolin’ the AMA).

Not only are there health risks (the chips tend to wander from the site they were originally embedded in) but significant privacy risks. So if you were thinking of reinventing your life as a human data storage unit, think again. But, if I have to tell you that, you might as well give hackers your wallet right now.

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Raw data
And you thought sushi was just raw fish and rice wrapped in seaweed. This device is that and more. Convincingly detailed, the USB Sushi memory stick is available in a variety of rolls: 256 MB, 512 MB or 1GB. Now that’s a lot of tuna.

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High school Google
If there’s one thing the Internet is good for its creating a new race of super smartass kids. In high schools and universities across the country, lessons and lectures are being interrupted as students contradict the information dispensed by educators. The Internet provides immediate access to information, which in turn provides immediately obnoxious teens. In one case, a high school student thought he was being taken for a ride in his high school’s anti-drug presentation, and he was right. A quick Web search turned up some information that contradicted what he was being told.

On the hand, I think it’s awesome that people are questioning their teachers and challenging them with new ideas. On the other hand, I am sooooo glad I’m not a teacher. Stick that in your bong and smoke it.

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Bulb meets fat
Once in a while, you have to salute people for their firsts: Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, George Washington Carver, the discoverer of peanut butter (without which there would be no Reese’s Peanut Buttercup Ice Cream) and whoever dreamt up this: the light bulb with fat in it. The more you use it, the brighter it gets. Common sense (and physics) would dictate that the more you use a light source, the dimmer it should become, but in this case, the heat generated by the lamp burns off the fat, making the bulb more transparent and therefore more luminescent. Bravo, fatbulb inventor.
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Transformers. More than meets the desk

This article on Wired urges to look around our neighbouring cubicles a little more and cherish the wealth of crap we see.

“You’ll see your Nerf guns and your lightsabers, your Spider-Men and your Vulcan ideological iconography. But that’s mostly over in IT. Among the straights – the non-Jedi crowd – you’ll see Transformers. A Constructicon here, a Dinobot there. And everyone can sing the theme song,” writes reporter Chris Suellentrop.

The article is actually about the impending Transformers movie and the toy business behind it. I figure you’re probably going to see that regardless of what I say here (it’ll suck), but I think Suellentrop has a point about the whole cubicle thing. Did our parents litter their work spaces with plastic bric-a-brac? Crap that serves no purpose? No, sir. They did not. The “collect junk for the sake of it” credo belongs to those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s. And I say, fill that workspace to bursting. Just remember to save a little room for the family pics. And the phone. That’s important too. Lose the paperclip holder. Who uses those anymore?

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Mix like a robot, drink like a fish

Dork mag extraordinaire Popular Science has a Web-only slideshow detailing the use of a robot that mixes and serves alcoholic drinks. There’s 10 pics, so Insider figured, why not chug along too?

Pic. 1: Looks like a cooler I’d take camping. What’s the big deal? (Corona)
Pic 2: I have to build this thing? That ****ing sucks! (Corona)
Pic 3: If the hose gets kinked, you’re screwed. That reminds me. Bathroom break (Jack and Coke)
Pic 4: What the **** is that? I don’t drink to look at diagrams (Double Jack on the rocks)
Pic 5: What are you looking at, anyway? (Corona)
Pic 6: Seriously, cut that out (Corona)
Pic 7: I love you, man (Last Corona)
Pic 8: Your girlfriend is pretty
Pic 9: Whasss you doin wid that dfghdfh?
Pic 10: sdger wrthjtyj jyedtkyj Hahahahaha

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The sounds of nothing much
It’s as though a million voices cried out and were suddenly silenced. Or something like that. A whole bunch of U.S. Internet radio stations are going dark to protest the rate hikes on artists’ and record companies’ fees. Due to come into effect next month, the fees will be so large that many of the smaller stations claim they will have to shut down for good. This sucks if you like listening to a nice diversity of music, but it’s great news for your boss. Imagine all that work you’ll get done when you aren’t pinging around between Hillbilly Hootenanny and Polkapolooza.
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That’s one large penguin

Mozilla has a dinosaur as its logo. Linux has a penguin. If those open source guys ever put their heads together, they’d surely come up with this: Penguinosaur! I’m not making this up. I make up a lot of stuff, but not this. According to this, five-foot tall penguins waddled the earth tens of millions of years ago.

“One of the two (breeds), named Icadyptes salasi, lived about 36 million years ago, possessed a long, spear-like beak, and stood 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall,” says the article.

“‘This one had a beak you had to reckon with,’ North Carolina State University paleontologist Julia Clarke, who led the research, said in a telephone interview. It was bigger than any penguin alive today and the third-largest penguin known to have lived, Clarke said.”

Germany goes anti-Google

The Germans have struck a blow for freedom. That’s not a sentence I ever expected to write, but always in motion the future is. Or something like that. Google’s G-mail may soon be banned in that country due to its latest privacy legislation. Insider has studiously avoided G-mail because he doesn’t really want Google knowing what he ate for breakfast, nor why he’s e-mailing someone called Mistress Linux on a regular basis. (Hello, your open sourceyness. Thursday still OK?)

Where was I? Oh yes, Germany is clamouring for freedom. Or perhaps not. The reason the nation is clamping down on Google and other providers is because it doesn’t want Germans to own anonymous e-mail accounts. Something about counter-terrorism. This all sounds worryingly familiar.

We are not amused
I’m sure many people have attempted to determine what exactly the British royal family does to earn the bazillion pounds it receives from the government gratis. Some might say their charity work, but that seems counterintuitive. Perhaps the upkeep of their magnificent dwellings across England and Scotland. A royal is born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a paparazzi camera crammed where the sun don’t shine, so perhaps no amount of money will ever seen realistic. There one way to find out for sure, though: steal the Prince of Wales’s laptop. Prince Charles, known for his aversion to modern architecture and oral hygiene, is currently missing a laptop which contains all of his private banking data. The offending item was allegedly stolen from his parked car. Considering what Charles was caught doing during the Camilla tapes, he got off light this time. If you’ve never heard of the Camilla tapes, consider yourself lucky. If you enjoy listening to sexual deviance from a royal, however, click here. (Please don’t click there. Please.)
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Tiny bubbles
I suppose it was inevitable. Virtual bubble wrap. Not just the kind of the Internet, but something you can hold in your hand and pop over and over and over. The aptly named PuchiPuchi, a gadget created in Japan, is a tiny square with “bubbles” that can depressed and reward you with a soft little pop. This could put the psychiatric profession out of business. Bonus sounds include a door chime and a “sexy voice.” (Second thought, better add an extra session with Dr. Spunkmeyer.)

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Time stands still on the iPhone

I presume you’re all primed and ready to buy your iPhones, right? Well, that a few of you will manage to resist the hype is no surprise. But there was a lingering iPhone-related mystery — at least it was lingering late last week – that deserves addressing. What’s up with this 9:42 fascination?

I first noticed it in a post on Digg: “In every iPhone ad the time is 9:42. In every iPhone demo it is 9:42. In every iPhone picture on Apple’s site it is 9:42. The iPhone was first announced during the Macworld keynote at 9:42. Why 9:42?”

Not having a good answer to the question myself, I fell back on my three decades of experience as a journalist and put the question to Apple’s public relations department. I didn’t say asking always works. An Apple spokesperson dropped a message on my machine telling me she didn’t know but would “try to find an answer.”

In the meantime, we’re left to speculate, or, if you happen to know, educate.

My guesses:
There is no reason. The Apple spokesperson offered that as a possibility, saying, “it might be random.”
The time 9:42 could be simply convention: I know that photos predating digital clocks always had their hands posed a certain way for the sake of aesthetics.
Or, and this is my most wild guess, it could be a security measure: If all of the official promotional materials for iPhone carry the time 9:42 then anything with any other time would have to be a fraud.
My favorite possibility came from a Digg reader who offered this potential connection between 9:42 and The Phone: “The actual price will be $942 ….”

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