August 20, 2004

LinkNews Digest [8/20/2004]

Microsoft Lost In Translation

Microsoft's lack of multicultural savvy cost the Redmond behemoth millions of dollars, according to a company executive.

When coloring in 800,000 pixels on a map of India, Microsoft colored eight of them a different shade of green to represent the disputed Kashmiri territory. The difference in greens meant Kashmir was shown as non-Indian, and the product was promptly banned in India. Microsoft was left to recall all 200,000 copies of the offending Windows 95 operating system software to try and heal the diplomatic wounds. "It cost millions," Edwards said.

Microsoft has also managed to upset women and entire countries. A Spanish-language version of Windows XP, destined for Latin American markets, asked users to select their gender between "not specified," "male" or "bitch," because of an unfortunate error in translation.
Link (Cnet)

Botox for Rover?

CALGARY, Alberta -- Plastic surgery isn't just for the rich and famous -- it's now for their dogs, too.

It seems that some rich owners of competitive dogs are springing to get Botox injections and even surgery for their pooches. Cathy Thomas, executive director of the Calgary Humane Society, calls it completely unnecessary and over the top.

The Canadian Kennel Club warns that any dog that's been tampered with must be disqualified by the judge.

Judges Rule File-Sharing Software Legal

A federal appeals court has upheld a controversial court decision that said file-sharing software programs such as Grokster or Morpheus are legal.

Following the lead of a lower-court decision last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Los Angeles said on Thursday that peer-to-peer software developers were not liable for any copyright infringement committed by people using their products, as long as they had no direct ability to stop the acts.

The ruling means that companies that write and distribute peer-to-peer software can't be shut down because of the actions of their customers. It did not say file-trading itself is legal, and lower courts in the United States have said individual computer users are breaking the law when they trade copyrighted files without permission. But the ruling does lift the cloud of potential liability from defendants Grokster and StreamCast Networks, as well as from many of their rivals.

The decision marks a substantial--if not entirely unexpected--setback for the big record labels and movie studios, which have tried hard to win legal rulings that would clamp down on anarchic peer-to-peer networks such as Kazaa or eDonkey.

"The introduction of new technology is always disruptive to old markets and particularly to those copyright owners whose works are sold through well-established distribution mechanisms," the court wrote. "Yet history has shown that time and market forces often provide equilibrium in balancing interests, whether the new technology be a player piano, a copier, a tape recorder, a video recorder, a personal computer, a karaoke machine or an MP3 player. Thus, it is prudent for courts to exercise caution before restructuring liability theories for the purpose of addressing specific market abuses, despite their apparent present magnitude."
Link (Cnet)

A New Spin on "Pumpkin and Hunny Bunny"

British supermarkets are selling out of pumpkin seeds after a television show described them as "Viagra for women".

The morning after Dr Gillian McKeith revealed on a TV nutrition program their apparently amazing potential for increasing libido, thousands of women apparently scoured supermarkets to put the theory to the test and virtually cleared out stocks across the country.

Leading supermarket Sainsbury's recorded a 256 per cent increase in sales. Dr McKeith lists pumpkin seeds among more than 60 "great sex" foods, from adzuki beans to wild salmon.

She claims that a diet which includes them enhances potency, drive and fertility, and suggests: "Eat your way back to a great sex life."

Canadian Robber Gets Drop on Mounties

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Three off-duty police officers in a Vancouver suburb found themselves surprise witnesses to a bank robbery on Wednesday by an inept thief who apparently did not realize his own weight.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers were waiting in a car at an intersection outside a bank in Burnaby when a man suddenly ran out of the building and into the traffic where he nearly collided with a vehicle.

Realizing that something was amiss, the Mounties chased the man on foot as he ran into a nearby marine products supply store where witnesses said he attempted to hide by climbing into a ceiling area.

"Customers and the officers could hear the man struggling, until they finally heard him say, 'Help me'," the RCMP said a statement.

The ceiling tiles then collapsed under the man's weight and he landed in a boat that was on display. He was arrested and the money recovered.
Link (Yahoo)

Disney Cartoons: Olympic Secret?

ATHENS (Reuters) - South Africa's Kirstin Jean Lewis has a unique and comical way to stay calm in between firing arrows during the suspense-filled archery shootouts at the Athens Olympics.

"My coach has been helping me a lot... He keeps me relaxed by telling me stories from Walt Disney cartoons," said Lewis, a chemical engineer in Cape Town.

The tactic worked on Tuesday when she shot a respectable 157 points out of 180 to reach the last 16 of the women's individual competition at the Panathinaiko Stadium.
Link (Yahoo)

Bud Frogs, Meet Ranier Bear

BAKER LAKE, Wash. - When state Fish and Wildlife agents recently found a black bear passed out on the lawn of Baker Lake Resort, there were some clues scattered nearby — dozens of empty cans of Rainier Beer.

The bear apparently got into campers' coolers and used his claws and teeth to puncture the cans. And not just any cans. "He drank the Rainier and wouldn't drink the Busch beer," said Lisa Broxson, bookkeeper at the campground and cabins resort east of Mount Baker.

Fish and Wildlife enforcement Sgt. Bill Heinck said the bear did try one can of Busch, but ignored the rest. "He didn't like that (Busch) and consumed, as near as we can tell, about 36 cans of Rainier."

A wildlife agent tried to chase the bear from the campground but the animal just climbed a tree to sleep it off for another four hours. Agents finally herded the bear away, but it returned the next morning.

Agents then used a large, humane trap to capture it for relocation, baiting the trap with the usual: doughnuts, honey and, in this case, two open cans of Rainier. That did the trick.

"This is a new one on me," Heinck said. "I've known them to get into cans, but nothing like this. And it definitely had a preference."
Link (Yahoo)

California Kids Throw Rocks at 500 lb. Beehive.

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters)

-- Kids throwing rocks stirred up more trouble than they bargained for when they dislodged a swarm of bees from an enormous hive built in the wall of a Southern California apartment building, authorities said on Friday.

An estimated 120,000 bees held residents of the apartment building and nearby homes hostage in Santa Ana, California after the children pelted their 500 pound (227 kg) hive with rocks on Thursday, Santa Ana Fire Captain Steve Horner said.

Several people, including firefighters, news reporters and a TV cameraman, reported being stung and at least two people were taken to a hospital with multiple stings, Horner said.

Firefighters cordoned off a four-block area to allow the bees to calm down and return to their hive. An exterminator later fogged the hive and vacuumed out 40,000 dead bees, then set a trap for returning worker bees, of which about 80,000 were captured, Horner said.

The quarter-ton honeycomb, which may have accumulated inside the apartment wall for years, was so big it was threatening the structural integrity of the two-story building, Horner said.
Link (CNN)

India Finds 1001 Uses for Condoms, Contraception Doesn't Make The List

Despite a population explosion and a growing AIDS problem, free condoms are being used in unusual ways, writes Rahul Bedi in New Delhi.

Millions of the condoms distributed free in India to combat AIDS and a soaring population are being used for other purposes such as waterproofing roofs, reinforcing roads and even polishing saris, say health workers.

In fact, only a quarter of the 1.5 billion condoms manufactured each year in India were being "properly utilised", said a report by doctors at King George's Medical University in Lucknow.

According to two university reports, rural villagers have used them as disposable water containers to wash, after relieving themselves in the fields. India's military have covered gun and tank barrels with condoms as protection against dust.

Of the 891 million condoms meant to be handed out free, a considerable proportion were acquired by road-building contractors who mixed them with concrete and tar and used the mixture to construct roads, rendering road surfaces smooth and resistant to cracks.

Builders spread a bed of condoms beneath cement plastering on roofs, ingeniously preventing water seepage during the monsoon rains.

Weavers in Varanasi used around 200,000 condoms a day to lubricate their looms and to polish the gold and silver thread used to embroider the saris they produced. Sari maker Yusuf Bhai said they purchased the condoms from agents, who reportedly acquired them from agencies involved in family planning and AIDS prevention schemes.

The Government began distributing free condoms in the 1960s to stem India's galloping population growth. The country's population stood at 1.03 billion on March 1, 2001, when the figure was last tabulated and is estimated to touch 1.46 billion by 2035, overtaking China's.

"Deep Water Cooling" Program Starts in Toronto

Air cooled by the frigid waters deep in Lake Ontario started bringing relief to buildings in downtown Toronto on Tuesday after the valves were symbolically opened on the multi-million-dollar project.

The lake water is used to cool down other water that will then be used to lower the temperature in downtown buildings. The original water continues on into the city system, is treated and enters the drinking supply.

"[This is] clean, renewable, reliable energy. Compared to traditional air-conditioning, Deep Lake Water Cooling reduces electricity use by 75 per cent and will eliminate 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 8,000 cars off of the streets of Toronto."

The company says that they have the capacity to air condition 100 office buildings or 8,000 homes — the equivalent of 32 million square feet of building space. They note that the cooling system reduces energy usage, freeing up megawatts from the Ontario's electrical grid, minimizes ozone-depleting refrigerants and reduces the amount of carbon dioxide entering the air.
Link (via SlashDot)

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