Top 100 toys of the 70’s and 80’s

“We polled TV Cream’s readership to find the most well-remembered – for better or worse – toys that turned up in the stockings of yesteryear, from the tiniest fifty pee rubber novelty to the many bulky Bakelite candidates for that hallowed “main present” status. Quite often the little things, mainly through having lower expectations to live up to, went down better than the battery-hungry robo-gun-battleship thing mouldering in its box in the airing cupboard by Boxing Day. Anyway, enough of all this – it’s now 6.30AM, and we’ve just been told by hungover parents that we can go downstairs and start sorting out the presents into piles. Let the blizzard of Mr Men wrapping paper commence…”

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Microsoft employees share your pain

Shawn says: This little video is pretty funny. The video is actually from Microsoft. 😉

“The link above opens a Windows Media (.asf) video created by Microsoft TechNet UK that shows how Microsoft software engineers are constantly trying to develop new tools to help them better understand the pain and frustration ordinary Windows users feel when bugs are encountered in the product.

“More information about Microsofts WSYP (We Share Your Pain) project can be found here on the TechNet UK website, note that you may require a Passport account to access some of it.”

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High-resolution satellite image of Hurricane Wilma

Watch out for Wilma – the Atlantic’s most powerful recorded hurricane ever. Here is a high-resolution satellite image of Hurricane Wilma over the Caribbean Sea. The image was taken from Satellite Terra on October 19, 2005.

“Gathering strength at a fierce pace, Hurricane Wilma swirled into the most intense Atlantic storm ever recorded Wednesday, a Category 5 monster packing 175 mph wind that forecasts warned was ‘extremely dangerous.’

“Wilma was dumping rain on Central America and Mexico, and forecasters warned of a ‘significant threat’ to Florida by the weekend. ‘All interests in the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula should closely monitor the progress of extremely dangerous Hurricane Wilma,’ the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

“Wilma’s confirmed pressure readings Wednesday morning dropped to 882 millibars the lowest minimum pressure ever measured in a hurricane in the Atlantic basin, according to the hurricane center. Lower pressure translates into higher wind speed.”

Watch out for Wilma - the Atlantic's most powerful recorded hurricane ever.  Here is a high-resolution satellite image of Hurricane Wilma over the Caribbean Sea. The image was taken from Satellite Terra on October 19, 2005.

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Drunk drivers ask judge to open breathalyzer source code

“A group of more than 150 defendants accused of driving under the influence of alcohol are asking a judge to give them the source code of the device that police used to prove their guilt…

“The DUI case is real, and will come before panel of Florida judges this Friday. But surely the state of Florida has certified these Intoxilyzer 5000 machines? “Yes, back in 1993 they have. The manufacturer, CMI (with the great URL: has since made changes to both the hardware and the software…

“Theoretically a judge could force CMI to open the application’s source code, but this is highly unlikely. The company, which refused to discuss the case, instead claims that the software code for the 25-year-old device is a trade secret. Never mind that the actually application is less than 24 kilobytes in size (yes, kB) and still runs on z80 processors that were introduced in 1976.”

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A new folk version of “Baby Got Back”

“This week is a cover of Baby Got Back by Sir Mix-a-Lot (note: he is not an actual knight). Had to activate the whole team for this one – guitar, mandolin, banjo and even some shakers and tambourines and other things lying around the house. I’ve wanted to cover this song for a long time, because it is excellent – there’s a wonderful message in there for those of you who have big butts. In the proud tradition of many white Americans who came before me I hereby steal and white-ify this thick and juicy piece of black culture. Watch for my album ‘Jonathan Coulton Sings Songs by Black People.’

“Here is the song: link

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With pressure and perseverance, pumpkins do fly

“CULPEPER, Va., Oct. 14 — There once was a time when Ray Tolson thought the sport of ‘Punkin Chunkin’ sounded as crazy as can be, when the notion of spending as much as $200,000 to build a 100-foot-long ‘gun’ designed to fire a pumpkin nearly a mile seemed silly.

“But that was another Ray Tolson, a Ray Tolson who didn’t study air pressure and cloud speed in search of the perfect ‘air shelf’ where an 8- to 10-pound pumpkin could sail perfectly. Who didn’t commission university horticulturists to breed pumpkins that are precisely 9.5 inches in diameter, round and with a thick skin — the perfect projectile.

“Photo Ray Tolson removes a bucket protecting the muzzle of Second Amendment Too.

“Photo Credit: By Margaret Thomas — The Washington Post
Related Article: With Pressure and Perseverance, Pumpkins Do Fly, page A01”

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One-fifth of human genes are patented, study reveals

This stylistic schematic diagram shows a gene in relation to the double helix structure of DNA and to a chromosome (right). Introns are regions often found in eukaryote genes which are removed in the splicing process: only the exons encode the protein. This diagram labels a region of only 40 or so bases as a gene. In reality many genes are much larger.“A new study shows that 20 percent of human genes have been patented in the United States, primarily by private firms and universities.

“The study, which is reported this week in the journal Science, is the first time that a detailed map has been created to match patents to specific physical locations on the human genome.

“Researchers can patent genes because they are potentially valuable research tools, useful in diagnostic tests or to discover and produce new drugs.

“‘It might come as a surprise to many people that in the U.S. patent system human DNA is treated like other natural chemical products,’ said Fiona Murray, a business and science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and a co-author of the study.

“‘An isolated DNA sequence can be patented in the same manner that a new medicine, purified from a plant, could be patented if an inventor identifies a [new] application.'”

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