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Middle Earth online, those Damme splits and Harry Potter is lost: #StuffToKnow this week

STK

Google lets us stroll through Middle Earth. Eric Schmidt thinks we can take away governmental censorship within a decade. The muscles from Brussels is still making us look bad with his sheer awesomeness. Our old friend from childhood parties just died and Harry Potter is lost in New York. Oh and Microsoft is so so sad.

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INTERNET

Winamp shutting down after over 15 years
I was on Winamp that I first played my MP3s as a kid and I know I wasn’t alone. I can still remember going to parties and seeing someone’s laptop open with the application showing and people commenting on (mostly what song they wanted moved up the list but also) that the custom design they had chosen for the program was great or lame. Since being acquired by AOL in 2002 they have remained “in development” though they have lost popularity in the wake of iTunes and Windows Media player — the latter I think seriously stepped up its game in design and usability due to Winamp. Can you remember how terrible Media Player used to be?

Google launches Newsstand on Android to bring together all your subscriptions
Yes, that is the same name as the Apple version of the magazine stand type app, but let’s be honest that is what the thing does. The one on Apple never really gained much popularity mostly because you have no idea what magazines are available in the app without opening it. What we wanted was a folder styled icon with miniature versions of the magazine covers showing. Google is not doing this either by the way… grrrrr…

Jean-Claude Van Damme stunt was real but not that dangerous

Seriously now, this guy is 53 years old! Come on! JCVD is making us mere mortal “men” look bad again! How do you top that epic splits on trucks, while his face shows nothing but freaking serenity like he is chilling beside some tranquil lake? Come on!

Now we find out at least a small caveat — there are safety lines that you can’t see in the video to keep him from falling off. It doesn’t really help us much, I know. Ok, off the couches boys.

Google now has an interactive tour of Middle Earth
As we come closer to unleashing the dragon known as Smaug, Google has launched one of their interactive experiments — an immersive interactive tour of Middle Earth. You can read many parts of The Hobbit, some get read to you by Sir Ian himself as Gandalf the Grey.

This is Microsoft being sad


This, this right here, this is just sad. Microsoft has this sad excuse of a campaign on their store to get back at Google for making a better browser than them. I mean really? I’ve seen pigtailed girls on tricycles lose better than this. I know some ardent MS supporters who would be ashamed at this lame attack. They made IE10 reasonably decent — rather promote that than try to pull down the company that finally got you to step it up. Before Chrome there was Firefox who should get most of that credit but Mozilla’s main sponsors have been Google from the beginning, so…

Google’s Schmidt predicts end of censorship within a decade
Oh how I hope this prediction will come to pass. The former CEO of Google has said in a lecture at Johns Hopkins University that censorship worldwide could end within a decade, along with better utilisation of encryption, and people will be able to overcome government surveillance.

Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, said “first they try to block you; second, they try to infiltrate you; and third, you win.” “I really think that’s how it works. Because the power is shifted. I believe there’s a real chance that we can eliminate censorship and the possibility of censorship in a decade.”

TECH

Switch to e-books was ‘an unmitigated disaster’, says school principal
The ushering of a new age rarely is without hiccups but this was an expensive one for the kids and parents of Mountrath Community College. The school wanted to move into the new paperless age — a commendable move and one that get the kids to have a jump start into the technology driven world they are headed for. Alas it failed worse than the Obamacare website, though they are now having talks with Hewlett-Packard representatives (who made the tablets) to work out the many kinks. In the mean time the kids will have to break their backs like we did with the bag full of books up the stairs.

Jury orders Samsung to pay Apple $290 million for patent infringement
Well it’s way down from the initial US$1.049-billion the last set of jurors wanted. But still that’s got to hurt, especially after finding out that the decision was based “in large part on a patent that the US Patent and Trademark Office has recently deemed invalid”. This battle of patents is what is holding innovation back — both sides could do so much more if they stopped it but they are not in this business purely for the consumer. Contrary to their PR statements, they are first and foremost businesses and as such out to make money. These patents make sure the other guy doesn’t make money off their R&D work.

ENTERTAINMENT

Real-life Harry Potter searches Penn Station for train to Hogwarts
This is just too cute. This little boy in full Harry Potter attire goes around Penn Station in New York asking if someone could help him find station nine and three-quarters so he can go to Hogwarts. He even tries slamming his little cart into one of the pillars. It’s awesome, look out for the awesome redhead chap who introduces himself as Ron Weasley.

NICE FIND

There is a picture of earth taken from Saturn 6,000,000,000 km away.

Makes me think of the famous Blue Dot photograph that Carl Sagan said this about:

“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

Let me know if I missed anything this week in the comments (which are also a good place to leave any big things I should mention next week).

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