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September 08, 2012

All-electric, Zero-Emission Popemobile


Renault has given the Pope an all-electic emissions-free Popemobile, a modified Kangoo Max...
The spec remains a little vague, but what details Renault has released exactly match those of a regular Kangoo Maxi Z.E. The Popemobile (and Renault's press release calls it precisely that) is powered by a lithium-ion battery driving a 44-kW (60-hp) electric motor. The vehicle achieves a claimed combined-cycle range of 170 km (106 miles). A combined cycle, according to the New European Driving Cycle, averages fuel or energy consumption over both urban and "extra-urban" (i.e., er, rural) driving, with the idea that the range is representative of differing driving conditions.

Among the modifications to the Kangoo Maxi Z.E. are an opening roof, removable side windows and "particularly comfortable separate seats" to the rear, as well as electrically folding door steps for easier access.

In fact, Renault has given two vehicles to the Vatican: a white one, with the Papal coat of arms on the doors, for His Holiness, and a second, with blue livery, for the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City, the city-states police and security service. The Pope's new wheels are intended for use at the Castel Gandolfo summer residence.

The Kangoo Maxi Z.E. Popemobile is not the Pontiff's first EV. That honor befell an NWG Zero gifted to His Holiness in July of this year for use in the Vatican itself.

Technologically, Popemobiles have come along away since the Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 of 1930, via the 1964 Lincoln Continental Lehmann-Peterson which reportedly included a hand crank to elevate its distinguished passenger an extra foot off the ground.

'Star Trek: The Original Series' Doodle nod: 3 enduring years


'Star Trek,' with Abraham LincolnThe Google Doodle's "Star Trek" tribute offers up a fine way to waste some time on a Friday: an interactive homage to the groundbreaking television show on its 46th anniversary.
"Star Trek" was a relatively short-lived science-fiction series, running from 1966 to 1969. But the show, starring William Shatner as Capt. James T. Kirk and Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, left an indelible mark on our culture, a mark that exists today. (And we're not just talking about those Priceline Negotiator commercials.)

The three-season series, about humankind's quest to search the outer limits of the universe, spun off films, toys and games, not to mention several other television series. "Star Trek" was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, in part because it gave the world a glimpse of a multicultural future, starting with a crew that seemed immune to conflicts over race and gender and included Nichelle Nichols as Uhura and George Takei as Sulu.

The show's creator, the late Gene Roddenberry, has been famously quoted as saying, "[By creating] a new world with new rules, I could make statements about sex, religion, politics, and intercontinental missiles. Indeed, we did make them on 'Star Trek': we were sending messages and fortunately they all got by the network."

The show apparently holds a permanent place of honor inside Google headquarters, according to Entertainment Weekly. The pop culture magazine quoted Ryan Germick, credited with heading up the Star Trek Google Doodle, about how the show impacts the kind of big-picture dreaming for which Google's business strategy is known.

"We often talk at Google about how awesome it would be to talk to a computer and get exactly what you want and have that kind of engagement, where the computer just knows all, and that’s what we’re moving toward," Germick said, adding: "It seemed like such a fun thing to celebrate."
Click around the Doodle as you wrap up a four-day work week. (You won't have any trouble picking out Spock, thanks to those pointy ears atop the first G in "Google.") This Google Doodle has been in the works for years, although Germick told EW that the team started working in earnest on it only about four months ago.

September 06, 2012

Roddick's Emotional Farewell


As Andy Roddick fell behind Juan Martin del Potro Wednesday in what would turn out to be the final match of his career, the 30-year-old American admits all his previous tennis milestones began drifting through his mind.
He thought about his mom driving him to practice when he was little. He thought about matches he played when he was 12. And he thought about all the memorable moments he experienced during a bumpy yet brilliant career.

The emotion of the match finally overcame Roddick after he sprayed a forehand wide on match point to send del Potro into the quarterfinals with a 6-7 (1), 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-4 win. A red-eyed Roddick buried his face in a towel as del Potro saluted him, then choked back tears once again as he addressed the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium one final time.
"For the first time in my career, I'm not sure what to say," Roddick said. "Since I was a kid, I've been coming to this tournament. I felt lucky just to sit where all of you are sitting today, to watch this game and to see the champions who have come and gone and I've loved every minute of it.
"It has been a road with a lot of ups, a lot of downs and a lot of great moments. I've appreciated your support along the way. I know I certainly haven't made it easy for you at times, but I really do appreciate it and love you guys with all my heart."
Roddick's four-set loss to del Potro on Wednesday evening concluded a career that at times has been hard to define. He never became the dominant player many predicted he'd become, yet he displayed longevity, resolve and charisma in winning one grand slam and reaching the finals of four others.
He emerged as the new face of American tennis post-Sampras and Agassi by beating back opponents with his booming serve. He briefly thrived in the role of Roger Federer's primary foil until other rivals eclipsed him. And he remained a fixture in the top 10 for a decade until injuries and age diminished his power and forced him to rely on other facets of his game.
[Martin Rogers: Loss denies Andy Roddick a storybook ending to career]
It would have been a great story had Roddick been able to make a deep U.S. Open run at his final tournament, but it was probably too much to ask from a guy days away from retirement mostly because he could not compete at that level anymore.
Roddick won the first set and forced a tiebreaker in the second, but del Potro's powerful groundstrokes and consistent serves were too much later in the match. Del Potro won 10 of the first 11 points on Roddick's serve in the third set, survived a couple of break points in his first service game of the fourth set and coasted to victory from there.
When Roddick announced his imminent retirement last Thursday, part of his reasoning was so that fans wouldn't think he was a lunatic if he teared up during his final match.

Kellie Pickler Shaves Her Head to Support of Breast Cancer Fighting Friends


Kellie Pickler Shaved Head
Now this is friendship. Kellie Pickler appeared in a video clip on Good Morning America Wednesday sporting a very different look: a totally shaved head.
The country starlet buzzed off her blonde locks on Tuesday in support of her best friend, Summer Holt Miller, 36, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in June and is starting chemotherapy treatments on Thursday.
“Cancer does not discriminate,” Pickler said in a release. Added Miller, “If this compels even one person to change their mentality toward waiting until the age of 40 for their mammogram, then it will be worth it.”
Miller — who has a family history of breast cancer — has always been vigilant about self-exams, and asked her doctor for a mammogram when she felt something might be wrong. After doctors did find a tumor, the mother of two underwent a double mastectomy, and was declared cancer-free in August (her chemotherapy treatments will help ensure the cancer doesn’t come back).
Pickler called Tuesday a “life-changing day,” and Miller made the reasons for shaving her head clear on her Caring Bridge website. “I was told that it was mentally much easier to do it this way than to wake up with my hair on my pillow,” she wrote. “I’m really not that apprehensive about shaving my head. It is hair and it will grow back.” Catch a behind-the-scenes clip of the women shaving their heads on Tuesday here

Apple Confirms: It's the iPhone 5 Watch Video


Leaked video shows alleged iPhone 5 booting up
The first hands-on video with what looks like new iPhone 5 booting up has leaked online today.

The 84-second video (below) begins by comparing the alleged iPhone 5 with the current iPhone 4S 

model. Both devices are turned off, and the person in the video shows nearly all angles for

comparison. Curiously, the Apple logo, device name, and compliance information are all covered up

on the back part of the device. Pictures shown by Chinese blog Vgooo, which obtained the video,

blur out those same portion on the back of the phone.

Towards the end, both devices are booted up, with the alleged iPhone 5 showing a new graphic when

banishing the familiar Apple logo from the screen. A message then pops up that reads: “This

device is not registered as part of the iPhone Developer Program. If you are a member of the

program, please register your device in the @@url@@.”

Apple is scheduled to make an announcement Sept. 12, which many believe will be the next

generation iPhone 5. Whether this video is an early look at the device is obviously impossible to

know at this point. However, I’d find it hard to believe it isn’t legitimate, especially

considering the number of leaked iPhone 5 pictures that look virtually the same as the device in

the video.

Still, some people think it’s a fake. One YouTube commenter remarked: “If you look at the bottom

left side of the ‘iPhone 5′ at 00:40 – 00:42 u can see the bootlogo animation expands a little

over a white area, which means it must have been edited over the edge of the screen. Its not a

hard thing to do really. Plus, the home button is unbelievably cheap looking.”

September 05, 2012

Starbucks to offer deal through LivingSocial


An iced coffee sits on a counter in a Starbucks outlet in New York July 25, 2012. Starbucks Corp. will report earnings on July 26. REUTERS/Brendan McDermidLivingSocial, part owned by Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), will offer a $10 Starbucks gift card for $5 on Wednesday. Customers have six months to claim the card, which can be used across the United States, according to company executives.

Starbucks (SBUX.O) plans to offer the deal to members of its rewards program, via email, Tuesday evening, giving loyal customers the first chance to buy. The companies plan to sell at least one million deals, they said.

Shares of Groupon (GRPN.O), the world's largest daily deal company, have slumped since its IPO last year. That has cast doubt about the viability of the daily deal business. Groupon stock hit a record low of $4 on Tuesday. It was unchanged at $4.15 in afternoon trade.

Before the IPO, Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz was on Groupon's board of directors and his Maveron investment firm was an investor in Groupon. Schultz stepped down from the board in May.
Adam Brotman, Starbucks' chief digital officer, said the company's decision to work with LivingSocial shows that daily deals still work for some merchants.

"It's an evolving space," Brotman said. "The type of deal, the type of merchant and the implementation of offers are going to be different from circumstance to circumstance."

It is the coffee chain's first nationwide deal with LivingSocial. Earlier this year, Starbucks ran a similar deal with Google Offers, the daily deal business owned by Google Inc (GOOG.O).

"This was a great opportunity to work with LivingSocial," Brotman said. "It wasn't about anybody else in the space.