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September 8, 2007

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... Proteus

Proteus is a prototype wave adaptive modular vessel.

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Powered by two 355 horsepower diesel engines, it has a range of 5,000 miles and reaches a top speed of 70 mph.

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It visited New York Harbor this past week prior to embarking on its One Ocean mission through America's national marine sanctuaries.

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Here's a press release that appeared on TechWeb.

Marine Advanced Research built Proteus; its website has lots more detail.

September 8, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

iPod Hymn Book — 'Let us play'

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From the website:
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Leather Hymn Book iPod Cover

iPod — it's a new religion!

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Leather book cover is designed for 30GB and 80GB iPod with video (but equally good on older models and other MP3 players of the same size).

You can sync and charge your player directly in the case with full cable access.

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The tough leather case will help you cherish your music.
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£15.

September 8, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Starbucks goes to Russia

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In yesterday's New York Times story Andrew E. Kramer wrote about the chain's long-anticipated entrance into the Russian coffee space.

Above, the first Starbucks in Russia, which opened in a mall near Moscow on Thursday, September 6, 2007.

September 8, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Old School Cassette Deck MP3 Player

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That's different.

From the website:

    Old School Cassette Deck MP3 Player

    This MP3 Player is built into a standard cassette casing, letting you use it either as a unique old school-shaped MP3 Player or with any car or stereo cassette player to play MP3s.

    You will have no problems listening to hours of your favorite songs as this product also has a built in SD card slot, saving you flash memory cost as well as letting you quickly change to different songs on different SD Cards.

    If you are into old-fashioned looks with great new built-in technology, this is a MP3 player worth having and showing off.

$21.53.

September 8, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Calling all junior spies: Mission volunteers requested

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This past Thursday, September 6, 2007, the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. unveiled "'Operation Spy,' an interactive experience in which participants get to pretend they're spies for the U.S. government, traveling through and under the back streets of a fictitious city, trying to find a missing nuclear device."

Here's John Maynard's front page story from Thursday's Washington Post Style section on the details of your mission, should you choose to accept.

    I, Spy: The Secret Agent Experience

    For $14 a Pop, Museum Offers Tourists A Chance to Save the World

    In the land of the free museum, the organizers of the city's newest exhibit are betting you'll pay to role-play.

    Today the International Spy Museum debuts "Operation Spy," an interactive experience in which participants get to pretend they're spies for the U.S. government, traveling through and under the back streets of a fictitious city, trying to find a missing nuclear device.

    "Operation Spy" is also one of the city's costlier museum experiences. Tickets to the museum itself are $16, but if you want to do the "Operation Spy" exhibit, too, you'll pay eight more bucks.

    Or put another way: For $24, you can pretend you're on TV's "24."

    "We perceive the additional $8 fee for 'Operation Spy' to be a great value for the hour-long experience," museum spokeswoman Amanda Abrell said. (Tickets for admission only to "Operation Spy" are $14.)

    The privately owned Spy Museum, run by the for-profit, Cleveland-based Malrite Co., is Washington's most expensive museum. The Smithonian museums and the National Gallery of Art are free; among museums that charge an admission, the Phillips Collection can cost as much as $12 and the Corcoran Gallery of Art runs from $6 to $14.

    With its emphasis on hands-on activities, the Spy Museum — one of the city's most popular tourist attractions — seeks to draw, in part, a Disney-park audience. Since its opening in 2002, the museum has drawn more than 3.5 million visitors.

    "Operation Spy" cost between $1.5 million and $2 million to create, Abrell says.

    During the one-hour virtual-world "mission," museum-goers get to maneuver hidden cameras and fiddle with recording devices. Visitors are on their feet nearly that entire time, at one point tiptoeing through a creepy, dark tunnel created by the exhibit designers, and later ransacking an authentic-looking office of a "foreign government official." The mission takes place within the confines of the Spy Museum at 800 F St. NW. "It takes interactivity one step further," said Peter Earnest, the museum's executive director. "There's more of a visceral feel than just looking at stuff on a display case."

    "Operation Spy" was scheduled to open in June, but glitches throughout the summer delayed the opening. "There's a number of moving parts," Earnest said. "A lot of synchronizing and special effects."

    "Operation Spy" has its share of effects, but a promotional video running on the museum's Web site might oversell the experience with its claim: "Like the most intense movie you've ever seen — except you are in it."

    Earnest also boasted: "It's sort of what it feels like to be in '24,' " referring to Fox's hit show.

    Sort of, perhaps, but don't expect to extract any confessions from bad guys through torture or to defuse a nuclear bomb with one hand tied behind your back.

    Rather, it's more of a participatory experience, with much conversation encouraged among exhibit-goers. There are also some thrills to be had; highlights include a noisy freight elevator ride in the dark and a (simulated) bumpy ride in the back of a cargo van. (Because of the complexity of the exhibit, participants must be at least 12 years old.)

    At first, the experience might feel more like jury duty as you and your fellow "spies" gather in a "bus depot" in the fictitious Khandar City, a setting that has a Middle Eastern feel. Although Earnest said the city depicted in "Operation Spy" is not modeled after any particular country, he acknowledged that it could be in the Middle East or southern Asia.

    "We are taking you overseas to a foreign, exotic locale," he says.

    Earnest said the exhibit's story line is "loosely based" on the real-life case of A.Q. Khan, a prominent Pakistani nuclear scientist who in 2004 confessed to selling nuclear technology to other countries. (Khan was pardoned by his government and remains under house arrest in Pakistan.)

    After leaving the Khandar depot, visitors are rushed to a command center to receive video screen instructions from an unidentified intelligence chief (played by Janet Hubert-Whitten, who played the mother on the old Will Smith sitcom "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"). "You definitely look like tourists," she says. "Nice disguise."

    Although this is a taped segment, our real-life team leader — earlier this week, it was local actress Elise Arsenault — skillfully talks to her and we are made to believe it's a live conversation.

    Visitors learn the particulars of the case — that a nuclear trigger device has gone missing, say, and that there's a strong suspicion that the country's energy director is involved. There's also an on-screen secret agent, whom we see in video clips, who has infiltrated the minister's office and may or may not be on our side. During the preview, we were also made aware of a rising movement within the country, seeking to dismantle the government.

    Spy-philes at the preview this week were gung-ho for "Operation Spy," including Mark Dubowitz, chief operating officer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

    "It was part Jack Bauer, part Jennifer Garner," said Dubowitz, referring to the fictional "24" character and the actress who portrayed "Alias" spy Sydney Barstow. "It was a great way to get people thinking about pressing issues in today's news."

    In a preview earlier this summer, Speros Koumparakis, a 32-year-old Marine from the District, said he was "really into it." He also admitted that his TiVo is filled with "24" episodes.

    And Emily Guskin, 23, of Potomac said the experience was "somewhat akin to" a Disney ride, adding, "I guess it's a Washington, D.C., version."

September 8, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wearable Mitten Blanket

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That's different.

From the website:

    Wearable Mitten Blanket

    This wearable blanket with two built-in oversized mittens allows you to retain body heat yet the mittens are nimble enough to allow you to hold a glass, remote control, phone, or read a book.

    Made of 400-gram bonded 100% polyester fleece that will not pile, the blanket may be worn either as a traditional blanket or poncho or can be wrapped around you for maximum thermal efficiency from your neck to your feet.

    The tip of each mitten may be tucked into a built-in pocket on either side of the blanket when folded.

    Navy with light blue mittens (can be reversed).

    Machine washable.

    98"L x 59"W.

$69.95.

September 8, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Cat Olympics Open Today

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How'd this one nearly slip by?

Moira McLaughlin in yesterday's Washington Post wrote about the 27th Annual National Capital Cat Show, opening today and continuing tomorrow at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

This is the third year in which the show will feature a cat agility contest, in which more than 400 cats of about 25 breeds from across the U.S. as well as the Netherlands, Italy and France will vie for supremacy.

Here's the article.

    At Dulles Expo Center, Cat Be Nimble...

    Can you teach an old cat new tricks? At the 27th annual National Capital Cat Show on Saturday and Sunday at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, the agility of young and old cats alike will be tested as they run through tunnels, jump through hoops and negotiate hurdles.

    More than 400 cats of about 25 breeds from across the United States, as well as the Netherlands, Italy and France, are expected to participate. They will be judged by eight members of the Cat Fanciers' Association.

    This is the third year that the show, which also features a pedigree competition, will have an agility contest. Cats run the course three times, following their owners, who are dangling a toy. The cats are judged on speed and athleticism, and those that run the 10-obstacle course in less than 15 seconds receive cash prizes.

    The event also features more than 60 vendors selling cat toys, supplies and art. Attendees will be able to talk with breeders, cat owners and cat rescue workers.

Saturday from 9:30 to 5 and Sunday from 9:30 to 4. Dulles Expo Center, Willard Road off Route 28, Chantilly. $8 adults, $5 seniors and children younger than 12, $24 for a family of four. Free parking. 703-378-0910. www.nationalcapitalcatshow.com.

September 8, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Dual-Time Analog+Digital Carabiner Transformer Watch/Clock/Alarm

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Say what?

From the website:
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Dual-Time Clip Watch

With digital and analog dials, you can keep track of two time zones at once (your present one and home).

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The versatile carabiner-style clip attaches to belt loops or daypacks, or flips back to double as a stand for use as a bedside travel alarm.

Rugged aluminum, easy-to read backlight and luminescent hands.
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In Green as well as — for those who haven't yet swallowed enough Kool-Aid — Black or Orange.

$65.

September 8, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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