Reducing various items to a fine powder in one of his blenders earned Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson a cult following. One of, if not the greatest viral marketing campaigns of all time, the "Will It Blend?" series has been watched almost 221,000,000 times on YouTube. In addition to receiving many marketing awards, Tom and his blenders have been featured on The Tonight Show and the History Channel series Modern Marvels. He has agreed to take a break from pureeing household objects and answer your questions. As usual, you're invited to ask as many questions as you'd like, but please divide them, one question per post.
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itwbennett writes "Here's a bright spot in Beijing's off-the-chart bad air pollution: The market for mobile apps that monitor air quality is thriving. 'When the pollution went beyond the air quality index, all the social networks in China and media began paying attention to the problem,' said Wang Jun, one of the developers of the China Air Pollution Index app. 'This caused the downloads to increase 30 times.'" Obviously a Spaceballs fan, a Chinese man is even selling fresh air in cans.
kkleiner writes "No longer will they say, 'He's going to end up flipping burgers.' Now, robots are taking even these ignobly esteemed jobs. San Francisco based Momentum Machines makes a robot called the Alpha that can churn out 360 gourmet burgers per hour. The company plans on launching the first ever burger restaurant chain with a cook staff made entirely of robots. You think Americans are obese right now? Just wait."
Kittenman writes "Rick Champagne, a 56-year-old company owner from Arizona has bought the original Batmobile (dating back to Burt Ward and the '60s) for $4.2 million. He's quoted as saying it 'was a dream come true.' From the article: 'The Batmobile design was based on a 1955 Lincoln Futura, a concept car built in Italy by the Ford Motor Company. It was the first time that car had come up for public sale since it was bought in 1965 by car-customiser George Barris, who transformed it in 15 days, at the cost of $15,000 (£9,400), into the superhero's famous vehicle.'"
It appears that it isn't just fans who took notice of the failed White House petition to build a Death Star. Star Wars Blog has an official response from the Galactic Empire which reads in part: "IMPERIAL CENTER, CORUSCANT – The overwhelming military superiority of the Galactic Empire has been confirmed once again by the recent announcement by the President of the United States that his nation would not attempt to build a Death Star, despite the bellicose demands of the people of his tiny, aggressive planet. 'It is doubtless that such a technological terror in the hands of so primitive a world would be used to upset the peace and sanctity of the citizens of the Galactic Empire,' said Governor Wilhuff Tarkin of the Outer Rim Territories. 'Such destructive power can only be wielded to protect and defend by so enlightened a leader as Emperor Palpatine.'”
SchrodingerZ writes "The Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm, Sweden, has announced that they have included Minecraft into the curriculum for their 13-year-old students. The program is not meant to teach children about math or language, but rather as a tool to inspire creativity in the classroom. 'They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future,' Viktor Rydberg teacher Monica Ekman told English-language newspaper The Local. 'It's not any different from arts or woodcraft,' she added."
Hugh Pickens writes "A burglar gets stuck in a chimney, a truck driver in a head on collision is thrown out the front window and lands on his feet, walks away; a wild antelope knocks a man off his bike; a candle at a wedding sets the bride's hair on fire; someone fishing off a backyard dock catches a huge man-size shark. Now Kevin Kelly writes that in former times these unlikely events would be private, known only as rumors, stories a friend of a friend told, easily doubted and not really believed but today they are on YouTube, seen by millions. 'Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we'll see or hear about today,' writes Kelly. 'As long as we are online — which is almost all day many days — we are illuminated by this compressed extraordinariness. It is the new normal.' But when the improbable dominates the archive to the point that it seems as if the library contains only the impossible, then the 'black swans' don't feel as improbable. 'To the uninformed, the increased prevalence of improbable events will make it easier to believe in impossible things,' concludes Kelly. 'A steady diet of coincidences makes it easy to believe they are more than just coincidences.'"
You may soon have another option to lose weight other than dieting and exercise thanks to Dean Kamen. The inventor has designed a pump that can suck the cheeseburgers out of your stomach and replace it with water. From the article: "The pump was invented by Dean Kamen, the same man who brought you the Segway, and perhaps more fittingly, a breakthrough dialysis machine. This pump works by routing a tube directly into the user's stomach and then sucking out some of the gooey, masticated goodness. The user then squeezes a little plastic bag to replace that volume of stomach-stew with water. Sounds great, right? There are some catches though. It hasn't been approved by the FDA yet, and some of the users in the tests had problems with certain foods like 'cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese food, stir fry, snow peas, pretzels, chips, and steak.' Oh, also there's a tube going into your stomach that you use to pump unpuked vomit into the toilet. Participants in trial studies did manage to lose about half of their excess weight this way, around 45 pounds on average, so apparently it works."
hypnosec writes "Anonymous has filed a petition with the U.S. Government asking the Obama administration to make Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks a legal form of protest. Anonymous has argued that because of advancements in internet technology, there is a need for new ways of protest. The hacking collective doesn't consider DDoS as a form of attack and equates it to hitting the 'refresh' button on a webpage. Comparing these attacks to the 'occupy' protests, Anonymous notes that instead of people occupying an area, it is their computers occupying a website for a particular period of time."
New submitter snooz_crash writes "An Ex-CIA analyst requests your assistance in IDing a base that he has been observing for quite a while. The base has been in existence for several years, but its shape and location do not lead to an immediate answer to the riddle of 'what the heck is it?'"
angry tapir writes "Zynga's Mark Pincus made the annual 'Worst CEOs' list compiled by Dartmouth College professor Sydney Finkelstein. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Andrew Mason of Groupon received dishonorable mentions. Zuckerberg earned his dishonorable mention on the list partly due to his 'hoodie mentality.'"
Google85 writes "Dacor is exhibiting an oven that runs Android at CES 2013: it pulls together a 1GHz processor, 512MB of DDR2 RAM and Android 4.0.3. It also cooks food. At the front of the Discovery Wall Oven, there's a 7-inch LCD touch panel. From the article: '...The oven-maker's Discovery IQ controller cooking app will offer up interactive cooking guides, recipes and all other things cooking, although you'll still be able to install more standard apps from Google Play. The built-in cooking app offers preprogrammed dishes and adjustable timings for several dishes, while you can even program the oven to cook food remotely from any Android device.'"
Orome1 writes "When imagining law enforcement officers investigating and searching for cyber criminals or evidence about their activities, the last thing that you can probably envision is them searching for a stray cat. But that was exactly what detectives of Japan's National Police Agency recently did as the last step in a complex 'treasure hunt' started on New Year's Day by a person (persons?) who is allegedly the mastermind behind the so-called 'Remote Control Virus.' The malware in question was instrumental in staging a continuous campaign of death and bomb threats sent to airline companies, kindergartens, schools, law offices, broadcasting networks and shrines."
An anonymous reader writes "An irritated father of a 23-year-old gamer hired 'In-game assassins' to attempt to make his son quit playing video games and have him get a job. 'Feng's idea was that his son would get bored of playing games if he was killed every time he logged on, and that he would start putting more effort into getting a job.' While the son recently had a job at a software development company he quit because he decided he didn't like the work."
linuxwrangler writes "Two teens are behind bars after hatching a plan that involved drugging milkshakes they gave to the parents of one of the kids. The parents were suspicious after waking groggy the next day, and used a home drug-test on one of the remaining drinks. The teens came up with the plan in order to avoid their 10pm Internet curfew."