Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Fusion: For the starry eyed


Most people will not get the chance to control Spirit, the robotic rover on the surface of Mars. But a new Web venture offers armchair astronomers the opportunity to control an earthbound telescope to view Mars and other objects.

For a $49 yearly fee, users get unlimited viewing during what the company calls “group missions” and one 15-minute private session to point the telescope at a favorite object. A $99 membership increases the solo time to 90 minutes, and members at either level can purchase additional 15-minute segments for $19.95.

Slooh s telescopes are in the Canary Islands, off the coast of North Africa. Viewing hours (weather permitting, of course) are from or 2 p.m. to midnight Eastern time.


Microsoft said this week it might have overreacted to the Web site of Canadian teenager Mike Rowe who had added the word “soft” to his name and registered

In November, Microsoft s Canadian lawyers demanded Rowe, 17, change the name of his Web site, claiming copyright infringement. They said they would pay Rowe, of Victoria, British Columbia, $10 for his trouble.

But the high school student decided to fight back. Rowe is demanding $10,000 from Microsoft to change the site s name.


A new technology called InstantON is a direct challenge to computers running Microsoft s XP Media Center platform, which forces users to stare at the Windows hourglass after they turn on the PC simply to watch TV or play a DVD.

Created by Fremont, Calif.-based InterVideo, the technology allows a PC s entertainment functions to turn on almost instantly - in less than 10 seconds, according to InterVideo - because they run on LinDVD, a pared-down version of the open-source Linux operating system.

The Windows platform coexists with LinDVD and still have to be launched for regular computing tasks such as word processing, but users can forgo the longer Windows boot-up time if they only want to watch movies, record TV shows or listen to music.


Only 10 percent of junk e-mails comply with a new federal anti-spam law, according to two days worth of messages analyzed by spam filtering vendor Audiotrieve.

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, does not prohibit unsolicited commercial e-mail as long as senders follow rules, including using a correct subject line, a physical mailing address and a way to decline future mailings. But most senders failed to do even that.

Audiotrieve analyzed 1,000 messages collected last weekend. Only 102 of the messages met all the law s requirements, though Audiotrieve did not verify whether the physical address and unsubscribe mechanism worked. Of the remaining 898 messages, two-thirds had no unsubscribe link, and none had physical addresses.


Italy and Spain have the largest gap between men and women who are online, while Chinese users are most likely to credit the Internet for connecting them with the politically like-minded, according to a worldwide study coordinated by UCLA.

The study found 42 percent of Italian men online, compared with 22 percent of women. Spain was close behind with a gender gap of 19 percentage points.

Next were Korea, Singapore, Macau, Germany, Britain, Japan, Hungary, the United States, Sweden and Taiwan. The 14-country study also looked at urban areas in China and Chile, but the results did not include gender breakdowns.

Among other findings:

• Twenty-one percent of urban Internet users in China say the Internet helps them increase contact with people who share their political interests. The next highest was also a totalitarian state, Singapore, at 8.6 percent of all users. Italy and the United States were both at about 8 percent.

• Across the board, Internet users in the surveyed countries watch less television.

• German, Swedish and U.S. Internet users are most likely to have made online purchases.

The study was coordinated by UCLA s Center for Communication Policy. About 2,000 people were surveyed by telephone in each country, although China and Singapore also used face-to-face interviews. Each country s results carry a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points.


Rose Russell is a Blade associate editor. Her columns appear every Saturday in The Blade and on



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