We've heard you snickering in the corner. Quantum computing is definitely a solid theory; scientists have been able to make a couple of electrons dance to the same proverbial tune for a while now. But what use is that? Critics say that quantum theory is mostly a mind exercise and will never be able to scale up for useful applications. Well, one MIT quantum scientist is sick of hearing that crap, and Scott Aaronson is putting his money where his mouth is in the form of a $100,000 prize to anyone able to demonstrate that "scalable quantum computing is impossible in the physical world."
A virulent strain of Apple-tablet fever has the internet in its tight grip, with fanboys, skeptics and everyone in between – among those who care at all about shiny new gadgets - showing different signs. And if blogs like Gawker Media-owned Valleywag have their way, the fever will march rampantly toward an impending crescendo, which is expected to be the period intervening the unveiling and the launch of the tablet. Valleywag is offering a fortune to anyone willing to share “pictures or video or one hour of touching and licking with the Apple Tablet.” Valleywag has chosen to cap its generosity at a mere $100,000. This is what is being offered:
The Washington Post says it sought expert opinion on the legality of Valleywag's offer. Unfortunately, the lawyer they asked wasn't impressed because Apple could drag Gawker to court for “inducing breach of contract, since anyone who has their hands on the tablet is certainly under a nondisclosure agreement."
What if this is all an Apple-approved publicity stunt, one that is likely to benefit both the Cupertino-based company and Gawker? Stranger things have happened before! One thing is for sure, though,Valleywag's salivating offer will not please journalism purists, the kind allergic to checkbook journalism.
After three years, a team of programmers have finally laid claim to the $1 million "Netflix Prize" - a competition that invited teams to test their programming mettle and improve upon the online movie rental service's movie recommendation algorithm by 10 percent.
While progress had been slow going, the 10 percent mark was finally broken last month after several top teams joined forces to form BellKor's Pragmatic Chaos. With a score of 10.08 percent, it looked like BellKor was ready to cash in on the reward, however their announcement put into effect a 30 day last call period for other teams to submit their work.
A team called The Ensemble did just that, turning in an algorithm that scored 10.09 percent, giving the team the lead over BellKor. BellKor would manage to tie the score with under 30 minutes left in the competition, but 4 minutes before close, The Ensemble turned in the top submission of 10.10 percent, stealing a victory in what turned out to be a nail-biting race.
Netflix is expected to formally announce the winner once it confirms the data.
It's hard not to feel violated at the gas pump every time you fill you up your tank, and relief doesn't appear to be in sight. That is, unless you're a small business owner. As part of Microsoft's Bump the Slump sweepstakes, the multi-billion dollar corporation plans to give away 5,000 gallons of gas in order to promote its various software applications. Huh?
According to Eric Ligman, Microsoft US Senior Manager of Small Business Community Engagement (don't waste any space on that business card), the sweepstakes is about "saving money," and while that's hard, nay, impossible to do at the pump, Microsoft's Bump the Slump website claims that its bevy of software can add up to big savings. For example, "Windows Vista can save you as much as $70.77 in energy costs per PC per year compared to a typical PC not running Vista. It saves you money and lets you give Earth a little hug."
The promotion will cost Microsoft about $20,000, with the winner expected to be drawn on July 21, 2008. To be eligible, entrants must be 18+ years old and a legal resident of the 50 United States, own a small business in the U.S., and have between two and 100 employees. And when it's over, you can add Microsoft to a list which includes Mexican food, Celine Dion, baked beans, and other things known to give gas.
Microsoft has issued a challenge for developers and newbie developers worldwide to use Microsoft's XNA Game Studio 2.0 to build their game for the Xbox 360. This year they are accepting teams from 1 to 7 people to compete. First prize is $40,000, second is $20,000, third $10,000, and fourth is $5,000.
The deadline is September 23, 2008, after which the judges will be choosing the best entries on 3 main criteria: Fun Factor (40%), Innovation (30%), and Production Quality (30%).