Apple, maker of some good computers and my wonderful iPod, is rumored to be launching a new digital music service today at a scheduled press conference. iPodlounge and other sites are reporting lots of detailed predictions: participation from the five major record labels, downloadable tracks for US$0.99 downloadable albums for US$10.00, material burnable to CD, no subscription, Apple users only (oops!) ...
The conference starts at 10:00AM PT/1:00 PM ET. Until then you can read this NY Times article for more information.
UPDATE: New online music store (for Mac users only, for now); new iPods with different button layout (don't like it), docking stations (it's about time), greater capacity (of course), and new internal software version; new software version available for existing Mac-formatted iPods, Windows coming in May (grumble); full Audible.com support for windows-formatted iPods coming soon, perhaps with new software. Par for the Apple course.
I've just been alerted that we may not be getting a subway fare hike in NYC after all ...
Six Apart is up to some cool stuff. Today they launched TypePad, a prepackaged installation and hosting service for their excellent blogging tool, MovableType, on which this and many other sites are based. Ben Hammersley has written a brief overview of what TypePad will entail.
Thanks to Leslie for the initial news! I found the Hammersley article over at Boing Boing.
Last year I posted a bunch of images of the Earth. This year I'm just posting the one. It was taken by the Voyager 1 space probe on February 14, 1990 from a distance of four billion miles, and I found it at JPL's Planetary Photojournal.
It's good once in a while to remember that, big as it seems, this is a pretty small neighborhood we live in.
You may also be interested in seeing that image as part of a larger mosaic, in which the Earth is just a tiny mote in the glare of the sun. I love these images.
Heard on NPR's Morning Edition: A team of Danish scientists took samples from the frozen soil of Siberia and analyzed them in the laboratory looking for DNA. Astonishingly enough, the soil contained genetic fragments from bison, reindeer, and wooly mammoth going back as far as fifty thousand years, and plant DNA going back four hundred thousand years. This absolutely astounds me, and I gather from the radio story that that's the general impression in the scientific community.
The paper describing this research is published in the current edition of the journal, Science. Access to their content online is limited, but some materials can be found here. Other articles are available from Scientific American, the BBC, and the journal, Nature. You can also listen to the Morning Edition story.
We had Hawai‘i weather in New York yesterday, and we're having it again today. Evening at home felt a bit like evening in Kailua-Kona, which has mentally rewound my life about five weeks--very pleasant. Hawai‘i has very funny and interesting weather, though. Read on:
The Hawaiian Islands are at 20° north latitude, just south of the Tropic of Cancer. The wind blows from the east, carrying evaporated moisture from thousands of miles of Pacific waters. The vast majority of this rain falls on the eastern side of each island, where the moist air reaches the land. The volcanic slopes cast a rain shadow on the western shores, and the difference in climate is clearly visible in overhead photographs.
The extreme range of variation in rainfall, the winds and ocean currents, the steep mountains, and the eroding and evolving landscape all combine to create numerous microclimates on each island. We stayed in Kailua-Kona on our recent trip, and like most of the coastal towns the air is comfortably in the 80s (F) during the day and the 60s (F) at night. It's at the western extremes of the Big Island, so it's generally very dry, with desert lands to the north that would closely resemble the western deserts of North America were it not for the immense old lava flows draped downhill to the sea. But just five minutes upslope from the Kona coast and you're driving past rich green trees. Ten minutes upslope and you're in a cloud forest. Half an hour south and you're surrounded by farms growing coffee, mangoes, avocadoes, and macasmia nuts. An hour north and you could be in northern California. Head uphill from there and you travel through grassy plains, past the treeline, to the arid peak of Mauna Kea, where there are almost never clouds but visitors are warned of "freezing fog." One mountain to the south, the lava pouring from Kilauea causes the air to be filled with vog (volcanic fog).
We grew up in western Massachusetts, where the saying was "if you don't like the weather, wait a minute." We've had years with almost no snow, and years where there were blizzards in October or May. In Hawai‘i the temperature difference between night and day is greater than that between summer and winter. If you don't like the weather, move over a few miles.
When I say we've had "Hawai‘i weather," by the way, I guess I mean we've had Kailua-Kona weather: nearly 80° by day, nearly 60° by night. But the next few days are going to feel like a drive into the forest...
Mirror Project creator Heather Champ got a cool early birthday present yesterday!
language hat alerted me that drummer Babatunde Olatunji died on Sunday. I listened to "Drums of Passion" as a boy, and got to see Olatunji perform at a festival in Cummingon, Massachusetts. Olatunji's work was many westerners' first introduction to African culture, and he paved the way for many other musicians.
The Javan banteng is very endangered; fewer than five thousand banteng are believed to be alive today. But things may be looking up, as researchers have managed to produce a banteng clone by implanting the embryo in an Iowa beef cow.
Update: the young banteng's sibling has been put down to prevent its suffering. The young clone was very oversized and unhealthy, a sad and common side effect of the process.
The Washington Post has a nice article (but I apologize for their obnoxious interstitial survey).
The news and the Washington Post article were found via Street Tech.
The AFP photo was found at the Sydney Morning Herald website.