GameStop makes a huge pivot to Apple retailer – as retail video game industry dies

One of the last holdouts retail, video games, looks like it too will disappear. The biggest player, GameStop, who controls nearly two-thirds of the market, has been able to stay alive by pushing used games and devices. Last year the company earned $9.55 billion, 46% of which came from used items.

Unfortunately, that cannot sustain the company as more games go online, available for download. Which makes paying $60 for a cartridge much less appetizing for gamers, and takes away the bulk of GameStop’s earnings. This presents the company with a challenge…what to do next?

Believe it or not, become an Apple retailer. The company has opened an expansive new refurbishment factory for iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches. They hope to apply all that used experience to the booming world of the touchscreen.

Two articles cover this, the first is a summary and the second is a full behind-the-scenes feature:

In an effort to avoid the fate of Blockbuster, Circuit City and others in the remainder bin of failed retailers, GameStop has embarked on a daring, if inglorious, strategy: refashioning itself from a console-game purveyor into a repairer and reseller of Apple gadgets, betting that its retail visibility will prove an advantage. – Summary – SF Gate

 

“If you want to understand GameStop, you must understand refurbishment,” says GameStop CEO Paul Raines. Behind the tall executive lies a 182,000-square-foot facility filled with workers who are polishing discs, piecing together video game consoles, and rigorously testing pre-owned iPads, iPhones, iPods and Android tablets. It’s called the Refurbishment Operations Center, or ROC for short, and GameStop is giving us a first-hand tour of the $7 million facility. – Behind-the-scenes – The Verge

 

 

Continue reading GameStop makes a huge pivot to Apple retailer – as retail video game industry dies

The Center for Human Imagination – new research institution from the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation

Imagination — one of the least understood but most cherished products of the mind and brain — will become the focus of wide-ranging study at a new center jointly founded by UC San Diego and the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation.

The two institutions have created the UCSD-based Center for Human Imagination, which will involve thinkers from fields as different as technology, sociology, politics, medicine and literature, especially science fiction.

“We are changing the world so fast right now and the level of transformation is profound,” said Sheldon Brown, the UCSD media arts professor who was named director of the center. “This is the outcome of imagination. We need a more thoughtful, deliberative approach to understanding how it works.”

The perils and positives of imagination were a defining theme for Clarke, the British futurist and science fiction author who wrote such acclaimed books as “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Rendezvous with Rama.”

“Every couple of years, we are literally doubling our understanding of how the brain functions,” Brown said. “We can ask specific questions about how imagination works.

 

Keep reading – UCSD creates Center for Human Imagination

Continue reading The Center for Human Imagination – new research institution from the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation

Apple, Amazon, & Microsoft build data centers around dirty energy

The current explosion in cloud computing offered by major IT companies is driving significant new demand for dirty energy like coal and nuclear power, according to a new report from Greenpeace International.

The report, “How Clean is Your Cloud?” shows a growing split within the tech industry between companies that are taking steps to power their clouds with clean energy, like Google, Yahoo and Facebook, and companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft who lag behind by choosing to build their growing fleets of data centres to be powered by coal and nuclear energy.

“When people around the world share their music or photos on the cloud, they want to know that the cloud is powered by clean, safe energy,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International Senior Policy Analyst. “Yet highly innovative and profitable companies like Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft are building data centres powered by coal and acting like their customers won’t know or won’t care.”

The report research found that if the cloud were a country its electricity demand would currently rank 5th in the world, and is expected to triple by 2020.

“While many IT companies have made great strides in efficiency, that’s only half the picture – they need to make sure their energy comes from clean sources,” said Gary Cook, Greenpeace International Senior Policy Analyst.

Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook are beginning to lead the sector down a clean energy pathway through innovations in energy efficiency, prioritising renewable energy access when siting their data centres, and demanding better energy options from utilities and government decision-makers.

 

keep readingApple, Amazon, & Microsoft choose dirty energy

Watch 15+ meteors/hour this Saturday during the Lyrid meteor shower

The peak of the Lyrid meteor shower will be viewable all over the world this Saturday night. With the best rates seen just before dawn. The Lyrids can offer a shower of activity, with peak meteor rates between 10-100 per hour. This year Dr. Cooke estimates that the rate will be around 15 per hour, though he is hoping for a surprise increase above this!

The Lyrids are pieces of debris from the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher and have been observed for more than 2,600 years. In mid-April of each year, Earth runs into the stream of debris from the comet, which causes the Lyrid meteor shower.

Also, NASA plans to have an expert chat during the event, where you can ask questions to meteor experts and view live feeds:

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an early spring weekend, make plans to stay “up all night” with NASA experts to watch the Lyrids brighten the skies. On Saturday, April 21, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. EDT, meteor experts Dr. Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will answer your questions about the Lyrids via a live Web chat.

Joining the chat is easy. Simply visit this page a few minutes before 11 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 21. The chat module will appear at the bottom of this page. After you log in, wait for the chat module to be activated, then ask your questions!

A live video feed of the Lyrid meteor shower will be embedded on the page on the night of the Web chat, and there will be alternate allsky views being streamed from the allsky camera network.

learn more – NASA

 

// Thx to Chris Kim A

For delivery only – photos/video of Space Shuttle being attached to Boeing 747

At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, initial mating of space shuttle Discovery and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft is complete in the mate-demate device. The device, known as the MDD, is a large gantry-like steel structure used to hoist a shuttle off the ground and position it onto the back of the aircraft, or SCA.

Initial mating of space shuttle Discovery and the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
Space shuttle Discovery is lowered onto the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft in the mate-demate device during mating operations.

The SCA is a Boeing 747 jet, originally manufactured for commercial use, which was modified by NASA to transport the shuttles between destinations on Earth. This SCA, designated NASA 905, is assigned to the remaining ferry missions, delivering the shuttles to their permanent public display sites.

NASA 905 is scheduled to ferry Discovery to the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia on April 17, after which the shuttle will be placed on display in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center

Mating device (front) attaching the ships together.
Mating device (dual rear) attaching the ships together.

Following delivery of Discovery, NASA 905 will ferry Enterprise from Udvar-Hazy to the Intrepid Museum in New York City. Endeavour is scheduled to be similarly moved to the California Science Center in Los Angeles later this year.

Learn more on the video from This Week in NASA:

A ton more picture are available at NASA Media Gallery

Hybrid surgery, a major new medical trend, reduces need for cutting open

This reminds me of Star Trek as we discover new ways to heal patients without cutting them open. This method involves half-surgery and half-minimally-invasive techniques that also take much less time:

They performed a unique, high-risk hybrid procedure that combined minimally-invasive method with traditional surgical techniques. They stopped the massive balloon-like aneurysm, replaced a failed heart valve, repaired another valve and also closed a hole in Patricia Crawford’s heart.

Now, just a few weeks since the successful Feb. 7 procedure, Crawford is much more active and energetic, and only taking medications for her heart. Most importantly, she no longer needs a heart-lung transplant.

Such hybrid surgeries are the start of a major medical trend, said Dr. Jamil Aboulhosn, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center.

“We’re able to do more for high-risk patients like Patti than ever before. We’re performing more creative procedures that blend traditional surgery and minimally-invasive techniques to help patients who previously had few or no options.”

Dr. Hillel Laks and the operating room team started with traditional surgical methods, placing her on the heart-lung machine and opening the aneurysm by her heart.

Aboulhosn then employed the hybrid intervention by using a new balloon-mounted “melody valve” to replace her failing pulmonary valve and to close the hole in her heart. These two procedures, which normally would take more than an hour to complete surgically, only took 10 minutes thanks to the less-invasive valve-replacement technique.

learn moreUCLA Today

Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy

In 1985 a small group of concerned citizens set off on a mission to protect the last remaining wetlands in Huntington Beach, some 147 acres out of what used to be over 3,000.

Today, their dream is coming true as the Huntington Beach Wetland Conservancy owns and has restored a majority of the land, some 100 acres from the Santa Ana River to the AES Power Plant.

The remaining pieces are a 44-acre parcel located between Newland and Beach Blvd, and a tiny triangle, some 7/10 an acre, sandwiched between the Huntington Waterfront Hilton and a new residential neighborhood. These, too, will soon be owned by the Conservancy.

Here is how that Newland Marsh looks now:

Dry, full of trash and non-native invasive plants

And, the restored marshes:

That's a Grey Heron in the center drinking some water (click pic to view large size).

The difference is clearly the water.

Why Wetlands?

A wetland is “the link between land and water and are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Some common names for different types of wetlands are swamp, marsh and bog.

Continue reading Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy