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This week, while Rob still mourns the Patriots playoff loss, he looks at the possible return from extinction of the wooly mammoth. Dave thinks there might be invisible tanks in the future thanks to a purported dying technology. I look at a European service that may finally be gracing American shores, and Ross explains how getting our coffee fix has gotten much easier.

As always there are our media updates, the website of the week, and tech totals about one of our favorite childhood toys.

Thank you for reading and if you have any ideas for stories you'd like to see us cover or feedback, feel free to contact us.

Cheers,
Hazel Butters
CEO
Prompt Communications
Twitter: @PromptLondon and @PromptBoston



E-readers kindle military interest

UK By Dave Wilby

This week we've seen a lot of positive stuff written about e-readers, a genre of device written off by many as yesterday's niche technology, eclipsed by multi-function tablet devices even before it had reached mainstream interest.

Well a u-turn in opinion has seen tweeters, bloggers and the professional media backing e-readers once again — and there's even been interest in turning e-reader technology to military applications.

Online retailer Amazon claims it sold about eight million Kindle e-readers last year, which while not quite up to the six million iPads Apple shipped in just the last quarter, isn't to be sniffed at either. And now we're being promised colour e-readers, as showcased on the BBC this week.

But this was the story that really caught our eyes. Apparently BAE Systems plans to use e-ink — the technology found inside e-readers that makes those displays so friendly and appealing — to make tanks invisible. That's right, the military hopes to use the tech to match the outside of tanks with local battleground scenery, just like a chameleon. Or The Predator, we'd like to think...


Starbucks serves up mobile payments

US By Ross Coyle

Got a hankering for that Mocha Frappuccino? Now you don't have to go rustling through that loose pile of change in your pant pocket. This week, Starbucks began allowing customers to pay for their purchases with a simple wave of their smartphones at more than 7,500 stores. This marks one of the first nationwide deployments of long-awaited phone-based payment technology in the US.

The new mobile payment system allows customers to hold a smartphone displaying a two dimensional barcode for reading by a scanner installed at Starbucks cash registers. The smartphone links wirelessly to a person's Starbucks card, which is backed with a credit card. The Starbucks card, when depleted, can be reloaded from the phone. The service is currently only available for the iPhone, iPod Touch or Blackberry; but Starbucks is working on an Android application for its card.

The coffee titan said its customers loaded more than $1.5 billion on to Starbucks loyalty cards in 2010, an increase of 21 percent over 2009, after it launched its first rewards program. More than one-third of its U.S. customers use smartphones, of whom nearly three-quarters use BlackBerry smartphone or iPhone mobile devices.


Gone in thousands of years, back in only five

US By Rob Ramos

A lot of things can happen in five years. I could no longer rent an apartment and own a house. Video games may all come from one system instead of three. And the wooly mammoth may once again walk among the living. If Japanese scientists are successful, that last one may prove to be the closest of all the possibilities.

Scientists hope that tissue from a frozen mammoth will be all that's needed to resurrect one of the most famous ice age beasts. By inserting the mammoth's nuclei into an elephant's egg cell (the elephant is the closest modern relative to the mammoth) and inseminating the elephant with its newly modified egg cell, scientists hope that eventually a baby mammoth will be born.

Obviously easier said than done, this process is expected to last five to six years and involve Russian mammoth researchers and American elephant experts. They have hope this will succeed for two reasons. The first is that extracting the DNA from frozen cells is now less of an obstacle than it once was. The other reason is that researchers have had similar success cloning mice through the same method.

Scientists have concerns about whether or not to display the creature should the process work, and more importantly determining why the species died off in the first place. But hey, if they're able to being a species back to life, those would have to be classified as good problems to have.


New music service finally 'spotted' heading towards US

UK By Hazel Butters

The US isn't starved for choices to get their music. Services such as iTunes, Grooveshark and mSpot have all made their mark in the music industry with competitive music sharing and storage services and apps enabling you to get your music anywhere. As Google allegedly gets ready to enter the music space with its own service, you would think that there couldn't be room for another player in this already crowded field.

You would likely be wrong about that since one of the most popular music streaming services in Europe, Spotify, is now one step closer to bringing its unlimited streaming - for a monthly price - to the US after it signed a deal with Sony Entertainment, one of the largest record labels in the world. With a free ad-supported version and an ad-free premium service that supports apps on various devices, Spotify is perhaps the most hotly anticipated music service ever. That is, until Apple let us stream our music from iTunes, which being a recent iPhone convert, is very appealing to me.

While the deal does bring Spotify one step closer to reaching an American audience, it's still far from imminent. At least another large label, such as EMI, is needed to create a large enough library to help Spotify steal market share from the other services out there such as Pandora or Last.fm. But with Sony onboard there's a precedent set that can allow other labels into Spotify's warm music streaming embrace and allow Americans to see what we in the UK have been enjoying for months now.



Welcome
Technology News E-readers kindle military interest Starbucks serves up mobile payments Gone in thousands of years, back in only five New music service finally 'spotted' heading towards US Tech Totals
US Media Updates
UK Media Updates
WOTW
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The LEGO Company patented its Lego bricks this week in 1958. The iconic bricks have been used around the world and bricks produced then still would be compatible with today's models. Here are some facts looking back at the famous toy.

  • 62 to 1: ratio of bricks to everyone inhabitant of planet earth
  • 7: number of LEGO sets sold every second around the world
  • 400 million: number of people who've played with LEGO toys at some point in their life
  • 550,000: bricks needed to create the world's tallest LEGO structure at 100 ft 10 in. in LEGOLand in Germany

The New York Times Magazine has shuttered The Medium, which was written by Virginia Heffernan. The blog focused on internet-age culture and had been published in the magazine since 2009.

As the Comcast/NBC Universal merger moved closer to completion, one major complication stood in Comcast's way — its control over Hulu. The Department of Justice blocked the merger because the popular video site would have fallen under control of the cable giant, breaking anti-trust laws. By releasing management control of Hulu (Comcast still has a say in its financial interests), the DOJ would allow the merger to be completed. Comcast and NBC agreed to the terms allowing the deal to be completed.

American television has been blessed with some of the best shows the UK has to offer and it continued this week with the first 'Piers Morgan Tonight'. The show designed to replace the legendary Larry King opened to strong ratings with Oprah Winfrey as his first guest, become a trending topic on Twitter, and will host fellow Brit, Ricky Gervais on the heels of his somewhat controversial Golden Globes hosting gig.


Lovefilm has been acquired by Amazon for an undisclosed amount, but brings the company's value to roughly £200 million. In 2008 Amazon bought 42 percent of the company through shares and by acquiring the remaining 58 percent controls the leading DVD rental service in the UK. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter this year.

In documents revealed by the BBC this week, over 130 top executives at the company have salary that betters their Prime Minister. PM Cameron receives £142,500 yearly. And despite cuts in both senior management posts and salary bill, 135 of the staff make over £140,000 or more.

Global Radio has announced the appointment of Christopher Thorogood as Director of Digital. Christopher joins from his role as Director of Operations and Acting Head of Digital at Shine Group's digital arm ShineVu.


British Library Treasures

UK With Dave Wilby

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, a ten-acre park dedicated to the memory of the thirty-fifth president of the USA can be found in Boston, a city also famed as the stateside home of Prompt. Go and visit it in real-life — it's crammed with historical materials chronicling mid-20th century

politics as well as the life and times of JFK himself. However if you happen to live on this side of the pond, the wrong side of the US or some other interesting corner of the world, then you needn't miss out. The brand-spanking-new Digital Archives provide access to a growing collection of searchable digitized documents, images and materials to browse through over your lunch hour...


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