Weekly Roundup – 4/22/12

Virginia/US

Shuttle Discovery retires with Washington flypast
Discovery flew over the monuments along the National Mall in Washington DC at about 10:00 EST (14:00 GMT).

Piggy-backing on a modified Boeing 747, Discovery was flying at an altitude of about 1,500ft (457m), Nasa said.

The shuttle programme ended in 2011. Discovery will be on show at the Air and Space Museum in Virginia.

I wish I gotten up early enough to see it.

George Zimmerman Tells Trayvon Martin’s Parents ‘I Am Sorry’
George Zimmerman stunned a Florida court today by taking the stand and apologizing to the parents of Trayvon Martin, who were sitting in the courtroom during Zimmerman’s bond hearing.

“I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was. I thought he was a little bit younger than I am. I did not know if he was armed or not,” Zimmerman said addressing Martin’s family directly.

His surprising testimony came the same day that ABC News exclusively obtained a photograph showing the bloodied back of Zimmerman’s head, which was apparently taken three minutes after he shot and killed Martin. The photo could give credence to Zimmerman’s claim that Martin had bashed his head against the concrete as Zimmerman fought for his life.

The release of this photo certainly helps Zimmerman and his defense, but it still doesn’t answer who initiated the confrontation.

World

Norway killer sharpened aim by playing video game
Anders Behring Breivik knew it would take practice to be able to slaughter dozens of people before being shot by police. In a chilling account, the far-right fanatic claimed that he sharpened his aim by playing the video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” for hours on end.

Breivik told an Oslo court on Thursday he also took steroids to build physical strength and meditated to “de-emotionalize” himself before the bombing and shooting rampage that left 77 people dead. He figured he had no more than a 5 percent chance of not being killed by police.

His lack of remorse and matter-of-fact description of weapons and tactics — he even considered using a flame thrower — were deeply disturbing to families of the victims, most of whom were teenagers.

I wonder what drove him to randomly kill people. Crazy. I’m not against video games, but some people should definitely stay away from them.

Entertainment

Dick Clark: ‘American Bandstand’ Host and TV Icon Dies at 82
Legendary TV host and producer Dick Clark died Wednesday of a massive heart attack at the age of 82.

According to his publicist, Clark had entered St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica last night for an outpatient procedure. Attempts to resuscitate were unsuccessful.”

RIP Dick. New Year’s Eve won’t be the same without you.

Technology/Social Media

Olympics Unveil Social Media Hub to Connect Athletes and Fans
The Olympic Athletes’ Hub aggregates the verified social media feeds of more than 1,000 current and former Olympians. It will post content directly from their Facebook and Twitter accounts and incorporate a gamification layer incentivizing fans to interact with the site. Users will be able to access exclusive training-tips videos and gain virtual and real-world prizes according to how many athletes they like and follow online.

“Another interesting thing that might come out of the hub is that Olympic Athletes will be able to connect not only with their fans but with each other before, during and after the Games are over, if they so desire,” IOC social media head Alex Huot told Mashable in an email. “If we take a step back we have a pretty cool scenario of fans connecting with athletes, athletes connecting with athletes and the IOC becomes a platform of sorts connecting everybody together.”

This is awesome because I’d love to see the athletes engage with their fans.

How ‘Liquidmetal’ Could Give the Next iPhone Its Special Swagger
Liquidmetal was discovered at the California Institute of Technology in 1992. It’s a class of patented amorphous metal alloys (basically metallic glass) with unique properties including high strength, high wear resistance against scratching and denting, and a good strength-to-weight ratio. Apple was granted rights to use it in August of 2010.

“Liquidmetal allows precision parts to be fabricated similar to plastic injection molding, but with similar properties to metal,” IHS senior principal analyst Kevin Keller said.

I can’t wait to get my hands on this.

Sports

PSU pays Paterno estate $5.5M-plus
A breakdown provided by Penn State included the use by Paterno’s family of a Beaver Stadium suite for 25 years and $900,000 from television and radio revenue from last season. Half the broadcast revenues were paid in February, and the rest will be paid later this year, the school said.

The university also said it would pay the coach’s widow, Sue Paterno, $1,000 a month for life, and provide her with on-campus parking and access to university hydrotherapy equipment.

Other elements of the package include a final paycheck of $34,000, a death benefit of $51,000 and $350,000 — payable over five years — under a 1986 consulting agreement. The university also agreed to forgive $350,000 in outstanding loans and debt. No explanation was provided regarding Paterno’s debts to the school.

While the school said in a news release the total value of the package was “over $5.5 million,” added together the various elements are worth about $6.7 million. The stadium suite was valued at $1.5 million.

I’m glad that Penn State is paying their dues to the former coach and his family.

Fenway at 100: Love it, revere it, blow it up
Two years later, damn near to the day, a new Boston place of business opened its gates to the public. April 20, 1912, turned out to be a big day in that city’s history, even if most of the folks from the Fenway district 100 years ago were still talking about a big tub in the Atlantic that went down with poor Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet on it.

I am pleased to acknowledge that Fenway Park’s centennial is upon us. I am less pleased to confess that — at the risk of offending any Red Sox fan who feels as if you have just spat on his or her great-grandfather’s grave — what I love about Fenway is, to be perfectly frank with you, nothing.

I really want to visit Fenway when I go to Boston in November.

Business/Money
Prepaid Cards Double As Student IDs On College Campuses
These student IDs grant students access to campus buildings and let them check out library books, have campus meals, pay for laundry and go to the gym. Since the cards are offered by prominent lenders, they can be used to pay for products at retailers that accept those cards.

North Carolina State University announced on Wednesday that it is partnering with U.S. Bank to give the Wolfpack One Card to incoming freshmen this fall. Current students, faculty and staff can pay $10 to get the new card.

Unlike most prepaid cards, the Wolfpack One Card has no monthly fees, no fees for point-of-sale purchases, no fees for withdrawals at U.S. Bank ATMs, no enrollment fees for new students, and no minimum balance to keep the account active, according to the press release and the WSJ.

This definitely makes it easier for students to manage all of their cards. I don’t know about you, but I have so many cards in my wallet. I wish Virginia Tech did something like this.

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