Big Kid Tech Toys for the Holidays

By: David Hutton

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) – With Christmas just around the corner there’s no doubt college students around the country have their eyes set on the next popular big kid toy coming out for Santa, (a.k.a their parents) to bring them this Christmas season.   There’s a little bit of something for everyone from the techy gamer, to the intellectual hard working student, and everything in between this Holiday season.  So let’s take a look at a few of the new, cool, big kid tech toys for this season.

iPod Nano

The new iPod nano makes some great changes to past versions.

The new iPod nano makes some great changes to past versions.

The new iPod Nano is a must have this Christmas.  MP3 players are a thing of the past with new technology coming out on cell phones MP3 players can’t simply settle for being a source of music  and pictures any more.  Most anyone can get that on nearly every new phone that has come out this year.

So what have the people at Apple done to make the new iPod nano more appealing to the ever demanding public.  Well, they took their older version of the slim, sleek nano, stuffed in a new video camera, better “genius” mixer, and boatload of new features, wrapped it in your choice of seven eye catching colors and plopped a $140.00 price tag on it for all to have.

With all the new features that can be found on the new iPod nano, as well as it’s ample eight or 16GB of memory capable of holding over 2,000-4,000 songs, 7,000-14,000 digital photos, or eight to 16 hours of video, it’s clear that apple isn’t content with simply producing a music player.  They even went as far as to pair with their friends over at Nike to further develop their “Nike +” application by adding a pedometer feature to work with the fit kit (which is sold separately of course) to develop and supply running workouts that can later be synced to your computer to let you evaluate your workout.  The new iPod nano clearly is meant to appeal to more than music lovers with it’s updated platform.

Here is a list of features of the iPod nano:

Capacity

  • 8GB or 16GB flash drive2
  • Holds up to 2,000 or 4,000 songs in 128-Kbps AAC format3
  • Holds up to 7,000 or 14,000 iPod-viewable photos4
  • Holds up to 8 hours or 16 hours of video5
  • Stores data via USB flash drive

Accessibility

  • Spoken menus allow listeners to hear many of the names of menus, song titles, and artists without viewing the screen.
  • An alternative large font can make menus easier to read.
  • A high-resolution LCD display with adjustable contrast and backlight settings makes it easier to read in low light.
  • Captions in video are displayed when they are present using a legible, high-contrast white-on-black font.

Display

  • 2.2-inch (diagonal) TFT display
  • 240-by-376-pixel resolution at 204 pixels per inch

Features

  • Capable of storing MP3′s, Video’s, and Photo’s
  • New built in video camera (full color video with special effects options, and facebook/youtube compatability)
  • New “genius” mixer that searches entire library to find songs that sound great together to create up to 12 genius mixes(also features shake-and-shuffle mode and album cover mode)
  • F.M. Radio receiver+live pause and iPod tagging (allows you to pause and tag specific music on F.M. radio frequencies)
  • Voice over feature (tells you the song title and artist in up to 20 languages)
  • Fitness feature (can be paired with Nike+iPod sport kit)
  • 24 hour battery at full charge

Read a review for the nano here

Price:  $149.00 8GB/ $179.00 (16GB)

DJ Hero-Xbox 360/Playstation 3/Playstation 2/Wii

DJ Hero is sure to be a hit this Holiday season and is on shelves nation wide.

DJ Hero is sure to be a hit this Holiday season and is on shelves nation wide.

The much anticipated branching from the Guitar hero and Rock Band games comes in form of DJ Hero.   For those music loving gamers looking for a new, interactive venture in the gaming world, look no further.    Gamers are given a new turntable controller to spin and scratch their way through more than 100 exclusive songs that feature artists such as 50 cent, Black Eyed Peas, and the Beastie Boys.

If the basic game isn’t enough for you and your turntable spinning fingers, you may want to take a look at the DJ Hero Renegade Edition.  The DJ Hero Renegade Edition includes not only the DJ Hero game and turntable controller, but also includes a hardshell carrying case that converts into a performance ready DJ stand and JAY-Z and Eminem 2 disc CD set.  DJ hero is clearly making big steps in publicizing their product that they have even developed a Facebook page.

Without a doubt the minds behind Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and not DJ Hero have found a popular product that they are happy to keep producing entertaining products for.  Clearly DJ Hero is going to be the next of the successful products being produced for music loving gamers nation wide.  Here is a clip of what you can expect from the game:

Read GAMESPOTS review of DJ Hero here

Price:  $99.00 (PS2)- $199 (Renegade Edition)

Livescribe Pulse Smartpen

The pulse smartpen is a tech masterpiece indended for students.

The pulse smartpen is a tech masterpiece indended for students.

So saying that this gift is a must have, or if nothing else, really cool, is probably going to raise a few eyebrows as well as a few geek centered jokes in my direction.  In terms of tech toys though, the Livescribe Pulse smartpen is a must have for students in this information era.

The Pulse smartpen is a do all device from Livescribe that makes taking notes more than simply writing letters on a paper.  With one, two, and four GB options for storage the Pulse smartpen works as both an audio and not taking storage device as well as a pen.  Using the dot paper (with Dot Positioning System known as DPS) and the one of a kind infrared camera in the tip of the pen, this pen and paper combination stores all information that is written.  This information can either be directly connected to your computer an uploaded in digital form to your computer, or can be played back to you through the pens internal speaker by tapping the play button on the notepad or by double tapping the tip of the pen.

The Pulse smartpen also serves as a lecture companion in form of a voice recorder.  If you, like almost every other student I know (including myself) has a teacher that simply speaks too quickly, or doesn’t allow voice recordings in class, the Pulse smartpen may a great investment for this holiday season.  Student or not, it’s worth the time to take a look at Livescribe and the Pulse smartpen.  For anyone preparing for finals can attest to, sometimes not everything you need gets written down.  To make your life easier, and your finals a little less stressful, take a look at the Pulse smartpen.  It may be a worthwhile investment.

Laptop Magazines review of the Pulse Smartpen

Price:  $170.00-$250.00


Powermat- Wireless Home and Office Charging Mat

If your reading this article, more than likely you are slightly tech oriented, and power outlets just seem to fill up too quickly around the house.  Powermat is making strides in the universal charging world offering their wireless powermat

The Powermat is offering is offering a great product for nearly all ages just in time for the Holidays

The Powermat is offering is offering a great product for nearly all ages just in time for the Holidays

home and office charging mat.  By buying the mat you receive the company’s powercube which is compatible with devices using mini and micro USB connections.  Other tips are also available for the powercube.

For those of you who are apple users, Powermat has available cases for the iPhone 3G, iPod touch, and docs available for those also.  You simply lay the case or doc on the Powermat and charging begins.  Are you not an apple user?  Thats alright.  Powermat also offers packs for blackberries (Bold, Curve 8300 & 8900, and the Pearl), as well as for Nintendo DSi and DS lite . The Powermat is a very simple option for those looking for easier access to charging their electronics.

If you are wondering if there is an application for the Powermat that will suit your needs stop by their web page and take a look through their device guide.  There is a tip adapter for the Powermat for a lot of electronic equipment that people use on a regular basis so take a peak at their products.  This may work as a present not just for your self but an easy option for those family members where you just can’t think of what to get for them.  Theres nothing wrong with an easy out for Christmas gifts every once in a while, just make sure you take a look at available adapters before you go out buying this for grandma’s hearing aids.

Gadgetall’s review of the Powermat is here

Price: $100.00 (powerpat and one powercube)/ $30.00-$40.00 (individual power receivers)

With the holidays coming up and Christmas day just around the corner, these tech toys are a must for nearly anyone’s Christmas list.  With decent price points these big kid tech toys won’t break your parents, I mean, Santa’s bank so don’t miss out on this seasons new tech.  Whether naughty or nice, make sure these are on your big kid wish list and you’ll have a very happy Holiday ahead.

Recession Helping not Hindering College Education

By: David Hutton

(AP/The Loop)  Some are there because of the recession, and others out of personal ambition. Regardless, more young Americans than ever are in college — especially community college, according to a new report.

A record high of about 11.5 million Americans age 18 to 24, or nearly 40 percent, attended college in October 2008, according to a study of Census data released Thursday by the Pew Research Center. Virtually all the increase of 300,000 students over the previous year came at two-year schools, while attendance at four-year schools remained flat.

Community colleges almost certainly saw attendance go up at least that much again this year, though final figures are not yet available. The American Association of Community Colleges reports growth rates of 10 percent and higher have been common this fall on many campuses.

Overall college attendance has been going up for about 30 years; what’s new is the sharp uptick at community colleges, driven in large part by recessionary bargain hunting and closer ties between two- and four-year colleges that give students more confidence they’ll be able to transfer.

“It’s not just middle-aged people coming back to school and very poor people any more,” said Mike Grace, 24, a student at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, N.C., who plans to transfer to nearby North Carolina State next spring. “I’m seeing what I would consider to be relatively rich kids coming to school.”

As a broader range of traditional-age college students choose a community college, “it doesn’t have the stigma it once did,” Grace said.

Last year, nearly 12 percent of all 18- to 24-year-olds, or 3.4 million, were enrolled in community colleges, up from 10.9 percent the year before.

The relative economic advantages of at least starting a degree at a community college have widened as prices at four-year colleges have shot up much faster.

Average tuition and fees at public two-year colleges ran just $2,372 this year, according to a study released last week by the College Board, compared to $7,020 at public four-year colleges and more than $26,000 at private ones. Once government grants and other aid are factored in, community colleges are essentially tuition-free to the average student, though living expenses and books remain.

“People have less money,” said Hope Davis, a spokeswoman for the Community College of Baltimore County in Maryland, where enrollment is up about 14 percent this year. “If you can go to community college and pay $2,500 instead of $25,000 and get your general education credits out of the way and then transfer, it makes more sense.”

For Grace, Wake Tech is about one-third the price of a public four-year college. By saving money up front, he hopes to stretch out his Montgomery GI Bill benefits long enough to cover a master’s degree, too.

Wake’s enrollment is up 11 percent this year, on top of a 14 percent increase in 2008. Classes are crowded, but rigorous. Grace thinks some are harder than at N.C. State because the community college is determined that its graduates succeed after they transfer. Grace’s sister tried to persuade him he’d be missing out on dorm life and other experiences at a commuter college, but he disagreed.

“I’ve lived in barracks before,” said the Afghanistan veteran. “I don’t want to party my way through school. I just want to go through school and get my degree.”

Richard Fry, the report’s author, said another factor behind community college growth is the steadily increasing proportion of young adults who have completed high school, which hit a record high of nearly 85 percent last October. That means more students are eligible to pursue higher education, but most of the growth is coming from students whose academic qualifications make them more likely to start at two-year school.

While it’s good news more students are enrolled in college, the Census figures say nothing about whether overcrowded two-year institutions will succeed in getting students the credentials they seek or helping them transfer to bachelor’s degree programs.

Many are bursting at the seams, cutting some courses to meet budgets and holding others late at night. It’s impossible to say how many have been turned away for lack of space (California estimates about 200,000 in that state alone).

Baltimore County colleges have turned student lounges into classrooms and asked students to take classes during more unpopular time slots — early mornings and Friday nights, for instance. At least one college, Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, is holding some classes between midnight and 2:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama has made community colleges the centerpiece of his goal for every American to have at least some higher education credential by 2020, and earlier this year proposed spending $12 billion over the next decade to help community colleges graduate an additional 5 million people.

The House responded last month by passing a student aid bill that included about $10 billion in initiatives directly focused on community colleges. The Senate has not yet taken up the proposal.

Copyright 2009 AP/The Loop

Going Green: Even the Military is Doing It?

By David Hutton

BENICIA, Calif. (AP/UTC-TheLoop) — A fleet of old, rotting warships shedding toxic paint into the water near San Francisco Bay will be cleaned up and recycled under a new plan announced by federal officials Thursday.

Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari said the government has already awarded contracts to dispose of two World War II-era cargo ships from the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet.

The group of more than 70 mostly obsolete vessels in Suisun Bay has been at the center of a nearly three-year deadlock between state water regulators and the federal government, which manages the fleet.

Porcari said the ships will be cleaned in dry-dock — not in the bay — alleviating state officials’ concerns about additional water pollution.

“This is definitely big,” said Bruce Wolfe, executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. “This is the start.”

A congressional order set a 2006 deadline to scrap more than 50 ships in the fleet, but a regulatory quagmire has kept them in place.

A lack of disposal operations on the West Coast means the ships must be towed to Texas to be broken apart. Under federal law, the ships must be cleaned of invasive species clinging to their hulls before they can enter the ocean.

California officials fought a Bush administration plan to clean the ships where they were anchored, arguing that the process would cause paint laden with heavy metals to flake off into the bay. They also filed suit against the federal government claiming the paint flaking off the ships as they idle put the fleet in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

Putting the ships in dry-dock in San Francisco lifts worries about the cleanup causing further pollution, Wolfe said. But he said the state would continue to press its suit until a settlement or court order puts legal force behind the government’s commitment to get rid of all ships awaiting disposal.

Of the 57 ships slated for the scrap heap, Porcari said the 25 most decrepit vessels would be disposed first. The process would take several years owing to the limited space in dry-dock facilities, he said.

When steel prices were high, recyclers would pay for the rights to dispose of the ships in exchange for the steel they contain. In today’s economy, the government is paying more than $2 million to a Brownsville, Texas, company to dismantle them.

The dry-docking will cost the government another $500,000 per ship.

“It is worth it in environmental terms to do it the right way,” Porcari said.

The country’s three major reserve fleets, including one in Beaumont, Texas, and another near Newport News, Va., were once maintained to return to active duty in case of war or disaster. Over time, many ships fell into disrepair and became a financial and environmental burden.

In Suisun Bay, the aging hulks tied together in rows have become a landmark visible from a heavily traveled commuter bridge. They are known together as the “ghost fleet” or the “mothball fleet.”

The first two ships slated for dry-docking in coming months are the Earlham Victory and the Pan American Victory, built in nearby Richmond in 1945. The Victory ships mainly transported cargo and troops during World War II.

Talks are under way with a nonprofit group to turn the fleet’s best known member, the battleship USS Iowa, into a museum, Porcari said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press/The Loop

Obama to Make Bid for 2016 Olympics in Person

By: David Hutton

WASHINGTON (AP/ The Loop) — President Barack Obama will travel to Denmark to support Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, projecting the highest-ever White House profile in lobbying for the international event.

President Barack Obama is making the trip to

President Barack Obama is making the trip to Copenhagen, Denmark Thursday to appeal in person for the 2016 Summer Games to be hosted in Chicago.

Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, told The Associated Press Monday morning that Obama will leave Thursday and join his wife, Michelle, in Copenhagen, where they’ll make the pitch to the International Olympic Committee. Obama would be the first U.S. president to actually appeal in person to the International Olympic Committee for an Olympics event.

The International Olympic Committee is meeting in Copenhagen to select a host city for the 2016 Summer Games. Chicago faces tough competition from Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo.

The White House later formally announced the trip, saying that Obama and his wife “will both make presentations to the IOC during Friday’s session. They will discuss why Chicago is best to host the 2016 Summer Games, and how the United States is eager to bring the world together to celebrate the ideals of the Olympic movement.”

While in Denmark, the statement said, Obama and his wife also will meet with Queen Margrethe and the president will meet with Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen of Denmark.

Obama, who represented Illinois in the U.S. Senate after serving in the Illinois Legislature, is a longtime supporter of Chicago’s bid. He and Michelle consider it their adopted home town, and he recently sent letters to selected IOC members, promising a “spectacular Olympic experience for one and all.”

“President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama symbolize the hope, opportunity and inspiration that makes Chicago great, and we are honored to have two of our city’s most accomplished residents leading our delegation in Copenhagen,” Mayor Richard M. Daley said in a statement. “Who better to share with members of the International Olympic Committee the commitment and enthusiasm Chicago has for the Olympic and Paralympic Movement than the President and First Lady.”

The president had held off on announcing a trip to Copenhagen, saying his first priority was the ongoing debate in Washington over health care reform. But aides said the president determined that his trip wouldn’t take away from that process. The legislation is a signature piece of his domestic policy agenda and negotiations on Capitol Hill have been contentious.

But with heads of state representing Rio and Madrid already scheduled to attend the IOC meeting Friday, Chicago’s bid organizers had hoped Obama would make an in-person appeal.

“I don’t think there’s an IOC member on the planet that wouldn’t love to meet your president. He’s a transformational figure in the world today,” longtime IOC member Dick Pound said recently.

Obama is also mobilizing his administration on behalf of Chicago’s bid. Senior adviser Jarrett, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, will also be joining the president and first lady in Copenhagen. All are from Illinois.

They join a Chicago contingent already packed with more star power than a Hollywood red carpet. The first lady is one of the few people who rivals her husband in visibility, and she’ll be joined by talk show host Oprah Winfrey, who trails only Angelina Jolie on Forbes’ annual Celebrity 100 list, a ranking of the rich and famous’ most powerful.

Chicago is also bringing 14 Olympic and two Paralympic gold medalists, including Michael Johnson, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Nadia Comaneci and Nastia Liukin.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press

Tennessee Single Cigarette Sellers Warned

By: David Hutton

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/Theloop) — If your a student who smokes changes could be coming in the state of Tennessee that could effect you.  State agencies are warning tobacco retailers to stop selling individual cigarettes that can be as cheap as 25 cents a piece, but pose a health threat to young people.

The state Attorney General’s Office has notified 23 retailers who are allegedly selling single cigarettes that have been removed from the packs, called “loosies.”

Retailers could face penalties up to $1,000 per violation for selling single cigarettes. Because of the low price of single cigarettes, health officials are concerned it may attract young people as an easy, affordable way to start smoking.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Take a break and get involved: Campus Clubs and Organizations

By David Hutton (UTC/The Loop)

If you’re anything like me, your daily grind of waking up, going to class, eating, studying and trying to find something to do to entertain yourself every evening is getting a little old at this point in the semester.  There’s only so much seriousness we can handle at one time.  If you’re looking for a break from the everyday routine, you may want to take a look at campus clubs here at UTC.

UTC has a broad list of clubs and organizations to get involved with on campus.  For those looking to relive the glory days of old as a high school athlete, club sports are for you.  UTC clubs sports provide a wide range of competitive sports opportunities.  Everything from your typical baseball and tennis, to less conventional fencing, paintball and cycling, to outdoor sports like paddling and scuba, UTC has a club to fill nearly any competitive desire you may have.

Not an athlete?  That’s all right.  UTC also offers many other departmental, special interest, and service clubs.

Whether you’re that super ambitious business major looking for a business fraternity or a service minded individual looking to get involved in the community through philanthropy, or simply a gamer looking to connect with others, UTC has a club for you.

Campus clubs and club sports can be a great social outlet for students.  Clubs “offer a chance to be a part of a special team you otherwise would not have to chance to experience,” said UTC Cycling Club Captain Stephanie Rynas.

“Club Sports are also a great way to meet people with the same interests as you. Not to mention, they are run by students, allowing more freedom than a varsity team or a faculty run program” said Rynas.  All this goes to show that club sports can be a beneficial experience for students on campus regardless of interests

“They are a network of people that will become a social and support group for that college student,” said Director of Campus Relations Ron Nelson when asked what benefit he saw in club involvement for students.  As a student who has been involved in both club sports and special interest clubs throughout my seemingly endless college career, I stand by the fact that clubs are good social outlet and a great opportunity to make new friends and have fun.

There are 15 active club sports serving over 400 students and over 70 clubs for students looking to get involved in special interest groups, student government organizations, or educational departments.  So if you’re looking to get involved there is a club for almost any interest you may have.  Students interested in starting their own club sport or campus club can contact the Coordinator of Club Sports, Rob Espeseth or the Director of Campus Recreation Ron Nelson for further information on how to get your club off the ground.

More information and a list of University clubs and organizations can be found at the Campus Recreation webpage or the Chattanooga Student Organizations webpage.  University Clubs are open to all UTC students, faculty and staff with a valid Mocs card.

So if you are looking for a competitive, beneficial, or enjoyable way to get involved on campus or just simply looking something to do check out the clubs offered here at UTC.  Be active, get involved, and above all have fun.

Tennessee Industrial Megasite Put on Hold in West Tennessee

By:David Hutton

Tennessee (TheLoop/AP)-  State officials decided Thursday to delay the acquisition of $40 million worth of land for an industrial megasite in West Tennessee because they want a more detailed account of which specific land would be bought.

The State Building Commission sent the proposal to an executive subcommittee that can still act on it with enough time to complete the deal before options on more than 8 square miles of Haywood County land expire on Oct. 31.

Republican members of the panel who raised concerns over the lack of detail said the move shouldn’t be interpreted as lack of support for the project.

“I’m all for this, 100 percent for this,” said Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville. “We just want to make sure all the I’s are dotted, and the T’s crossed.”

Highlights of the project include:

  • 1,700-acre site hopefully attracting investors similar to that of Volkwagen AG in Chattanooga and Hemlock Semiconductor Corp. plant under construction in Clarkesville
  • $30 million in federal stimulus money to build a 20-acre solar power generation plant on the site is awaiting approval.
  • The state has options on 3,600 acres beyond the 1,700 acres designated as the core of the site.

Mark Drury, Assistant Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development said acquiring the land and developing its infrastructure will make the site “shovel ready” and more attractive to potential investors.

Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz said officials will work to finalize the exact boundaries of the megasite for the panel.

House Speaker Kent Williams expressed surprise that incorporation papers for the Haywood megasite authority weren’t filed with the secretary of state’s office until the day before Thursday’s meeting.

The megasite is “a project we desperately need to create jobs, and I don’t understand why this wasn’t set up some time back,” said Williams, R-Elizabethton.

Williams urged the commission and administration officials to work quickly so “we’re not jeopardizing, or losing these options in any way.”

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press

Cash for Clunkers Deadline Extended

By:  David Hutton

WASHINGTON (theloop/AP)-  If your one of the many looking to get a chunk of cash for your beat up car before the end of the government’s Cash for Clunkers incentives, you have hope!  Car dealers have been granted a few more hours to get reimbursed for their Cash for Clunkers deals after the Government extended the filing deadline for dealerships into Tuesday evening

The original deadline that was set for Monday evening was delayed to Tuesday after the governments computer filing system crashed due to a surge in file submissions.  This computer glitch raised concern among dealers that they would not receive the $3,500 or $4,500 per vehicle incentives.  This concern forced the deadline to be moved to Tuesday evening.

Tuesday morning over 655,000 vouches worth $2.77 billion had been submitted by dealer, many of which have been working some employees overnight in order to meet the governments established deadline.  Before the deadline Tuesday the Department of Transportation had processed more than $150,000 reimbursement applications and had only issued $140 million in payments to dealers which totals only 30 percent of all applications received.

Copyright 2009 AP