Hitch-hiking robot survives trip across Canada

hitchBot sitting on the shoulder of Highway 102 during its 6,000 km cross country journey.

The talking robot, hitchBot  that set out to travel across Canada one hitchhike at a time has completed its journey last Saturday (Aug 16).

HitchBot , assembled from household odds and ends, is part of a social experiment to see if humans trust robots.

Tracked by GPS, he was left by the side of the road near Halifax airport, by his co-creators Dr David Smith from McMaster University and Dr Frauke Zeller from Ryerson University and he was offered his first ride moments later and thus began his epic journey across Canada, reported Canadian media outlet, The Star.

Throughout the 6,000 km travelled, hitchBot relied only on the kindness of strangers to complete the journey which eventually ended in Victoria, in the Western part of Canada.

"Our aim is to further discussion in society about our relationship with technology and robots, and notions of safety and trust," said Dr Zeller

She said: "It cannot achieve its task of hitchhiking across Canada without the help of people, because it cannot move by itself."

Judging from the pictures being shared online, hitchBot has shown that not only can robots can trust humans but they can also be fast friends.






How is he going to celebrate completing the journey?

By thanking all of "hosting" an event to thank his fans on Thursday (Aug 21).

Congratulations,​ hitchBot.

Source: AFP, The Star

Tags: Canada and Hitchbot

Reporter mocked on Twitter for mistaking earplugs for rubber bullets

A Huffington Post reporter mistook earplugs for rubber bullets and was roundly mocked on Twitter.
A Huffington Post reporter mistook earplugs for rubber bullets and was roundly mocked on Twitter.

Sometimes, using Twitter to check your facts may not be the best idea.

Huffington Post reporter Ryan J Reilly did just that.

Amid the racial tension in Ferguson, Missouri where a black unarmed teen was shot six times, Reilly very quickly became one of the reporters to follow on Twitter for the latest updates.

He was arrested by policeman, along with a Washington Post reporter, while reporting on the protests, that have since turned violent.

There have been reports on the police firing rubber bullets and tear gas as part of unsuccessful attempts to diffuse the situation.

Well, Reilly thought that he came across some of those rubber bullets.

He found out the hard way that they were actually ear plugs.



He got what he asked for. People quickly confirmed that they were not rubber bullets. But Reilly got more than he asked for when people started mocking him using the #cananyoneconfirm hashtag. Oops.






Source: News.com.au

Iceland evacuates population near volcano ahead of possible eruption

Seismic activity has been detected at Bardarbunga, including a strong earthquake.

The National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police (NCIP) announced on Tuesday that the authorities were evacuating the north of Vatnajokull to prepare against a possible eruption at Bardarbunga volcano in southeast Iceland.

The NCIP said in a statement that it has raised the Civil Protection level to Alert Phase as all roads leading into the area were closed, and the authorities in Husavik and Seydisfjordur were evacuating the area north of Vatnajokull.

A surveillance plane of the Icelandic Coast Guard has been ordered to monitor the volcano’s situation.

This decision was a safety measure, said the statement, adding the seismic activity in Bardarbunga might lead to a volcanic eruption.

Bardarbunga volcano, located under the 800m-thick Vatnajokull glacier, is 225km northeast from Reykjavik, capital of Iceland. Bardarbunga is Iceland’s second highest mountain at 2,000m above sea level.



Since the onset of the earthquake swarm at Bardarbunga on Saturday morning, about 2,600 earthquakes have been detected by the earthquake monitoring network of the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO).

IMO has raised the danger level from yellow to orange, which indicates the volcano showed heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption.

If the volcano erupts, a major flood fed by melting ice from the glacier could be expected to the north, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service reported.

There have been 48 eruptions in Iceland in last 100 years. The latest huge eruption happened in 2010, when the ash emission from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano forced an air travel disruption in Europe. - Xinhua



Harry Potter's Rupert Grint joins stellar cast in Broadway play

Rupert Grint attends the "It's Only A Play" Cast Photocall at Joe Allen Restaurant on August 19, 2014 in New York City.
Rupert Grint attends the "It's Only A Play" cast photocall at Joe Allen Restaurant on Aug 19 in New York City.

British actor Rupert Grint, best known as wizard Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter film franchise, makes his Broadway debut as a young, wunderkind director alongside a stellar ensemble cast in the show business comedy, It's Only a Play.

The play, which begins previews on Aug 28 and opens for a limited run on Oct 9, sports a notable cast headed by Tony winners Nathan Lane (The Producers), Matthew Broderick (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying) and Stockard Channing (A Day in the Life of Joe Egg).

F. Murray Abraham, who picked up a best actor Oscar for Amadeus, plays an infamous drama critic named Ira Drew and Emmy winner Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) is Broadway producer Julia Budder.

"It's hard not to be overwhelmed when we're rehearsing," Grint, 25, said about his cast mates. "It's quite exhausting trying to keep up with them."

(L-R) Nathan Lane, Micah Stock, Stockard Channing, F. Murray Abraham, Megan Mullally, Rupert Grint and Matthew Broderick are the cast of the new play, It's Only A Play Photo: AFP

The fly-on-the-wall comedy is set at an opening night party of a new play, The Golden Egg, as its director Frank Finger (Grint) and the playwright, cast, producer and friends await reviews to see if it's a hit.

"He's a very complicated, deeply troubled man. So it's something I've always wanted to try," said Grint, who admitted it was scary leaving the bumbling Ron Weasley character he portrayed in the Harry Potter films for so long.

Multiple Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally (Ragtime, Master Class) did a substantial rewrite of the 1986 play, inserting contemporary references to update it.

McNally said he has been working on "It's Only a Play" all of his life and it has had many manifestations. He got the idea for the comedy on the opening night of another play that starred Abraham.

"This is the right group to do this play at this time," he said. - Reuters

Arsenal’s Europe hopes survive in Istanbul cauldron

Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, with his coach Arsene Wenger in the foreground, leaves the field after receiving a red card during the first leg of their Champions League qualifying soccer match against Besiktas at Ataturk Olympic stadium in Istanbul Aug 19, 2014
Arsenal's Aaron Ramsey, with his coach Arsene Wenger in the foreground, leaves the field after receiving a red card during the first leg of their Champions League qualifying soccer match against Besiktas at Ataturk Olympic stadium in Istanbul Aug 19, 2014.

Arsenal on Tuesday survived the test of a raucous Istanbul crowd and a hugely-energised Besiktas side to leave Turkey with a goalless draw and their hopes intact of advancing to the Champions League group stage.

In the first leg of the Champions League play-off, Arsenal failed to score the all-important away goal but will be relieved to have escaped from Istanbul with a 0-0 scoreline and still every hope they will qualify in the home leg.

However, the only sour note was they ended the match with 10 men as key Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey was sent off 10 minutes from time.

The prospect of entry into the lucrative group stages of the Champions League dynamised Besiktas, who came third in the Turkish league last season under Croatian manager Slaven Bilic.

Helped by the noisy, partisan home crowd, Besiktas caused the London side trouble from the start with new signing Demba Ba a potent threat.

Failure not an option for Wenger

Everything was at stake for Arsenal who came into the game with a 100 percent record in Champions League play-offs, having played 12 and won 12.

For manager Arsene Wenger, failing to make the lucrative group stage of Europe’s elite club competition for a 17th consecutive campaign would be nothing short of a disaster.

Wenger had said he was tempted to field German World Cup-winning trio Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski for the first time this season given the potential difficulty of the tie but in the end opted to leave them out.

The home side had no problem creating chances but failed to land the clinical blow in front of goal that could have left Arsenal’s early season in tatters.

Match report

Arsenal appeared caught off their guard by a bright start by the hosts with goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny’s defence tested repeatedly in the first minutes and Besiktas enjoyed much the best of the first 45 minutes.

The quicksilver Senegalese Ba (below), Besiktas’s flagship summer signing from Chelsea, went close in the ninth minute with a volley that forced a fine save from Szczesny.

But Arsenal sought to keep Beskitas in check by holding possession and taking the sting out of the crowd’s malice.

Yet Besiktas kept looking to find holes in the Arsenal defence with Veli Kavlak forcing another save from Szczesny on the half hour.

A lively end to the second half saw Ramsey test Tolga Zengin in the Besiktas goal while Ba sent a fine chance wide.

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere (R) vies with Besiktas' Necip Uysal (L) during the UEFA Champions League play-off first leg football match Besiktas vs Arsenal at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, on Aug 19.

Arsenal's Jack Wilshere (R) vies with Besiktas' Necip Uysal (L). Photo: AFP

Besiktas began the second half with the same aggressive approach and a brilliant run by Olcay Sahan into open space ended with him curling his shot wide to cries of disbelief from the increasingly impatient crowd.

But in a testy second half that lacked the sparkle of the first, Arsenal could also make no headway past the solid Besiktas defence and the Istanbul side scrambled to thwart English attacks before heading out on the break.

In a frantic final few minutes as Besiktas clearly tired, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain hit the post for Arsenal and goalkeeper Zengin was lucky the ball did not rebound off him into the net. - AFP

Pharrell's hat will be on display at a museum

Pharrell Williams' infamous hat will be displayed at a museum in Washington DC.
Pharrell Williams' infamous hat will be displayed at a museum in Washington DC.

Never underestimate a hideous hat.

First Pharrell William's hat stole the show at the Grammy's. In fact, it even prompted the creation of its own Twitter account that has more than 20,000 followers.

Then it was sold to fast-food chain Arby's for $40,000.

And now it will be on its way to a museum in Washington DC.

Starting on Aug 22, the hat, which was designed by Vivienne Westwood, will be on display at the Newseum.

Right after the Grammy's, Arby's, whose logo is similar to Pharrell's hat, had a hilarious Twitter exchange with Pharrell that went viral and quickly because an online sensation.

"(The exchange) was a remarkable moment in pop-culture this year," said Chris Fuller, the vice president of brand and corporate communications at Arby's Restaurant Group.

So the hat will be loaned to Newseum for a short-term exhibit as it resembles the impact of social media on a news story.

Maybe our hideous (yet adorable) fashion choices will land us at the museum too.

Report: Huffington Post

Michael Jackson, the crocodile, shot dead after killing fisherman

A 57-year-old man had a fatal encounter with a salt water crocodile named after the legendary singer Michael Jackson.
A 57-year-old man had a fatal encounter with a salt water crocodile named after the pop icon Michael Jackson.

While trying to free his fishing line, a 57-year-old man had a fatal encounter with a salt water crocodile named after pop icon M​ichael Jackson. 

The 4.6m c​rocodile savaged the fisherman to death in front of his wife at a river in Australia's Northern Territory, reported The Mirror.

The fisherman's wife was not looking at her husband but turned around when she heard his screams.

The enormous reptile dragged the victim underwater.

Australian authorities hunted and shot the crocodile after the victim's wife informed them of the incident. The fisherman was found later that night.

The crocodile was named after the late King of Pop by boat guides on the Adelaide River as it was half-albino.

Rob Marchard, who runs Jumping Croc cruises said, “Michael Jackson was one in a million."

He told the ABC News Australia on Tuesday that the crocodile had been in the river for years and that recently, the crocodiles have been fighting a lot to claim position and are preparing to breed.

"They know how to do three major things – eat, reproduce and aggression. If you don’t look after yourself, you find yourself eaten.”

Crocodiles was often made to leap from the water for chicken that was dangled from boats during tours. 

The Adelaide River is well known for its Jumping Croc tours, where boats travel the river and crocodiles jump for meat attached to hooks. Photo: Adelaide River Cruises

Mr Marchand said in no way did it make them more aggressive.

He said, “I’m sure crocs knew how to eat people before we came along.”

There have been three fatal attacks so far this year in Australia.

Adam Britton, a reptile expert at Charles Darwin University, said, “They acted appropriately to shoot him, but it’s a real shame they had to do it.

"He was a well-known, well-loved crocodile.”

Source: Mirror, ABC News Australia

Belgian diplomat arrested after allegedly tearing full-face veil off Qatari princess

Jean-Marie Pire, chief of protocol for the city of Brussels, is accused of tearing a full face veil of a woman.

Belgian diplomat Jean-Marie Pire was arrested for allegedly tearing the full-face veil off a Qatari princess.

The princess, accompanied by two other women, had approached Pire asking for directions to the Grand Palace, a tourist attraction located in Brussels, Belgium, reported the Daily Mail.

Instead of helping out the lost tourists, he told her that he does not talk to anyone if he cannot see their faces. 

"I wanted to make it clear that the veil is banned in Belgium," he said

"Because the person asking me a question didn’t seem to hear me, I lifted her veil. I know I shouldn’t have done that, but what she did wasn’t legal either!’ He continued.

Witnesses claimed that Pire was drunk at that the time of the incident, something which he has denied.

The unnamed woman has made an official complaint to prosecutors in Brussels.

She said she suffered cuts and bruises after her earrings were violently dislodged, along with her veil.

While Pire may be charge with assault, the woman herself is facing a possible fine of £115 (S$238) and up to seven days in prison for wearing the veil in public.

Belgium was the second European after France to ban the wearing of a full-face veil in public in 2011.

Source: Daily Mail, BBC

Tags: Belgium and diplomat

Former CEO Steve Ballmer leaves Microsoft

Former Microsoft chief Steven Ballmer on Aug 19 said he is stepping down as a member of the software giant's board of directors.

Former Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, the new owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, has left the software company’s board in order to spend more time on his new project.

“I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time,” said Ballmer in a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made public by Microsoft on Tuesday.

“The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately,” he wrote.

Ballmer’s exit from the board is not surprising after 12 months of change at the head of the 39-year old software giant.

A year ago this week Ballmer surprised investors with his plan to retire from Microsoft, amid discontent at his leadership fuelled by activist shareholder ValueAct Capital.

That caused five months of uncertainty at the top of Microsoft until Feb. 4, when veteran insider Nadella was appointed CEO and co-founder Bill Gates stepped down as chairman.

As Gates sells shares to fund his philanthropy, Ballmer has become the biggest individual shareholder in Microsoft, owning a 4 percent stake worth about $15 billion. “I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock,” Ballmer said in his letter to Nadella.“I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future.”

Microsoft shares were up 25 cents at $45.08 on Nasdaq. - Reuters

Lady Gaga to marry boyfriend Taylor Kinney in romantic wedding in space?

Lady Gaga and actor boyfriend Taylor Kinney are planning on getting married next year in out of space.
Lady Gaga and actor boyfriend Taylor Kinney are planning on getting married next year in out of space.

Trust the flamboyant Lady Gaga to want to do something out of this earth for her wedding.

The 28-year-old Grammy award winner is planning to get married in space. 

Lady Gaga and actor boyfriend Taylor Kinney, who have been together since 2011, are set to become the first people to get the opportunity to fly on Richard Branson's Galatic flight early next year.

The electric singer was asked to be the first performer to perform in space. And to make full use of that unique experience, she's thinking of getting married while up in the air.

"Gaga and Taylor want to make a pledge for life, and think the space flight is too big an opportunity to pass up," a source told the Daily Star newspaper.

"It would be typical of her to have the least conventional wedding ever. Of course it would be a simulated-style marriage as there wouldn't be a priest or religious figure there. But they don't care about convention, it's more about making each other a life-long promise."      

Photo: Lady Gaga/Twitter

Passengers who wish to be on board as well have to pay US$250,000 (S$312,000) per seat on the Galatic flight. Because she's performing, she gets to be on the flight for free, which means she'll have plenty of dough left to get an out-of-the-world dress (pun intended).

"Performing in space is such an honour. I want to challenge myself to come up with something that will not only bring everyone together but will also have a message of love that blasts into the beyond,” she said.

For someone with such a unique sense of style, she sure does go back to basics with love.

We can also expect to see actors Brad Pitt, 50, Angelina Jolie, 39, and Ashton Kutcher, 36 on board this epic flight.

Source: Mirror, Daily Star