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December 5th, 2014
06:05 AM ET

A mission close to Yao Ming's heart

It’s no secret that Yao Ming is tall, but in person – he’s larger than life.

And it’s not just his height that’s impressive. He has one of the biggest hearts of anyone around.

Between his professional basketball career – to launching his own wine label – Yao Ming’s interests have run the gamut.

But he’ll tell you, working to save endangered animals is especially meaningful to him.

“I feel they have a personality – just like us,” Yao said of the rhinos and elephants he met during a trip to Africa two years ago. “Some are very funny. Some are very shy. They have a good memory too – and know the people who treat them very well.”

FULL POST

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Filed under: China
November 26th, 2014
09:55 AM ET

‘Bean’ me up, Scotty!

2014-09-29 14.42.07A jolt of energy has just hit the International Space Station.

In days that can feel like endless nights, what’s more welcoming than a burst of caffeine?

But with Italy’s first female astronaut now on board, regular old space coffee just won’t do.

Samantha Cristoforetti brought with her the very first zero-gravity espresso machine.

Designed by Italian coffee maker Lavazza and engineering firm Argotec – ISSpresso (International Space Station combined with espresso) can withstand the extreme conditions of space. FULL POST

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Filed under: General • Science • Space
November 20th, 2014
02:29 PM ET

Act like a spy to protect your digital privacy

In today’s social media driven world, people’s entire lives are often stored on their smartphones. Email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, your photo roll, calendar and notes all provide clues to your location, contacts and personal details. It’s a veritable buffet for identity thieves.

Wickr CEO Nico Sell says, “I’ve been lucky enough to be educated by the very best hackers in the world.”

That’s how she learned how easy it is for people to tap into your mobile phone, eavesdrop on your calls and read your text messages.

Concerned about her own digital footprint and the security of her children, Sell created Wickr – a peer-to-peer encryption app. FULL POST

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Filed under: Cyber • Data • Technology
November 13th, 2014
05:25 PM ET

Bringing Comet67P down to Earth

The European Space Agency's successful landing on a speeding comet is captivating the world.

Now the Philae probe is sending back images of its new home on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

But it can be hard to wrap one’s mind around the scale of things in space.

So the ESA made some images showing the comet over cities in Europe.

ESA Attempts To Land Probe On Comet

This one places it in Paris. Spanning 4.1 kilometers, the comet would roughly cover a distance from the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre.

That got Team News Stream wondering... what would it look like here in Hong Kong? FULL POST

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Filed under: Great graphics • Space
November 9th, 2014
08:44 AM ET

Using art to save the Asian elephant

Call it the elephant in the room. It may be a cliché, but the fact that elephant populations are dwindling around the world is a growing problem that can’t be ignored.

Africa has seen its elephant population decline from 1.3 million several decades ago to an estimated 419,000 now. Poaching still goes unchecked in some parts of the continent.

The Environmental Investigation Agency’s latest report says the situation is especially grim in Tanzania.

Tanzania lost 10,000 elephants to poaching last year alone – more than any other country in Africa.

And the EIA makes damning allegations about China, the world's largest ivory market. It links some smuggling to Chinese officials who have accompanied the president to Africa. Beijing has denied the claims.

But it’s not just African elephants facing a perilous future. Their Asian cousins are also in a battle for survival. FULL POST

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Filed under: Art & Science • China • General
October 2nd, 2014
03:25 PM ET

Is Hong Kong playing chicken with China?

Hong Kong is in a standoff with Beijing. It’s a fight ostensibly about universal suffrage. But in some ways, it’s also a litmus test for financial freedoms under President Xi Jinping.

Right now, Hong Kong is governed by a “one country, two systems” charter mandating that until the year 2047, the territory will remain a capitalist economy - with a good deal of political autonomy.

The tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets this week are banking on Hong Kong’s financial leverage over the world’s second largest economy. But the unspoken worry is that Hong Kong just isn’t as important to China as it used to be.

FULL POST

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Filed under: China
September 26th, 2014
02:19 PM ET

Life a little less 2D

Forget what you know about conventional printing – and start thinking three-dimensionally.

3D printing – once considered niche – is now becoming more mainstream. UPS, for example, just expanded its 3D printing services to locations across the United States to keep up with demand.

But Bre Pettis and the folks at Stratasys are working to bring 3D printing to your home.

Pettis is the co-founder of Makerbot, the company that pioneered 3D printers for consumers. Now at Makerbot’s parent company, he’s part of an innovation workshop called Bold Machines.

“We’re exploring the frontier of what’s possible,” Pettis says. “Imagine Iron Man’s workshop. We’ve got all the 3D printers in the Stratasys lineup – from Makerbots to wax printers – that make wax 3D models that you can then take into a foundry and make beautiful customized jewelry.”

So how does it work? FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • Movies • Technology • Titans of Tech
June 25th, 2014
12:48 PM ET

Drawing the line between porn and art

After years of pressure, Japan has passed a law banning the possession of child pornography. The move finally brings it in line with the rest of the developed world.

Child rights advocates say it is long overdue. But many say the law doesn’t go far enough, because it excludes sexually explicit depictions of children in anime and manga.

Campaigners say this is a loophole that needs to be closed.

Others worry that censoring drawings and animations could hurt creative industries and violate a constitutional right to free speech.

“When you try to become the ‘thought police’ and tell people what they can draw, what they can write, what they can dream – you go down a very slippery slope,” says Roland Kelts, an author on Japanese pop culture.

Kelts draws a clear line of distinction between actual children used in pornographic scenes and drawings depicting them.

He argues, “No child is exploited when an artist sits down to draw a picture.”

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Filed under: Art & Science
March 26th, 2013
02:25 PM ET

Yahoo pays a large sum for Summly

Yahoo was already around two years old by the time app developer Nick D'Aloisio was born. Now the Internet giant is paying the teen millions of dollars to acquire his mobile start-up, Summly.

Neither side has released details of the deal. But we do know the 17-year-old will go to work for Yahoo... while still doing homework.

D'Aloisio tells News Stream, "I’ll be focusing on other projects on the side as well as finishing my A-level exams. But I’m really going to be focusing on integrating summarization technology at the heart of Yahoo’s mobile solution. These summaries that we provide make it a lot easier for users to consume content and information when they’re on their mobile screen. So it’s really exciting to be working with Yahoo and Marissa Mayer on this."

But this deal is notable for much more than D'Aloisio's age. It tells us that Yahoo's Marissa Mayer is interested in making Yahoo relevant for the mobile space.

A string of CEOs before her have tried and failed to figure out what Yahoo does. Mayer has made many internal changes since taking the helm. But her broader vision for the company still remains to be seen.

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Filed under: Technology
March 14th, 2013
01:47 PM ET

Pressing issues for President Xi

You can officially call him "Mister President" now.

Xi Jinping has taken the title from Hu Jintao, completing the country's leadership transition. It comes four months after Xi became General Secretary of the Communist Party.

Political commentator and columnist Frank Ching says, "I think Xi Jinping knows that the main problems of China are domestic. When he first became the party leader back in November, he came out and met the international press. He gave a speech and said not a word about foreign policy. It was all domestic. So I think that's where the emphasis is going to be."

The question is where to start.

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Filed under: China
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