Techie bobsledder wins gold

WHISTLER, B.C.--Leading at the midway point of the four-man bobsled competition, the Night Train sled piloted by Steven Holcomb is aiming to help the United States break a 62-year-old streak without a gold medal in bobsled.

Holcomb and his teammates turned in track record times in both runs on Friday, giving the team a 0.4-second lead over Canada and a 0.44-second lead over a tough German team, piloted by Andre Lange, who is trying to become the first man to twice win the two-man and four-man events at the same Olympics.

As a world champion, Holcomb … Read more

Olympic notebook: Canon, Nikon get in the picture

WHISTLER, B.C.--With snow backdrops and with subjects moving at upwards of 80 miles an hour, Canon figured that the Olympic would be a perfect testing ground for one of its new lenses.

The lens, an updated version of its 70-200mm L-series lens, is slated to ship in a few weeks. But Canon made about 300 just for the games to get some feedback and make any last minute tweaks, if necessary.

Both Canon and rival Nikon are at the Games, helping photographers with demo lenses and cameras.

I took advantage of that, borrowing a lens from Canon to … Read more

Geek bobsledder leads after day 1

WHISTLER, B.C.--American bobsled pilot Steven Holcomb, a master of sport and computers, put his four-man bobsled in strong position to win gold in Vancouver.

After two of four runs, Holcomb's USA-1 team leads by 0.4 seconds over Canada-1 and 0.44 seconds over bobsled legend Andre Lange, who is trying to be the first man to twice win the two-man and four-man events at the same Olympics.

Holcomb, who is a computer science major and Microsoft Certified Professional, has the U.S. two runs away from ending a 62-year gold medal drought in bobsled.

After the … Read more

Olympic notebook: Microsoft exec avoids the penalty box

VANCOUVER--Microsoft Business Division President Stephen Elop looked up as he delivered a presentation to his top managers on Microsoft's campus on Wednesday.

As Elop had been speaking, one of those managers, Kirill Tatarinov, had groaned several times.

"Was it something I said," Elop asked Tatarinov, who runs a division that creates business software for midsize companies.

Sheepishly, Tatarinov confessed that he had been watching the Russia-Canada Olympic hockey game. If Tatarinov worked for some other bosses at Microsoft, that could have been what is known in Redmond as a "career limiting move." Luckily, Tatarinov works … Read more

Can IT guy deliver bobsled gold?

VANCOUVER, British Columbia--It's been 62 years since the United States claimed a gold medal in bobsled.

And this year, our best hope is piloted by a computer geek who trains by playing video games.

So our chances are pretty good. That's because, in addition to being a Microsoft Certified Professional and admitted PC nerd, Stephen Holcomb is also the reigning world champion in the four-man bobsled.

Plus, he's got this crazy "Holcy dance" that one just has to see to believe.

Holcomb hopes to dance his way on to the medal podium by the time … Read more

Olympic notebook: 'Snow Leopard' spotted in Vancouver

VANCOUVER, B.C.--There's been a lot of attention in Vancouver about a certain Snow Leopard, but this one comes from a lot farther away than Cupertino, Calif.

Ghanan skier Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong, who happens to have the same nickname as Mac OS X 10.6, has won attention as the only representative from the African nation at these Winter Games. The Snow Leopard is slated to race on Saturday in the men's slalom race at Whistler.

Part of his nickname comes from the fact that he supports the Snow Leopard Trust, an organization devoted to protecting the endangered … Read more

The Olympics run on Windows (XP)

VANCOUVER, British Columbia--The good news for Microsoft is that all the PCs powering the Olympics are running Windows. The bad news: it's the older Windows XP operating system.

Windows 7, it seems, was a bit too new to be used, while Windows Vista was, well, Windows Vista. So, instead, all the PCs are running an operating system that was first released before the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City.

Representatives for Acer confirmed that the more than 6,000 notebooks and desktops that they delivered to Olympic organizers were all running Windows XP.

"It was the operating system … Read more

Olympic notebook: A kid's first hockey game

VANCOUVER, B.C.--A child's first hockey game is a right of passage in Canada.

And Thomas Challis, 5, of Coquitlam, got an exceptionally good introduction to big-time hockey, landing the chance to go with his dad to Tuesday's match-up between Switzerland and Belarus.

Thomas' dad, Roger, patiently explained some of the game's finer points, such as the difference between linemen and referees (referees call penalties, while linesmen generally do not) and why regular players have hard shin pads and goalies have big soft pads (goalies don't want to give up big rebounds that can lead … Read more

Olympic notebook: Photo finishes from Vancouver

VANCOUVER, B.C.--The advantage of being Omega, in addition to the branding benefit of being the official timekeeper, is you also get access to some really cool photos from the Olympic finish line.

And this year, Omega has an even more powerful 2,000-frame-per-second camera to capture those close calls. The folks at Omega were nice enough to share some of the photos from the first week of the games, which I've put into a photo gallery.

The shots include Seth Wescott narrowly winning the gold medal in snowboard cross and Apolo Anton Ohno edging out Canadian Charles … Read more

The 404 Podcast 523: Where Canada has enough gold medals

The U.S. men's hockey team still has a long way to go before they reach Olympic gold in Vancouver, but last night's 5-3 victory over Canada takes them a step closer to their goal. In other words, Jeff has never been more proud to be an American hockey fan, and be sure to catch today's Calls From The Public to hear me attempt to define a power play in less than 10,000 words. And in unrelated news, if you thought our studio was overrun with equipment before, wait until you see what Wilson did to it over the weekend!

Today's episode of The 404 Podcast needs a youthful street team, since they can apparently be bought with string cheese and fizzy drinks. In the United Kingdom, large corporations including the makers of Fanta and Cheesestrings are hiring "brand ambassadors" to evangelize their products on popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Bebo. The job comes with a pretty decent wage, as well, with many pre-adolescents getting paid in money-off vouchers worth ~$40 per week in addition to free samples of said products.

Next up we've got another story about kids, this one coming from a school in Philadelphia that spied on students using their own Web cams and remote software pre-installed on loaner laptops. The students became suspicious of this breach in privacy after an administrator confronted a kid about his "improper behavior in the home," and even showed him a picture taken using his MacBook Web cam. Other students have also corroborated this story, telling reporters at Gizmodo that they would notice the camera light on their MacBooks turning on at home, which the school district claimed was "just a glitch." Tune in to hear the full story in all its shady glory.

If you've ever struggled with acne,a new iPhone app called AcneApp promises to "zap wrinkles and acne" away while you chat on your smartphone. Dr. Greg Pearson from Houston, TX claims that the app uses 420 nanometer blue light and 550 nanometer red light to kill bacteria and promote collagen growth to eliminate wrinkles and unslightly pimples on the face. Understandably, some dermatologists are skeptic about AcneApp, citing third party studies that show the red and blue lights require several dozen treatments throughout the day before seeing actual results. In other words, it'll be awhile before we start to see people other than Wilson rubbing up on their iPhones, so don't go out and waste your $1.99 on this app just yet.

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