Electrolux Design Lab Final opened up for Peoples’ Choice vote

The grand final of this year’s Electrolux Design Lab 2011 competition is fast approaching. The field has been reduced to the last eight solutions for compact living and video presentations of the concept designs produced.

The young designers will get their chance to pitch for victory in front of the judges on September 7 in London, but before that Electrolux has opened up the ballot box for the People’s Choice – a chance to reward your favorite design with some of the limelight…

This year’s finalists will present their design to the Design Lab’s panel of judges at the Business Design Centre, London on September 7. Entries will be judged on intuitive design, innovation and consumer insight. The winner will receive Euros 5,000 and get to spend six months as a paid intern at one of the company’s global design centers. Runners up will walk away with Euros 3,000 and Euros 2,000 for second and third place respectively. One of the final eight will also be crowned the public’s favorite with the People’s Choice Award.

Check out who you feel is most deserving, have a look at the concept presentation videos. And to vote for your People’s Choice champion, head over to the poll page on Facebook before 14:00 CET, September 7.

Pepsi drank the KoolAid

Click on the Frito-Lay graphic to see the advert

The advertising executives behind Doritos and Pepsi Max have been trying to create buzz with their “Crash the Super Bowl” contest, in which user-submitted ads for each product would compete via public vote to be shown during the big game, with potential prizes up to a million dollars for the winners.

Unfortunately, the Pepsi products’ competition has fallen under the public eye for the wrong reason — one of the candidate ads offended Catholics.

The ad, entitled “Feed the Flock,” features a priest using Doritos and Pepsi as replacements for the wafer and wine that are normally part of the Eucharist.

Probably better for you than the original tasty bits.

iTunes soon to reach 10 billion song milestone – WINNER

Apple’s iTunes music store will soon reach 10 billion songs sold since its inception in April of 2003, and is marking this accomplishment with a contest rewarding the purchaser of the 10 billionth song a $10,000 iTunes card.

While Apple’s iTunes took nearly three years to reach its first billion, it will soon surpass 10 billion songs sold since the online music service was introduced in 2003…

“iTunes changed the way you buy music, making songs and albums available for download, day or night. Seven years later, we’re about to celebrate our biggest milestone for music, yet — 10 billion songs downloaded,” states Apple’s website.

You can enter at the site without a purchase, BTW.

Apple celebrated 3 billion songs sold in July of 2007 after four years of sales. Thursday’s contest announcement reveals that sales trends since then have greatly increased. iTunes has taken only three years to make its 10 billion song milestone.

In many ways, iTunes has been a core qualitative change in entertainment communications – usually unmentioned by pundits who only focus on hardware and the software running on that hardware.

iTunes functions – for me – as a cloud aggregator, as a media manager for home entertainment and more. I have a dozen or so regular iTunes subscriptions which bring HDTV programs, mostly documentaries and geek programs like Tekzilla into my living room TV set via AppleTV on a weekly basis.

iTunes and the AppleTV serve the same function for programs, documentaries, I download from the Web and import into iTunes to be distributed throughout the house as required. It’s all simple and easy – as it should be. I don’t mind mentioning, as I often have to content providers, if you’re sensible enough to make your content available on iTunes the market for your intellectual wares is broadened and deepened so much more over making consumers search for it through the whole web.

Update WINNER: Louie Sulcer of Woodstock, Georgia. The 10 billionth song downloaded? “Guess Things Happen That Way” by Johnny Cash.

Looking for balloons + online behavior test = $40K prize

The prize is $40,000, and it goes to the first person or group to determine the locations of 10 red balloons that can be anywhere in the continental United States.

The apparent frivolity of the challenge is only on the surface. This is not a game invented by some eccentric Web Midas. The contest, which takes place on Dec. 5, is being sponsored by Darpa, the Pentagon’s research agency.

The goal is to learn more about social behavior in computer networks and how large computer-connected teams use their resources and connections to compete.

There is also an invention being celebrated. Peter Lee, a computer scientist and one of the Darpa directors organizing the contest, said Dec. 5 would be the 40th anniversary of the day when the first four nodes of the Arpanet — the experimental military-sponsored computer network that was the forerunner of today’s Internet — were connected…

Dr. Lee said he was not certain what to expect in the tactics that teams might use to track down the balloons, which will be visible from public roadways for a single day. Some groups are developing software applications. Dr. Lee said he also expected large teams of spotters and even the possibility that some groups might use subterfuge like disseminating false information…

Contestants from anywhere in the world may participate in this contest, he said, and registration will stay open until the contest begins.

I’m game.

UPDATED: A group from MIT won. Why am I not surprised?

Best Drinking Water in the Nation? Macon, Georgia

Good golly, Miss Molly!

Macon’s drinking water has been judged best in the country in an annual contest.

Judges at the annual meeting of the American Water Works
Association in San Diego gave the honor to Macon this week in a
competition that’s similar to wine tasting.

Macon qualified for the national competition by winning top
honors in Georgia during last summer’s competition. The city’s
water authority sent water samples to San Diego for judging.

The water is regular county water judged at room temperature.

Lakeway, S.C., finished second and Silverdale, Wash., was third.

Some stories are as exciting as watching paint dry. You’re welcome. Since I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Macon, the story interested me.

They did talk about other things as well:
Climate change threatens water supplies

You can click the pic of Little Richard to hear him sing the classic.

Please – anything but the God particle!

To mark the 80th birthday of the man behind the elusive particle, we’re holding a competition to rename the damned thing

I once asked a brilliant physicist at Manchester University what he thought of the name the media use for the Higgs boson, the mysterious particle that is regarded as the universal origin of mass. That name, of course, is the God particle.

It is partly with thanks to names like “God particle” and spurious end-of-the-world scenarios that the Large Hadron Collider at Cern near Geneva got so much coverage when it was switched on last year. And broke…

But back to the physicist in Manchester. He paused. He sighed. And then he said: “I really, really don’t like it. It sends out all the wrong messages. It overstates the case. It makes us look arrogant. It’s rubbish.” He then added: “If you walked down the corridor here, poked your head into people’s offices and asked that question, you would likely be struck by flying books…”

Below I’ve set out the best criteria I can find for how to come up with a good name for a new particle. Depending on the number of entries, we’ll select the winner by: consulting physicists; testing the entries on the humanities graduates who run the Guardian’s newsdesk, aka “The Gate Keepers”; or by printing them out on a sheet of paper and asking the chef to throw a dart at it*.

The winner will receive a copy of Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara, and a surprise Higgs boson-themed gift.

Three simple rules:

1) Names should be serious and accurate
2) It is good to name things after people, but only if you can resist the pressure to hyphenate with two or three extra names
3) Names should be evocative and inspiring.

The closing date is midnight Monday 1st June 2009

Post your suggested name in the Comments at the original article.

$10 million X-prize offered – to transform U.S. healthcare


Organizers of the X Prize, who have set up contests for space travel, DNA research and super-efficient cars, are now offering $10 million to the winner of a contest to transform the health of people in a small U.S. community.

They invited written ideas for the Healthcare X Prize, and said they would choose five for a three-year trial run in real communities or at employers.

The winner would be chosen based on a “community health index” of measures such as an improved ability to climb stairs, reductions in visits to emergency rooms and health costs…

“We are looking for teams to help individuals and communities proactively improve their own health and (that) of their families,” added Dr. Peter Diamandis, chairman and chief executive of the non-profit X Prize Foundation.

“Teams are actually going to have to design and implement a system across a community of 10,000 people that improves health by 50 percent during a three-year trial period…”

The plan gives teams 18 months to conceive, model, and submit their plans.

RTFA. Information on what crap our healthcare is compared to other industrialized nations. In case you didn’t know that.

Democracy run amok!

NASA’s online contest to name a new room at the international space station went awry. Comedian Stephen Colbert won.

The name “Colbert” beat out NASA’s four suggested options in the space agency’s effort to have the public help name the addition. The new room will be launched later this year.

NASA’s mistake was allowing write-ins. Colbert urged viewers of his Comedy Central show, “The Colbert Report,” to write in his name. And they complied, with 230,539 votes. That clobbered Serenity, one of the NASA choices, by more than 40,000 votes.

NASA still reserves the right to choose an, uh, appropriate name.

Hubble’s Next Discovery — You Decide


Hubble’s Next Discovery — You Decide” is part of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA), the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s observations. People around the world can vote to select the next object the Hubble Space Telescope will view. Choose from a list of objects Hubble has never observed before and enter a drawing for one of 100 new Hubble pictures of the winning object. The winning image will be released between April 2 and 5, during the IYA’s 100 Hours of Astronomy, a global astronomy event geared toward encouraging as many people as possible to experience the night sky. Vote by March 1 to swing Hubble toward your favorite target.

The Hubble site is one of my favorites – as are their video podcasts at iTunes. The contest is a gas [primordial or otherwise] – so, get on board.