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Eight-jet Google execs fear $33m Hangar One refurb NASA snub

Google‘s top three execs have offered NASA $33m to refurbish NASA’s historic Hangar One, though parking provisos for an eight-strong fleet of private jets suggests both self-interest and altruism are in play. Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt made the offer via their H211 airplane operations company, run independently from Google, back in September Mercury News reports, but NASA is yet to greenlight the scheme. “We understand the interest and historic nature of the facility” NASA spokesperson Bob Jacobs conceded in a statement, suggesting though that “we have to weigh that against the reality of constrained resources and use.”

If H211′s scheme goes ahead, the outer panels of Hangar One – which have been partially removed, after it was discovered they contained lead paint, asbestos and PCB – would be replaced and some of the internal structure refurbished. NASA would remain the owner of the building, and be at liberty to rent out the areas not used by the H211 scheme. As for Google’s execs, they’d be allowed to use a up to two-thirds of the hangar floor space to park up to eight private jets currently shared by the trio.

NASA’s reluctance to approve the deal – which became necessary after the House of Representatives axed $32m from the organization’s budget that had been earmarked to re-skin the structure – has led to frustrations among H211 as well as the US government subcommittee looking into the possibilities of restoration. The remaining concern for the committee had been the possibility of Google branding being installed, something H211 has said is not intended.

H211 insists that Hangar One would still be left with huge amounts of unused space, both refurbished as part of the donation, and left in a relatively raw state for future development. NASA says the proposal “has not yet been completely vetted” and that it is “giving all options thoughtful consideration as we prepare our funding proposal for the Fiscal Year 2013 budget.” However in the meantime, the hangar remains partially open to the elements, and faces higher reconstruction costs as existing work would have to be re-performed.

Hangar One was built in the 1930s, and remains one of the largest free-standing structures in the world today. With a footprint covering eight acres and a height of 198 feet, the building – intended to house military airships – is in fact so tall that cloud-like fog has been known to form in its upper levels. More details here.

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Eight-jet Google execs fear $33m Hangar One refurb NASA snub is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.

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Happy Holidroid Contest: Random Winner!

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If you’re unsure what this whole “Holidroid Contest” thing is all about, be prepared to get excited. From November 24th through December 25th, Phandroid is giving away a Kindle Fire every single day along with other great prizes like the Galaxy Nexus Galaxy Tabs, JAMBOX, SmarTouch Gloves, Android Phones, Android T-Shirts, Seidio Vouchers and more. Read our announcement post for details.

Yesterday’s Winner

The winning answer for yesterday’s trivia contest was “Logitech Revue” and MJM128 from AndroidForums was the first to answer correctly — but only by a hair. It’s funny because although he was first to post in the thread, he actually answered incorrectly with “Google TV.” In an attempt to pick up the rebound, he posted again with with “LG Revue” which was still the wrong answer. He must be really quick at the keys because he eventually answered correctly and surprisingly, was the first to do so. So, congrats, MJM128! You barely made it! Here’s what’s up for grabs for everyone today:

Amazon Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire could be this holiday’s hottest product: at only $199 it’s not only one of the most  affordable Android tablets, it’s also one of the best. That’s a killer combination. With a beautiful UI, great battery life, carefully curated apps/games, and an amazing array of media options thanks to Amazon’s Digital Content Ecosystem… the Kindle Fire is a sure win. Good luck winning one in our contest, but at only $199 it’s probably worth buying one just in case!

Jawbone JAMBOX

Ever wanted a small, portable speaker that plays music LOUD and CLEAR and isn’t a pain to setup? Let me introduce you to the Jawbone JAMBOX speaker. This bad boy packs a powerful bunch an extremely small frame, easily connects to your Android device via Bluetooth, and is an absolute pleasure to use. Bluetooth means you can stream not only music, but also games, apps, phone conversations, movies, and any other audio playing on your device! It also means no cords! Put it on your desk. Carry it to the kitchen. Bring it to the basketball court. Take it to your friend’s party. The Jawbone JAMBOX is a music lover’s dream device.

Isotoner SmarTouch Gloves

Every single holiday season these SmarTouch smartphone gloves are consistently one of my favorite gift giving items. They eloquently solve one of the most fundamental problems a tech lover faces: using your device in cold weather. Wearing gloves usually prevents your touchscreen from working: take your phone out, take your glove off, use your phone, hand gets gold, shove phone in pocket, rush to get glove on. NO MORE! Isotoner’s SmarTouch gloves, designed in my colors and sizes for both men and women, has technology that passes the electrons your body gives off, through the gloves, onto the capacitive screen and allowing it to work. VOILA! Seriously. It works. Trust me. Try it… and you’ll love them forever.

Seidio $30 Voucher

With so much smartphone use comes battery drain. Thankfully, Seidio makes some awesome extended batteries that fit many smartphones, allowing you to get longer battery life with the same device. No more toting around a charger everywhere you go: just snag a Seidio and call it a day! Seidio also makes cases, holsters, and other great accessories for your smartphones. Check them all out here.

ZeeMote Bluetooth Game Controller

The Zeemote Bluetooth Game Controller compacts things into one comfortable, ergonomically sound gaming package. You use one hand and the controller has an analog stick with four action buttons on it. It’s a bit reminiscent of a Nintendo Wiimote – makes you wonder where the name was inspired from. There are many games in the Android Market already compatible with the Zeemote, including the popular title R-Type, and you may even be able to use it with some of your emulators. It goes perfectly with many Android devices, from 3.2 inch phones to 10.1 inch tablets. And if you want the ultimate gaming experience, Zeemote + Phone/Tablet + TV + HDMI-out = awesome.

Today’s Contest Rules/Regulations:

This one should be easy. You have one hour — starting from right now — to simply leave a comment to this post. In the comment, you must mention anything about “v-necks” or something positive about my hair. We will randomly pick a lucky commenter and notify them that they are the winner. You can only leave ONE comment and if we find out you have created multiple Disqus accounts or are involved in any other kind of nefarious behavior, the only thing you’ll win is a lump of coal… shaped like Andy. Have at it guys and good luck!

  • Anyone who leaves a positive comment about my hair or anything regarding v-neck t-shirts within the hour is entered to win.
  • One random winner will be selected out of those who meet the above criteria.
  • ONLY ONE ENTRY PER PERSON. You will NOT get higher chances to win if you post more than one comment.
  • Read our Full Official Rules for information about eligibility
  • This isn’t required but if you want to be nice... Visit by clicking here before you do your holiday shopping because you love us!

Looking for a great gift? Don’t forget about our Holiday Gift Guide!

Tomorrow’s Contest:

We’ll be giving away a Kindle Fire, Galaxy Nexus Smartouch Gloves, $30 Seidio Voucher, and an Android t-shirt! You never know when we will be posting our trivia challenge so check back early and often!

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SpaceX ISS docking mission gets Feb 2012 go-ahead

SpaceX will become the first commercial spaceflight company to dock a vehicle with the International Space Station, with NASA giving the green light for the Dragon capsule to begin its mission on February 7 2012. The journey will see the Dragon cargo transporter blast off to the ISS, where a robotic arm will grab the capsule and guide it in to dock, MSNBC reports. A successful trip “will open up a new era in commercial cargo delivery for this international orbiting laboratory” William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said in a statement.

A huge list of checks will be required before Dragon is permitted to even approach the ISS, let alone dock with the orbiting space station. A fly-by at two miles distance, testing the sensors and other hardware, along with a practice of the abort process will all be carried out; at the end of the mission, the capsule and its crew will splash down in the Pacific.

SpaceX is one of a number of private ventures working with NASA to win lucrative space travel contracts in the coming years. As part of NASA’s Space Act Agreements – shifting technical development and other responsibilities into the private sector – the company is set to secure as much as $396m if it carriers out all of the tests and checks successfully.

A docking mission with the ISS had been on the roadmap for 2011, but SpaceX encountered issues and were forced to postpone it into early 2012.

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SpaceX ISS docking mission gets Feb 2012 go-ahead is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.

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Microsoft confirms untapped Windows Phone NFC support

Windows Phone 7 already supports NFC technology, Microsoft has confirmed, but it remains the decision of handset manufacturers whether to activate the short-range wireless or, indeed, if there’s a use-case for it. “As far as I’m aware, NFC is supported by [Windows Phone], but needs to be enabled by the OEM” Will Coleman developer evangelist and product manager at Microsoft UK, told TechRadar. “So, if any OEM wants to enable it, that can be done by all means.” So far, no Windows Phone device offers NFC support.

That’s likely to change, as broader users for NFC are rolled out, however. ”It’s about just about timing,” Coleman concluded, “in the not too distant future there are some exciting things that will be coming through with NFC from Microsoft.”

NFC, or near-field communications, is a short-range wireless technology that enables smartphones, mobile devices, credit cards and other portable gadgets to communicate between each other – or with another piece of hardware, such as a payment terminal – when tapped together or at a distance of just a few centimeters. Two-way data transfers are possible, but an NFC-equipped phone can also read an unpowered “NFC tag” and collect data from it, for instance a promotional link or shortcut to an app store app.

Google has implemented NFC support in Ice Cream Sandwich for Android Beam, a system where NFC-enabled smartphones can exchange links, contact details or other information when touched back-to-back. However, the most common public use of NFC is probably wireless payments, using a smartphone to replace a credit card or cash. Several trials, including the Android-based Google Wallet, are underway of such systems, which require retailers to be outfitted with payment hardware capable of communicating with NFC phones.

Several of Microsoft’s Windows Phone licensees have already experimented with NFC tech. Samsung devices offer NFC payments in Korea, Japan and elsewhere, while Nokia has a long track-record of attempting to use the technology.

“NFC isn’t an if, it’s a when, it will happen” Nokia’s Keith Varty, head of apps and partnerships told the site. “Obviously there’s no NFC on our launch devices, so it’s difficult to comment too much on that, but the main divisions between secure and non-secure [NFC] mean there’s bags of opportunity for the technology [on our phones] especially with so many operators launching services.”

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Microsoft confirms untapped Windows Phone NFC support is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.

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Xbox TV unique shows planned as Microsoft shops for TV execs

Microsoft is looking to create its own original content for its Xbox LIVE TV service, insiders claims, with the software giant seeking to recruit a television executive to turn its gaming system into a true cable challenger. A head-hunting firm has been employed to dig up the best candidate, Bloomberg‘s tipsters reckon, with Microsoft hoping to replicate the success of its homegrown Xbox games franchises with specially created TV content.

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 dashboard update would also bring with it a comprehensive package of streaming media options spread across global markets. In the US, the rollout – set to go through into 2012 – would include Hulu Plus, EPIX and ESPN, while the UK will receive BBC iPlayer and 4oD. Full details on the roadmap here. Microsoft also released a Windows Phone Xbox controller app, turning the smartphone platform into a remote for the Xbox 360.

According to the sources, who are said to have knowledge of the Microsoft plans but not permission to talk about them publicly, two former NBC executives, Marc Graboff and Jeff Gaspin. Graboff left NBC last month, and was responsible for high-level negotiations including those that kept the cast of Friends on the network’s payroll for two years longer than initially expected; Gaspin left back in late 2010, and was in charge of programming – including returning Jay Leno to his late-night slot, after a failed attempt at primetime – until the Comcast acquisition.

“Microsoft is only interested in making a hire if it can find the right person” one source says, “and it’s possible no one will be chosen for the job.” The company already runs Channel9, producing video content giving an inside view on projects inside Microsoft, though the Xbox TV aspirations would be significantly more ambitious.

We speculated earlier this month that Xbox TV – in its new, streaming form – put Microsoft ahead of Apple and Google; with the prospect of original content exclusive to Xbox LIVE, the software company could well present a signifiant challenge to studios and networks.

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Xbox TV unique shows planned as Microsoft shops for TV execs is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.

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HP: webOS tablets could return in 2013

HP could return to webOS to make new tablets in 2013, using the freshly open-sourced platform for larger mobile devices though smartphones are still off the menu. Having announced that webOS will be an open-source platform moving forward, and then confirmed that there are no immediate plans for new webOS devices, HP CEO Meg Whitman conceded in an interview with TechCrunch that tablets could still be on the cards, albeit after the company’s Windows 8 push.

2012 will see HPs Windows 8 based tablets reach the market, the company has previously suggested, using Microsoft’s freshly updated platform with its finger-friendly Metro UI. The OS has obvious advantages for HP, being directly compatible with its laptop and desktop hardware, and thus applicable both to a consumer market looking for iPad/Android tablet alternatives, and enterprise/vertical markets needing something that can integrate with an established ecosystem of Microsoft-based PC hardware.

Beyond that, however, HP seems keen to “explore the viability of putting webOS on devices” according to its open-source FAQ, though whether that exploration will result in a commercial release remains very much to be seen. The company says it “plans to remain active in the development and support of webOS” but that “making webOS open source will accelerate the development of the webOS platform and application ecosystem.”

Nonetheless, even with a webOS team within HP, without flagship hardware from the company to demonstrate the potential value of the platform it’s hard to imagine that other manufacturers would be inspired to adopt it themselves. With no guiding hand putting its production money where its mouth is – and HP in fact vocally insisting that, for the meantime, it is wedded to Microsoft and merely considering the possibility of webOS devices “as we do for other leading operating systems” – the software advantages may not be sufficient to convince that there’s commercial viability, especially given HP’s own struggles selling webOS tablets and phones.

That leaves the option of treating webOS as a niche platform, again something presenting limited hope for the sort of broad adoption it will require to sufficiently challenge Windows, Android and iOS, or hoping that another manufacturer will be not only capable of handling commercializing the OS better than HP has done, but willing to do so without full control of the software moving forward.

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HP: webOS tablets could return in 2013 is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.

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Logitech Revue Google TV 2.0: Have you got it yet?

Logitech pushed out the Google TV 2.0 update to its Logitech Revue set-top box this week, upgrading the smart TV adapter with Android Market access, a revised UI and more. The update, based now on Android 3.1, arrived on the SlashGear Revue – which we reviewed, in first-gen form, all the way back in November 2010 - this weekend; has your Revue been revised yet?

In addition to third-party app support, with select titles in the Android Market being updated to suit display on an HDTV screen, Google TV 2.0 updates the smart TV interface to make it less confusing. Streaming TV & Movies are gathered up into their own section of the UI, and there’s improved search to make it more straightforward to find content – whether that comes through your cable box, from YouTube or another source.

Google’s hope is to turn around the somewhat underwhelming reception of the first-gen Google TV software the Revue launched with, and pave the way for an altogether more enthusiastic market when the second batch of hardware finally arrives in 2012. There’s still no shortage of ambition: Google’s Eric Schmidt has predicted that Google TV will be present on the majority of new sets by mid-2012.

Has your Google TV hardware been updated? Sony pushed out the Google TV 2.0 update to its Blu-ray players and HDTVs from late October, and the Logitech update takes care of the remaining first-gen devices. Has the upgrade changed the way you use Google TV, or is the Revue still sitting, unloved, in the closet? Meanwhile, with Logitech now selling the Revue for under $100 as it clears its stock, has Google TV 2.0 tempted you to pick up a set-top box and see what all the fuss is about? Let us know in the comments.

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Logitech Revue Google TV 2.0: Have you got it yet? is written by Chris Davies & originally posted on SlashGear.
© 2005 - 2011, SlashGear. All right reserved.

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