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article imageTopFinds: From Robot Soldiers to Killer Caffeine

By David Silverberg     Feb 1, 2008 in Internet
Caffeine causing diabetes. Record labels teasing us with Qtrax. Texans using 'Canadian' as a racial slur. Controversial skating rinks in Mexico. These are just some of the major stories making headlines around the world.

Technology & Internet

The Web browser wars may soon gain momentum on mobile platforms, especially in light of Mozilla's decision to bring Firefox 3 to cellphones and PDAs, as Wanderlaugh reported. So the next question is, how will Explorer step up its mobile offerings?
Several other tech and Internet stories are worth bookmarking: Analysts say Apple have an iPhone overstock problem this year, cgull wrote; a website helps Canadians stop the overwhelming deluge of junk mail, Bob Ewing discovered (unwanted flyers can be offline spam no one wants); there's nothing more eye-catching than a headline that says it all, such as MadMoneyWannabe's Unmanned aerial vehicles the size of a cigarette; and a University of Maryland study found that eBay saved shoppers $7 billion in 2003. And you thought eBay was popular because you could buy discounted rhino dung.

Science & Health

Accidental breakthroughs don't happen often but when they do, the world takes notice. And Eric S. Wyatt reported on an important discovery that could help researchers alleviate suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia. When researchers stimulated a man's brain to trigger his appetite, the man suddenly relived 30-year-old memories. As Eric wrote:
The inadvertent discovery led doctors to consider a 'pacemaker for the brain' option for treating memory loss. What other science and health issues were covered by Citizen Journalists? A New Jersey fitness club is bringing video games into the gym, Nathalie C reported; scientists have isolated a plant gene that resists stress, Bob Ewing found (looks like we humans have to wait); an ABC drama show is under fire for claiming autism is caused by vaccinations, Haley January Eckels wrote; some strains of flu are resistant to the popular drug Tamiflu, momentsintime reported; and here's some bad news for coffee junkies -- a steady intake of caffeine increases the risk of contracting Type 2 diabetes, Planet Janet told us. But decaffeinated java just doesn't have the same appeal, does it?


It's winter and time to skate. But if you live in Mexico City, you can enjoy the world's largest skating rink, a fact brought to us by an article by newbie ocean. Learn why the skating rink is causing controversy and why politicians may actually be listening to voices of dissent.
The Australian flag
The Australian flag
Citizen Journalists cast their eyes across the world to report on important issues making headlines: the Australia government plans to apologize to aboriginals for forcibly tearing apart families, Wanderlaugh reported; some parts of Haiti are so poor the people eat dirt to survive, according to a shocking article by Bob Ewing; calling someone "Canadian" is the new racial slur, at least in Texas, 666divine found out; and Iran received its last shipment of uranium from Russia so it can finalize the construction of its Bushehr nuclear reactor, Knight Shield reported. Is it me or does that reactor's name curiously contain a U.S. president's name within it? Just sayin'.
P.S. A special congrats goes to Pamela Jean for going beyond the call of duty in her article about a transsexual politician hopeful. Requiring a photo of her article's subject, Pamela contacted the news desk at the local paper Star Tribune to get permission to use one of their pics of Chrissy Nakonsky. It's always heartening to see a Citizen Journalist make that extra phone call in order to complement a solid article with an applicable photo.

TopFinds Awards

The robots are coming, the robots are coming! Actually, the alarmist shouting should accurately reflect today's reality: The robots are here! And if anyone read the winner of the TopJournalism Award, they would understand why artificial intelligence is touching almost every corner of our lives. We extend a special kudos to Ringwraith for his comprehensive and heavily-researched article on modern robotics and how androids are gracing areas such as military, health care, the arts and our workplaces. Especially admirable were the various photos of robots peppered through the piece, making the article even more attractive for intrigued readers. Because robots will become more prevalent in our lives, Ringwraith's feature warrants our full attention.
It's always entertaining when a story breaks and is later found out to be full of hot air -- especially when a Citizen Journalist does an in-depth follow-up to prove how a news release fudged facts to get press. Such was the case for the Qtrax saga, wonderfully tracked by cgull. This winner of the TopTech Award found out that music publishers were teaming up to create a website called Qtrax to offer free legal downloads of millions of popular songs. Too good to be true? Exactly. Record labels responded the day after Qtrax's launch with an immediate denial, saying they never signed a deal with Qtrax. If it weren't for cgull's important follow-up, we might have all been lost in thought about the future glory days of free legal downloads, courtesy of Big Music. We can always dream, right?
Wanderlaugh did it again: He translated an impacting business story into a delightful and clearly-written article that is as enjoyable to read as it is informative. And he won the TopBusiness Award. When China's inflation spikes, the effect ripples worldwide, and the U.S. economy will especially feel the pinch. He ended the article with a pithy rhyme, giving us good reason to believe our Aussie correspondent is a closet poet:
First came the mighty Housing Vulture, which did fall like a brick;
Then came the great Credit Vulture, which made us all feel so sick;
Then came the ancient, greedy, Inflation Vulture, giving the world a kick...
The beauty of citizen media is its ability to uncover news stories that the mainstream media ignored. Case in point: a Pheonix journalism school denying a student her degree because she wrote about Christianity. Thanks to Pamela Jean, this TopReligion Award winner revealed an educational crisis that infringed on freedom of religion. The article sparked an interesting comment thread focusing on journalism bias, religious restrictions, and language etiquette.
There's a reason why staffers call Can Tran "The Tran Machine." This guy can write, and he never slows down: In one week, he authored 47 articles about U.S. politics. Yes, 47. That's one of the reasons why Can Tran picks up the TopPolitics Award. The other reason? His articles cover every aspect of the Republican and Democratic campaigns, from primary wins to poignant candidate quotes to Bush's State of the Union Address to breaking news. With Can Tran firmly entrenched in the empire, readers need not worry about missing any U.S. political coverage.
Sorry, Washington Post, we found him first.
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