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ExtraBITS for 25 January 2010

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As we desperately try to ignore all the pointless speculation about what Apple may or may not announce this week, we found ourselves reading somewhat more broadly than usual. Google is updating high-resolution satellite images of Haiti to aid relief efforts, the White House has released an iPhone app, GigaOM collected lots of App Store stats into a single infographic, and the Stanford Hospital is using a cutting edge (from the 19th century) networking technology to move lab samples around the building.


Google Updates Satellite Images of Haiti -- In the wake of Haiti's recent earthquake, Google has updated its Google Maps satellite photos of the country's capital, Port-au-Prince. The new images, gathered on 17 January 2010, present a humbling view of the city's destruction. Google made the images available in part to "assist relief efforts including those by many UN organizations and the Center for Interdisciplinary Geospatial Information Technologies." We hope the images will also persist as reminders of Haiti's need for support during its long road to recovery.

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White House Releases iPhone App -- The White House, contributing a memorable moment to the history of mobile computing, has released its first-ever iPhone app. The free app gives users an easy way to keep up with the White House Blog, hear the latest from the Briefing Room, check out behind-the-scenes photos, and, most notably, watch live streaming video of speeches, press briefings, and special events. Amusingly, the app is available before the mobile-enabled version of the WhiteHouse.gov Web site.

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App Store Facts Get a Face Lift -- Like any other certifiable success, the iTunes App Store has become a hot topic of discussion; the stats revolving in its orbit have been endlessly reported on and analyzed. For those tired of parsing regular graphs and summaries, take a moment to check out GigaOM's infographic "The App Store Economy," which brings a little visual zest to the familiar data.

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It Really Is a "Series of Tubes" -- No, we're not talking about former Senator Ted Stevens's clumsy description of the Internet; this article from the Stanford School of Medicine Web site instead describes the wildly cool pneumatic tube system used by Stanford Hospital staff to send lab samples around at speeds up to 25 feet (7.6 m) per second - that's roughly 18 miles (30 km) per hour. Pneumatic tube systems were cutting edge communication technology way back in the 19th century, but when it comes to transporting physical objects, they retain their utility even in today's networked age.

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