Good morning. While you were snoozing like a bear and dreaming of double rainbows, legions of Warcraft players were arming for a revolt against Blizzard Entertainment, Obama announced more manufacturing tax credits, YouTube was getting all La-Z-Boy, Facebook blew out the last cupcake candle in its Gift Shop, and hot Russian spies got swapped for American counterparts, Cold War-style.
1. It’s about time to harness the sun to keep those Vegas casinos climate controlled. Stumping for Nevada Senator, Harry Reid last night at a fundraiser, President Obama announced a new "Solar Demonstration Zone" in Nevada where new solar tech can be tested and developed. Just hours before, US Departments of Energy and Interior joined Reid in discussing $5 billion in energy manufacturing tax credits.
2. Sorry, those kittens, cupcakes, thongs, balloons, flowers and other digital debris known as "gifts" on FaceBook’s Gift Shop are going bye-bye. No matter that people routinely pay one dollar for these bits of virtual flair (though they can probably buy the real article at 80’s mall staple, Spencer’s Gifts). FaceBook apparently want to use their considerable resources fattening up cash cows like social gaming—and maybe reduce the page furniture in the process.
3. Those Russian spies will be fodder for juicy press no more. Ten who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges (an 11th skipped bail in Cyprus) have been flown to Austria and will be swapped for four Americans. If that seems like a raw deal for the US, have a look at the bios of players from both sides of the Not-So-Iron Curtain; Russia didn't exactly their varsity squad.
4. To the delight of couch ‘taters everywhere, Google announced the beta launch of YouTube Leanback. It is "all about letting you sit back, relax and be entertained. Videos tailored to your interests play as soon as you visit the site and they play in full screen and high definition, continuously," according to Google. One of the main targets for the new site – people with connected TVs. Lean Back, y’all, and watch the recline of Western civilization.
5. Think it’s wise to change the rules on hordes of devotees to the world’s most successful online role-playing game? That's what World of Warcraft publisher Blizzard Entertainment (Activision) did when they required gamers to give their real identities when posting in their forums. Hell hath no fury like a gamer dude scorned. Watch your back, Blizzard execs.