Let the scanner cook it
CHICAGO - Too lazy to read the directions on that TV dinner? Soon you may not have to. Your microwave oven will do it for you when you swipe the package bar code across a special sensor. One such oven, being developed by Samsung with Rutgers University researchers, will then call up the manufacturer's Internet site, read the directions, and cook the meal - even taking care of any necessary rotation of the food. Sharp has developed a convection microwave oven that can download recipes from the company's Web site. The oven then automatically sets the time and adjusts the power for roasting, baking, broiling, and grilling. Neither is yet available to US consumers. Sharp began selling its product in Japan last October and hopes to introduce it in the US next year. Samsung officials say they hope to have their oven in stores next year.
Big Brother and your radio
Privacy advocates are disturbed by a new device that can tell owners of concert halls, car dealerships, and shopping centers what people are listening to on their radios as they drive by. The device tracks what FM station is playing. It is not designed to track license plates or record conversations. But critics say the technology is invasive, because few motorists know about the legal "eavesdropping." Tweeter Center, a concert venue in southeastern Massachusetts, installed the device - called MOBILTRAK - last year. The venue's owner, SFX Entertainment, finds the information useful in planning promotions and marketing campaigns, a spokeswoman says.
Solar eclipse tonight
Tonight and tomorrow morning, Americans can witness the first total lunar eclipse in more than two years. The eclipse will start around 9 p.m. EST and last about 4-1/2 hours. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth, and moon form a straight line, and the moon passes through the Earth's shadow.
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