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The Smithsonian magazine's 10th annual photo contest's 50 finalists have been chosen, but there's still time for you to vote for the Readers Choice winner! This year's competition has drawn over 37,600 entries from photographers in 112 countries around the world. Editors will choose a Grand Prize Winner and the winners in each of five categories which include The Natural World, Americana, People, Travel and Altered Images. Voting will be open through March 29, 2013. -- Paula Nelson ( 22 photos total)
THE NATURAL WORLD - An Onlooker Witnesses the Annular Solar Eclipse as the Sun Sets on May 20, 2012. Albuquerque, New Mexico, May 2012. (Colleen Pinski/Peyton, Colorado/Smithsonian.com)

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Addison-Wesley has published a new book in my Signature Series. It’s by Robert Daigneau and it’s called Service Design Patterns. It’s a topic that’s already had too many books on it, but I added this one to the series because I think Robert has done a particularly good job of collecting together the best advice on the topic and organizing it into a useful handbook. This is the book that I think ought to become the standard book on the topic.

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Billy Stinson (L) comforts his daughter Erin Stinson as they sit on the steps where their cottage once stood August 28, 2011 in Nags Head, North Carolina. The cottage, built in 1903 and destroyed yesterday by Hurricane Irene, was one of the first vacation cottages built on Albemarle Sound in Nags Head. Stinson has owned the home, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, since 1963. “We were pretending, just for a moment, that the cottage was still behind us and we were just sitting there watching the sunset,” said Erin afterward.

Hurricane Irene moved along the east coast causing heavy flooding damage as far north as Vermont and shutting down the entire New York mass transit system.

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Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off Friday morning, shooting straight into a brightening sky on a 12-day mission that marks the end of the nation’s  shuttle program. There had been fears that  that rain might delay the launch,  but that didn’t stop crowds from streaming to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Local tourism officials predicted as many as 1 million visitors.

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Photos of the Space shuttle program 1972-2011

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