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Off the News

For Tuesday, April 26, 2011

LAST UPDATED: 1:46 a.m. HST, Apr 26, 2011

Watch UH avatars graduate online

Families awaiting the University of Hawaii College of Education commencement ceremony can avoid high airfares and parking hassles by "attending" online through Second Life, a virtual meeting space online (

There's software to download, but then at 5-7 p.m. May 6, they can watch an animated version ("avatar") of their graduate cross the stage to collect his or her sheepskin. Hmmm … is there a way to get an avatar to take your exams for you, too?

Hilton property keeps on ticking

Yes, youngsters and island newcomers, there was a time when a Buckminster Fuller-designed geodesic dome was a focal point of Waikiki's Hilton Hawaiian Village. But that iconic structure came down in 1999, replaced in 2001 by the 35-story Kalia Tower, and the Hilton property hasn't looked back since.

Instead, it's looked ever upward and outward, growing its footprint with the 38-story, time-share Grand Waikikian Tower in 2008 and continually adding to room capacity. Its storied past includes celebrity guests such as Elvis, MJ, Britney and U.S. presidents. Now 50 years old, the resort has no plans to stop improving. The Rainbow Tower, with its unique mosaic-tile side, is undergoing a $45 million facelift. Next year, the Kalia and Alii towers start getting overhauls — and a seven-year, multimillion-dollar master plan will include more pools and two new time-share towers. That's a lot of mai tais.

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