Archive for ‘Technology’

September 7, 2011

White Whine of the Day

by Vince

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September 6, 2011

Down For Everyone Or Just Me?

by Vince

A neat website that checks to see if a website is down for everyone viewing it or just you. Check it here.

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September 6, 2011

Complaining About Having a Maid

by Vince

H/T: White Whine

September 2, 2011

Typing In Tongues

by Vince

Interesting.

August 31, 2011

Match.com For College

by Vince

Considering college and want the best fit for you? Here is ConnectEDU:

This won’t just help the brightest, most driven kids. Bad matching is a problem throughout higher education, from top to bottom. Among all students who enroll in college, most will either transfer or drop out. For African American students and those whose parents never went to college, the transfer/dropout rate is closer to two-thirds. Most students don’t live in the resource-rich, intensely college-focused environment that upper-middle-class students take for granted. So they often default to whatever college is cheapest and closest to home. Tools like ConnectEDU will give them a way to find something better.

August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene Quote of the Day

by Vince

“I’m very, very calm and pretty relaxed and laid-back – pretty much the opposite of a hurricane.  I guess that’s funny,” – Irene Tien, who has owned @Irene since 2006 and recently became inundated with tweets.

August 27, 2011

White Whine of the Day

by Vince

August 26, 2011

Hurricane Whining of the Day

by Vince


Also, check out the slideshow White Whine put together.

August 26, 2011

Banning Video Cameras = Liberty?

by Vince

Does it make sense that an Ohio Congressman banned the public from recording his townhall meeting but allowed the press to record it?

July 10, 2011

A Web of One

by Vince

I finished last week Eli Pariser’s book The Internet Bubble. His above TED talk is captioned as follows:

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

His TED talk essentially captures the main points found in his 250 page book. What he doesn’t cover in those 9 minutes of talking is some background on the engineers and technological goliaths currently taking the internet by storm. He delves into their dreams for the internet (Google hopes to one day not even have a search bar but have an algorithm so good that it knows what we want to search for) and how this new era of internet and social networking is guissed as transparently democratic but is mostly shadowed by ever changing privacy settings and our data (info we share, links we click on, et al.) sold to creepy third party entities.

Pariser’s caveat regarding personalization as contrary to creative, serendipitous living (as well as democracy) is half truth and half inflated out of fear. While our Facebook newsfeeds are taylored by algorithisms that direct us towards things we “may” be interested in (based on what we click on or search for), personalization is personalized for each of us. What I mean is this: if you use Yahoo news as a daily source for news or even Facebook (which believe it or not is rising rather quickly as a place where plethora of people find out the news), you most likely will receive some skewed results. However, if you are similar to me in that I find my news via blogs (all set up through Google Reader), my personalization will be different from yours. Seventy percent (give or take) of the blogs or news sources I check can be classified as left of center. That itself lends towards a personalized experience that differs from a daily intake of The Blaze, The New York Post, and Fox News. With blogs, I choose which to read based on what I like and the quality. These blogs I check do not (yet) personalize what they present to me and the rest of their viewers. You have no choice in that matter, according to Pariser, when you look for the day’s news on Google or Facebook.

One other note: I experimented with another computer (both logged in to our Google accounts) in Google searching the following terms: BP, Barack Obama, dogs, and horses. Each of our results had the same front page results as well as total number of results. This doesn’t conclusively refute Pariser’s argument that everyone has a different Google search experience but goes to show that this whole Brave New World-type internet bubble is not as scary as he may crack it up to be.

June 23, 2011

The Energy Expenditure of Internet Usage

by Vince


This is an interesting short video titled “How Green Is Your Internet?”

TDW:

Hungry Beast‘s Dan Ilic explores the facts and figures behind the oft ignored energy expenditure of Internet usage.

June 21, 2011

Inbox Influence

by Vince


If you have a Gmail account, you can use this gadget that reveals any political contributions given by people, companies, or organizations that email you.

Inbox Influence is a new tool from the Sunlight Foundation that allows you to see the political contributions of the people and organizations that are mentioned in emails you receive. This easy-to-use tool can be used for researching influence background on corporate correspondence, adding context to newspaper headlines or discovering who is behind political fundraising solicitations.

Inbox Influence provides details on any entity in the body of the email, plus information on both the sender of the email and the company from which it was sent. With it, you can even see how your friends and family have given to political campaigns. Perhaps Uncle Joe has more mainstream views after all?

So far, I followed up on one local person who gave $500 to a Republican politician. When I clicked on an email from Barack Obama, I got nothing.

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June 12, 2011

Society Underneath the Hood

by Vince

NYT columnist David Brooks gives a talk in England on his new book The Social Animal. It isn’t the same old same old on social networking but delves into our subconscious decision making and connections made with the world around us. If his book interests you, look for it in your local library. There are several circulating already in the York County library system.

June 6, 2011

Mental Health Care Needed?

by Vince

Andrew Sullivan really makes the case for Sarah Palin after her comments on Paul Revere have been used as fact by her followers in attempt to edit the Wikipedia page.

June 4, 2011

Google Images

by Vince


seems to be evolving. Google has a mind of its own.

 If you add words like “photos”, “pictures”, and “images” to a query, that means you’re probably not looking for a blog post or video. Showing more images on the main search results page makes it just that much faster to find the image you’re looking for. For example, in a search for [nebula pictures], instead of just three or four pictures at the top of the results, now you’ll find more than a dozen beautiful pictures filling up most of the page.

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June 2, 2011

Cell Phones and Cancer

by Vince

After looking at some of the commentary and news, I come away with an ambiguous conclusion. There seems to not be enough data yet, but if a teenage cell phone user was tracked from age 13 to 65, that may pose some solid data for this conversation. Some points worth noting:

Incidence of the most common type of brain cancer in the U.S. has dropped 0.4 percent per year between 1987 and 2007. This would be about the very same period that we all started using cell phones. That doesn’t necessarily mean the drop wouldn’t have been steeper had we not used cell phones. And it doesn’t necessarily mean cell phones don’t have a long-term effect that we may see in years to come. It does mean that brain cancer incidence has plummeted just as cell phone use has taken off.

June 1, 2011

Afternoon Links

by Vince

Read up:

  1. A list of the 50 best cover songs ever.
  2. Some info behind the sped-up re-authorization of the PATRIOT act.
  3. A drug war-style raid on a house that had some small connection to viewing a pornographic website a year ago.
  4. A Macbook thief gets pwned.
  5. Police officers in New Mexico can take guns away from drivers who pose no threat.
  6. A Mexican teacher has been honoured after video footage showed her calming pupils (via singing to them) as a gun battle raged outside her school.
June 1, 2011

The Magical Mystery Tour of Sarah Palin

by Vince

As I noted earlier today, Palin is making her cross-country trip, effectively rousing the people for a possible 2012 GOP bid. Palin is taking an unconventional route (no pun intended) in that she is purposefully eluding the press (and even her fans) and making them find her. In a sense, this tour will either give Palin the green or red light in terms of running in 2012:

According to a source with knowledge of Palin’s thinking, the tour is a test of whether she can do it “her way,” which the source described as “nontraditional, low-cost, high-tech…. The key is to be totally unpredictable and always keep her rivals off-balance.”

With that under-the-radar approach, Palin may have some gold up her sleeve:

Unscripted moments that go badly can haunt a politician on YouTube during a campaign and into the future, but Palin’s ease with a rope line and her politicking skills are one of her best assets. A Palin campaign may not have a press bus or the more formal interviews that reporters crave, but her team will undoubtedly factor in added time for her to greet supporters and campaign not just in large rallies but one on one as well.

The one major trait of Palin that could doom her chances is her divisiveness. Everything from her comments post-Tuscon to her Tweets, she polarizes the political debate to awful extremes (sometimes even cultural ones). Andrew Sullivan made this ironic point when she moved to Arizona, a state bitterly divided between the white, conservative north and the Hispanic south.

One other irony: Palin made the comment that she loves the smell of emissions. This comment could have many meanings behind it. It coincidentally was said by her the same day this report (eyes widen) was released:

According to the IEA, a record 30.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere last year, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. In light of these shocking numbers, experts now fear that it will be impossible to prevent a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius — which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change.”

Picture by Flickr user Dave77459

May 27, 2011

The PATRIOT Act Stays Alive, Ctd

by Vince

Obama signed the extensions while he was in France. I can imagine the old timers complaining that the “founding fathers” did not intend for the POTUS to sign laws via autopen:

Look at the relevant section of Article I, Section 7:

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated,

Was the bill “presented” to the President? Well, according to the media reports he reviewed it so most likely a copy was transmitted to him in Europe.

Did he “sign” it? Is signing via electronic device from thousands of miles away what the Founders had in mind? Probably not, but they probably also didn’t have ball point pens in mind either. It isn’t the means of signing that’s the issue but the manner and, in this case, the cause for concern should be that at a document is “signed” by the President without him actually being in the room, or the country. It may be Constitutional, but I hope they turn the machine off at night so someone isn’t granting pardons under the rug.

May 27, 2011

Questions For Obama

by Vince

Ezra Klein has a few scathing ones for our POTUS:

1. You have repeatedly lauded the economy of the Clinton years, yet in a time of high and mounting deficits, you want to make most of the Bush tax cuts permanent. Economically speaking, what makes you believe the Clinton-era tax rates are too high?

4. The main differences between your budget and the Simpson-Bowles report is that your budget raises less in taxes and cuts less in defense spending. Why were those decisions made?

5. You’ve talked frequently about the need to “win the future” through new investments and initiatives. But unlike the budgets proposed by the House Progressives or Andy Stern or EPI, Demos and the Century Foundation, there’s nothing in your budget that specifically commits to any such investments, nor any particular funding source dedicated to them. If these investments are so important, why not build them into your budget? Why accept the framework that this discussion should be entirely about cuts?