Google Street View captures Canada’s polar bears in conservation effort
Feb27

Google Street View captures Canada’s polar bears in conservation effort

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Google has taken its Street View cameras out to plenty of unconventional places, but its most recent venture brings to the world more than just a pretty view. Through a partnership with Polar Bears International, Google has collected imagery of Churchill, Manitoba in Canada — a location that the conservation group says is home to one of the largest polar bear populations in the world. While the partnership resulted in a few incredible shots of polar bears wandering the vast tundra, the more important addition to Google Maps’ archives is simply the land: conservationists will now be able to compare future imagery to today’s Street View imagery to help determine how the bears’ climate is changing as it’s warped by global warming. The sights of Churchill are available to explore over at a custom Google Maps page. If you want to learn more about the project you can head over to Popular Science, which went behind the scenes with the mapping team as it headed into the tundra.     Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: The Verge - Read the original article...

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Google’s Project Ara (modular smartphone concept) website is now live
Feb26

Google’s Project Ara (modular smartphone concept) website is now live

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.   Project Ara is now live This is one of the more exciting developments in the mobile space in 2014 and we’re glad to see it didn’t get lost in the sale of Motorola from Google to Lenovo. Project Ara is an ambitious concept that aims to break the smartphone down into its core components so that they can be easily reassembled into a phone that exactly fits the individual users needs. The phone is infinitely customizable and each component can be upgraded individually. Battery stops recharging? Not a problem, swap it out for a new one. Phone slows down because the chip can’t keep up with the latest apps. No problem, upgrade your phone in seconds with a brand new chip. Project Ara is looking for “Ara Scouts” to help them shape the design of the phone. You can sign up here (still has Motorola branding on the site). Paul Eremenko, Head of Project Ara, is going live in a few minutes. http://t.co/jKYDiHZgF6 — Project Ara (@ProjectAra) February 26, 2014       Marques Brownlee has created a great Project Ara explanation video (The project was still part of Motorola at the time.)     Tom Peters   Follow @Tom_Peters__ Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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Minecraft is mainstream with 100M registered PC accounts and 14.3M copies sold
Feb26

Minecraft is mainstream with 100M registered PC accounts and 14.3M copies sold

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Minecraft is like Super Mario Bros. for today’s kids. You see them playing on phones in restaurants, tablets at the mall, and computers at the library — and Toys “R” Us is selling blocky foam swords for $20 each. The PC version of the Lego-like building-adventure title recently crossed 100 million registered accounts, according to developer Mojang. That represents the number of people who have logged into and created an account on Minecraft.net to check out Minecraft. Visitors must register before purchasing the $30 download or before playing the free demo. Minecraft creator Markus “Notch” Persson also confirmed that more than 14.3 percent of those accounts have converted to paying customers. That means more than 14.3 million people have bought the Minecraft on PC since it debuted in 2009, which makes it one of the best-selling video games of the last several years. The game makes Mojang millions of dollars each year. In 2012, Notch alone made $100 million thanks to the title. Minecraft is a simplistic-looking game where players must survive in a world by scavenging for resources and crafting tools, weapons, and shelter. It is especially popular with children, who often play online with each other to build massive structures like castles. In addition to the 14 million copies sold of the original PC version, Mojang has sold another 21 million copies on Xbox 360, iOS, Android, and PlayStation 3. I got an email. We’ve reached 100 million registered users on the original Minecraft. 14.3% conversion rate to paid accounts. Wow. <3— Markus Persson (@notch) February 25, 2014       Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Follow @DailyTechWhip Source: Venturebeat - Read the original article...

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Blackberry announce ‘the Classic’ – including keyboard, trackpad and proof they have lost the plot.
Feb25

Blackberry announce ‘the Classic’ – including keyboard, trackpad and proof they have lost the plot.

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. We don’t like to see any tech company go down the gurgler. The fast paced world of hardware (and software) mean that concepts can be a hit in incredibly short time frames (eg: WhatsApp) and one single device can completely change a company (eg: the iPhone). It also means that you can go from king of the hill to a dud just as quickly. Which is why it saddens us that BlackBerry is still clinging to the exact concept that sunk the company and took them from the most desirable handset maker in history to the brink of extinction in less than a decade. Blackberry CEO John Chen announced today that they would be launching the Q20 BlackBerry Classic this year. “In my first 90 days on the job, I consistently heard from our ardent BlackBerry customers that the hard buttons and trackpad are an essential part of the BlackBerry QWERTY experience, that made their BlackBerry smartphone their go-to productivity tool. I want these customers to know that we heard them, and this new smartphone will be for them,” said John Chen, Executive Chairman and CEO at BlackBerry. “Today, we’re delighted to announce the new BlackBerry Q20 smartphone, which is designed to give you the distinct experience that every BlackBerry QWERTY loyalist and high-productivity business customer absolutely loves. With the BlackBerry Q20 smartphone, you’ll get the familiar hard buttons and trackpad that you want, along with the best email service, the best keyboard experience and the best battery life possible.” Now before you get your physical keyboard knickers in a knot – yes, we agree that there are BlackBerry loyalists, and yes this is exactly what they want. The problem is that there simply aren’t enough of them left to keep the company afloat and every day more and more of them jump ship to an iPhone, Android or Windows device. Every minute, every engineering and marketing dollar BlackBerry waste catering to their past condemns them to repeating it. As a company their only chance of becoming a force in the smartphone world again is to devote as many resources and minds as possible to leveraging their one valuable platform (BBM) and turning it into a significant revenue stream via government contracts, a platform agnostic app and finally a killer handset that puts the focus squarely on the tasks that we actually use them for. Messaging/emails, sharing photos/social media, running apps, browsing and (the soon to become dominant) mobile e-commerce. For the overwhelming majority of customers these tasks are best performed (and viewed) on a full screen, touch...

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Dogs hear human happiness – it’s in his (or her) master’s voice
Feb23

Dogs hear human happiness – it’s in his (or her) master’s voice

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Dogs really are our best friends. A study published today in Current Biology shows not only do dogs and humans read emotions in each other’s “voices”, but both are more attuned to “happy” sounds. And the non-invasive study, which used low-stress neuro-imaging techniques to compare the brains of humans and another species, is to be applauded. Attila Andics and colleagues from Budapest, Hungary, trained dogs to lie motionless wearing headphones in a noisy brain scanner, allowing scientists to map the voice-sensitive areas of their brains. Sit … Ten of the 11 dogs used in this study. Current Biology Two of the study’s authors – Ádám Miklósi and Márta Gácsi – are well known for their research into dog and wolf behaviour, as well as the human-dog relationship as researchers for the Family Dog Project. To conduct a successful scan of an awake (not anesthetized) animal’s brain (using functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI), it must remain motionless throughout the scan. The information gleaned can help us map higher cognitive functions of the brain, as different areas of the brain “light up” when the animal is exposed to various stimuli (such as sounds). Unfortunately, most animals will not lie motionless in an fMRI machine without being restrained. As a result, decades of research on monkeys has been conducted in laboratories where monkeys have had surgically-implanted head posts, ear bars and skull pins to hold their heads still while they were restrained in chairs. More recently, special helmets have been designed and monkeys trained to sit in a chair in an attempt to find less invasive neuro-imaging techniques. … and stay! Good dog! Dogs will do almost anything to please their owners, so perhaps it is not surprising that owners or handlers can readily train their dogs to lie motionless with heads resting in a head coil in an fMRI machine. (Another recent study (in the video above) examined two dogs using a slightly different technique where dogs were sitting sphinx-like rather than lying forwards with their chins on the bed.) As well as being able to see their owners in front of them while in the machine, the dogs were also rewarded with food and praise. An unrestrained, unanaesthetised pooch – with earphones – in an MRI scanner. Current Biology Not only did each of the 11 dogs in this study have to lie motionless on the scanner bed for six minutes at a time (three separate scans each), each dog wore earphones so that various sounds could be played to it. In order to compare human and dog brain activity...

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Original 1939 Superman cover by the man that turned his back on comics fetches $286,000
Feb22

Original 1939 Superman cover by the man that turned his back on comics fetches $286,000

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.The cover – designed by Fred Guardineer – was just the 5th ever Superman cover and is believed to be the oldest one still in existence. It harks from the Golden age of American comics (mid 1930’s until mid 1950’s). Richard Evans, the owner of Bedrock City Comic Company paid nearly 10 times the reserve price of $30,000 and intends to put it on display in one of his four Houston stores. The cover to Action Comics No 15 shows Superman rescuing a disabled submarine underwater. Fred Guardineer passed away in 2002 after a life of falling in and out of love with the comic book world. He retired in 1955 over growing dissatisfaction with the industry to become a postman on Long Island. A career he continued until his retirement 20 years later without ever officially returning to comics. More than 40 years after leaving comics he was invited to the 1998 Comic-Con where he was presented with an Inkpot award. Dylan Williams has a great interview with Fred on his blog that includes some fantastic original artworks from the period where Fred first moved to New York to chase his dream. They are simple pieces that capture the fear and uncertainty of a struggling artist beautifully. Read Dylan Williams interview here. If you would like to know more about the Golden age of comics this clip has a nice overview and features many of the great covers of the period.   Tom Peters     Follow @Tom_Peters__ Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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Genes predispose obesity but it’s a lack of feeling full that makes you fat
Feb22

Genes predispose obesity but it’s a lack of feeling full that makes you fat

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.   A genetic predisposition to gain weight and become obese in later life can in part be explained by a lack of feeling full after eating, according to a new study in JAMA Paediatrics. Although there has been some study of why some people appear more likely to gain weight, researchers from UCL and King’s College London were interested in how 28 of the 34 identified “obesity genes” affected children. They found that although someone might be predisposed to becoming obese, it was also due to a tendency to eat more. In other words, predisposition doesn’t mean growing large is inevitable, and recognising it may help avoid overeating. “Our findings suggest that satiety responsiveness [how full we feel after eating] is one of the mechanisms through which obesity genes influence weight,” Clare Llewellyn, research associate in the Health Behaviour Research Centre at UCL and a co-author of the study said. “Obesity genes influence satiety responsiveness, and through influencing satiety responsiveness, they indirectly influence your weight … This study indicated that the reason why some people feel full and other don’t is due to differences in our genes.” The paper is based on the participants to the Twins Early Development Study – a long-term study into more than 16,000 pairs of twins born in the UK between 1994 and 1996. But rather than compare siblings, the researchers chose to study 2,258 participants who weren’t related. The average age of participants was nine. And they used a polygenic (multiple genes) risk score (PRS), which adds up the number of genetic variants someone has that puts them at increased risk of obesity. For each of the 28 known obesity-related genes, you can score between zero and two. If you have all 28 genes, your score can go up to 56, where the higher the score the higher your genetic predisposition is to getting obese. They found that those children with a higher PRS also tended to have a lower response to feeling full and a larger BMI and waist circumference. More children in the top 25% of obesity risk were overweight than in the lowest 25%. “These findings indicate that some children are less sensitive to internal ‘fullness’ signals in response to food intake, by virtue of their genetic endowment,” Llewellyn said. “These children are at risk of overeating and gaining excessive weight, putting them at greater risk of overeating, and obesity.” Parents were often aware of their child’s “fullness” sensitivity, she said, but the study findings should give them more confidence in saying “no” if a child demands more or...

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Linkedin (finally) allows you to block other users but it still has a major flaw
Feb21

Linkedin (finally) allows you to block other users but it still has a major flaw

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.   Linkedin has long been a stalkers paradise, and unlike other social networks victims have very little recourse to protect themselves. They’re also faced with a potential limitation of their career possibilities if they take the only course of action available to them and delete their accounts. It’s a difficult situation to be in and Linkedin has turned a blind eye until today. Paul Rockwell, the head of Trust and Safety at Linkedin has announced that you can now block another linkedin member from viewing your profile: I come to you today to assure you that your concerns were heard loud and clear. We built this feature not only because it was a feature our members requested, but because we also knew it was the right thing to do. I’m pleased to share that we are rolling out a new Member Blocking feature today to all LinkedIn members – Paul Rockwell.   The new feature also allows more granular control of what other members can see eg: your photo or activity as well as what can be indexed by search engines. These are all positive steps although arriving in 2014 puts them years behind other major social networks. There is one significant fly in the ointment however. In order to block someone you need to visit their profile. Since Linkedin enabled anonymous viewing of other users profiles it’s possible to continue to stalk someone and they have no way of identifying you or consequently any way to block you from visiting your profile. It’s a serious issue that significantly undermines the real but overdue progress Linkedin has made in regards to online privacy. The simple solution is to give users who feel threatened the option to turn off anonymous viewing of their individual profile. It won’t affect the majority of users or employers but it will allow victims of harassment to control and know who is viewing their profile and grant them the option to block stalkers if necessary. Please use the share buttons below (particularly Linkedin) to let Linkedin know they’ve made some great progress but their job is not finished yet. Tom Peters     Follow @Tom_Peters__ Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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A gay old time? Social media lessons from Russia
Feb21

A gay old time? Social media lessons from Russia

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. As the Winter Olympics in Sochi draw to a close, a brief survey of trending topics across social media and international press reveal some entertaining and frightening contradictions on the slippery slopes of privacy, politics and disruptive sexuality. The ramifications of challenging the established order are evident in brutal images of gay men beaten by neo-Nazis and Pussy Riot members being horsewhipped by cossacks. With the introduction of the “anti-propaganda bill” in June last year, Russian president Putin not only banned discussion of “non-traditional sexual relations” with minors, he amplified the voices of an already homophobic population and further stigmatised many vulnerable young people. The risks of sharing any expression of sexuality increased, and surveillance of those self-representations heightened – both online and face-to-face. Tensions between Western and Eastern moralities have also become more evident, along with divergent understandings of identity and privacy. Johnny Weir after his performance in the Men’s Figure Skating at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. EPA/Hannibal Hanschke When Blondie boycotted the opening ceremony, “faux-lesbian” Russian pop duo t.A.T.u. performed instead, despite being on record claiming that Putin’s bill is weird because “a lot of people from the government with the big positions are gay”. Meanwhile, openly gay American medal-winning ice-skater, commentator and fashion icon Johnny Weir was criticised for not boycotting the Olympics and decrying gay activists. He later apologised and proclaimed his love of all things Russian (particularly his Russian husband) with there is no excuse to hurl insults at those who oppose you, or those who think differently than you and as a believer in free will and free speech, I allowed my own fear and emotion to get the better of me. Meanwhile, the Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion sponsored a cheeky commercial which looped footage of two men clad in skin tight black luge outfits thrusting suggestively, accompanied by the tagline: “The games have always been a little bit gay. Let’s fight to keep them that way.” Later, with the games in full swing, Canadian bobsledder Justin Kripps posted a picture on his own website of his bobsled team in their underwear only to receive the error message: Dear users: We are very sorry, but access to the requested content is forbidden because of a law or decision by the lawmakers of the Russian federation So far one might be forgiven for thinking what we are witnessing is the not-so-dangerous conflation of ironic cultural inconsistencies into a mixed message on where and when it is acceptable to be gay. These messages, whether from government representatives, ad agencies, pop icons...

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WhatsApp bought for $19 billion, what do its employees get?
Feb20

WhatsApp bought for $19 billion, what do its employees get?

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Facebook has just acquired the mobile messenger service WhatsApp for US$19 billion. Launched in 2009 by two former Yahoo employees, in just over four years WhatsApp has grown to 420m monthly users. Why is it so popular? Founder Jan Koum told the New York Times in 2012, “We are providing a richness of experience and an intimacy of communication that e-mail and phone calls simply can’t compare with.” Facebook has been pushing its own messenger service to its users, but without much success. Markos Zachariadis at Warwick Business School, said, “Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp is in many ways an admission of defeat.” The explosion in the number of smartphones in recent years has also seen a boom in instant messaging services. Popular services such as WeChat, Line and Viber each have more than 100m users. WhatsApp tops that chart in not just number of users but also engagement. With the per-day volume at 19 billion messages sent and 34 billion received, the messaging service will soon trump the total global SMS volume. According to Sotirios Paroutis, also at Warwick Business School, Mark Zuckerberg is out to make Facebook a truly mobile company with Instagram and WhatsApp. “In the past WhatsApp founders have been vocal in their objection to be acquired by a larger firm. So beyond their own reward package, the promise to keep WhatsApp as an independent service seems to have helped bring the two parties together,” he said. Show me the money With only 55 employees, WhatsApp’s $19-billion valuation could, in an alternate universe where each employee was given an equal share, fetch US$350m per employee. This is nearly five times what employees of Instagram would have got when that company was bought out for US$1 billion in 2012. While founders take away big chunks of the proceeds from such deals, with so few employees the windfall can still make many others rich. But in some cases, like that of Skype’s acquisition by Microsoft, the unequal distribution can leave employees with nothing. Worse still, Felix Salmon at Reuters points out that because of the way these deals are structured, employees can do little to fight back. By Akshat Rathi, The Conversation This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Follow @DailyTechWhip Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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The app trap: a closer look at how children spend thousands online
Feb19

The app trap: a closer look at how children spend thousands online

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.   For many parents who caved into the pressure and splashed out on a new tablet computer for their children this Christmas, the not inconsiderable initial purchase bill may almost be a distant memory. Yet the increasingly dollar driven nature of the app marketplace will ensure the pain continues to be applied squarely to the hip pocket. Deliberate marketing to young children means that parents will doubtless face surprise bills for in-app purchases their children have unknowingly bought online. A survey in 2012, from global information company NPD, shows overwhelmingly that children’s favourite pastime on their device is using apps. While many apps for children are free to install, app developers are using clever tactics to get our money in other ways. The app trap Most commonly, free apps are finished very quickly, meaning children will want the sequel, which just happens to cost money. Other are dotted with advertising, such as Baby Learns Numbers which disguise the ads as a cute panda in the game. When the child clicks on the character at different times during the game the ad appears. It might be free but the game comes with ads. Screenshot Of more concern is that many new apps are now rife with in-app purchases to help their developers turn a profit, such as Tap Pet Hotel and Tiny Zoo Friends. Most of these purchases are add-ons you can buy within the app, for example in Tap Pet Hotel buying treats and coins for the pets. In-app purchases can also include virtual currency, new features or extra lives (a particularly desirable option for young children struggling to master a new game). These in-app purchases are a clear revenue stream for app developers looking to cash in on their “free games”, as children can spend a small fortune on purchases without their parents’ knowledge, oblivious to the small fortune being drained out of their credit cards. Parents left with the bill During a recent radio talkback discussion, on which I was a guest, parents rang in with extraordinary tales of their children’s accidental and expensive online spending. One parent divulged that his six-year-old had spent A$700 in 15 minutes upgrading to new levels using in-app purchases. There have recently been a number of high profile media stories regarding young children’s online over-spending. One five-year-old in England recently racked up £1,700 pounds (A$3,100) in ten minutes playing a free game Zombies vs Ninjas. While his parents stepped out to do a touch of gardening, the boy had ordered additional weapons to battle the zombies – weapons that cost as...

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How many drones would it take to build your house? Use this calculator to find out
Feb18

How many drones would it take to build your house? Use this calculator to find out

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Randy Nelson from Movato has done some entertaining back of the envelope calculations to work out how many (Amazon) drones it would take to build the average house and how long it would take. There are a lot of assumptions but it certainly makes you think about the future of construction and transport. Those assumptions have been plugged into a calculator (below) so you can do the same thing for your own home. First you’ll need to estimate the size of your house in square feet. If you’re not sure you can use the average house sizes in the below countries as a starting point. 214 m2 (2,303 ft2) – Australia 201 m2 (2,164 ft2) – United States 181 m2 (1,948 ft2) – Canada 76 m2 (818 ft2) – UK 60 m2 (646 ft2) – China 45 m2 (484 ft2) – Hong Kong Build Your House With DronesBy Movoto Real Estate You can Follow Randy Nelson on Twitter here @DangerPenguin     Tom Peters.     Follow @Tom_Peters__ Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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Brand connection and The Lego Movie – what’s going on?
Feb18

Brand connection and The Lego Movie – what’s going on?

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Thanks to the release of The Lego Movie – which opened in the US to huge acclaim on February 7 – the Danish toy company looks set to extend its “brand connection” to generations of families, even further than it had before. But Lego is not the only brand that will be keen to maintain its currency by connecting with new and ever younger audiences across multi-channels. The much maligned Barbie Doll is still going strong in and out of the home, as is GI Joe. But how times change. Children are now connecting with virtual toys, apps and games, leaving many of these more tangible toys consigned to the attic. Emotional connection Any self-respecting marketer will tell you building a relationship with the customer establishes brand loyalty. For young consumers, including children, doing this through a movie helps establish a positive emotional connection between the brand and themselves. Two hours of brand advertising and product placement will hopefully lead to long-term brand recall, awareness and liking, so when parents ask their little ones if they want Lego, the answer will hopefully be a “yes!” and not a “no, I want a tablet!” This emotional connection is important. The more positive the connection, the more likely that an adult consumer will recall that memory in connection to the brand, resulting in the sale of an item, hopefully restarting the cycle all over again with the next generation. Physical vs virtual Showing how a product can be used is important. None more so than for kids who are looking at your physical product versus a virtual game that is increasingly becoming more life-like with multiple layers. The rapid success of bird games for mobile phones such as Angry Birds and Flappy Bird shows exactly what Lego is up against. Transformer Bumblebee. 邪恶的正太 Competing against this, by showing young consumers how they can use their own imagination in a variety of scenarios to create their own adventures is important to the success of brands such as Lego against the virtual onslaught. Transformers is one such brand to leverage off movies to reinvigorate interest in the brand, with the release of four films since 2007. Disney is also constantly introducing new brands to keep the next generation of consumers happy and engaged with the brand. Movies as a way around brand restrictions Movies, from a brand perspective, have the ability to expand a product into new markets and cultures where traditional forms of promotion are restricted, regulated or at risk of being lost in translation – just think of emerging markets...

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Higher, faster … cleaner? Doping and the Winter Olympics
Feb16

Higher, faster … cleaner? Doping and the Winter Olympics

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. A quick look at Wikipedia shows that Winter Olympians test positive for doping at a far lower rate than their Summer Olympic counterparts. The past two Summer Olympics (London and Beijing) saw 34 drug scandals (19 and 15 respectively) compared to one each from Turin and Vancouver. Why? The simple answer is that Winter Olympians are “cleaner”, but it seems naive to believe that Winter Olympic sport is somehow less vulnerable to doping, especially with claims a new, undetectable drug may be doing the rounds at Sochi. So what is going on? There is very little evidence that informs why this might be the case. However, there are two obvious answers worth exploring.The first is that Winter Olympians use fewer prohibited substances. The second is that Winter Olympians are better at doping. Let’s start with the more charitable option. 1. Winter Olympians use fewer prohibited substances Given the admission from former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) John Fahey that drug testing will never stop doping, it clearly has nothing to do with the deterrent value of testing. Canadian figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond, shown here competing in 2012, was drug tested in Sochi on Monday, just hours before competing. Wikimedia Commons Winter Olympic sports could simply be less vulnerable to doping. The myth that technical sports are less vulnerable persists because it is perceived that drugs tend to have little or no impact on performance. I have not seen any data on this, but if there is doping among ballet dancers then doping is possible in figure skating. Weight control can be a big issue that sees increased use of stimulants. Substances that enhance performance in Winter Olympic events may be systematically left off the WADA Prohibited List. Norway and Canada do rather better at the Winter Olympics than the Summer Olympics by investing heavily in the science of winter sports. As a consequence, perhaps athletes have no need to turn to doping. The Winter Games have less economic value than the Summer Olympics. This can be seen in broadcast rights and the support Australian Winter Olympians get relative to Summer Olympians. There may be less incentive to dope because Winter Olympic medals have (depending on who you ask) less value. Culturally, Winter Olympic sports may normalise refusing substance use. It seems naive, but is a plausible explanation. Equally, the relatively smaller Winter Olympic community (35% the size of the Summer Olympics) could make it harder to hide doping. Italian police officers leave after a late night doping raid on the Austrian biathlon ski team at the 2006...

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Videogames may actually help children with dyslexia: study
Feb14

Videogames may actually help children with dyslexia: study

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Action-packed videogames might help dyslexic adults learn to read, according to this study. Dyslexia is a reading disability that occurs when the brain does not properly recognise and process certain symbols. It is estimated to affect some 10% of the Australian population. The study, conducted by Vanessa Harrar at the University of Oxford and colleagues was published in Current Biology. A group of 17 dyslexic adults watched a screen, with loudspeakers on either side, and were asked to press a button as soon as they saw a dim flash, heard a sound or experienced both flash and sound together. The study found that reaction times were slower when dyslexic participants shifted attention from visual to auditory cues. In the paper, Dr Harrar suggests that dyslexics might learn audio-visual phonological associations faster if they first hear the sound and then see the corresponding letter/word. Nicholas Badcock, a postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University, said the findings of the study are potentially exciting. “To a lot of people, it makes sense that shifting attention between visual and auditory information is important for reading. Slower shifting would result in less fluent reading which in turn may affect comprehension as the meanings of the words would have to be retained in working memory for longer.” Dr Harrar suggests the findings of the study should be considered for dyslexia training programs, which traditionally involve seeing letters and words first and then hearing their sounds. Dr Harrar’s team also propose action videogames — which involve constantly shifting focus — might help train dyslexic people to shift attention quickly between visual and auditory stimuli. Flickr/demandaj Daniel Johnson, senior lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology, said previous research has also shown that videogame players demonstrate a better ability to process simultaneous information in different forms. But Anne Castles, also from Macquarie University, said we are a long way from being able to apply the study’s finding in a training context: “We do not yet know what underlies this effect, how it relates to reading acquisition, and indeed whether it is a cause or consequence of reading difficulties. It is also important to bear in mind that the sample size is small and that individuals with dyslexia are a diverse group.” Dr Badcock said the sample size of Dr Harrar’s study was too small to reliably demonstrate a difference between the control group and the dyslexic group: “Until clearer evidence is available, it would be difficult to justify including attentional shifting in a training program.” A 2013 study also found that dyslexic children showed significant improvements in...

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Hello fish face – a fossil fish reveals the origins of the human face
Feb13

Hello fish face – a fossil fish reveals the origins of the human face

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.   Lets face it – without a face no-one would recognise us, nor would we be able to guess what others might be thinking or feeling. Faces and their subtle degrees of symmetry and expression have defined human beauty and tragedy throughout past millennia of art and drama. Faces, though, are not uniquely human, but are a shared feature with all back-boned animals (vertebrates), from sharks to squirrels. So when and where did the face first acquire its modern, recognisable shape? A paper published today in Nature announced that the face had its origins deep within extinct armoured fishes called placoderms. We are all derived from placoderms Placoderms were really gnarly armoured fishes that ruled the oceans, rivers and lakes of the world from about 440-360 million years ago. They were the first animals to evolve jaws and teeth, a truly landmark event in evolution that denotes the beginning of the lineage leading to sharks, bony fishes, amphibians, reptiles and mammals. Indeed much of the human body plan took shape from these armour-plated fishes. Placoderms have given us many evolutionary legacies including paired hind limbs, mating by copulation, paired bony plates forming the skull, and even the modern inner ear with three semicircular canals. A new study by a team of French and Swedish scientists led by Dr Vincent Dupret, of the University of Uppsala, now builds upon recent work published in late 2013 in Nature on a “missing link” placoderm fish from China called Entelognathus. This was the first creature to have evolved a suite of bony upper and lower jaw bones similar to those in tetrapods, four legged animals like reptiles and mammals. This spectacular fossil fish rooted placoderms firmly at the base of the tree containing all higher vertebrates, including us. An old fossil revealed by new technology The new paper takes the evolutionary story a big step further back to an even more primitive placoderm, named Romundina. This fish was discovered in the early 1970s from an island in Arctic Canada and the 2-3cm long skulls were prepared out of the limestone rock using dilute formic acid to dissolve the rock away. First studied and named in 1975 by Norwegan palaeontologist Tor Ørvig (1916-1994), Romundina was one of the first examples of a very well-preserved 3D early placoderm fossil. It has been used in many studies of early vertebrate evolution, but up until now the detailed internal cranial anatomy remained unknown. “The tiny skull of the 400 million year old placoderm fish Romundina, from the left side view. Actual size about 3 cm long....

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Feathered dinosaur death site revealed as ‘animal Pompeii’
Feb13

Feathered dinosaur death site revealed as ‘animal Pompeii’

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.   A series of fossil discoveries in the 1990s changed our understanding of the lives of early birds and mammals, as well as the dinosaurs they shared an ecosystem with. All those discoveries had one thing in common: they came from a small region in northern China that preserved what is now called the Jehol Biota. Until now, however, no one knew why so many well-preserved fossils have been found in that region. In a new study published in Nature Communications, researchers have found that this remarkable preservation might have been the result of a Pompeii-like event, where hot ash from a volcanic eruption entombed these animals. Dino colours According to Sarah Gabbott at Leicester University, who wasn’t involved in the study, “unravelling the environments in which fossilisation took place, as the authors do in this paper, is very important. It places the fossils within the context of their habitat and it allows us to determine what filters and biases may have played a part.” These biases may affect which organisms get preserved. The fossils of the Jehol Biota are from the Early Cretaceous period, about 130 million years ago, and they comprise a wide variety of animals and plants. So far, about 60 species of plants, 1000 species of invertebrates, and 140 species of vertebrates have been found in the Jehol Biota. Photos show the typical entombing poses of the Jehol terrestrial vertebrate fossils. This boxer-like pose is typical of victims of pyroclastic density currents, resulting from postmortem tendons and muscles shortening. Baoyu Jiang One of the most remarkable discoveries to arise from these fossils came in 2010, when Michael Benton of the University of Bristol found colour-banding preserved in dinosaur fossils. These stripes of light and dark are similar to stripes in modern birds, and provided further evidence that dinosaurs that evolved into birds. Benton also found that these fossils had intact melanosomes – organelles that make pigments. This discovery allowed paleontologists, for the first time, to tell the colours of dinosaurs’ feathers. Rising from the ashes Baoyu Jiang of Nanjing University, the lead researcher of the new study, has been studying fossils from Jehol Biota for more than a decade. “About two years ago, we realised that the sediments and their enclosing skeletons may provide key clues about what happened to these animals when they were killed and buried,” he said. The fact that so many fossils were found exquisitely preserved from the same time period suggested some form of mass death. Even before Baoyu started this work, there were suggestions that volcanoes may have...

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In one fell swoop Sesame St just solved the world’s Flappy Bird crisis. Introducing ‘Flappy Bert’
Feb12

In one fell swoop Sesame St just solved the world’s Flappy Bird crisis. Introducing ‘Flappy Bert’

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. If you missed out on the Flappy Bird craze that (for some mostly unknown reason) recently swept the world – only for the game to be taken down – then fret no longer. Sesame St Workshop has just released ‘Flappy Bert’. It’s difficult, silly and wonderful. Well played Sesame St, very well played. Get your fix here   Tom Peters.   Follow @Tom_Peters__   Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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Facebook Fraud: How Facebook profits from all those fake accounts and likes
Feb12

Facebook Fraud: How Facebook profits from all those fake accounts and likes

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Derek Muller is the host of of the YouTube science channel ‘Veritasium’. Like many he suspected something wasn’t right with the way Facebook advertising worked so he set up a Fake account to run a test. He found that Facebook allows click farms to add Fake likes to Facebook pages as it pockets billions of dollars in revenue. The results won’t surprise anyone who has used Facebook’s ad services. Like this post and share it on Facebook to send a strong message about fraudulent advertising practices. Tom Peters.   Follow @Tom_Peters__ Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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Google and the European anti-trust deal – what does it mean?
Feb12

Google and the European anti-trust deal – what does it mean?

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. After years in the waiting, Google has finally struck a deal with the European Commission regarding alleged abuses of its dominant position in online search and advertising in the European Union. The Commission opened its investigation into Google more than three years ago. It has been a long saga and the Commission has rebuffed Google’s two previous offers and sent them back to the drawing board. The deal This deal means that Google will change what European users see on its search results page. Google much change its search results in Europe to include competitors. Google Whenever Google promotes its own services in these results – such as for travel, entertainment and shopping – it will also display results from three of a pool of eligible competitors. These results will be selected through an “objective” method and will be displayed clearly to users, like how Google displays its own services. This is more than Google offered before, which was to label results from its own services and put a frame around them on the screen and display alternatives from three rivals. In the new deal the results form competitors must be selected “objectively” and displayed in a similar way to Google’s own services. This might mean that Google has to give equal prominence on its results page to those from rivals services as it gives to its own. At the moment though it is not clear exactly how Google will go about making these changes, or indeed how the results from rivals will be selected “objectively”. Consessions so far The Commission and Google have already agreed on other steps Google must take to deal with concerns over its behaviour. Content providers such as online newspapers can opt-out from the use of their content in Google’s specialised search services such as Google News. They are still able to opt-in to their content appearing in Google’s general search results. Google will also remove any exclusivity requirements in its advertising contracts and restrictions on search advertising campaigns being run on other platforms. As a result of the deal, Google will not have to pay what could have been an enormous multi-billion dollar fine to the Commission and will also escape an official finding of wrongdoing. Google’s secret algorithm Perhaps an even bigger victory for Google is that it will also not have to reveal to the public any more information about how its secretive algorithm works. However, if the results of three of its rivals must be selected in an “objective” way, this might require passing on some information about how...

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The truth is out there – so how do you debunk a myth?
Feb11

The truth is out there – so how do you debunk a myth?

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. By John Cook Debunking myths requires an understanding of the psychological research into misinformation. But getting your refutation out in front of lots of eyeballs is a whole other matter. Here, I look at two contrasting case studies in debunking climate myths. If you don’t do it right, you run the risk of actually reinforcing the myth. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to avoid any potential backfire effects. Facts vs myths First and foremost, you need to emphasise the key facts you wish to communicate rather than the myth. Otherwise, you risk making people more familiar with the myth than with the correct facts. Duty calls. xkcd.com That doesn’t mean avoid mentioning the myth altogether. You have to activate it in people’s minds before they can label it as wrong. Secondly, you need to replace the myth with an alternate narrative. This is usually an explanation of why the myth is wrong or how it came about. Essentially, debunking is creating a gap in people’s minds (removing the myth) then filling that gap (with the correct explanation). If you had to boil down all the psychological research into six words then it can be summed up as follows: fight sticky ideas with stickier ideas. Myths are persistent, stubborn and memorable. To dislodge a myth, you need to counter it with an even more compelling, memorable fact. The skeptical plan With that principle in mind, the Skeptical Science team set out to debunk two climate myths in 2013. We were guided by cognitive psychology as we constructed our rebuttals. In both cases, we sought a different path to our usual social media practice of immediate blogging, tweeting and Facebook and looked for something that would have a long-term impact. Case Study 1: Communicating the scientific consensus on climate change We decided to tackle arguably the most destructive climate myth of all, that there is no scientific consensus about human-caused global warming. This misconception has grave consequences for society. When the public think that scientists don’t agree on human-caused global warming, they’re less likely to support policies to mitigate climate change. We decided to increase awareness of the scientific consensus with a three-pronged approach: scholarly research mainstream media coverage social media outreach. The Skeptical Science team spent about a year doing the scholarly research – reading the abstracts of 12,000 climate papers published from 1991 to 2011. We identified around 4000 abstracts stating a position on human-caused global warming and among those papers, more than 97% endorsed the consensus. The media message When our research...

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Health Check: is it safe to cut mould off food?
Feb04

Health Check: is it safe to cut mould off food?

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.   The short answer is that it’s a lot safer than not cutting it off. Some moulds make and release poisons, called mycotoxins, into the food that could, over time, make you very sick. Why they do it is not especially well understood but that doesn’t make it any safer. Some mouldy foods should simply be discarded (ideally, to compost). For others, though, you can salvage and use the unaffected parts without exposing yourself to a health risk. That’s good if your mouldy food is an expensive, vintage cheddar cheese! The life of moulds Moulds are fungi. They’re related to mushrooms, and the yeasts we use to make bread, or convert sugars to alcohol. They are heterotrophs, meaning they can’t make their own food (unlike plants). Instead, they degrade complex organic molecules in their environment into smaller molecules they can absorb to meet their energy and nutrient needs. In nature, mould’s ability to break down detritus (waste) ensures that dead matter doesn’t accumulate. It also enables the release of minerals that are chemically tied up in detritus to the plants that need them for their primary production. Moulds are single-celled organisms and, individually, are microscopic. When water and nutrients are available (such as in semi-perishable foods) they grow in number: to procreate, mould cells simply make copies of all essential cell components, and then divide into two new (genetically identical) “daughter” cells. When moulds divide the two cells stay connected and when they divide again and again, they form a long chain of cells, called a hypha. The hyphae can branch and collectively form a complex matrix called a mycelium that, when big enough, can be seen with an unaided eye. This is the furry growth we can see, for example, on crumpets, berries, jam, tomato paste, cheese, and so on. Not all moulds on foods will produce mycotoxins, or produce them at harmful levels. Sleepy Gonzales The growing tips of the hyphae release enzymes into the environment to degrade complex organic molecules into usable nutrients. The tips of the hyphae also release the mycotoxins which are probably released to ward off competitors. So, wherever the mycelia go in search of nutrients, toxins may also be found. The extent of spread of the mycelium is not always visible, however, and herein lies the problem. What to do? Many moulds can grow on, and spoil, our foods. Among those we are likely to encounter on foods in our homes are Penicillium (“cousins” of those used to make antibiotics, or to ripen some cheeses), Aspergillus, and on fruits, Botrytis. You’re...

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Adobe issues emergency Flash update to patch vulnerability exploited in attacks on Windows and Mac users
Feb04

Adobe issues emergency Flash update to patch vulnerability exploited in attacks on Windows and Mac users

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Adobe today released a security bulletin addressing a critical vulnerability (CVE-2014-0497) in its Flash product that could allow an attacker to remotely take control of an affected system. The company says it is aware of reports that the security hole is being exploited in the wild. Affected versions include Flash Player 12.0.0.43 and earlier for Windows and Macintosh as well as Flash Player 11.2.202.335 and earlier for Linux. As such, Adobe recommends that users update their product installations to the latest versions: Users of Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.43 and earlier versions for Windows and Macintosh should update to Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.44. Users of Adobe Flash Player 11.2.202.335 and earlier versions for Linux should update to Adobe Flash Player 11.2.202.336. Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.41 installed with Google Chrome will automatically be updated to the latest Google Chrome version, which will include Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.44 for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.38 installed with Internet Explorer 10 will automatically be updated to the latest Internet Explorer 10 version, which will include Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.44 for Windows 8.0. Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.38 installed with Internet Explorer 11 will automatically be updated to the latest Internet Explorer 11 version, which will include Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.44 for Windows 8.1. In other words, unless you’re using the latest versions of Chrome or Internet Explorer, you’ll want to manually update Adobe Flash immediately. You can get the latest version now directly from the Adobe Download Center.         Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.Read the full article...

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Testing to see if anyone will read a story about the environment during the Superbowl
Feb02

Testing to see if anyone will read a story about the environment during the Superbowl

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.We’re pretty sure no one will read this great article about the environment but it’s a gripping story with genuine insight. Maybe you could squeeze in a paragraph or two during the breaks. Also, the Seahawks are smashing the Broncos…     An insider’s story of the global attack on climate science A recent headline – Failed doubters trust leaves taxpayers six-figure loss – marked the end of a four-year epic saga of secretly-funded climate denial, harassment of scientists and tying-up of valuable government resources in New Zealand. It’s likely to be a familiar story to my scientist colleagues in Australia, the UK, USA and elsewhere around the world. But if you’re not a scientist, and are genuinely trying to work out who to believe when it comes to climate change, then it’s a story you need to hear too. Because while the New Zealand fight over climate data appears finally to be over, it’s part of a much larger, ongoing war against evidence-based science. From number crunching to controversy In 1981 as part of my PhD work, I produced a seven-station New Zealand temperature series, known as 7SS, to monitor historic temperature trends and variations from Auckland to as far south as Dunedin in southern New Zealand. A decade later, in 1991-92 while at the NZ Meteorological Service, I revised the 7SS using a new homogenisation approach to make New Zealand’s temperature records more accurate, such as adjusting for when temperature gauges were moved to new sites. The Kelburn Cable Car trundles up into the hills of Wellington. Shutterstock/amorfati.art For example, in 1928 Wellington’s temperature gauge was relocated from an inner suburb near sea level up into the hills at Kelburn, where – due to its higher, cooler location – it recorded much cooler temperatures for the city than before. With statistical analysis, we could work out how much Wellington’s temperature has really gone up or down since the city’s temperature records began back in 1862, and how much of that change was simply due to the gauge being moved uphill. (You can read more about re-examining NZ temperatures here.) So far, so uncontroversial. But then in 2008, while working for a NZ government-owned research organisation, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), we updated the 7SS. And we found that at those seven stations across the country, from Auckland down to Dunedin, between 1909 and 2008 there was a warming trend of 0.91°C. Soon after that, things started to get heated. The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition, linked to a global climate change denial group,...

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UK government concedes their internet adult filter is ‘overblocking’ and draws up whitelist
Jan31

UK government concedes their internet adult filter is ‘overblocking’ and draws up whitelist

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.   As predicted by many in the tech industry, the UK Governments attempt to block websites considered unacceptable has over-reached. They have now acknowledged the mistake and are in the process of establishing a ‘whitelist’ to alleviate some of the immediate problems which include the blocking of many charity and health sites. David Miles, chairman of the working group on over-blocking for the government’s UK Council for Child Internet Safety said: “Research suggests the amount of inadvertent blocking is low. However, if you are a charity and you deal with teenagers in distress that 1 or 10 matters to you. We are building a master list of sites that the charities are helping us with and actively testing this right now, This is more of a temporary band-aid than a long term solution to the problems created by large scale internet filtering but for the many charities effected it will provide some welcome relief. A spokesman for the Internet Service Providers Association told the BBC. “There’s a growing realisation that filters are not perfect and will lead to some over-blocking,  There’s a feeling that some sites sit in a grey area and more needs to be done for them.” Network level filtering of the internet is a controversial subject for many countries. Australia notably managed to thwart a recent attempt by the now voted out Labor party to implement a so called ‘clean feed’ filter. Andrew Goode, COO of advertising technology provider Project Sunblock summed up the frustration of many when he commented: “Whilst protecting children from the darker recesses of the internet by forcing ISPs to block sites might make great headlines for the Government, the initiative will fail. Using whitelists is never going to work as the ability for sites to be mirrored is just too easy for those people who are committed to making illegal and inappropriate content available online. Blocking websites isn’t enough to clean up the Internet and stop criminals from profiting from pirate websites. “   Tom Peters.   Follow @Tom_Peters__ Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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Foursquare might become useful again now that you can use it to order food
Jan30

Foursquare might become useful again now that you can use it to order food

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.     Foursquare has gone from flavor of the month in 2009 to a forgotten afterthought for millions of its (former) users. But a partnership with Grubhub might actually be the kick in the pants the app needs for me to start using it again. Starting today you can order food to be delivered from local restaurants directly from inside the app. Click on the Grubhub or seamless icons and start placing your order. The menu is visible from inside the foursquare app and for those of us that have worked hard on their custom ass-groove in the couch this could be just the thing to stop us ever having to leave the house (or open two pesky apps to order dinner – oh please won’t somebody think of my fingers). Pro-tip: Search for what you’re craving and the word “delivery” to see the restaurants nearby that will come to you. (Example: taco delivery)   Source: The official Foursquare blog     Tom Peters.     Follow @Tom_Peters__ Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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GoDaddy accepts some responsibility for the theft of the @N twitter name but Naoki’s nightmare takes a new twist
Jan30

GoDaddy accepts some responsibility for the theft of the @N twitter name but Naoki’s nightmare takes a new twist

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.     Todd Redfoot, the Chief Information Security Officer of GoDaddy has released an official statement on the theft of the @N twitter username belonging to Naoki Hiroshima. GoDaddy Statement RE: @N Issue Our review of the situation reveals that the hacker was already in possession of a large portion of the customer information needed to access the account at the time he contacted GoDaddy. The hacker then socially engineered an employee to provide the remaining information needed to access the customer account. The customer has since regained full access to his GoDaddy account, and we are working with industry partners to help restore services from other providers. We are making necessary changes to employee training to ensure we continue to provide industry-leading security to our customers and stay ahead of evolving hacker techniques. -Todd Redfoot, GoDaddy Chief Information Security Officer   Naoki wrote a detailed article recounting his interactions with the hacker and the process used to fleece him of his unique username. In his article he states that the hacker specifically used PayPal as a stepping stone to get access to his GoDaddy domain name which controlled his email address. PayPal have strenuously denied Naoki’s claim that they played a role in the loss of his twitter account. As we do with all incidents of this nature, we immediately began an investigation to understand the details of the case. While it is against our policies to discuss details related to our customers’ accounts, we did want to provide at least a few facts publicly. We have carefully reviewed our records and can confirm that there was a failed attempt made to gain this customer’s information by contacting PayPal. PayPal did not divulge any credit card details related to this account. PayPal did not divulge any personal or financial information related to this account. This individual’s PayPal account was not compromised.   Their claim of complete innocence requires further scrutiny before it can be ratified but we are inclined to believe that the hackers statement to the contrary has an element of truth in it. From Naoki’s article the hacker claimed: – I called paypal and used some very simple engineering tactics to obtain the last four of your card (avoid this by calling paypal and asking the agent to add a note to your account to not release any details via phone)   Naoki agrees @tapbot_paul @panzer yeah, I think he doesn't have much reasons to lie about it. — Naoki Hiroshima (@N_is_stolen) January 29, 2014 We’re in the middle of ‘he said, she said’ blame-athon and we expect the full details...

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GoPro have done it again… This may be their best video ever!
Jan28

GoPro have done it again… This may be their best video ever!

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.     We live in a world of transition. Advertising is morphing into advertorials and advertorials have morphed into the even more insidious native content (where publishers pretend an ad is a story and hope you don’t notice the tiny disclaimer). Brands are struggling to adapt and in the process they’ve made some pretty dodgy content. Formerly slick agencies have put out some dogs and few companies have navigated these new waters unscathed. One company that is thriving in the new world order is GoPro. Blessed with a product that gives them both a natural segue into adventure based content and their own platform to film it on they have made some of the best videos we’ve seen over the last few years. Their latest one might even be their best. They’ve jumped on the bandwagon made popular by Redbull (one of the few other brands getting this right) and they’ve shot a video of Ken Block and his amazing motorized Gymkhana gymnastics. In principle it’s not enormously different to the formula that has worked so well for Redbull. Have a guy do a crazy thing and film it. As a camera manufacturer GoPro do it better than Redbull by placing cameras all over the car and all over the course. The change of viewpoints and the reveal of intricate details made possible by the tiny size of the camera are fantastic. Whilst few of us have the talent to try driving like this at home the reasonably low cost of the GoPro makes a lot of us think we should possibly give this (or something equally hair brained like it) a go. A video speaks more than a thousand words so I’ll just let you watch it for yourself. From a media point of view what interests me most is that GoPro is achieving mass reach to exactly the right demographic for no advertising spend. This is the holy grail of advertising. In fact with more than 400 million youtube views and a car and driver lathered in sponsors (that don’t compete with GoPro) it’s quite possible that GoPro is making money on producing video content that are effectively ‘mega ads’. The cynic in me wants to find reasons to fault their strategy but the adventure junkie in me can’t help but salute their great work and wish other companies would stop trying to shove lame commercials down my throat and start making content that I and 400 million other people are happy to watch by choice. Well played GoPro, you’ve won this round.        ...

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Google and Lego experiment lets you build anything in your browser
Jan28

Google and Lego experiment lets you build anything in your browser

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter. Google and Lego have teamed up to create a virtual lego set in your browser. It only works with Google Chrome and it’s not quite the same as the real thing but it is fun and it is fast. The interface adds a new brick to your pointer the moment that you’ve placed the previous brick, meaning you can build towers in seconds. Large structures take a fraction of the time to create in the browser. It takes a while to get the hang of changing bricks but with 8 trillion of them at your disposal the possibilities are endless. Your creation can be shared with everyone via Google+ and there are already some impressive builds. We’re expecting to see some of the more interesting (and possibly not safe for work) creations on the dedicated Reddit Forum Get started on your own Lego creation here If you need a brush up on your lego skills Google has created a ‘Build Academy’ to help you with the transition from real world to the browser Lego Build Academy.     Follow @Andrew303 Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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Original Jurassic Park Velociraptor cage up for sale on eBay
Jan27

Original Jurassic Park Velociraptor cage up for sale on eBay

Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on Twitter.   The Velociraptor Cage from the opening scene of Jurassic Park is being auctioned on Ebay. With 8 days to go it has already received 153 bids and at the time of writing was fetching $99,100.10. The cage itself seems in reasonable condition and who would begrudge it a couple of scratches after what it went through (on screen).   The cage comes with a Velociraptor prop, however it’s a prop used to promote the movie at the premiere, not an actual prop from the movie and it looks a little worse for wear.   It’s been 21 years since the movie was released but watching the opening scene now it still holds up and manages to send a chill down your spine. Fast forward to 1:20 to see the Velociraptor cage in action. Jurassic Park went on to become the highest grossing film of all time (since beaten but remains in the top 15 films) and ushered in a new generation of special effects. Steven Spielberg managed to coax Sir David Attenborough out of retirement to play John Hammond. A feat made all the more impressive because it was Attenborough’s film ‘Ghandi’ that beat Spielberg’s ‘ET’ out of the Oscar for both best film and best director in 1983. Whilst the bidding for the Velociraptor cage already seems prohibitively high. I’m still considering launching a kickstarter campaign to buy the Velociraptor Cage for the one guy on earth who would appreciate it above all others. It would be a fitting thank you to Randall Munroe – the author of XKCD – for years of laughs via his much loved web comic. It’s hard to imagine anyone who spends more time thinking about caging Velociraptors than him.   Source: XKCD – 87 If you’ve got a spare hundred thousand or so lying around and a big heart feel free to bid on the Cage here Velociraptor cage and donate it to Randall or Science, they’re basically the same thing.   Thanks for reading, Andrew Richardson Feel free to hit me up via Twitter, Google+ or please leave a comment below.   Follow @Andrew303 Share on Facebook.Share on Twitter.Share on Google+Share on StumbleUponShare on...

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