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Facebook breaches Canadian privacy law: commissioner

According to the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Facebook's sharing of personal information with developers breaches Canadian privacy law, specifically the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents ACT (PIPEDA). The commission's report cited four points that breached the act (insufficient safeguards for what information is given to developers, the indefinite retention of information from deactivated accounts, the retention of information from the accounts of deceased people "for memorial purposes", and allowing users to provide information about non-users without their consent) and made recommendations about how these issues could be addressed.
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Fake web traffic can hide secret chat - tech - 26 May 2009 - New Scientist

Retransmission Stenography makes use of TCP's packet retransmission scheme to send secret messages. The system works by embedding data in packets returned to sender flagged as corrupted. If the original transmitter is looking for markers indicating the presence of these messages, they can compose a clandestine message from a sequence of retransmitted packages. If they keep the retransmission rate to about 1 in 1000 packets then nobody has reason to suspect that secret messages are being transmitted. The developers hope to use this to help people under totalitarian regimes get information out under the noses of government sensors.
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3D-based Captchas become reality | Crave - CNET

Sofware developers at YUNiti.com have developed a new Captcha test based on the identification of 3D objects rather than identifying letter-number combinations.

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The Way We Live Now - Growing Up on Facebook - NYTimes.com

An interesting article pointing out what may be some problems with growing up so connected; namely, being able to discard your past and start fresh, as many of us of the older generation have, sometimes on several occasions.
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BBC NEWS | Technology | Easy login plans gather pace

Facebook as just signed on to the OpenID format, allowing you to log in using a common ID and password rather than your email address. According to OpenID.net, current OpenID members include AOL (yes, they still exist), LiveJournal, Blogger, Technorati, VOX, Yahoo, and WordPress.
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Google has introduced a few new software "toys" recently

1) FOXNews.com - Where Are Your Friends and Family? Check Google Maps - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News
"Latitude" allows users to let themselves be tracked by other users so that an icon of them shows up on their friend's Google Maps view.

2) New Google Mars Reveals the Red Planet in 3-D
Google Earth recently announced a module called Virtual Mars that lets you visit Mars, even soar through canyons and mountain ranges. The offering is based on 3D data of the Martian surface that has been made available to the public.

3) New Google Ocean Takes Google Earth Beyond the "Dirt"
Space may be one "final frontier", but not the only one. Google Earth has also released a module called Ocean that lets users visit Earth's aquatic depths, even soar through canyons and mountain ranges. Yes, I meant to say it again. The offering is holed to raise awareness of the beauty and fragility of our oceans.

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RIAA president: No talk of blacklisting file sharers | Digital Media - CNET News

The RIAA has announced that it will no longer be pursuing lawsuits against people they allege are engaged in illegal file-sharing. Instead, they are negotiating agreements with ISPs to send emails to those they claim are engaged in this activity. After three warnings, the ISP would then shut down the user's Internet access. RIAA president Cary Sherman describes this as a change in philosophy from litigation to deterrent.

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University of Montreal researchers have developed a method to train athletes brains to increase the speed at which they absorb and process information my more than 50%. The process involves repeated hour-long multiple-object tracking exercises. They were asked to identify balls with rapidly changing colour as the balls performed increasingly rapid movements.

Speaking of enhancements, an American artist and a Canadian film-maker want to have their artificial eyes replaced with webcams. Each of them have lost one of their eyes in an accident and each now wear prosthetics. Last week Tanya Vlach, an artist in San Francisco, posted an online request to engineers to design an artificial eye that contains a wireless webcam. Rob Spence of Toronto contacted her while in California attending a conference on how he intends to enhance his artificial eye with the help of Steve Mann, a University of Toronto professor. The new prosthetic wouldn't enhance their vision but would allow them to record the world from the unique perspective of one of their eyes. Spence and Mann claim that just such a device could be ready within the next six months.

A Columbian woman was the first to receive an organ grown from her own stem cells. The team of Spanish surgeons replaced her windpipe with one made by growing cells she had donated on a collagen matrix made by chemically removing all the cells from a donor windpipe. The windpipe was "grown" in a British-made bioreactor, requiring just 4 days to reach maturity. The woman is now home and living a relatively normal life.

NASA has completed the first phase of testing an Interplanetary Internet based on DTN (Disruption-Tolerant Networking). They hope to use the network to handle communications among spacecraft within our solar system.

The International Space Station turns 10 years old on Thursday.  Meanwhile, a recent experiment onboard the ISS revealed that spiders in space don't weave symmetrical webs. In fact, what they weave appears to be a disorganized tangle extending in three dimensions.

Google has reached an agreement to host almost 10 million photos from Life Magazine's library, most of which have never before been published. As of Tuesday, more than 2 million of the photos had been uploaded and made available to the public.

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It's been a long time since I posted one of these, so here are a few from the world of science.

Fruits and Veggies reduce likelihood of contracting the flu - specifically, those containing quercetin, a chemical relative of resveratrol, found in red onions, grapes and red wine, brocolli, tea, and blueberries. The first study involved inoculating mice with the flu virus and determined that mice given quercetin were less likely to contract flu. A second study was conducted with humans, but stressful exercise was substitute for the flu virus inoculation because a previous mouse study linked increase susceptibility to the flu with stressful exercise. Bottom line: eat your fruits and veggies.

High protein breakfast better for dieters - In particular, high-quality protein early in the day results in a more sustained feeling of fullness, reducing the dieter's likelihood of snacking. In the study eggs and lean Canadian bacon were used as the protein source in the mornings, although the linked article suggests yoghurt, and low-fat cheese and other low-fat dairy products, can be used as well for variety.

Gender differences in antidepressants - A recent study found that women were 33% more likely to get relief from depression after using Celexa than men. The national study discovered that the gender bias persisted even after accounting many possible complicating factors, but have no explanation for the results. Future research may focus on hormonal differences that may account for some of the gender effect.

Steve MacLean to head Canadian Space Agency - The former astronaut has been selected to direct Canada's space program.

Google turns 10 - on September 4th, Google celebrated it's 10th year in existence.

Focused ultrasound simulates virtual barriers - A team of Japanese researchers have developed a system that uses focused ultrasound to give users the impression of the an arbitrarily-shaped surface. The system may be useful for applications ranging from 3D modeling to gaming.

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Ocean-going robot gone green - In December a hybrid "glider" robot was released to criss-cross the Virgin Islands Basin. The robot uses thermal stratification of the ocean as a form of propulsion; specifically, when at the surface where the water is warmer, thermal energy causes the robot to move oil from inside to outside bladders, changing it bouyancy so that it can sink, using its wings to control the direction in which it dives. In deeper water, the cold water reverses the process and the robot begins to ascend. It is expected that the robot can function for up to six months.

Virtual Worlds believed the next terrorist hot-spot - US Intelligence officials believe that the anonymity and global access of virtual worlds makes them an ideal place for terrorist to meet, plot, and conduct financial transactions away from the prying eyes of the intelligence community. This has intelligence officials concerned because they are unable to monitor transactions or spy on people effectively when they are interacting in a virtual world.

That data you bring to the US border may be confiscated - There are reports that US border officials have been copying, and in some cases erasing, information stored on electronic devices brought through the US border. At least one lawsuit is being conducted in response to more than 15 reported cases of search and seizure of electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops, and MP3 players. In response, some companies have made it policy to ensure that any and all confidential data be removed from any electronic device being brought into the US.

Government-approved spyware - The FBI has applied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for approval to release its CIPAV spyware. The spyware is designed to infiltrate computers to obtain its IP and MAC Ethernet addresses, open TCP and UDP ports, and a variety of information about the computer itself, including the last URL accessed by the machine. The program sends the data back to a central computer periodically.
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As of February 1, a total of 5 undersea cables, operated by two cable operators, have suffered faults that have left 1.7 million Internet users in the United Arab Emirates offline.  Telephone and Internet traffic to countries like Egypt, Iran and Dubia have been reduced by more than 70% according to some reports. More distant countries like India have experienced a 50% loss in bandwidth, affecting services like call centres. It is theorized that a ship's anchor snagged a cable during a recent storm... unless you prefer the many conspiracy theories that are emerging.

Found on Slashdot.

Edit: Check out [personal profile] siderea's post (http://siderea.livejournal.com/556026.html) for some interesting information on undersea cables.
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Young internet users are apparently becoming frustrated because "old" people (older than 40, so I guess I'm officially old) are savy enough to be able to use many of the same social networking sites. The result has been that teens have to decide between not friending adults they know in real life or being more careful about what they post.

Found on Techdirt
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The head of the the European Union's data privacy regulators states that IP addresses should be considered personal information. This conflicts with the views of some industry players, such as Google, that consider IP addresses to be linked only to the computer and not the person, so should not be considered personal information. For example, "click fraud" can be detected by tracking the IP address of those that click on an ad. Multiple "clicks" from the same IP indicates that the ad traffic is being artificially inflated.
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As of 1 February 2008, Netscape Navigator will no longer be supported.  The browser was first released in 1994 and quickly dominated the market. It was acquired by AOL in 1998 after winning a legal battle with Microsoft over unfair business practices for bundling its Internet Explorer with its Windows operating system. Netscape was never able to regain its market share after the battle.
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Some psychologist believe that Google's PageRank system may be a good approximation of how human memory works. The theory is that neural links may be functionally similar to Web links for the purposes of determining the "importance" of a concept. The more popular a web link, the higher it is ranked. Similarly, mental links that are more frequently used are given higher priority.

This is your brain on on Google.
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According to a US web security firm, 95% of the email delivered in 2007 consisted of junk mail.
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Last week, a security flaw was discovered in Passport Canada's online application site. The breach was discovered when an applicant, out of curiosity, changed a letter in the URL and found that he was able to see confidential information from another applicant, including social insurance and driver's license numbers. He informed Passport Canada who closed down the site until the source of the problem could be determined. They reported that the breach was fixed as of Friday.
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washingtonpost.com - Technology
New Service Eavesdrops on Internet Calls - A startup has come up with a new way to make money from phone calls connected via the Internet: having software listen to the calls, then displaying ads on the callers' computer screens based on what's being talked about. A test of Puddingmedia's beta software was a mixed success: Relevant ads appeared when this reporter talked about restaurants and computers, but the software was oddly insistent that he should seek a career as a social worker, showing multiple ads and links pointing to that field.

Eggshells Could Help Power Hydrogen Cars - Eggs give many of us the fuel we need to start the day, but leftover eggshells of the future could provide fuel to start hydrogen cars. The fragile leftovers can be ground up and used to filter out carbon dioxide, a pesky by-product of hydrogen production, engineers said. In fact, it's now the most effective carbon dioxide absorber ever tested.

New Scientist Tech - Technology
Quantum chip rides on superconducting bus - For the first time the components that underlie quantum computing's great potential – qubits – have been linked on chips like those in conventional computers. Two US research teams used superconducting circuits to make two of the quantum components linked by a quantum information cable or bus.

Technology Review Feed - Tech Review Top Stories
Gene Tests That Help People Quit Smoking - New research suggests that genetic testing could quickly distinguish which smokers would benefit from bupropion. The findings add to a growing number of studies linking genetics to nicotine addiction and the ability to quit, and raise the possibility that quitting strategies could be more effectively tailored to individual patients.

Internet Uses 9.4% of Electricity In the US - ribuck writes "Equipment powering the internet accounts for 9.4% of electricity demand in the U.S., and 5.3% of global demand, according to research by David Sarokin at online pay-for-answers service Uclue. Worldwide, that's 868 billion kilowatt-hours per year. The total includes the energy used by desktop computers and monitors (which makes up two-thirds of the total), plus other energy sinks including modems, routers, data processing equipment and cooling equipment."
Canadian Copyright Official Dumped Over MPAA Conflict - An anonymous reader writes "The Canadian government's top copyright policy maker has been moved aside after revelations that she was in a personal relationship with Hollywood's top Canadian lobbyist. The development is raising questions about how the MPAA got an anti-camcording bill passed in only three weeks and what it means for the introduction of a Canadian DMCA."

PhysOrg.com - latest science and technology news
Why don't painkillers work for people with fibromyalgia? - People who have the common chronic pain condition fibromyalgia often report that they don’t respond to the types of medication that relieve other people’s pain. New research from the University of Michigan Health System helps to explain why that might be: Patients with fibromyalgia were found to have reduced binding ability of a type of receptor in the brain that is the target of opioid painkiller drugs such as morphine.
Babies raised in bilingual homes learn new words differently than infants learning one language - Infants who are raised in bilingual homes learned two similar-sounding words in a laboratory task at a later age than babies who are raised in homes where only one language is spoken. This difference, which is thought to be advantageous for bilingual infants, appears to be due to the fact that bilingual babies need to devote their attention to the general associations between words and objects (often a word in each language) for a longer period, rather than focusing on detailed sound information.
6 Die From Brain-Eating Amoeba in Lakes - It sounds like science fiction but it's true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die. Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it's killed six boys and young men this year. According to the CDC, the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL'-erh-eye) killed 23 people in the United States, from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials noticed a spike with six cases - three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.
Childhood TV viewing a risk for behavior problems - Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, according to a study of children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
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Backlight - Backlight is a demonstration of electroless metal plating by Tony Wurman of New York–based Wunderwurks. In contrast to conventional electrolytic processes, electroless plating uses a nongalvanic chemical plating method involving multiple reactions in an aqueous solution without external electrical power. Electroless plating can provide decorative and protective finishes for many materials, including metal, wood, glass, plastic, stone, fiberglass, ceramics, and even fabrics.

ABC News: Technology

Scientists Find Gene for Emotional Memory - Research, published Sunday in the journal Nature Neuroscience, found that those with a certain common genetic variation tend to more readily remember emotionally charged events, for better or for worse.
'Camera on Every Corner': Protection or Invasion? - Fourteen-year-old Roberto Duran loved computers and soccer, but his dreams ended in a roar of gunfire on a quiet Chicago block earlier this summer. Roberto's alleged killers, who had mistaken him for a rival gang member, were eventually arrested thanks to police surveillance cameras that captured the getaway. But critics worry more surveillance will mean less privacy for Americans.
Explosion Kills 3 at Mojave Airport - An explosion that killed three at a Mojave Desert airport during testing of a new space tourism vehicle has shaken a small community that prides itself as the hometown of the first private space launch. The blast Thursday at a remote test facility belonging to Scaled Composites LLC critically injured three other employees working on a propellant system for the vehicle.

The Globe and Mail

Author sees happy ending without humans - In his new book Alan Weisman imagines the Earth after polluters, proselytizers and the rest of us disappear
Are your friends making you fat? - Researchers who have studied “networks” of obesity think so: they found that if someone's friend becomes obese, that person's chances of becoming obese increase by more than half. Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers said their findings show that obesity is contagious — not like a virus is contagious, but in a social sense.

New Scientist - Energy and Fuels

Flying windmills could harness the jet stream - Flying windmills tapping jet stream wind currents may sound far fetched, but groups in the US, Netherlands and Canada say such devices may soon be within reach. If successfully developed, they could harness an enormous amount of reliable, renewable energy.

Physics Org

New aerogels could clean contaminated water, purify hydrogen for fuel cells - Argonne materials scientists Peter Chupas and Mercouri Kanatzidis, along with colleagues at Northwestern and Michigan State universities, created and characterized porous semiconducting aerogels at Argonne's Advanced Photon Source (APS). The researchers then submerged a fraction of a gram of the aerogel in a solution of mercury-contaminated water and found that the gel removed more than 99.99 percent of the heavy metal. The researchers believe that these gels can be used not only for this kind of environmental cleanup but also to remove impurities from hydrogen gas that could damage the catalysts in potential hydrogen fuel cells.
Lithium and bone healing - Researchers have described a novel molecular pathway that may have a critical role in bone healing and have suggested that lithium, which affects this pathway, has the potential to improve fracture healing.
Web Site Archives the Dead of MySpace - Somewhere deep in cyberspace, where reality blurs into fiction and the living greet the dead, there are ghosts. They live in a virtual graveyard without tombstones or flowers. They drift among the shadows of the people they used to be, and the pieces they left behind.
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Physics Org
See-through transistor fabricated for future e-displays - Scientists have recently taken an important step toward the development of "see-through" flexible electronic displays by fabricating fully transparent, high-speed nanowire transistors. This piece of circuitry, the first transistor to demonstrate full transparency, could help turn ideas such as e-paper, displays on sunglasses, and maps on car windshields into a reality.
Unique Material May Allow Capacitors to Store More Energy - Imagine an electric car with the same acceleration capability as a gas-powered sports car, or ultrafast rechargeable "batteries" that can be recharged a thousand times more than existing conventional batteries. According to physicists at North Carolina State University, all of these things are possible, thanks to their research on a polymer - or plastic material - that when used as a dielectric in capacitors may allow the capacitors to store up to seven times more energy than those currently in use.
Prevent smoking to reduce risk of erectile dysfunction - Men who smoke cigarettes run an increased risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction, and the more cigarettes smoked, the greater the risk, according to a study by Tulane University researchers published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
Obese girls less likely to attend college - Obese girls are half as likely to attend college as non-obese girls, according to a new study from The University of Texas at Austin.
Robots Clear Waterways of Deadly Mines - As it slowly moves in the shallow water along a beach, the robot splashes its fins like a small child playing in the surf. But the prototype device has a serious mission: destroying mines that could kill Marines and Navy SEALs as they come on shore. Such technology is considered the future of underwater bomb detection.
More fish oil, less vegetable oil, better for your health - Scientists have provided new evidence that using more fish oil than vegetable oil in the diet decreases the formation of chemicals called prostanoids, which, when produced in excess, increase inflammation in various tissues and organs. The results, by William L. Smith, Professor and Chair of Biological Chemistry at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and colleagues, may help in designing new anti-inflammatory drugs with fewer side effects than the ones currently available.
People, animals behave better when watched: study - When people and animals know they are being watched, they behave in more positive ways toward others, according to a study published Thursday by the US magazine Science.
X-48B Blended Wing Body Research Aircraft Takes First Flight - NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif., provided critical support for the first flight July 20 of the X-48B. The 21-foot wingspan, 500-pound remotely piloted test vehicle took off for the first time at 8:42 a.m. PDT and climbed to an altitude of 7,500 feet before landing 31 minutes later. The Boeing Co. of Seattle developed the blended wing body research aircraft.
MIT duo see people-powered 'Crowd Farm' - Two graduate students at MIT's School of Architecture and Planning want to harvest the energy of human movement in urban settings, like commuters in a train station or fans at a concert.
MySpace Finds 29,000 Sex Offenders - MySpace.com has found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders with profiles on the popular social networking Web site - more than four times the number cited by the company two months ago, officials in two states Tuesday.

January 2010

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