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Saturday, August 18, 2007

CIA and Vatican amoungst Wikipedia editors

In my post yesterday, "WikiScanner keeping things real" I pointed to a story about a new website that allows you to see who is editing what on Wikipedia. In this story from Australia's Sydney Morning Herald, CIA and Vatican IP addresses are cited as the sources of edits to pages with obvious self serving intents. The CIA computers are linked to "nearly 300 edits to subjects including Iran's president, the Argentine navy, and China's nuclear arsenal." while an IP address belonging to the Vatican is said to have been used "to remove references to evidence linking Ireland's Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to a decades-old double murder." In a perfect world such measures would not be required to make Wikipedia an open and reliable tool. If nothing else perhaps those with intent to mislead will be a little more careful of where they are making their edits from.

Free online game, unless you put a price on your time

In the world of Massively Multiplayer Online games (MMO), World of Warcraft (WOW) reigns supreme and everyone else is chasing them. In an attempt to attract players, one game company has decided to make their offering free! Free to download, free of subscriptions, free!! ArchLord by Codemasters is your typical hack - slash fantasy role playing game, where you create a character and take on a world of nasty beasts in your quest for gold and weapons, all while teaming up with other players from around the globe. It's pretty, and responsive on my cable connection, and while I've only put a couple of hours into it, I'm hooked!

Friday, August 17, 2007

NASA decides not to fix damaged tiles

The crew of the space shuttle Endeavor said in a media briefing from space that they are in agreement with NASA on it's decision not to risk a spacewalk to the shuttles underbelly. “We think they absolutely did the right decision.” The spacewalk is considered risky because it takes the crew members below the shuttle where their helmet cams are unable to operate. The crew at mission control have been studying the issue for a week and have determined that the craft is fit for re-entry. Our thoughts will be with you STS-118: Endeavor!

WikiScanner keeping things real

Wikipedia is a noble project with an aim to provide information on any topic imaginable and for the most part it works, but the knock on it has always been the credibility of the sources. Now, in an effort to keep Wikipedia more open and honest, graduate student Virgil Griffiths has developed WikiScanner, a website that traces IP addresses of computers that have edited Wikipedia topics. It's a great idea, and it has the support of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. CBC story here.

Note: WikiScanner must be under heavy traffic as the site is taking some time to load.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

I am 88% bionic...

At least that's what the Bionic Assessment Test tells me! The test is part of NBC's promotional website for the up coming television remake of the Bionic Woman. If you can score 75% you can unlock hidden content. I'll be interested to see how true the producers stay to the original series, of course I'm dating myself but hey... I grew up on this stuff! Take the test yourself and leave me a comment with your score!

See What You're Made Of - Visit The Official Site

update... original post was 65% but I got better ;-)

Skype blackout

ars technica is reporting a major Skype outage that has been acknowledged by Skype in a statement "Some of you may be having problems logging into Skype. Our engineering team has determined that it’s a software issue. We expect this to be resolved within 12 to 24 hours." Skype has also temporarily suspended the download of the Skype client. They also say that if you leave your client running you will be automatically logged in when the outage is resolved. owner cleared by Russian court

CNN is reporting that a Russian court has acquitted owner, Denis Kvasov, of charges of copyright infringement. The judge in the case saying "The prosecution did not succeed in presenting persuasive evidence of his involvement in infringing copyright law". Allofmp3 came under fire from increasing pressure of the music industry giants as Russia was making a bid for inclusion in the World Trade Organization (WTO), the case was seen as a test of Russia's commitment to fighting copyright pirates. Soon after the lawsuit was brought against Kvasov's company another site which looks suspiciously similar and allows users to use the same accounts,, opened.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hotmail ups the ante on web storage

Microsoft has announced that it is upping Hotmail (Windows Live Hotmail) user's storage levels to 5 gigabytes for photos and other e-mail messages, up from the current 3 gigabytes. According to this Globe and Mail article "Microsoft said Hotmail will also get faster in coming weeks thanks to performance improvements. E-mail users will also see a new "report phishing" button and a way to combine duplicate contacts in the address book."

Botjunkie for all your robot news

If you've been following this blog, you will no doubt be aware of my infatuation with all things robotic. I now have a new site to feed my addiction, BotJunkie is a blog about robots brought to you by the same folks that produce the ohgizmo gadget blog. I think my favorite is the "Flame Throwing Jumping Spider Robot of Doom" but the theoretical forest fire fighting robot beetles are cool too... hmm wonder who would win in a fight?

Thanks to Cali Lewis at Geekbrief for this link.

Madden touches down

Tuesday saw the release of Madden NFL 08 and the blitz is on! The venerable fan favorite is almost as highly anticipated as the NFL season itself. Released on 10 different gaming systems, Madden covers them all like a good defensive line. EA Sports definitely has the upper hand in football games, with exclusive rights to NFL teams and players, and according to the EA web site "Maddenoliday rocked New York City Monday night as Times Square played host to the biggest Madden launch event ever. Ozzy Osbourne kicked off the action, performing several songs atop the Hard Rock marquee."

John Lennon collection available through iTunes

Apple has announced the release of the entire solo works of John Lennon on iTunes. The Beatles had long been hold outs until recently when a dispute over the Apple trademark was settled and Paul McCartney inked a similar deal. It is expected that deals will soon be announce regarding the works of Ringo Starr and George Harrison. The question now is whether or not the Beatles albums will be allowed for sale online? One can only hope. Globe and Mail story here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Microsoft issues critical patches

If you are like me, you will have noticed the little yellow security center shield when you logged onto your Windows PC today and perhaps that there were a lot of updates from Microsoft. The updates affect different versions of Windows, Server and Office software, including Windows XP and Windows Vista, which Microsoft has tauted as the most secure operating system ever. There were patches aimed at gadgets, Windows Media Player, and Excel, among the nine security related fixes. The Globe and Mail has more.

Free Office alternative has detected the addition of StarOffice to the Google Pack page, a site that Google uses to bunch together a collection of free software. StarOffice is an office productivity package developed by Sun Microsystems and is still being offered for sale at $69.95 on Sun's site, but is apparently free in the Google Pack. According to Sun the product offers "Powerful and integrated word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, and database capabilities". The product does not support Word 2007 file formats but for the price it might be worth looking at, particularly when you compare against the competition. If you are budget minded and don't trust the online options such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets, perhaps StarOffice is your answer. Be sure to check out the article.

Nokia Battery Issue

Nokia, the worlds number one cellphone maker has issued a notice regarding 46 million batteries that could overheat. The company is offering to replace the "BL-5C" batteries made by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (manufacturer of such brands as Panasonic, National, and Technics) between December 2005 and November 2006. Nokia said in a statement "Nokia has identified that in very rare cases the affected batteries could potentially experience over heating initiated by a short circuit while charging, causing the battery to dislodge."

footnote: not a recall as previously reported. post edited.

Do you accept people you don't know as a "friend" on social networking sites?

In an experiment conducted by IT security firm Sophos, 41% of Facebook users approached, accepted a fake user as their friend. Many of those who did fall for the trap also provided personally identifying information such as e-mail addresses and remarkably telephone numbers! Are we that desperate to find friends that we would let our guards down to complete strangers or is it simply the bragging rights we are seeking? Don't you watch Dateline people? c|net has the story.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Half or your online time spent viewing entertainment or news?

According to a study released by the Online Publishers Association and conducted by Neilsen/NetRatings, Internet users spend nearly half of their time viewing news or entertainment content. The results of the survey taken over a 4 year period showed a 37% increase in these activities. The increase is attributed to an abundance of content, faster high speed connectivity, and a proliferation of social networking sites. See the Globe and Mail article here.

How ironic... CBC memo regarding employee blogging leaked to blog

The Globe and Mail is running a story of an internal CBC memo to employees regarding their blogging policy that has been leaked through, what else, a blog. The corporation claims the document is only a draft but employees are getting a bit fired up over it. A little common sense goes a long way folks!

Endeavor inspection shows gouge penetrates tiles completely

A laser inspection of the damaged area of the space shuttle Endeavor shows that the affected tiles are compromised through to the felt material sandwiched between the tiles and the shuttle's aluminum frame. NASA scientists are preparing a test with similarly damaged tiles back here on earth, in an attempt to determine whether or not the damaged area will withstand re-entry. John Shannon, chairman of the mission management team said "We have really prepared for exactly this case, since Columbia," and "We have spent a lot of money in the program and a lot of time and a lot of people's efforts to be ready to handle exactly this case." A decision is expected to be made today or tomorrow, regarding the necessity of a space walk to repair the damage. CBC Story Here. For a video explaining the Thermal Protection System - How Thing Work, Click Here (Real Media).

UN website hacked

The BBC is reporting that a group of hackers has defaced the United Nations (UN) website in what is being called a "cyberprotest". The group placed slogans on the site in a place reserved for statements from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. The slogans accused Israel and the United States of killing children and urged that they make peace not war. The site was taken down for repair.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

And on the lighter side of space travel, Mexico confirms UFO's exist

This is quite something... not sure what to make of it! Mexican Air Force video that shows up to 11 (if my Spanish is correct) unidentified flying objects. You be the judge!

In keeping with the space theme... more on Endeavor

I'm finding NASA TV to be very interesting and time consuming. The dialog that happens between the folks on the ground and the shuttle crew is, as you would expect, technical but you can really hear the personalities shine through. They are busy, and every step is carefully planned out to the smallest of detail.

Today is a big day, the shuttle crew will be using the Canadarm 2 to maneuver a boom equipped with laser sensors to the underbelly. The sensors will allow NASA to determine the extent of the damage sustained during liftoff and will provide them with the necessary information to decide whether a repair is warranted. Since the shuttle disaster of 2003, every mission now carries a repair kit for these circumstances. The chairman of the mission management team, John Shannon is reported to have said "In the past, we didn't even know we had damage and we flew back home. So what I would tell you is we're going to do all the work required to understand it. ... I would not even venture to guess what the probability is that we would have to go repair this." CNN Story here.