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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gold Farming Employs 1/2 Million In Developing Countries

A recent report says that there is a significant number of people earning a living in developing countries, 400,000 in China alone, that are making a living earning "in game" treasure and selling what they've accumulated to other players. "I initially became aware of gold farming through my own games-playing but assumed it was just a cottage industry," said Professor Richard Heeks from the University of Manchester who wrote the report. "In a way that is still true. It's just that instead of a few dozen cottages, there turn out to be tens of thousands." he said. With actual numbers difficult to come by Professor Heeks' work suggests that in 2008 it employs 400,000 people who earn an average of $145 per month making the global market worth about $500m. BBC story here.

Flickr Adds New Full Screen Slideshow

The official Flickr blog announced on Wednesday the release of a new and improved slideshow feature that they promise will conjure up memories of vacation slides viewed at your grandparents! There are some nice improvements that include the additon of video and embeded code for display on other sites. "One of the main improvements we’ve made is that you can watch videos as they appear in a slideshow. When we come to a video in a slideshow, we’ll play it before we move on to the next item. You can also embed a slideshow on another website in bite-sized form. Just click the “Share” link from any slideshow, then copy and paste the embed code wherever you want." This is nice... I love Flickr!

Friday, August 22, 2008

British Firm Loses Thousands Of Prisoners Data On Memory Stick

In another case of lost or stolen data, the British government is investigating the loss of a memory stick loaded with unencrypted personal data on thousands of prisoners, including names, addresses and release dates. The data was said to have been housed securely but an external contractor apparently loaded it onto a memory stick which has since gone missing.

"This was data that was being held in a secure form, but was downloaded onto a memory stick by an external contractor," Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said.

"It runs against the rules set down both for the holding of government data and set down by the external contractor and certainly set down in the contract that we had with the external contractor."

BBC story.

FCC Report Hard On Comcast

The Federal Communications Commission has released a report into the packet shaping practices of Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable provider. "Should [the FCC] see evidence that providers of telecommunications for internet access or IP-enabled services are violating principles, we will not hesitate to take action to address that conduct," a 67 page ruling said. The FCC also said Comcast had "misleadingly disclaimed any responsibility for the customers' [bandwidth] problems" in reference to their practice of slowing and blocking customers use of peer-to-peer applications such as BitTorrent. In Canada, the CRTC is looking into similar practices by Canada's largest ISP, Bell Inc.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Microsoft Releases Photosynth To Public

Microsoft Live Labs has made public Photosynth it's 3d photo stitching technology that now allows you to create and view immersive 3d photo spaces. "Photosynth takes a collection of regular photographs and reconstructs the scene or object in a 3-D environment. " according to the official Photosynth blog. To create or view photosynths you will be required to download the software but the requirements to run are reasonable, creating your own requires a Photosynth account. Microsoft is giving registered users 20GB of online storage for their Photosynth collections. This, according to CNet writer Josh Lowensohn "can easily fit 60 or more "synths" made up of around 150 to 200 photographs apiece"

I just took a tour of Stonehenge and the experience was great, the interface is intuitive and the images rendered quite smoothly. I'm definitely going to be playing with Photosynth some more...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Can't Wait For Spore? Video Teazer From G4

Executive Producer Lucy Bradshaw talks to G4 about Spore... check it out!

Obama To Reveal Running Mate Via Text Message

Barack Obama is said to be ready to reveal his choice for a running mate who will make a bid for Vice-President. Rather than wait for the Democratic Party convention to make the announcement, as is traditional, he will let supporters know his choice through a text message. In a move that is aimed squarely at appealing to the technologically savvy younger voters, this will be a presidential election first. "No other campaign has done this before," campaign manager David Plouffe said in the e-mail. "You can be part of this important moment." The Obama campaign has effectively used the Internet to rally an army of volunteers and raise over $340 million as of the end of June. CBC Story.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Functional Batmobile Tumbler From Scratch!

Bob Dullam is a Batman fan, so much so that he has invested between $50,000 and $70,000 of his own money into the creation of a functioning Batmobile Tumbler, built using only photographs and DVD stills for reference. You can follow Bob's progress via My Tumbler progress posts to the SuperHeroHype forum. Up next is the car's interior! Check out Wired for pictures.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fisheries Officers Catch Poachers With Hi-tech Lobsters

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) officers from Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, have successfully used live lobster implanted with microchips to thwart the efforts of illegal fishers. DFO officers placed the bugged crustations, implanted with microchips, in a series of illegal traps that they had under surveillance. The officers then observed three men hauling two untagged traps from the water and searched their boat discovering all six microchipped lobsters. The sting operation netted a total of 13 traps and 54 lobsters. No word on whether or not the creatures were released or enjoyed at the DFO summer party... CBC story here.

U2's Bono Responsible For Leaked Music

In an interesting twist of fate, Bono is said to be responsible for the recent unauthorized release of 4 tracks from U2's upcoming album. According to this article in The Sun, Bono was blasting the tunes at his villa in the South of France when an alert passerby heard and recorded the music. The clips made it to youtube but it seems as though they have since been removed. Interestingly, U2 manager Paul McGuinness has been an outspoken opponent of tech companies like Apple and of some record labels saying "through lack of foresight and planning allowed a range of industries to arise that let people steal music."


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Robot Has Biological Brain Made Of Rat Neurons

Researchers at the University of Reading in England have developed robot, named Gordon, who relies on a dish with about 60 electrodes to pick up electrical signals generated by a biological brain made of rat neurons. When Gordon detects an object, signals are directed to stimulate the brain by means of the electrodes, in response, the brain's output drives the robot's wheels left and right, so that it moves to avoid hitting the object.

"One of the fundamental questions that scientists are facing today is how we link the activity of individual neurons with the complex behaviors that we see in whole organisms," said Ben Whalley, a pharmacist at the university and member of the team that built Gordon. "This project gives us a really unique opportunity to look at something which may exhibit complex behaviors, but still remain closely tied to the activity of individual neurons. Hopefully we can use that to go some of the way to answer some of these very fundamental questions." article.