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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Living Life On The Whims Of Others

A young Chinese lady, Chen Xiao, decided in December that she was done making decisions for herself and has taken to the online community to decide how she should spend her days. Refusing only to do anything illegal, immoral or violent, Xiao charges about $3 per hour to carryout the requests of others. "If somebody asks you to do something, something simple, and you do it, it can make you very happy. You can change from a gloomy person to a very bright one. It can help give you a new sense of self-esteem," she told CNN. She's been asked to do all sorts of tasks from spending time with the homeless to photographing the birth of a child. Her motivation? "Every time I had a plan for what I wanted my life to be like, nothing would come of it. It was very disappointing. I figured if other people came up with things for me to do, I might stumble upon something new and better,"

Friday, February 27, 2009

Facebook To Ask For Members Opinion / Vote On Major Changes

A week ago the Facebook user base to offense to a new terms of service and the company was forced to react by reverting to the old terms. On Thursday Facebook announced "that all significant policy changes on the site would be subject to comments from members and, if they prove controversial, a popular vote." according to the New York Times. Facebook founder and Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg told reporters in a conference call that “If we are trying to move the world to being more open and transparent and to get people to share more information, having an open process around this is ultimately the only way to do that,” The company is however reserving the right to roll out new features without the consultation.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Apple Shareholders Press For Information About Jobs

At Apple's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday many questions were raised about the health of Steve Jobs. Board member Arthur Levinson told several hundred shareholders that the company expects Jobs, to return to his post at the end of June. "Nothing has changed," Levinson said. Despite the uncertainty surrounding Jobs, the company had a good year relative to many in the industry reporting a profit of $1.61 billion, or $1.78 a share, up from $1.58 billion, or $1.76 a share, a year earlier.

Source: USA Today

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Canadians Can Twitter Via Cell Phone... For A Price

Since November Canadians have not been able to receive tweets from Twitter on their cell phones via SMS as Twitter cut the service citing prohibitive costs. Yesterday however Bell announced that it would now allow the SMS tweets but there is a cost. "Because Twitter is a third party service, the messages are considered premium and not covered by our plans. This aligns with industry standards regarding third party premium messaging," said Bell spokeswoman Julie Smithers. Bell will charge users of the service 15 cents for each incoming or outgoing tweet, even if the user has an unlimited texting plan.

Source: CBC

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Parents Turning To Tech To Keep An Eye On Kids

The Globe and Mail has an interesting article discussing the lengths at which parents will go to keep tabs on their teens. Increasingly parents are turning to high tech devices and software to keep track of what is going on in their kids lives. From installing spyware on their cell phones to buying cars that allow them to control the volume of the stereo and limit the speed at which young drivers can travel, parents are employing all sorts of measures in an attempt to keep their kids safe. Is it all necessary? Or is it more important to spend the time teaching your kids right from wrong? You be the judge.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Planning For Disasters Using Video Game Technologies

A former Microsoft product planner, Mike Geersten, has built a business planning for and reacting to disasters based on the knowledge he employed while working on Microsoft Flight Simulator and train sims. With $1.5 million in angel investment Geersten has put together a team of 14 to develop and market his software called Depiction which helps model the effect of disasters on land mass. "Depiction can be used to plan for disasters ahead of time, but it's also useful for collecting and organizing data during a crisis. Citizens can e-mail reports from the field, and emergency workers can feed other data directly into the software to find alternative routes when downed power lines, flood waters or landslides block roads."

This Wired video discusses how Depiction can be used to examine the effect of rising seas on New York City and what might be done to preserve the city from these effects.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Google Earth User Spots Lost City Of Atlantis?

There have been many discoveries since the introduction of Google Earth but the recent addition of Google Earth's underwater search tool has sparked a debate over the fabled City of Atlantis. British aeronautical engineer Bernie Bamford has spotted strange patterns on the ocean floor "off the western coast of Africa, apparently near one of the possible sites of the legendary island." according to the NYTimes Bits blog. For it's part Google is saying that the lines are the trails made by sonar gear dragged by ships in the process of collecting undersea data... hmmm could be or it could be the remnants of an acient lost civilization...