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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Virginia Tech Team Develops Laser-equipped Buggy That The Blind Can Drive

A team of Virginia Tech students has created a vehicle that can actually be driven by blind individuals. Equipped with an array of laser range finders, the dirt buggy offers an instant voice command interface and a other related systems that enable drivers to respond to whatever the vehicle "sees." It seems the technology is destined for vehicles for the rest of us but the fact that it has been tested by a non-sighted driver does prove that the technology in fact works.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Canadian Privacy Czar Gives Harsh Assessment Of Facebook

Facebook keeps personal information indefinitely after users deactivate their accounts, contrary to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, according to a report released Thursday by Canada's assistant privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham. 'Although Facebook provides information about privacy issues, it is often confusing or incomplete,' said Denham.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner's report found that Facebook continues to breach the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act in four ways and it made recommendations to correct the problem. It found:

  • Facebook doesn't have enough safeguards to prevent 950,000 third-party developers around the world from getting unauthorized access to users' personal information, nor does it ensure users have given "meaningful consent" to allow their personal information to be disclosed to the developers. Recommendation: Developers should only get the information needed to run the application. Users would have to specifically consent to the release of that information after being told why it is needed. Information about anyone other than the user would not be disclosed.
  • Facebook keeps information from accounts deactivated by users indefinitely. Recommendation: Facebook should have a policy to delete the information after a reasonable length of time, and users should be informed of the policy.
  • Facebook keeps the profiles of deceased users for "memorial purposes" but does not make this clear. Recommendation: Information about use for memorial purposes should be in Facebook's privacy policy.
  • Facebook allows users to provide personal information about non-users without their consent. For example, it allows them to tag photos and videos of non-users with their names, and provide Facebook with their email addresses to invite them to join the site. It keeps the addresses indefinitely. Recommendation: Facebook should only keep non-users’ email addresses for a reasonable, specific length of time and should make its users aware that they need to seek consent of non-users before posting information about them.
Source: CBC

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twitter Execs Hacked - Secrets Leaked

In what I would call a severe blow to cloud computing, a major breach of Twitter executives e-mail, calendars, and documents was reported yesterday by company officials after the hacker sent documents about Twitters plans and finances, confidential contracts, and job applicants to two tech blogs, TechCrunch and Korben. The breach occurred about a month ago with a simple breach of a password providing access to an administrative employee’s e-mail account from where access was gained to the employee’s Google Apps account, where Twitter shares spreadsheets and documents with business ideas and financial details.

This must have a lot of IT managers saying I told you so!

Source: NYTimes

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tour de France Messages Delivered By Robot

Chalkbot, a robot developed for Nike is helping to send encouraging messages to riders participating in the Tour de France. You can have your message, if it is chosen, written on the roadways of the course in chalk via Twitter or text messages. A truck pulls the robot with it's 48 spray nozzles along the course at low speed, and a person with a laptop sends it commands to tell it which messages to spray onto the road. The project is tied to Lance Armstrong's Livestrong campaign and as the result many of the messages sent thus far are encouraging words for cancer patients or from survivors.

To send a message to the Chalkbot, post a message to @chalkbot on Twitter, followed by the tag #LIVESTRONG, or text LIVESTRONG, followed by a message, to 36453.

Source: CNN

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Moon Landing Retraced In Real Time On Anniversary will go live at 8:02 a.m. ET Thursday, a full 90 minutes before the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch from Cape Canaveral, Fla. The site will track the capsule's entire flight from Earth to the Moon, the moon landing and Neil Armstrong's walk — in real time, only 40 years later. “Putting a man on the moon really did unite the globe,” said Thomas Putnam, director of the JFK Library. “We hope to use the Internet to do the same thing.”

The site will include animated recreations and archival footage of the 4 day mission including radio transmissions between the crew. I wonder how many people will be calling in sick on Thursday?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Following Google On Twitter

The folks at Google like to tell us about their every move just like the rest of us Twitter fiends, in fact the Google crew has a number of active Twitter accounts which they've posted links to in the Official Google Blog. If you are a fanboy (or fangirl) of Google and have a particular product that you'd like to keep tabs on check out the list, odds are it's probably covered. According to the OGB "Like lots of you, we've been drawn into Twitter this year. After all, we're all about frequent updates ourselves, and there's lots happening around here that we want to share with you. Of course, we enjoy watching, and contributing to, the tweetstream (we hope you find our tweets useful, too)."

Here are just a few to get you started: - Google's central account - for Blogger fans - user tips & updates - news, tips, tricks on our visual image search - latest headlines via Google News - from feed reader team - news & notes from Google's personalized homepage - news of interest to students using Google - for YouTube fans - en Espanol - solutions for IT and workplace productivity