Bifurcati (699683) writes "Want to mess with your friend's Facebook profiles? With the (yet again) redesigned Facebook you can now tag your friends in your interests (and other categories), and this will then appear on their profile. While it's similar to tagging them in awkward photos, it could be a significant issue if people added compromising statements to your interests — especially if you're silly enough to leave that part of your profile public." top
Bifurcati writes "Two Dutch men have been arrested after a boy they allegedly mugged spotted them in Google StreetView. The 14-year-old boy was pulled off his bicycle in the town of Groningen in September and robbed of his mobile phone and about 250 dollars. He found the pictures in StreetView apparently by chance and while his attackers' faces were blurred (as per Google's rules) Google gave investigators the original unobscured pictures. The bad guys were also apparently twins...or there's some clever real life photoshopping going on!" Link to Original Source top
Bifurcati writes "A couple of days ago, we heardthat the "wisdom of crowds" works for individuals — averaging multiple guesses from one person produces a better answer. I would argue, however, that the results seen in their paper can be attributed simply to statistics and don't produce any useful insights into the human brain's decision making abilities. (I, of course, can't say their conclusions are actually false, just that they're not proven by this paper.) [NB — I've got a PhD in physics, so I'm vaguely qualified to comment!]" Link to Original Source top
Bifurcati writes "The Australian competition regulator is taking action against Google in the Federal Court, alleging that the Internet search engine has engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, by failing to adequately distinguish between sponsored links on its website and "organic" search results. The ACCC says it believes this is the first action of its kind against Google in the world." Link to Original Source top
Bifurcati writes "Update: Turns out the launch failure was when "the computers detected main engine chamber pressure was less than 0.1 percent lower than the redline limit". They're currently resetting — the launch has NOT been scrubbed!" top
Bifurcati (699683) writes "SpaceX launch has been aborted. They're draining the fuel tanks, no further details yet. Best quotes from the webcast: "Look at all that water down there." and "Oh f**k"." top
Bifurcati writes "Half the emails I receive have email disclaimers at the end, warning me of the dire consequences that would follow if I am the unwitting recipient of juicy details which I then divulge, or perhaps even read. IANAL, and I know most of/. aren't either, but I'm interested in knowing the legal status of such disclaimers. Slate says they're mostly useless, except perhaps for trade secrets. Surely, though, if a Coca Cola exec emails me their recipe by mistake, they have no legal protection? (Their "reasonable steps" at security are no more?) What if I discovered my friend's spouse was having an affair — would I be prohibited from informing my friend? Aside from secrets, what else can they protect against?" top
Bifurcati writes "Country singer Keith Urban has filed a lawsuit against a painter of the same name, claiming the lesser-known Keith Urban's website infringes on trademark and cyber-squatting laws. A whois suggests it's been around since 1999, and while it has apparently never explicitly denied or affirmed a connection with the more famous Keith, does it really "deceive the public into believing that the website has a connection to Plaintiff that does not exist"?" top
Bifurcati writes "Gmail has undergone a slight face lift, with a new look for messages, the extra options for responding to a message now placed inside a drop down menu, a new "Invite Friends" encouragement under Contacts." top
Bifurcati writes "According to CEO of Xstrata Coal: "Coal is the only long-term viable solution to the world's energy needs". From the ABC news article:
"Renewables are important," [Peter Coates] said.
"But they will always operate around the fringes or with the current technology, they'll operate around the fringes of baseload power, whether that be coal or nuclear, and climate change is a global problem that requires a global solution.
Perhaps "long term" requires further clarification? He does suggest nuclear power too, however." top
Bifurcati writes "Artificial volcanic eruptions could be used to counteract the effects of global warming, according to research published today. After volcanic eruptions, like of Mt Pinatubo, massive amounts of sulphur are spewed into the atmosphere, forming cloud cover which blocks sunlight and cools the planet. The research published in Science (subscription required) suggests that an artficial eruption every two years would counteract global warming indefinitely. Others, however, argue that even if practical, this doesn't address the real problem of greenhouse gas emissions (particualrly CO2) and if the "global shading" failed, we would be out of options." top
Bifurcati writes "The mysterious structure, particularly a large ring of stars, in the Andromeda could be explained by a smaller galaxy smashing into the Andromeda's centre (subscription req. for full article). Simulations have shown that a head on collision with M32 about 200 million years ago produces a galaxy that tallies very well with Andromeda, giving us a unique opportunity to study a galaxy collision in our own neighbourhood (at least before the possible Andromeda-Milky Way collision in 3 billion years...) Some good pictures on Space.com." top
Bifurcati writes "The 2006 Ig Nobel Prizes have been announced! Among the many useful results is a formula for the number of photos of a group that should be taken to insure everyone has their eyes open, and the groundbreaking paper that will no doubt inspire witty commentary, "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage". The official site will no doubt have more details soon." top
Bifurcati writes "A recent arXiv paper claims to show that ghosts don't exist, or at least they're inconsistent with the laws of physics. From zombie case histories to the effect of Newton's laws on walking through walls, they explore and debunk ghosts et al. in movies and folklore. Personally, I found their arguments weak and unconvincing, even if it was meant as a teaching exercise or humourous piece, and it may actually provide fodder for true occult believers — I've given my "rebuttals" on Illuminating Science."