hyades1 writes "Gizmodo reports that Verizon is sending out notification letters infested with virtually-indecipherable legalese. In their sneaky, underhanded way, they're informing you that you have 45 days to opt out of their plan to share your personal data with "affiliates, agents and parent companies". That data can include, but isn't limited to, "services purchased (including specific calls you make and receive), billing info, technical info and location info."
If you view your statement on-line, you won't even get the letter. You'll have to access your account and view your messages. However, Read Write Web says the link provided there, called the "Customer Proprietary Network Information Notice", was listed as "not available."
No doubt Verizon would like to reassure you that everyone they're going to hand your personal data over to will have your best interests at heart." Link to Original Source top
hyades1 writes "Gizmodo says Sprint quietly tacked 25 cents onto its administration fees. This means you can get out of a contract with them and not have to pay the Early Termination Fee. It's suggested that they'll try to weasel out of it once they realize people are onto them, so you'll apparently have to stick to your guns.
ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2008) — Apple iPhone and iPod (touch) support a new self-localization feature that uses known locations of wireless access points as well as the device's own ability to detect access points. Now researchers at ETH Zurich/Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have demonstrated that positions displayed by the devices using this system can be falsified, making the use of this self-localization system unsuitable in a number of security- and safety-critical applications." Link to Original Source top
hyades1 writes "Here's the situation: A mid-size Canadian law firm running the usual law software (Amicus or something like it) hires an IT guy from their computer contractor. The guy immediately asks to install Vista as the operating system whenever it becomes necessary to replace a PC. There's zero chance the firm will upgrade all its computers at once, so the change to Vista would take at least a year, more likely two. I'm told the IT guy has no clue about the software needs of the people doing the lawyering, but wants to make the change from XP (which they're happy with) anyway.
Some employees have said they're already run ragged, and don't have the time or resources to deal with the inevitable growing pains of a new (apparently cranky) OS. One has heard me bitch about my few direct encounters with Vista and some of the things I've seen about it on SlashDot.
Among the potential problems I see:
I've heard Vista doesn't always play nicely with older hardware (the firm scans and prints thousands of letters and documents every month). If Vista decided it didn't like some of the printers or scanners, the consequences would be serious, and would put a lot of stress on the secretaries and clerks (especially if the affected hardware was all on one floor).
Vista is quick to shut you out when it thinks you shouldn't be doing something. Telling their major client, "My computer won't let me have that information. I'll have to call you back," would be a disaster.
There's more, of course, but I'm sure you get the point.
My personal view is that the IT guy sees an opportunity for unlimited job security at the expense of everybody else in the company. However, I'm not a computer person and I don't have the chops to question his decision.
Can somebody point me towards "slap it down on the boss's desk" arguments and backing documentation indicating that Vista is not the way for this firm to go? I've done some searching, but have found mostly anecdotal evidence indicating that Vista should be avoided like the plague. That won't cut it against a guy who can lapse into techno-speak. Can the firm keep XP going until Vista's replacement comes along?
hyades1 writes "UPI reports that the deputy mayor of New Delhi plummeted to his death during a tussle with aggressive monkeys.
Deputy Mayor S.S. Bajwa was attacked by monkeys while standing on the balcony of his residence Saturday and fell to the ground during the ensuing struggle, CNN-IBN reports. Bajwa was taken to hospital, where he later succumbed to his injuries.
Here, for the first time anywhere, is solid, documented proof that spanking the monkey can kill you." top
hyades1 writes "There may be a revolution coming in the field of computer vision systems. The ability to recognize 3D reality from 2D photographs and the use of context to make reasonable assumptions about perceived objects http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071017174328.htm could solve some major problems that have limited the ability of machines to perform visually-oriented tasks humans do without thinking.
A major problem with robots that "see" is that they don't use common sense to quickly discard useless alternatives. Using a little-known Google Labs widget, computer scientists from UC San Diego and UCLA have brought common sense to an automated image labeling system. Basically, it's the ability to use context to help identify objects in photographs.
For example, if a conventional automated object identifier has labeled a person, a tennis racket, a tennis court and a lemon in a photo, the new post-processing context check will re-label the lemon as a tennis ball.
"We think our paper is the first to bring external semantic context to the problem of object recognition," said computer science professor Serge Belongie from UC San Diego.
Carnegie Mellon researchers, meanwhile, have found a way for computers to recognize real 3D objects they have previously "seen" in 2D photographs http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/06/060614091016.htm. Using machine learning techniques, Robotics Institute researchers Alexei Efros and Martial Hebert, along with graduate student Derek Hoiem, have taught computers how to spot the visual cues that differentiate between vertical surfaces and horizontal surfaces in photographs of outdoor scenes. They've even developed a program that allows the computer to automatically generate 3-D reconstructions of scenes based on a single image.
"The technique provides an approximate sense of the scene, a qualitative grasp of the structure of a scene," said Efros, assistant professor of computer science and robotics."