Archive for April 2009

Googling the Next Epidemic?

April 30, 2009

In November 2008, the Google search engine company released a new search capability called Google Flu Trends. The search mechanism allows users to look at the global flu trends, based on the “ebb and flow” of searches for various regions. Currently the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention monitors diseases and epidemics like the swine flu through its own methods. The new search capability may allow researchers and monitors alike to follow global trends towards certain diseases. However, critics are skeptical of the new release, citing that tracking disease trends via searches will not give scientists enough time in advance to respond to a potential epidemic.


Cyberwars: Information Attack!

April 30, 2009

With a war in Iraq and troops in Afghanistan, the United States military is preparing for another war: cyberwar. According to a report assembled by the National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. military has been looking into the use of computer technology for warfare. Currently the United States dominates the Internet. However, the Internet’s accessibility and fairly inexpensive, yet destructive, programming allow anyone in any country to terrorize U.S. security systems. Maybe we should start putting our computers in camouflage…

Scary, Scary Facebook: Don’t Friend Too Fast

April 29, 2009

Swiss woman called in sick to work, claiming serious migraine. Her company discovered her using facebook and fired her, with the reasoning that if she was well enough to facebook, she was well enough to work. 

The company claims a coworker discovered her on facebook, but the woman asserts that the company created a fictitious person to track her online activity, a claim she justifies by the disappearance of the friend after she was fired. 

Ominous news for facebook users.

Global Internet Village Unlikely until GDP Rises

April 27, 2009

In terms of membership and traffic, Youtube, Facebook, other large internet companies are doing great in developing nations. Money-wise, not so much. Companies like facebook, which rely on advertising to turn a profit, aren’t able to make much money in developing nations because the GDP of most of the population is not high enough to interest advertisers. In addition, these nations require more servers because of limited bandwidth, driving up expenses. Veoh, a video-sharing website Latin America, Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa from accessing content, because users were using up too much bandwidth without earning advertising dollars.




Curing Malaria in 140 Characters or Less

April 20, 2009

U.S. actor Ashton Kutcher recently challenged CNN to a Twitter race in an effort to raise awareness about the worldwide malaria epidemic. Kutcher pledged to donate 10,000 malaria nets to the non-profit organization Malaria No More on World Malaria Day (April 25th) if he beat CNN to 1 million Twitter subscribers. The actor received criticism for the publicity stint with many saying the nets do not truly help address the malaria epidemic. Kutcher narrowly beat CNN in the Twitter race and donate 10,000 nets, which was matched by CNN. Not to be outdone, Oprah donated 20,000 malaria nets as well.

Cybercrime Beware!

April 17, 2009

The international effort to patrol cyber crime is underway! The Middle East Times reports that France-based Interpol and U.S.-based Microsoft have teamed up to develop Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE) software technology. The new software will be accessible to all international cyberterrorist units. Officials are hopeful that the new technology will help build an international force against cyberterrorism as well as streamline the detection process.

Taxing digital goods…

April 16, 2009

The Artcle:

Summary: In times of economic woes, lawmakers are looking for any way to gain revenue, such as taxing digital goods, such as downloads from iTunes. Mississippi is the latest state to enact such a law that, “imposes a sale and use tax on specified digital products–including digital audio-visual works such as movies, digital audio works such as ringtones, and digital books.”

My Two Cents: Understandably, this has sparked a lot of criticism. The tech industry claims that digital goods are more environmentally friendly, and levying a tax would undermine that effort:”The digital economy is growing fast, and the tiny carbon footprint of downloads is something that benefits all of us,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice.

Digital downloads are the most environmentally responsible way to get movies, music and software, and tax policy is one the ways we promote environmentally sound decisions.

In addition, consumers are very adverse to this change. In the economic decline, no one wants to spend more money on things they are already used to for prices. Is this really the way to gain more money, punishing those who are still consuming???