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Tuesday, 05 July, 2011

How Reliable Is Wikipedia?

I was reading a thread at Banjo Hangout, and someone stated:

What amazes me is that anyone bothers with Wikipedia. They seem to specialize in article titles that get you to click from Google and you then find a two sentence article that adds no information to the header they had on the Google search.

Obviously, this person doesn't know what he's talking about. Later, he claimed that the information in Wikipedia a useless because it's written by volunteer contributors.

The information on Wikipedeia is ALWAYS suspect. There is a reason why real encyclopedias turn to real scholars for their articles. Without a "Reliable Source" to back it up, I would tend to trust almost anything on the web more than the Wiki articles - right down to and including the guys with tinfoil hats - at least they mostly believe what they are saying.

How reliable is Wikipedia? From Wikiipedia: Reliability of Wikipedia.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Print Set Several studies have been done to assess the reliability of Wikipedia. A notable early study in the journal Nature suggested that in 2005, Wikipedia scientific articles came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopædia Britannica and had a similar rate of "serious errors". This study was disputed by Encyclopædia Britannica.

By 2010 reviewers in medical and scientific fields such as toxicology, cancer research and drug information reviewing Wikipedia against professional and peer-reviewed sources found that Wikipedia's depth and coverage were of a very high standard, often comparable in coverage to physician databases and considerably better than well known reputable national media outlets.

Wikipedia articles were cited as evidence in trademark and higher court rulings. However, omissions sometimes remained an issue, at times due to public relations removal of adverse product information and a considerable concern for fields such as medicine.

Basically, it's not perfect. But neither is a printed encyclopedia.

By the way, you can still buy the 32-Volume Encyclopaedia Britannica Print Set. $1,100 (or $150 used).

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @7:33am | Comments (15)

Tuesday, 28 June, 2011

Pope Tweets

Is there anything cuter than a pope tweeting? Pope Benedict XVI Praises Jesus In First Ever Tweet.

Pope Benedict XVI tweeted for the first time today, the Vatican has confirmed.

papal tweet

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @3:38pm | Comments (9)

Tuesday, 21 June, 2011

Keyboard 3D Chart

This keyboard shows the frequency of use for each key.


You can't make a chart like this with Excel.

(Thanks Ari)

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @6:46am | Comments (20)

Monday, 20 June, 2011

New Domain Suffixes Coming

This changes everything: Icann increases web domain suffixes.

A global internet body has voted to allow the creation of new website domain suffixes, the biggest change for the online world in years.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) plans to dramatically increase the number of domain endings from the current 22.

Internet address names will end with almost any word and be in any language.

Icann will begin taking applications next year, with corporations and cities expected to be among the first.

"Icann has opened the internet's addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination," said Rod Beckstrom, president and chief executive officer for Icann.

There will be several hundred new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs), which could include such addresses as .google, .coke, or even .BBC. There are currently 22 gTLDs, as well as about 250 country-level domain names such as .uk or .de.

Any predictions about where this decision will take us?

"No one can predict where this historic decision will take us."

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @6:37am | Comments (9)

Thursday, 16 June, 2011

Search By Image

Have you seen the new Google thing? Search by Image.

Just drag an image onto the page, Google will analyze it, and do a search based on what it finds in the image. It's amazingly fast, and reasonably accurate.

I played around with it for a few minutes. I dragged a photo of Michele Bachman wearing glasses, and she was recognized. Then I renamed the file george_bush.jpg, and it was still recognized as Michele Bachman.

I also tried this image (after renaming it bob.jpg):

image search

I had less success with objects. I uploaded a photo of a banjo, and got "visually similar" images -- based on color and shapes.

All in all, it's some very impressive technology.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @7:22am | Comments (18)

Tuesday, 14 June, 2011

Boycott Huffington?

Eric Loomis sez: Boycott Huffington Post.

As some but by no means all progressives know, the Newspapers Guild and the National Writers Union have called a boycott against Huffington Post for refusing to pay its writers. Unlike unionized workplaces like the New York Times, Huffington Post exploits laborers desperate to get in print by offering them a byline without compensation while Ariana Huffington makes millions. The unions want the writers to get paid and to have greater editorial control over their content.

I completely support this boycott. I refuse to read anything at HuffPo or to link there. Ultimately, HuffPo is surviving on the adjunct model. Like higher education with its hordes of PhDs with no job prospects, there is a huge supply of writers who want to make a living in journalism. HuffPo offers the promise of gaining valuable experience and readership so that someday, maybe, you can make it big.

Well, Huffington Post, as a Web site, really sucks. It's ugly, and they'll post any damn thing just to get traffic. I avoid linking to it if I can find the same content elsewhere (usually I can). But if the contributors agree to write stuff with no pay, that means they agree to write stuff with no pay. It's not like they are being held in slavery.

Eric's argument:

It is almost impossible in 2011 to go from a no one to a big name blogger. The blogosphere is ossified. During the explosion of the medium from 2004-06, young writers could produce excellent work and become big name people. Then, by 2007, those were the only blogs people read. Today, those are the prominent and still young writers of the progressive blogosphere. And they aren’t going anywhere.

Then maybe they should figure out a way to make money from what they do. Huffington isn't the way to do it.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @6:44pm | Comments (13)

Wednesday, 08 June, 2011

Something Else To Opt Out Of

Facebook privacy news: Facebook Changes Privacy Settings to Enable Facial Recognition.

Facebook is pushing the privacy line once again, according to a new report from a security and antivirus company.

According to the report, from Sophos, Facebook recently began changing its users’ privacy settings to automatically turn on a facial recognition feature that detects a user’s face in an image. Once the person’s face is detected, the Web site then encourages Facebook friends to tag them. Facebook introduced this feature last year for its North American users; it is now rolling it out globally.

Facebook also doesn’t give users the option to avoid being tagged in a photo; instead, people who don’t want their name attached to an image must untag themselves after the fact.

To opt out:

If you want to disable the feature, go your account privacy settings and click “customize settings” at the bottom of the page. Once in this area, scroll down to a list of options called “things others share,” and then click on the button that says “suggest photos of me to friends.” You will then be given the option to disable the facial recognition feature.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @7:32am | Comments (7)

Friday, 27 May, 2011

New Cookie Law

Making the Web more annoying with unnecessary laws: UK Website Owners Get 12 Months To Comply With EU Cookie Law

cookiealertThe UK Government and the Information Commissioner's Office have come to an agreement that the UK website owners would have 12 months to comply with the new EU cookie laws.

The new EU regulations require websites to seek permission from visitors to their website to store cookies on their computers. If interpreted strictly, this could mean asking the surfer every few minutes on whether the website could update their information.

Businesses across Europe are worried including the UK.  The UK Government is taking a lenient approach but the Information Commissioner's Office wanted a stricter interpretation of the law.

Now it seems both the Communications Minister Ed Vaizey and the Information Commissioner Christopher Graham have come to an agreement to let UK businesses have 12 months before they are required to comply with the law.  However, Mr. Graham warned that website owners must not use this time as an excuse to do nothing about compliance.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @6:55am | Comments (13)

Thursday, 26 May, 2011

You Must Change Your Password

You know what's really stupid? Sites that force you to change your password every xx number of days.

The credit card processor I use has rule that requires me to change my password every 90 days. That means that I will write down my new password on a piece of paper that's handy for me to find. How is that secure?

Do they assume that someone has been trying to hack my account for 89 days? They're getting real close, and -- all of a sudden -- their work is in vain! I changed it!!! Now they have 89 more days to discover it.

Fact is, I can come up with a password that I've memorized, and has a near-zero probability of being discovered. But forcing me to write down my password, instantly makes it much less secure.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @6:25pm | Comments (31)

Tuesday, 24 May, 2011

The End Of Blippy

The rise and fall of a dumb idea: The End Of Blippy As We Know It.

blippy So it turns out that almost nobody wants people to check out their purchases. And also that just adding a social element to a feature isn’t enough to make it useful. The lessons of user adoption are sometimes learned the hard way.

Thus is the story of the failure of Blippy, a product that launched in private beta in December of 2009 and that we breathlessly fawned over again, and again, and again and again (and again and again …).

“Imagine being able to see everything your friends buy with a credit card as they do it,” MG wrote. “This not only tells you what kind of things they’re actually into (rather than someone just saying they like something), but also other information like how cheap they are, as well as where they actually are at a given time.”

What we failed to ask was, “Who cares?”

Leaking users' credit card numbers didn't help, either.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @3:13pm | Comments (4)

Monday, 23 May, 2011

Really Fast Data Transfer

Speedy, without using any mice: Laser puts record data rate through fibre.

speedy-gonzales Researchers have set a new record for the rate of data transfer using a single laser: 26 terabits per second.

How fast is that?

At those speeds, the entire Library of Congress collections could be sent down an optical fibre in 10 seconds.

What's the trick?

The trick is to use what is known as a "fast Fourier transform" to unpick more than 300 separate colours of light in a laser beam, each encoded with its own string of information.

Then it uses some good old-fashioned orthogonal frequency division multiplexing.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @2:08pm | Comments (10)

Monday, 16 May, 2011

Pigeon Vs. ISP

When you need fast data transfer in South Africa, go with a pigeon: Pigeon transfers data faster than South Africa's Telkom.

pigeon3 Workers at a South African information technology company this week proved it was faster for them to transmit data with a carrier pigeon than to send it using Telkom, the country's leading ISP.

Africa's largest economy has poor internet speed and connectivity – and high costs - because of a bandwidth shortage.

Local news agency SAPA reported the 11-month-old pigeon, Winston, took one hour and eight minutes to fly the 80 km from Unlimited IT's offices near Pietermaritzburg to the coastal city of Durban with a data card was strapped to its leg.

The transfer took two hours, six minutes and 57 seconds – including downloading from the pigeon's card.

During that time, only four per cent of the data was transferred using a Telkom line.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @5:28pm | Comments (4)

Friday, 06 May, 2011

Web Timeline

Found at Blame it on the Voices:


I updated it with two others.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @7:23am | Comments (4)

Thursday, 05 May, 2011

Temporary Post Used For Theme Detection (c72cR092-E16b-445f-21fa-9ce4e7e27fca – 3Cfe06d7)

Just kidding. Nobody's detecting any themes here.

I see these types of posts all the time in my RSS reader, for Wordpress blogs. I just wanted to join in on the fun.

Although these posts are temporary, about 3.5 million of them have been indexed by Google. And about 12,000 just in the past 24 hours.

And sometimes, they are so noteworthy that people tweet them.


Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @1:59pm | Comments (9)

Wednesday, 04 May, 2011

IP Address Is Not A Person

A Judge sez: IP-Address Is Not a Person.

A possible landmark ruling in one of the mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the U.S. may spell the end of the “pay-up-or-else-schemes” that have targeted over 100,000 Internet users in the last year. District Court Judge Harold Baker has denied a copyright holder the right to subpoena the ISPs of alleged copyright infringers, because an IP-address does not equal a person.

Among other things Judge Baker cited a recent child porn case where the U.S. authorities raided the wrong people, because the real offenders were piggybacking on their Wi-Fi connections. Using this example, the judge claims that several of the defendants in VPR’s case may have nothing to do with the alleged offense either.

“The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber’s household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment,” Judge Baker writes.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @7:02am | Comments (4)

Thursday, 28 April, 2011

Paying For Search?

Kevin Kelly asks: Would You Pay For Search?

How much would you pay for search if it were not free? Let's pretend it's an alternate world, or maybe sometime in the future, and there is no free search. You have to pay for your Google, or Bing, or whatever. How much would you be willing to pay?

Kevin would pay $500 per year. He describes an experiment designed to determine the value of a search:

Their method was to ask students inside a well-stocked university library to answer questions asked on Google, but to find the answers only using the materials in the library. They measured how long it took the students to answer a question in the stacks. On average it took 22 minutes. That's 15 minutes longer that the 7 minutes it took to answer the same question, on average, using Google. Figuring a national average wage of $22/hour, this works out to a savings of $1.37 per search.

Seven minutes to get an answer from Google! Obviously, these users don't understand how to use Google.

I probably average about 50 Google searches per day. So, if you think these numbers are meaningful (which I don't), I get about $25,000 worth of value per year for Google searches.

google savings

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @11:35am | Comments (12)

Internet May Break On Friday

A warning: Will the royal wedding break the Internet?

When Kate Middleton and Prince William kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on Friday afternoon, all bloody hell could break loose online.

Twitter feeds will be buzzing. Photos will be uploading. Websites will be serving up live streams of the royals.

It's possible that all this over-the-pond hullabaloo could shut down major websites, stall wireless networks and, generally, grind the digital chatter to a pace that would frustrate even the commonest of commoners.

stand by

The wedding starts at 4:00 am Eastern Time, and I will do my part to avoid a royal internet failure.

I, J-Walk, do solemnly swear that I won't use the Internet between the hours of 1:00 am and 9:00 am (Eastern time) on Friday.

Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @8:50am | Comments (16)

Kittens As Placeholders

An incredible (and free) service for Web site designers: Place Kitten.

A quick and simple service for getting pictures of kittens for use as placeholders in your designs or code. Just put your image size (width & height) after our URL and you'll get a placeholder.

For example, here's a cute little 300x200 kitten, suitable as a placeholder:


Permalink | Posted in Internet & Computers @6:46am | Comments (7)

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