Weekend Flea Market 20-Oct-2007

An assort­ment of stuff I came across in cyber­space, offered sec­ond hand, for any­one who may be inter­est­ed.

  • Despite veto threats from the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives approved the Free Flow of Infor­ma­tion Act that would shield jour­nal­ists — and some blog­gers — from being forced to reveal con­fi­den­tial sources in fed­er­al cas­es. See Are Blog­ging Jour­nal­ists Shield­ed? for back­ground infor­ma­tion. Not every­one is hap­py, how­ev­er, since only blog­gers who derive sub­stan­tial por­tion of their income through their writ­ing are shield­ed.
  • Are Indi­an IT pro­fes­sion­als among the worst paid glob­al­ly? A study by HR con­sul­tan­cy Mer­cer finds India to be the fourth worst IT pay­mas­ter.
  • Flickr plans to expand from pho­to shar­ing to pho­to edit­ing through a deal with start-up Pic­nik. Pic­nik lets users per­form a vari­ety of basic edit­ing tasks — crop and resize pho­tos; change expo­sure, sat­u­ra­tion, col­or tem­per­a­ture; sharp­en edges; remove red-eye; and rotate pic­tures by 90-degrees or fin­er incre­ments.
  • Genet­ics pio­neer Craig Ven­ter took the stage at the Web 2.0 Sum­mit. Venter’s own DNA was sequenced at a cost of about $70 mil­lion. Today it costs only $300,000 to sequence a person’s DNA, and the $100,000 bench­mark is in sight. It’s an infor­ma­tion pro­cess­ing prob­lem. In oth­er words, Moore’s Law and genet­ics are tight­ly tied. It won’t be long before your genome — and your like­li­hood to get var­i­ous dis­eases, live long, be ath­let­ic, etc. — will be avail­able in a stan­dard med­ical test. Read The Infor­ma­tion Week report here.
  • AP had report­ed that Chi­na is increas­ing efforts at Inter­net cen­sor­ship ahead of the Com­mu­nist Par­ty Con­gress. How­ev­er, an inter­est­ing arti­cle by Dan Sul­li­van at SearchEngineLand says that Chi­na is upset with the US over the award it grant­ed to the Dalai Lama. It is retal­i­at­ing by hurt­ing US-based search engines by redi­rect­ing Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft search traf­fic to the Chi­na-owned Baidu.
  • Expe­dia and Trav­e­loc­i­ty are ready­ing India oper­a­tions, reports LiveMint.
  • About 16% of men and 8% of women who have access to the Inter­net at work acknowl­edged hav­ing seen porn while on the job, accord­ing to a sur­vey cit­ed in USA Today’s arti­cle: Tech­nol­o­gy makes porn eas­i­er to access at work.
  • Pho­tos: Scott Wolf dis­as­sem­bles an iRo­bot Room­ba, to see what’s inside and remark­ably, puts it back togeth­er as well. You can see how the Room­ba works with col­li­sion detec­tion, how it has a cus­tomiza­tion soft­ware inter­face, and much more. How I wish I had this toy in India!
  • I do not use Fire­fox, but if you do, remem­ber that it’s not safe out of the box. Here are five security/privacy exten­sions you must have.
  • Astronomers may be on brink of find­ing hab­it­able ‘sec­ond Earth’, reports The Guardian. Ear­li­er this year, sci­en­tists report­ed find­ing the most Earth-like plan­et ever, just 20 light years away.
  • The co-dis­cov­er­er of the dou­ble-helix struc­ture of DNA, James ‘Black Peo­ple Are Stu­pid’ Wat­son, has again dis­graced him­self. The Tele­graph ana­lyzes what it calls the Nobel Syn­drome, Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can has its take, and Wired Sci­ence has its strong rejoin­der.
  • Webyantra pro­files Indi­an food-relat­ed sites on the web — online deliv­ery, recipes, restau­rant reviews, etc.

Vis­it the ear­li­er weekend’s flea mar­ket here. Have a great week­end!

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  • Mahen­dra:

    Last sum­mer, I was vis­it­ing the US for my research inter­views, when my host bought a Room­ba. There is only one way to describe it — cute over­load. 🙂 I used to talk about it as if it is a per­son!

    They are how­ev­er unlike­ly to be suit­ed to India’s very dusty con­di­tions. Also the chap (see?) remains on charge on the base sta­tion at all times that it is not in use. Anoth­er prob­lem is that even if one were to pro­gramme it to work when we are not at home, it would set off the bur­glar alarm with its move­ments.

    It is good but it does not clean cor­ners well 🙁 So in sum­ma­ry, it is a toy or a clean­ing tool for week day clean­ing and you can tack­le cor­ners on week­ends.

    I wrote about robots and obe­si­ty a few days ear­li­er:
    http://laviequotidienne.wordpress.com/2007/08/15/dietobotics/

  • She­faly: Thanks! I know, the Room­bai would proabably not be suit­ed in India’s con­di­tions, but some­thing is bet­ter than noth­ing!

    Regard­ing bur­glar alarm — that’s not a con­cern in India as most don’t have one.

    I know, cor­ners are an issue. They seem to have tried their best but still much remains to be achieved.

    Do you know there are peo­ple who treat their Room­ba as a pet? They even have names for it! 🙂

  • Mahen­dra:

    Do you know there are peo­ple who treat their Room­ba as a pet? They even have names for it!”

    I can _totally_ believe it. I loved my friend’s Room­ba and always praised him (see?). Ha ha! Robots are great I think. May be I should make one now. Will need to brush up a lot of stuff and then buy com­po­nents and then work to test it. Hmm. Seri­ous under­tak­ing.