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.