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Submission + - The Mnemonic Secrets of Mind-Gaming

Hugh Pickens writes writes: "We've all heard of people who have "photographic memories" but the NY Times magazine has an interesting story about Joshua Foer who trained his brain to became a world-class memory athlete winning the competition last year in speed cards at the USA Memory Championship by memorizing a deck of cards in one minute forty seconds. According to Foer, memory training is a lost art that dates from antiquity. "Today we have books, photographs, computers and an entire superstructure of external devices to help us store our memories outside our brains, but it wasn’t so long ago that culture depended on individual memories," writes Foer. "It was considered a form of character-building, a way of developing the cardinal virtue of prudence and, by extension, ethics." Foer says that the secret to supermemory is a system of training and discipline that uses a set of mnemonic techniques discovered by the poet Simonides of Ceos in the fifth century BC that works by creating "memory palaces" filled with lavish images on the fly, painting in the mind a scene so unlike any other it cannot be forgotten. Many competitive mnemonists argue that their skills are less a feat of memory than of creativity. “Photographic memory is a detestable myth. Doesn’t exist. In fact, my memory is quite average," concludes Ed Cooke who recently invented a code that allows him to convert every number from 0 to 999,999,999 into a unique image that he can then deposit in a memory palace. "What you have to understand is that even average memories are remarkably powerful if used properly.""

Submission + - Another arrested in Japan for using anonymous P2P (

renrutal writes: "A 43-year-old man is the second known person arrested in Japan for using Perfect Dark to share copyrighted material in its encrypted P2P network.

According to the [Kyoto-based] High-Tech Crime Task Force, the Okayama police, and the Saga police, the Osaka-based suspect uploaded about a thousand files, including anime. The suspect admitted that he thought he would not get caught because he was using Perfect Dark.

Perfect Dark is the third generation of japanese anonymous P2P network clients, developed with the intent to fix the security flaws found in its predecessors Winny and Share, in spite of also adopting a "Secure through Obscurity" closed-source model. In 2004, Winny's developer, Isamu Kaneo, was charged 1.5 million yen for assisting in copyright infringement, but he was acquited last October. Since 2008, at least 15 people were arrested in Japan suspect of uploading copyrighted material to those "secure" networks."


Submission + - Google's Islam Censor ( 5

codewarren writes: Google (US and UK at least) appear to be censoring suggestions for searches starting with "Islam Is". Go to Google, try typing "Christianity is" and seeing the suggestions of a lie, bullshit, false, etc... Try Hinduism, Judaism, etc... similar. Then try "Islam is" and there are absolutely no suggestions.

Feed Science Daily: Kidney Donation Web Sites Raise Ethical Concerns (

Some patients do not have access living donors who are both willing and medically eligible to give them a kidney. As a result, some are now turning to websites that attempt to match people in need of transplantation with those who want to donate a kidney, so-called "Good Samaritan" donors.

Every Email In UK To Be Monitored 785

ericcantona writes "The Communications Data Bill (2008) will lead to the creation of a single, centralized database containing records of all e-mails sent, websites visited and mobile phones used by UK citizens. In a carnivore-on-steroids programme, as all vestiges of communication privacy are stripped away, The BBC reports that Home Secretary Jacqui Smith says this is a 'necessity.'"

Encrypted Images Vulnerable To New Attack 155

rifles only writes "A German techie has found a remarkably simple way to discern some of the content of encrypted volumes containing images. The encrypted images don't reveal themselves totally, but in many cases do let an attacker see the outline of a high-contrast image. The attack works regardless of the encryption algorithm used (the widely-used AES for instance), and affects all utilities that use single symmetric keys. More significant to police around the world struggling with criminal and terrorist use of encryption, the attack also breaks the ability of users to 'hide' separate encrypted volumes inside already encrypted volumes, whose existence can now for the first time be revealed." The discoverer of this attack works for a company making full-disk encryption software; their product, TurboCrypt, has already been enhanced to defeat the attack. Other on-the-fly encryption products will probably be similarly enhanced, as the discoverer asserts: "To our knowledge is the described method free of patents and the author can confirm that he hasn't applied for protection."

Birth of a New African Ocean 261

Khemisty writes "Formation of an ocean is a rare event, one no scientist has ever witnessed. Yet this geophysical nativity is unfolding today in one of the hottest and most inhospitable corners of the globe. Africa is splitting apart at the seams. From the southern tip of the Red Sea southward through Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique, the continent is coming unstitched along a zone called the East African Rift." This stretching of the earth's crust has been going on for 20 million years, and within another 10 million the Red Sea will have broken through to create a new sea.

Dispelling Myths About Geomagnetic Reversal 158

UniverseToday has an interesting look at geomagnetic reversal, the process in which the Earth's magnetic poles trade places. The article cites known trends and recent studies to debunk doomsday myths and unsubstantiated claims about the process. One such study is attempting to model the earth's core with a 26-ton ball of molten metal. Another recently found evidence that the Earth has a second, weaker magnetic field. "We do know that this magnetic pole flip-flop has occurred many times in the last few million years; the last occurred 780,000 years ago according to ferromagnetic sediment. A few scaremongering articles have said geomagnetic reversal occurs with 'clockwork regularity' — this is simply not true."

Optical Character Recognition Still Struggling With Handwriting 150

Ian Lamont recently asked Google if they planned to extend their transcription of books and other printed media to include public records, many of which were handwritten before word processors became ubiquitous. Google wouldn't talk about any potential plans, but Lamont found out a bit more about the limits of optical character recognition in the process: "Even though some CAPTCHA schemes have been cracked in the past year, a far more difficult challenge lies in using software to recognize handwritten text. Optical character recognition has been used for years to convert printed documents into text data, but the enormous variation in handwriting styles has thwarted large-scale OCR imports of handwritten public documents and historical records. took a surprising approach to digitizing and converting all publicly released US census records from 1790 to 1930: It contracted the job to Chinese firms whose staff manually transcribed the names and other information. The Chinese staff are specially trained to read the cursive and other handwriting styles from digitized paper records and microfilm. The task is ongoing with other handwritten records, at a cost of approximately $10 million per year, the company's CEO says."
The Courts

Gov't Database Errors Leading To Unconstitutional Searches? 272

Wired is running a story about a case the Supreme Court will be hearing on Tuesday that relates to searches based on erroneous information in government databases. In the case of Herring vs. US 07-513, the defendant was followed and pulled over based on a records indicating he had a warrant out for his arrest. Upon further review, the local county clerk found the records were in error, and the warrant notification should have been removed months prior. Unfortunately for Herring, he had already been arrested and his car searched. Police found a small amount of drugs and a firearm, for which Herring was subsequently prosecuted. Several friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed to argue this case, some calling for "an accuracy obligation on law enforcement agents [PDF] who rely on criminal justice information systems," and others defending such searches as good-faith exceptions [PDF].
Operating Systems

Netbook Return Rates Much Higher For Linux Than Windows 663

ivoras writes "An interview with MSI's director of US Sales, Andy Tung, contains this interesting snippet: "We have done a lot of studies on the return rates and haven't really talked about it much until now. Our internal research has shown that the return of netbooks is higher than regular notebooks, but the main cause of that is Linux. People would love to pay $299 or $399 but they don't know what they get until they open the box. They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it's not what they are used to. They don't want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks.'"

Venture Capitalism To the Rescue 88

theodp writes "Al Gore, Bill Joy, and a Norwegian cutie — a TH!NK open electric car — grace the cover of the latest NYT Magazine, which asks: Can the venture capitalists at Kleiner Perkins reduce our dependence on oil, help stop global warming, and make a lot of money at the same time? While Kleiner Perkins — which funded Genentech, Netscape, Google and others — has a number of other green-tech bets, a partner says its goal is 'to make a lot of money for our investors,' not to save the environment."

Submission + - Is the US ready for the switch to DTV? (

tonsofpcs writes: "On Monday, September 8, 2008, Wilmington, NC will be the first television market (#135) to make the switch to DTV by shutting off their analog transmitters. This forum will be posting updates throughout the coming months to keep everyone updated on how the transition works so that we are all prepared come February 17, 2009.

So far, it seems Wilmington will still be going ahead as planned, despite Tropical Storm Hanna's proximity."

The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get to work.