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Why Overheard Cell Phone Chats Are Annoying 344

__roo writes "American researchers think they have found the answer to the question of why overhearing cell phone chats are annoying. According to scientists at Cornell University, when only half of the conversation is overheard, it drains more attention and concentration than when overhearing two people talking. According to one researcher, 'We have less control to move away our attention from half a conversation (or halfalogue) than when listening to a dialogue. Since halfalogues really are more distracting and you can't tune them out, this could explain why people are irritated.' Their study will be published in the journal Psychological Science."

Submission + - Google "accidentally" collected wireless data (wired.com)

Kharny writes: A mistake in streetview car software meant that google has been collecting wireless data from any unencrypted sources that their streetview cars passed.

Software meant to collect mac adress and ssid "to improve marketing data" had been programmed in such a way that if a WAN was unprotected, it would also collect surfing and email data transmitted.


Submission + - Facebook "Virus" doing the rounds ... (facebook.com)

daveime writes: Earlier today my wife saw a video posted on her Facebook, that had been recommended to her by one of her friends. It's of a girl in a short skirt with the caption "[your name], this is without doubt the sexiest video" ...

After clicking on it, she was presented with a page asking her to allow full permissions to her data and friends lists. As you may already be realizing, it is not in fact a video at all, but a Facebook Application. Like many other innocent souls, she clicked on the Allow button. Five minutes later, every one of her friends had been spammed with the same post on their walls, only the names had been changed.

When I saw this, I promptly recognized a very nice bit of social engineering, a sexy video apparently sent to you by one of your friends, you really want to watch and blindly click the Allow button without thinking. Boom, the Application designer now has all your personal info, and a list of all your friends to spam and harvest from also. It's been reported to Facebook, and it remains to be seen how long the Application stays active.

The speed this thing has spread in just a couple of hours is amazing, and comes only one day after Facebook announced their "sitdown" meeting regarding privacy issues.

While my personal stance on Facebook has not changed i.e. don't post anything publicly you don't wish to be public, this new viral aspect has me wondering (a) why it has taken so long, the tools have been there since the outset, and (b) could this signal the beginning-of-the-end for Facebook, as more and more Viral Applications start to appear ?


Submission + - US Postman Hoarded Over 20,000 Letters (bbc.co.uk)

calmofthestorm writes: Some 20,000 pieces of mail — many more than a decade old — have been recovered from a postman's garage in the US city of Philadelphia. The FBI said it took more than three postal vans to remove the mail. Investigators are still trying to find the postman so they can question him.

Submission + - The Science of a Happy Marriage

Hugh Pickens writes: "Tara Parker-Pope writes in the NY Times that a growing body of research is focusing on the science of commitment with scientists studying everything from the biological factors that seem to influence marital stability to a person’s psychological response after flirting with a stranger with researchers' findings suggesting that some people may be naturally more resistant to temptation. Hasse Walum, a biologist at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, studied 552 sets of twins to learn more about a "fidelity gene" related to the body’s regulation of the brain chemical vasopressin, a bonding hormone, and found that men who carried a variation in the gene were less likely to be married, and those who had wed were more likely to have had serious marital problems and unhappy wives. "There are many ways this information can help a man and his wife when they marry," says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University who studies romantic love. "Knowing there are biological weak links can help you overcome them." Other researchers are embarking on a series of studies to measure how self-expansion influences a relationship and theorize that couples who explore new places and try new things will tap into feelings of self-expansion, lifting their level of commitment. “We enter relationships because the other person becomes part of ourselves, and that expands us,” says Dr. Arthur Aron, a psychologist and relationship researcher at Stony Brook University. “That’s why people who fall in love stay up all night talking and it feels really exciting. We think couples can get some of that back by doing challenging and exciting things together.”"

Submission + - It's all relative for Einstein fans (skunkpost.com)

crimeandpunishment writes: The original manuscript of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity is on display in its entirety for the first time. The 46-page hand-written document, which helps explain everything from black holes to the Big Bang, went on display Sunday in Israel.

Submission + - Correcting poor typing technique?

An anonymous reader writes: When beginning to use keyboards I did not pay much attention to touch typing techniques. Instead I found myself eventually achieving decent rates by simply doing what felt natural to me. These days my qwerty typing speed is in the area of 90-110 WPM, more in the lower end of that than the higher. While this isn't too shabby, I feel some awkwardness in my technique that I suspect has made me reach a maximum speed that is not optimal (such as not using my little and ring fingers when I really should). Has anyone been in a similar situation, wanted to fix it and actually done so? What do you reckon is the best way to fix half-broken typing? Touch training sessions? Should I switch to dvorak and pretty much learn typing from scratch, just properly this time? Spill your guts.
The Internet

Submission + - Girl starved while parents raised virtual child. (guardian.co.uk)

reporter writes: According to a disturbing report just published by guardian.co.uk, "South Korean police have arrested a couple for starving their three-month-old daughter to death while they devoted hours to playing a computer game that involved raising a virtual character of a young girl. The 41-year-old man and 25-year-old woman, who met through a chat website, reportedly left their infant unattended while they went to internet cafes. They only occasionally dropped by to feed her powdered milk."

Submission + - The Wi-Fi on the Bus

theodp writes: For students who endure hundreds of hours on a school bus each year in a desert exurb of Tucson, the Wi-Fi on the bus goes round-and-round, all through the town. Last fall, school officials mounted a $200 mobile Internet router from Autonet Mobile to bus No. 92's sheet-metal frame, enabling students to surf the Web. What began as a hi-tech experiment has had an unexpected result — Wi-Fi has transformed the formerly boisterous bus rides into a rolling study hall, and behavioral problems have virtually disappeared. 'Boys aren't hitting each other, girls are busy, and there's not so much jumping around,' said J. J. Johnson, the Internet Bus driver.

Submission + - Cats, Dancers and Quantum Physics (quantumtamers.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The new documentary on quantum physics that won Best of Show at the US Accolades and The Audacity Prize in Europe, now has clips online. The Quantum Tamers features eighteen scientists, a quirky cat and entangled dancers to explain a weird and wired future. Subject matter includes quantum information, quantum teleportation, secret quantum codes and the potential power of quantum computers. Paris Science Film Festival Grand Jury member Jozée Sarrazin commented, “The Quantum Tamers reinvents the scientific documentary.” http://www.quantumtamers.com/

Submission + - Oracle Charging For Solaris Patches, Info (opensolaris.org) 1

bhtooefr writes: "It looks like Oracle's already making changes for the worse at Sun. Dennis Clarke posted on OpenSolaris's discussion list, claiming that Oracle is planning on requiring a support contract for any patches for Solaris, including security patches. Oracle has silently posted a document that appears to state that change in policy regarding patches. (Previously, non-security patches could be manually downloaded for free without a support contract, and security patches could be automatically updated for free.) In addition, Clarke claims that access to SunSolve, which contains documentation on Solaris patches and Sun hardware, will soon be restricted to those with an active support contract."

19th-Century Photographer Captured 5,000 Snowflakes 80

tcd004 writes "Wilson Bentley began photographing snowflakes in 1885, and managed to immortalize more than 5,000 crystals before his death in 1931. Now his images are widely recognized and highly sought after. At the age of 19, 'Snowflake' Bentley jury-rigged a microscope to a bulky bellows camera and took the first-ever photograph of a snowflake. Photography then, particularly microphotography, was much closer to science than art. In a 1910 article published in the journal Technical World, he wrote, 'Here is a gem bestrewn realm of nature possessing the charm of mystery, of the unknown, sure richly to reward the investigator." The video embedded at the link above touches on another long-forgotten piece of history: a sketch of the photographers who captured arial views of assemblages of tens of thousands of soldiers returning from WW-I, carefully choreographed and arranged to form a Liberty Bell, a Stature of Liberty, a US flag... as forgotten as the origin of the WW-I term razzle-dazzle.

Submission + - Help us test a new defense against flash-crowd DoS 1

sunshine.jelena writes: We (Georgios Oikonomou [University of Delaware] and Jelena Mirkovic [USC/ISI]) have developed new methods for differentiating humans from bots that help defend against flash-crowd DDoS attacks on Web servers. These attacks flood the server with legitimate-like requests. Neither traffic content nor bot behavior differ in obvious ways from those of a human user, which makes flash crowd attacks very challenging to defend from. You can learn more about our defense approach from our ICC'09 publication http://www.isi.edu/~mirkovic/publications/icc09.pdf.

To test the accuracy of our method we need humans to browse through the content on our server, while we attack it. The server is at:


and it contains a copy of Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, English Version, November 2006.

During your browsing session a DDoS attack may be launched on the same server, so you may notice slow replies. Act as you normally would when deciding if you want to continue interaction or leave. Follow your browsing preferences at all times, feel free to interact with the server for as long or as briefly as you want. Also feel free to revisit it at a later time.

Your IP address will be anonymized before being recorded in our logs. No personal information will be collected about your specific interests or about your identity. Your co-operation with the research is voluntary at all times. The results of this study will be available at http://www.isi.edu/~mirkovic/humanvsbot/ when the study completes. For all questions please contact us at the e-mails listed below.

Thank you for your help
Jelena Mirkovic (sunshine@isi.edu)
Georgios Oikonomou (goikonom@cis.udel.edu)

Submission + - Viruses communicate to coordinate infection (newscientist.com)

m.shenhav writes: A tactic familiar from insect behaviour seems to give viruses the edge in the eternal battle between them and their host – and the remarkable proof can be seen in a video. The video catches viruses only a few hundred nanometres in size in the act of hopping over cells that are already infected. This allows them to concentrate their energies on previously uninfected cells, accelerating the spread of infection fivefold.

Submission + - UK Hospital Op Photos Posted On Facebook (dailyrecord.co.uk)

smartaleckkill writes: One from my local tabloid:
"A source said: 'The person involved is believed to have used their mobile phone to take pictures of patients in an operating theatre.'
The Record understands surgeons are allowed to take photos during operations to get a quick second opinion from colleagues on tricky cases.
Rules governing this were tightened in the last few months, with staff only permitted to send images to official NHS emails to protect patient confidentiality."
It's on the BBC, too, but the Daily Record coverage is way more amusing. The word 'shocking' appears twice in the first two sentences.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito