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Comment: Re:One word... (Score 3, Informative) 76

by Samantha Wright (#46735151) Attached to: Can Web-Based Protests Be a Force for Change?
Well, here's the tl;dr of TFA: Social media is the starting point. Hence the Arab Spring—you use Facebook or Twitter or whatever to spread your message and/or propaganda, and then accrue those with personal willingness to march and coordinate action through the net. Five dictators have been overthrown in the Middle East since December 2010 (as well as uprisings and protests in more than a dozen other countries) following social media germination, so clearly it's viable for that. Unfortunately this means it's also a single point of failure, as shown in Egypt when they depeered from the rest of the network in early 2011, easy to infiltrate and possible to manipulate.

3D Display Uses Misted Water 65

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-an-umbrella dept.
An anonymous reader points out work at the University of Bristol into interactive, 3-D displays created by projecting light on misted water. "These personal screens are both see-through and reach-through. The see-through feature provides direct line of sight of the personal screen and the elements behind it on the tabletop. The reach-through feature allows the user to switch from interacting with the personal screen to reaching through it to interact with the tabletop or the space above it. The personal screen allows a range of customisations and novel interactions such as presenting 2D personal content on the screen, 3D content above the tabletop or supplementing and renewing actual objects differently for each user."

Comment: Re:Because you think Google is any better? (Score 1) 218

by Samantha Wright (#46684689) Attached to: Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

I was actually thinking of large platform developers such as Zynga. The fee and labour cost is potentially significantly higher, which makes it only attractive to a smaller number of companies prepared to do the work of scraping information itself, but the opportunity for information transfer still exists, doesn't it?

I believe you when you say the company's trying to improve its image in this regard, but, well, when you have a history of putting things like "Facebook does not screen or approve Platform Developers and cannot control how such Platform Developers use any personal information" in your privacy policy, that sours users' perception of your brand. It shouldn't really come as a surprise that people assume such things continue.

Comment: Re:Because you think Google is any better? (Score 1) 218

by Samantha Wright (#46672605) Attached to: Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

I've gotten quite a few random spam messages from Chinese industry, despite being a software engineer at an academic institution with absolutely nothing to do with any product development or manufacturing whatsoever. I've gotten offers for piping, ceramics, and a wide variety of plastics. At this very moment, I am reading a spam message from Kevin, who informs me he represents "one of the best digital images retouching/editing professionals located in China."

They seem like very good deals, and I'm almost saddened that I can't take them up on what appear to be very genuine, heartfelt attempts at mass mailing in an age where most unsolicited e-mail is about "your urgent Cooperation in transferring the sum of $11.3million immediately to your private account" and unauthorized activity notifications from Bl1zzard Entertanmnt on my several hundred accounts.

If you ever figure out what kind of plastic it was, let me know, and I'll check to see if I got the same e-mail!

Comment: Re:Because you think Google is any better? (Score 3, Insightful) 218

by Samantha Wright (#46672555) Attached to: Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

Facebook's position on providing large amounts of user data to its business partners has been the subject of scrutiny a few times. It remains unclear exactly how much stuff developers like Zynga have been able to access. There was also a series of events a couple of years ago where privacy controls were updated and set to overly permissive defaults—which is either spectacularly bad management (given how much bad PR it generated each and every time) or a bribed enablement of data-scraping.

As for sending email to a Gmail user, that's what I meant by "passive" use of Google's services, although I should note that if your e-mail never gets read, it cannot make Google money, just like a site with Google ads on it that never gets visited. You're really only an incidental bystander in that situation.

Comment: Re:Because you think Google is any better? (Score 5, Interesting) 218

by Samantha Wright (#46671699) Attached to: Why No One Trusts Facebook To Power the Future

Well, there's at least one sentence that's essentially different: "even when you die, Facebook can still make money off you."

Google doesn't (as far as I know) sell user information to advertisers. They exclusively use their own analytics; all an advertiser can do is submit their target demographics and keywords, and let Google do the math. While they're both huge storehouses of personal information, the big G is monolithic and generally non-porous—unless you're a malignant security agency, at least. If you're not using their services (at least passively), you're definitely not making them money.

This doesn't make them Totally Cool Groovy Guys You Should Trust With Anything, but it does make them naive ideologues surfing along the edge of a slippery slope rather than the outright thuggery of Facebook and other traditional advertisers—FB is more like a spam subscription; once you get signed up, you can be certain that your private information will propagate across the cosmos for eternity.

Comment: Re:Not "thousands" (Score 1) 53

Oh, don't worry, I double-checked Wikipedia too. :) If those were truly multicellular (and the evidence is inconclusive as to whether or not some of them were even cells) then it's very likely they developed it independently. Continuing to quote Wikipedia:

Multicellularity has evolved independently at least 46 times,

...and that's without discussing pluripotency, which is the ability to differentiate various kinds of cells. It's very unlikely that Metazoa separated from Protozoa more than a billion years ago.

(Better luck next round, hero.)


Used IT Equipment Can Be Worth a Fortune (Video) 79

Posted by Roblimo
from the how-much-is-that-mainframe-in-the-window? dept.
This is a conversation with Frank Muscarello, CEO and co-founder of MarkiTx, a company that brokers used and rehabbed IT equipment. We're not talking about an iPhone 3 you might sell on craigslist, but enterprise-level items. Cisco. Oracle. IBM mainframes. Racks full of HP or Dell servers. That kind of thing. In 2013 IDC pegged the value of the used IT equipment market at $70 billion, so this is a substantial business. MarkiTx has three main bullet points: *Know what your gear is worth; *Sell with ease at a fair price; and *Buy reliable, refurbished gear. Pricing is the big deal, Frank says. With cars you have and Kelley Blue Book. There are similar pricing services for commercial trucks, construction equipment, and nearly anything else a business or government agency might buy or sell used. For computers? Not so much. Worth Monkey calls itself "The blue book for used electronics and more," but it only seems to list popular consumer equipment. I tried looking up several popular Dell PowerEdge servers. No joy. An HTC Sensation phone or an Acer Aspire notebook? Sure. With price ranges based on condition, same as Kelley Blue Book does with cars. Now back to the big iron. A New York bank wants to buy new servers. Their old ones are fully depreciated in the tax sense, and their CTO can show stats saying they are going to suffer from decreasing reliability. So they send out for bids on new hardware. Meanwhile, there's a bank in Goa, India, that is building a server farm on a tight budget. If they can buy used servers from the New York bank, rehabbed and with a warranty, for one-third what they'd cost new, they are going to jump on this deal the same way a small earthmoving operation buys used dump trucks a multinational construction company no longer wants.

In February, 2013 Computerworld ran an article titled A new way to sell used IT equipment about MarkiTx. The main differentiator between MarkiTx and predecessor companies is that this is primarily an information company. It is not eBay, where plenty of commercial IT equipment changes hands, nor is it quite like UK-based Environmental Computer, which deals in used and scrap computer hardware. It is, rather, the vanguard of computer hardware as a commodity; as something you don't care about as long as it runs the software you need it to run, and you can buy it at a good price -- or more and more, Frank notes -- rent a little bit of its capacity in the form of a cloud service, a direction in which an increasing number of business are moving for their computing needs. Even more fun: Let's say you are (or would like to be) a local or regional computer service company and you want to buy or sell or broker a little used hardware. You could use MarkiTx's price information to set both your buy and sell prices, same as a car dealer uses Kelley Blue Book. We seem to be moving into a whole new era of computer sales and resales. MarkiTx is one company making a splash in this market. But there are others, and there are sure to be even more before long. (Alternate video link.)

Mathematics deals exclusively with the relations of concepts to each other without consideration of their relation to experience. -- Albert Einstein