Dekortage writes: "According to the latest ComScore rankings, YouTube's search traffic for August surpassed Yahoo's. The latter dropped roughly 5% in traffic from July. Among other things, this means that Google now owns both of the top two search engines. AdAge further speculates on Google's experimental "promoted videos" cost-per-click advertising on YouTube, suggesting the obvious: more money."
Dekortage writes: Seven years ago, the United Nations adopted eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for combating poverty, hunger, illiteracy, and more, all by 2015. Today, YouTube and Will.I.Am are teaming up to launch the "In My Name" campaign, asking everyone to submit videos with MDG-related requests of their governments. Even if you are not going to post a video, it is still worth your time to check out the eight MDG introductory videos by major international nonprofits such as CARE, EngenderHealth, March of Dimes, Save the Children, and others, as a quick primer on some of the world's most dire problems.
Dekortage writes: "Upon hearing that the Chinese government would allow limited protests in three parks, a pair of Chinese women applied for the permits to protest — four times. Each time they were denied, as were all 77 protest applications. On the fourth visit, the two elderly women were informed that they would have to serve a year of jail time for 'disturbing the public order'. An International Olympic Committee spokesperson noted the obvious: 'what had been announced publicly [by the Chinese government] doesn't appear in reality to be happening.'"
Dekortage writes: "In their efforts to attract students and push for ubiquitous computing, some colleges are handing out a free iPhone or iPod Touch to incoming students. For example, Abilene Christian University in Texas chose iPhones after surveying students and finding that they did not like hauling around laptops, but that most always carried a cellular phone. The University of Maryland is also experimenting with iPhones for students; one vice-president was unsure if it would benefit education, but said 'We're trying to get answers from students.' Not everyone is convinced: a Cornell law professor has banned the use of laptops and other electronic devices in his classes."
Dekortage writes: "The FBI is set to gain additional powers of investigation under new, yet-to-be-released Justice Department plans. The new attorney general guidelines 'would allow the F.B.I. to open an investigation of an American, conduct surveillance, pry into private records and take other investigative steps... based in part on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or on protected First Amendment activities.' Several senators have formally complained that citizens could be investigated 'without any basis for suspicion,' which the Justice Department denies. An ACLU lawyer says the plan further opens the door to the use of profile data-mining in the so-called fight against terrorism."
Dekortage writes: "As previously discussed on Slashdot, current and former Apple executives have been under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission over stock option backdating. One of the execs, Apple's former top lawyer Nancy Heinen, has settled with the SEC for $2.2 million. As a result of the backdating, SEC said Apple underreported its expenses by nearly $40 million, but Heinen settled without confirming or denying the charges."
Dekortage writes: "Although women's issues are rarely discussed on Slashdot, it appears that woman-oriented blogs and sites are growing faster than any other segment except political sites — 35% in the last year alone. Though men are heavy users of the Web, they rarely visit explicitly gender-oriented sites the way women do. Advertisers are taking note, serving up more ads on women's sites than for sites aimed at teens, children, or families. Sometimes the sites get very personal, but that is part of the appeal. As one marketer notes, "Women are more than half the population and they do most of the shopping." Is a woman-oriented Slashdot on the horizon?"
Dekortage writes: "On the heels of learning that some of the televised fireworks were CGI creations, it turns out that the Chinese anthem sung at the Olympics was also faked. 9-year-old Lin Miaoke performed Hymn to the Motherland on stage, but the voice we all heard was actually that of 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, whom the Communist Party's Politburo deemed a better singer, though not as cute. The music designer for the ceremonies said, "The audience will understand that it's in the national interest." Meanwhile, there has been outrage by bloggers and others about this in China, followed by a government-imposed media blackout on the topic."
Dekortage writes: "If you watch the Olympics gymnastics this year, you may be confused by the new scoring system which will let athletes score 14, 17, or even higher. The new rules are "heavy on math" and employ two panels of judges: one for technical difficulty, which adds points up from a score of zero; the other for execution and technique, which starts at 10.0 and subtracts for errors. The two numbers are then combined for the final score. As one judge put it, "The system rewards difficulty. But the mistakes are also more costly." The new rules were adopted after South Korea protested a scoring at the 2004 Olympics."
Dekortage writes: "Is your bowl of Cheerios a little warmer than expected? Maybe it's because your kitchen counters are radioactive, emitting radiation as well as radon gas. Granite naturally contains a small percentage of uranium, and some blocks of granite are more radioactive than others. In some cases, radiation levels have been measured at 100x of our usual background radiation, but most scientists think granite countertops are mostly harmless. Nonetheless, as one doctor said, "If you can choose another counter that doesn't elevate your risk, however slightly, why wouldn't you?""
Dekortage writes: "As today's lawsuit indicates, Hasbro has apparently had enough of Scrabulous, the online word game remarkably similar to Scrabble. Filed in New York, Hasbro's suit is against Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, brothers from Kolkata, India, and asks the court to remove the Scrabulous application from Facebook, disable the Scrabulous.com web site, and grant damages and attorneys fees to Hasbro. Why did Hasbro tale so long to "protect" its intellectual property rights in court? They waited "in deference to the fans" until EA had launched the official Scrabble Facebook app earlier this month. EA's version has netted fewer than ten thousand players, versus Scrabulous' estimated 2.3 million. This was the next logical step for Hasbro after filing DCMA takedown notices against Scrabulous in January."
Dekortage writes: "The New York Times discusses two related problems in the Mideast: a population that has quadrupled in the last 50 years, and a severe four-year draught. Together, these lead to food shortages and civil unrest. Egypt is using the Nile to turn desert into farmland, Israel relies on advanced drip irrigation, and Djibouti grows rice in seawater-cooled greenhouses. But this results in some of the most expensive food in the world, leading every government in the region to look for new technologies and opportunities."
Dekortage writes: "EBay's recent deal with Buy.com appears to be seriously irritating its veteran individual sellers. The deal allows Buy.com and other large fixed-price retailers to list millions of items on eBay without paying listing fees, and appears to be the direction that eBay will follow in the future. Understandably, individual sellers are outraged, like this blogger: "I've paid eBay many hundreds of thousands in fees over the past several years and believed them when they talked about a level playing field. And they just plain and simple are going back on their word." This comes after the dire prediction that eBay is losing its popularity. Will eBay recover from this?"
Dekortage writes: "The New York Times has a piece up about the paradox of privacy: "normally sane people have inconsistent and contradictory impulses and opinions when it comes to their safeguarding their own private information." More specifically, it's all how you ask: if you don't talk about privacy, people won't worry about it. In one survey, "when the issue of confidentiality was raised, participants clammed up. For example, 25 percent of the students who were given a strong assurance of confidentiality admitted to having copied someone else's homework. Among those given no assurance of confidentiality, more than half admitted to it.""