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Comment I smell a PR firm at work. (Score 1) 190

With survey responses from more than 10,470 companies across 20 countries, it was revealed that approximately 48 percent of SMBs (with up to 1,000 computers) admit to having been infected by some type of malware over the last year. As further proof, 27 percent confirmed that the source of the infection was a USB device connected to a computer.

Horsesh*t. I do PM / UX at a website whose users are SMBs. Most of my life is spent talking to SMB owners: interviewing them, usability testing with them, dealing with customer support issues, etc. While these people are, in general, certainly not dumb, most of them (1) have a limited idea of how to use their computers (they're too busy and they often outsource IT functions, even if only to the Geek Squad) (2) have a limited understanding of what 'malware' is (3) would have no way of knowing that the malware came from a USB device and were probably just making that up (4) were probably using sketchy cheap malware-infested software they downloaded from the internet rather than paying for a reliable package since they tend to be very cost-conscious and (5) were probably trying to explain why there's all that pr0n stashed on their hard drives.

In other words, self-reporting by "SMBs" (owners? IT people? who?) about malware incidents in the past year is likely a complete line of bull poo concocted by a PR firm trying to be a "thought leader" and getting people to their blog post / website (our firm does this, although we at least make them be reasonably methodologically rigorous).

My company has also conducted surveys of SMBs, both for UX / Product reasons and PR "thought leader" reasons. You can buy a DB / mailing list of vetted business owner / mananger / C-level email addresses for conducting research like this. That list can in fact include owners / managers / IT people at what you think of when someone says "SMB" i.e. a small business with a few employees up to I think 1,000 employees. That list could also include a whole bunch of sole proprietors of companies like "Angela's Passion Parties" or "JayBob's Babysitting and Handywork". We don't know anything about who responded to this survey or whether they were actually the people who had to deal with the problem.

USB autoplay is hugely helpful for a great many people. Don't be so credulous of this story and start attacking what has been a great advancement in personal computing that's saved a lot of normal people a lot of frustration with their peripherals.

Move along, nothing to see here.


Aussie Lasers To Stop Satellite Collisions, Death 84

bennyboy64 writes "An Australian company is developing a laser tracking system that will help prevent collisions between satellites and space debris, ZDNet reports. 'The trouble is it's [debris] in orbit and travelling at orbital speeds, which means that it is travelling at about 30,000 kilometres an hour," said the CEO of the Australian company. 'If even a tiny little piece runs into a satellite it'll destroy it or punch a hole through a person if they're out there space walking.'"

First 'Malaria-Proof' Mosquito Created 261

Gisg writes "The University of Arizona team reported that their genetically modified mosquitoes are immune to the malaria-causing parasite, a single-cell organism called Plasmodium. Riehle and his colleagues tested their genetically-altered mosquitoes by feeding them malaria-infested blood. Not even one mosquito became infected with the malaria parasite."
Social Networks

Leaving a Comment? That'll Be 99 Cents, and Your Name 377

netbuzz writes "Anxious to lift a ban on comments brought about by incessant trolling and anonymous slander, a Massachusetts newspaper has begun requiring two things of online readers who want to leave their thoughts on stories: a one-time fee of 99 cents and a willingness to use their real names. Says the publisher: 'This is a necessary step, in my opinion, if The Attleboro (MA) Sun Chronicle is going to continue to provide a forum for comments on our websites.'"

Software Now Un-Patentable In New Zealand 221

A few weeks ago New Zealand Software decided to grant software patents. But now "Despite what appears to be a big-budget lobbying effort by the pro-patent fraternity, Hon Simon Power announced today that he wouldn't be modifying the proposed Patents Bill hence software will be un-patentable once the Bill passes into law. This is significant. As we've previously pointed out software patents aren't black and white, and there are certainly pros and cons. However on balance, we believe they represent a far greater risk to smaller NZ-based software providers than opportunity, and there are many cases where they have significantly stifled innovation. We believe it's near impossible for software to be developed without breaching some of the hundreds of thousands of software patents awarded around the world, hence many software companies in New Zealand, creating outstanding and innovative software, live a constant risk that their entire business will be wound up overnight due to litigious action by a patent holder. This has led to many a 'patent troll' company, primarily in the US. These are non-software companies who exist only to buy up old patents with the sole intention of suing innovative software companies for apparent breach of these patents. The effects of this have been chilling."
Social Networks

Twitter Says Americans Are Happier In the Morning 88

DWF3046 writes "There are lots of things you can infer from Twitter. But while we're learning what we're eating or where we're flying, we haven't been able to use Twitter to determine how we're feeling. Researchers at Harvard and Northwestern have created a video that shows the mood in the US, as inferred using over 300 million tweets, over the course of the day. The results? The early morning and late evening appear to provide the highest levels of happiness. Geographically, the data points to a significantly happier west coast, which is consistently three hours behind the east coast."

Submission + - SPAM: ChoiceVendor Brings Yelp-Like Reviews to Businesse

An anonymous reader writes: ChoiceVendor, a Yelp-like review service aimed at the B2B space, has left beta and officially launches today.

ChoiceVendor aims to do what peer-review services like Yelp and Angie’s List do in the consumer space, but with denizens of the business sphere. The B2B space is actually an area where peer-driven recommendations can really come in handy, because if you are trying to find an IT consultant in your area, a business attorney or a place to rent office furniture, it can be hard to get started in that process unless you already have connections to make referrals.

This is exactly the type of problem that ChoiceVendor aims to help solve. Businesses can add or claim their business on the service and then request that clients rate them there. Customers can rate their experience and also provide context about the working relationship.

Link to Original Source

Scientists and Lawyers Argue For Open US DNA Database 120

chrb writes "New Scientist has an article questioning the uniqueness of DNA profiles. 41 scientists and lawyers recently published a high-profile Nature article (sub. required) arguing that the FBI should release its complete CODIS database. The request follows research on the already released Arizona state DNA database (a subset of CODIS) which showed a surprisingly large number of matches between the profiles of different individuals, including one between a white man and a black man. The group states that the assumption that a DNA profile represents a unique individual, with only a minuscule probability of a secondary match, has never been independently verified on a large sample of DNA profiles. The new requests follow the FBI's rejection of similar previous requests."

Apple Balks, Finally Relents, At Possible User Queries of Dictionary App 259

Geoffrey.landis writes with a snippet from CNET reporting another example of offputting treatment at Apple's App Store: "'In this case, it's a dictionary app called Ninjawords (so called because ninjas are 'smart, accurate, and really fast') that was rejected three times over the course of two months, mostly because 'objectionable' words could be looked up and found in the dictionary's search function, Gruber reported.' PCWorld also reports the story." Note that the app was eventually approved, but only after a few go-rounds and changes.

Comment At-desk fitness machines can help (Score 1) 865

A lot of this advice tells you to go out and basically create a radical lifestyle change all at once. That generally doesn't happen. Changing things like diet, exercise, spending habits, social habits, etc., tends to work best if you slowly make small changes.

Lots of people find that diet / exercise tracking software can help them meet goals. I have a few friends using, and I like it pretty well. It does a nice job of giving you warm fuzzies for doing the right thing (fiber, produce, low cholesterol, etc.).

Exercise is really really important. It tends to improve mood and focus. It improves your cholesterol profile. Current thinking is that being fit is more important to overall health than being at the proper weight. So your goal is to get more exercise into your daily life. From what I understand, you can do this in 6 minutes every few days; you can walk 10,000 paces (about 5 miles per day), or do something in between.

Personally (I'm in IT too) I find it really hard to regularly go to the gym, and I hate the rigid schedule of having to go to the gym for 1 hour 4x per week or whatever. I like the suggestions of you doing small bursts of exercise while you're at work. In addition to strength / resistance training, how about:

  • Get a stationary bicycle that you "park" in front of your desk
  • Get an under-desk peddler like
  • Get a small treadmill that you can stroll on, with monitor visible, so you can respond to incoming issues

Any of these would increase your overall activity level -- and then maybe you just have to do one strenuous exercise session on the weekend or something, like a vigorous bike ride plus weight training, or a 1x per week cycle to work.

Oh, you could also work with a trainer who could figure out a workout for you to do while at your desk.

The Courts

Security Firms Fined Over Never-Ending Subscriptions 194

Barence writes "'Security firms Symantec and McAfee have both agreed to pay $375,000 to US authorities after they automatically renewed consumers' subscriptions without their consent.' The two companies were reported to the New York Attorney General after people complained that their credit cards were being charged without their consent. The investigators found that information about the auto-renewals was hidden at the bottom of long web pages or buried in the EULA."

Forgotten Ulcer Drug Energizes Stem Cells 37

Soychemist writes "When cancer patients get a heavy dose of chemotherapy and radiation, it can destroy their bone marrow. Umbilical cords contain stem cells that can regenerate the immune systems of young patients, but usually there are not enough of them to heal an adult. Len Zon, a doctor at Children's Hospital in Boston surmised that there must be a chemical that can make the cord blood stem cells divide, so that there will be enough of them to treat adult patients. He tested 2,500 chemicals on zebrafish embryos, and found one that does the trick. It was once on its way to becoming an ulcer medication, and now doctors are testing it on cord blood units that will be given to leukemia patients."

Possible Extra-Galactic Planet Detected 83

Nancy Atkinson writes "Using a technique called pixel-lensing, a group of astronomers in Italy may have detected a planet orbiting another star. But this planet is unique among the 300-plus exoplanets discovered so far, as it and its parent star are in another galaxy. The Andromeda Galaxy, to be exact. Technically, the star in M31 was found to have a companion about 6 times the mass of Jupiter, so it could be either a brown dwarf or a planet. But either way, this is a remarkable feat, to find an object of that size in another galaxy."

GPS Shoes For Alzheimer's Patients 116

A shoe-maker, Aetrex Worldwide, and GTX Corp, a company that makes miniaturized Global Positioning Satellite tracking and location-transmitting devices, are teaming up to make shoes for people suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. "The technology will provide the location of the individual wearing the shoes within 9m (30 feet), anywhere on the planet. Sixty per cent of individuals afflicted with Alzheimer's Disease will be involved in a 'critical wandering incident' at least once during the progression of the disease — many more than once," said Andrew Carle, an assistant professor at George Mason University who served as an advisor on the project. Not only will this technology allow a caretaker to find a loved one with a click of a mouse, but the shoes are more humanizing than a bell hung around the neck.

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