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Submission + - Mechanical Turk: Now with 40.92% spam. (blogspot.com)

pirot writes: Anyone who frequents just a little bit the Amazon Mechanical Turk market will notice the tremendous number of spammy HITs. "Test if the ads in my website work". "Create a Twitter account and follow me". "Like my YouTube video". "Download this app". "Write a positive review on Yelp". A seemingly endless amount of spam HITs come to the market, mainly with the purpose of spamming "social media" metrics. [...] So, with Dahn Tamir and Priya Kanth (MS student at NYU), we decided to examine how big is the problem. How many spammers join the market? How many spam HITs are there?

The results:

40% of the HITs from new requesters are spam.

30% of the new requesters are clear spammers.

The spam HITs have bigger value than the legitimate ones.


Submission + - Browsing the Body (googlelabs.com)

ColdWetDog writes: Google labs has an interesting new line of business — human anatomy. The Google Body Browser is a 3D representation of the major pieces parts of the human body. Based on the well known and very expensive Zygote 3D artwork, you can zoom in, rotate, view the various organ systems (bone, internal organs, nerves) in various states of transparency. Very much like Google Earth in both execution and concept.

Written with HTML5, it requires WebGL to work. Firefox 4 beta seems to work fine. Google, of course, recommends Chrome.


Submission + - Building up your home DIY science lab

An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times has a giftguide/story about how computerized tools are making it easier to build home labs filled with powerful equipment with practical uses. One woman even used her USB microscope to identify a deer tick, evil distributor of Lyme and other diseases. The article points out several obvious choices like a USB telescope and the DNA kit coming from OpenPCR. Are there any other good choices that might make good gifts?

Submission + - College assignment leads to cease and desist lette (blogspot.com)

pirot writes: A student (John Cintolo), created a website about "Hit Club Music Summer 2010", with links to YouTube videos. No copyright infringment or anything illegal.

One day later, he gets a the following "cease and desist" letter from HotNewClubSongs.

To whom it may concern

It has come to my attention that your website "Hit Club Music Summer 2010" on this URL has potential to threaten my Alexa page ranking. As a consequence, this may cause our website to lose vital income which is generated from ad-space and it will not be tolerated. Due to the nature of your actions I am requesting a formal take-down of your website due to copyright infringement as the music posted on your "http://www.youtube.com" links is not endorsed by the rightful authors, as counseled by my attorney. Considering that you are also going through the New York University server, your actions may cost you and your educational institution unless you cease the aforementioned copyright infringement. If you continue hosting your service I will be forced to file a civil suit in which you will be charged for any lost advertisement revenue, averaging $0.52 per day.

In addition, your html markup shows your ineptitude in online web design, making your website an inefficient option for visitors who truly care about the Club Songs Industry. The listing of the dates on your monthly playlists go in ascending order rather than descending. This is just one of the many flaws of your clearly haphazardly designed website. However, I will give you neither my website URL nor my constructive criticism, for you are clearly trying to make money in an industry which doesn’t have room for your lack of music and website design knowledge. My page viewers have complimented me numerous times on the layout and content of my page.

You may contact me at this e-mail for any further concerns, although it is clear there is not much more to say. Your carelessness, inefficiency, and utter incompetence have gotten you into this hole, and unless you find a way out by October 31st, when my ad-space revenue comes in, further action will be taken. Also, for legal purposes, when and where was this website created? In the chance that it was created before September 30th, 2010, a law suit will be filed for the obvious decrease in revenue from my ads last month, totaling $7.34.

Thank you for your time,

HotNewClubSongs- A Forerunner in the Club Music Industry

The professor congratulated the student for achieving the goals of the assignment, and offered to cover the damages :-)

Comment A little bit too late to be exited? (Score 2, Informative) 70

Not sure if we should be excited or be sad.
  • Excited: The first discovery based on a generic distributed computing infrastructure (BOINC)
  • Sad: Distributed computing is rather commonplace today, and plenty of people have access to scalable Hadoop clusters that can scale on demand.

Yes, BOINC allows people to use idle computing capacity. But if we need plenty of computing capacity today, it is not that hard to get it: It is much simpler to simply rent a few EC2 machines, or get a computing grant from Google/Yahoo/Microsoft/Amazon/IBM/NSF (you get the idea), and get such projects done much faster, rather than trying to use BOINC.

SETI@Home (and later BOINC) were revolutionary 10 years back. Today distributed human computation seems to be as revolutionary as distributed computing was back in 1999. reCAPTCHA seems more revolutionary in utilizing idle human capacity for a good purpose (digitizing books). The FoldIt project (see the recent Nature article), which also uses creatively human computation, seems much more fresh and interesting.


NASA Universe-Watching Satellite Losing Its Cool 153

coondoggie writes "NASA this week said its Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE satellite is heating up — not a good thing when your primary mission instrument needs to be kept cold to work. According to NASA, WISE has two coolant tanks that keep the spacecraft's normal operating temperature at 12 Kelvin (minus 438 degrees Fahrenheit). The outer, secondary tank is now depleted, causing the temperature to increase. One of WISE's infrared detectors, the longest-wavelength band most sensitive to heat, stopped producing useful data once the telescope warmed to 31 Kelvin (minus 404 degrees Fahrenheit)."
Input Devices

Textured Tactile Touchscreens 99

HizookRobotics writes "A new covering developed by Senseg and Toshiba Information Systems gives touchpads, LCDs, and other curved surfaces (eg. cellphones) programmable texture using a high-resolution electrotactile array — a grid of electrodes that excite nerves in the skin with small pulses of current to trick the body into perceiving texture, pressure, or pin-pricks depending on the current amplitude and electrode resolution. The new covering has many potential applications: interactive gaming, touchscreens with texture, robot interfaces, etc."

Submission + - The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets (wsj.com)

Brad Lucier writes: Hidden inside Ashley Hayes-Beaty's computer, a tiny file helps gather personal details about her, all to be put up for sale for a tenth of a penny. The file consists of a single code---4c812db292272995e5416a323e79bd37---that secretly identifies her as a 26-year-old female in Nashville, Tenn. The code knows that her favorite movies include "The Princess Bride," "50 First Dates" and "10 Things I Hate About You." It knows she enjoys the "Sex and the City" series. It knows she browses entertainment news and likes to take quizzes.

Ms. Hayes-Beaty is being monitored by Lotame Solutions Inc., a New York company that uses sophisticated software called a "beacon" to capture what people are typing on a website—their comments on movies, say, or their interest in parenting and pregnancy. Lotame packages that data into profiles about individuals, without determining a person's name, and sells the profiles to companies seeking customers. Ms. Hayes-Beaty's tastes can be sold wholesale (a batch of movie lovers is $1 per thousand) or customized (26-year-old Southern fans of "50 First Dates").

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