Links for 16th April 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. DIY Currencies

    "When the developed world gets over its bias for "printing press–era cash technology" then complementary currencies will be commonplace here too, Rushkoff predicts. He sees a future that has people literally reprogramming their economic systems, using computer networks and handheld devices to administer new forms of grassroots cash. Those currencies could be almost anything: Cash we can use only at one local restaurant, cash cards for Wal-Mart or other chain stores, babysitting dollars we can trade in our neighborhoods."

    Tagged with: economicsmoneycurrencylocalcashrushkoff

  2. GhostNets in the machine: Danny Bradbury on cybercrime in China

    "GhostNet could be a for-profit initiative, operated by cyber-criminals. It could be operated from outside China, using compromised Chinese computers as proxies (one of the control servers – also the first to be shut down when GhostNet was discovered – was based in the US).

    "Even 'patriotic hackers' could be acting on their own volition, or with the tacit approval of their government, as operators of the GhostNet," says the IWF report. The problem is that all of these things are happening in China anyway. Henderson says that patriotic hacking has been a mainstay of the Chinese hacking underground since the mid-90s. "

    Tagged with: Chinacybercrimeghostnetwebespionageinflitrationnew-southseahacking

  3. Bobbie Johnson visits Nato’s cyberdefence HQ in Estonia to find out about the battle against cyberwarfare

    "Such a doomsday scenario might sound drastic – more of a cyber-apocalypse than a cyber-attack – but it is one that has been outlined many times by the Metropolitan Police, MI5 and the Joint Intelligence Committee. The US Navy investigator and cybercrime specialist Kenneth Geers characterises the typical response of powerful individuals as they hear this doomsday scenario outlined as a sort of unbridled terror inspired by technology. "More than one senior official said they've had so many cyber-briefings now that they don't want to turn their computers on any more," he says." Not a bunch of sources I trust greatly, to be fair, but there's a truth at the core.

    Tagged with: internetcomputersecuritymilitarycyberwar

  4. Mind gym helps people live with schizophrenia

    "The approach is also unusual because it initially focuses on improving a person's ability to process sensory information, before honing higher-level cognitive processing.

    This "bottom-up" approach is crucial, says Vinogradov, who likens having the sensory difficulties that come with schizophrenia to trying to listen to a talk show on a badly tuned radio. Tuning the radio to remove the static allows the listener to hear the underlying discussion. Similarly, training sensory processing frees volunteers with schizophrenia to work on higher-level cognitive tasks."

    Tagged with: cognitionexercisebrainschizophrenia

  5. You are being lied to about pirates

    "This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent "strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence".

    No, this doesn't make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: "We don't consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas.""

    Tagged with: politicsenvironmentnucleardumpingSomaliapiracyeconomicsmediapropagandainequalityglobalization

  6. Discounts Must Align to Risks

    "Discounts must align to risks. Yet many publishers are selling ebooks at close to or the same discounts as print books, even though there is no risk of advance inventory purchasing. There is a logical genesis here as many retailers made steep investments in technical infrastructure that was very, very slow to recoup in the dark ages before Kindle, Sony Reader, epub, or the App Store. But those days are mostly over and as unit sales of ebooks increase, recoupment of the initial and even the ongoing incremental investments go down dramatically on a per-title-sold basis. It’s one thing for the discounts to fund the development — but like tolls on a bridge, after the bridge is paid off, the tollbooths should come down. Well, ebook tolls are collecting more than ever!"

    Tagged with: economicsebookpublishingbusinessmodelriskdiscount

  7. Back In Time

    "… a simple backup system for Linux inspired from “flyback project” and “TimeVault”. The backup is done by taking snapshots of a specified set of directories."

    Tagged with: open-sourcelinuxsoftwarebackuprsyncutilities

  8. An Unseen Nearby Star?

    "It’s fascinating to speculate, as we have here often, about the existence of a star closer to us than the Centauri trio. Thus the ‘Nemesis’ theory, that the Sun is actually a binary star whose companion may well account for cometary impact events on Earth, a signature perhaps revealed by the periodicity of such events. Iorio weighs the evidence for a brown or red dwarf in such a configuration, looking at its gravitational effects on the inner rocky planets."

    Tagged with: spacesolar-systemhiddenstarKuiper-beltbrown-dwarf

  9. Echo vision: The man who sees with sound

    "Clicking my tongue quickly and scanning with my head, I move cautiously forward, catching fleeting images of bodies darting hither and thither. I follow spaces that are clear, avoiding clusters of bodies, keeping my distance from bouncing balls. I am not afraid – to me, this is a puzzle. I turn my head and click over my shoulder. I can still hear the wall of the building. As long as I can hear that, I can find my way back."

    Tagged with: sciencepsychologycognitionperceptionblindnesssoundecholocation

  10. The Body Politic

    "… there’s a growing consensus among scientists that the relationship between us and our microbes is much more of a two-way street. With new technologies that allow scientists to better identify and study the organisms that live in and on us, we’ve become aware that bacteria, though tiny, are powerful chemical factories that fundamentally affect how the human body functions. They are not simply random squatters, but organized communities that evolve with us and are passed down from generation to generation. Through research that has blurred the boundary between medical and environmental microbiology, we’re beginning to understand that because the human body constitutes their environment, these microbial communities have been forced to adapt to changes in our diets, health, and lifestyle choices. Yet they, in turn, are also part of our environments, and our bodies have adapted to them. Our dinner guests, it seems, have shaped the very path of human evolution."

    Tagged with: sciencebiologyecologybacteriaevolutionsystems

  11. Eyeball spy turns the tables on Big Brother

    "The system uses webcam-style cameras trained on the irises of the CCTV operators. From this, software works out where the operators are looking as they stare at each monitor – and the areas they have not been paying attention to. From this it creates a video of what they missed, for them and their bosses to watch at the end of their shift." This country gets more and more f*cked up by the week.

    Tagged with: CCTVoperatormonitoringoversightsurveillancemeta-orwellian-headfuckUKtechnologyprivacypanoticon

  12. Twitter Will Murder You While You Sleep

    "Much like Nature abhors a vaccum, the internet ahbors an absence of information.

    Amazon’s lack of immediate response allowed the controversy to build to unprecedented levels. Rarely have I seen the internet move in one angry direction so effectively. It never would have moved this quickly in the time before Twitter. Email, texts, none of them had the perfect assembly of features and usability that Twitter does." Jeremy Tolbert

    Tagged with: Twittersocial-mediaamazonfailnetworkleveragemob-ruleinformationconspiracy-theory

  13. 5 Years After: Portugal’s Drug Decriminalization Policy Shows Positive Results

    "Five years later, the number of deaths from street drug overdoses dropped from around 400 to 290 annually, and the number of new HIV cases caused by using dirty needles to inject heroin, cocaine and other illegal substances plummeted from nearly 1,400 in 2000 to about 400 in 2006, according to a report released recently by the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C, libertarian think tank." Probably not the least biased of studies, but interesting results nonetheless.

    Tagged with: portugaldecriminalizationdrugspoliticslaw

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