Ramblings & ephemera

Correcting wrong info reinforces false beliefs

From Jonathan M. Gitlin’s “Does ideology trump facts? Studies say it often does” (Ars Technica: 24 September 2008): We like to think that people will be well informed before making important decisions, such as who to vote for, but the truth is that’s not always the case. Being uninformed is one thing, but having a […]

Amazon’s infrastructure and the cloud

From Spencer Reiss’ “Cloud Computing. Available at Amazon.com Today” (Wired: 21 April 2008): Almost a third of [Amazon]’s total number of sales last year were made by people selling their stuff through the Amazon machine. The company calls them seller-customers, and there are 1.3 million of them. … Log in to Amazon’s gateway today and […]

MTV’s global reach

From Robert Sam Anson’s “Birth of an MTV Nation” (Vanity Fair: November 2000): Now watched by more than 340 million viewers in 139 countries (among them, Russia, China, and Vietnam) …

Obama, Clinton, Microsoft Excel, and OpenOffice.org

I recently posted this to my local Linux Users Group mailing list: Thought y’all would find this interesting – from http://machinist.salon.com/blog/2008/05/26/fundraising_excel/index.html: “A milestone of sorts was reached earlier this year, when Obama, the Illinois senator whose revolutionary online fundraising has overwhelmed Clinton, filed an electronic fundraising report so large it could not be processed by […]

1/2 of all bots are in China

From “Report: China’s botnet problems grows” (SecurityFocus: 21 April 2008): Computers infected by Trojan horse programs and bot software are the greatest threat to China’s portion of the Internet, with compromises growing more than 20-fold in the past year, the nation’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CN-CERT) stated in its 2007 annual report released last week. […]

Language shapes thought

From Celeste Biever’s “Language may shape human thought” (New Scientist: 19 August 2004): Language may shape human thought – suggests a counting study in a Brazilian tribe whose language does not define numbers above two. Hunter-gatherers from the Pirahã tribe, whose language only contains words for the numbers one and two, were unable to reliably tell […]

USA owns 74% of IPv4 addresses

From Stephen Ornes’s “Map: What Does the Internet Look Like?” (Discover: October 2006): The United States owns 74 percent of the 4 billion available Internet protocol (IP) addresses. China’s stake amounts to little more than that of an American university. Not surprisingly, China is championing the next wave of the Internet, which would accommodate 340 […]

Average iPod has just 500 songs on it

From Farhad Manjoo’s “iPod: I love you, you’re perfect, now change” (Salon: 23 October 2006): … though iPods can store thousands of songs, the average iPod user’s library numbers just about 500 well-worn tracks.

Info about the Internet Archive

From The Internet Archive’s “Orphan Works Reply Comments” (9 May 2005): The Internet Archive stores over 500 terabytes of ephemeral web pages, book and moving images, adding an additional twenty-five terabytes each month. The short life span and immense quantity of these works prompts a solution that provides immediate and efficient preservation and access to […]

Corporate consolidation reigns in American business, & that’s a problem

From Barry C. Lynn’s “The Case for Breaking Up Wal-Mart” (Harper’s: 24 July 2006): It is now twenty-five years since the Reagan Administration eviscerated America’s century-long tradition of antitrust enforcement. For a generation, big firms have enjoyed almost complete license to use brute economic force to grow only bigger. And so today we find ourselves […]

1% create, 10% comment, 89% just use

From Charles Arthur’s “What is the 1% rule?” (Guardian Unlimited: 20 July 2006): It’s an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will “interact” with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it. It’s a […]

Just how big is YouTube?

From Reuters’s “YouTube serves up 100 mln videos a day” (16 July 2006): YouTube, the leader in Internet video search, said on Sunday viewers have are now watching more than 100 million videos per day on its site, marking the surge in demand for its “snack-sized” video fare. Since springing from out of nowhere late […]

What kinds of spam are effective?

From Alex Mindlin’s “Seems Somebody Is Clicking on That Spam” (The New York Times: 3 July 2006): Spam messages promoting pornography are 280 times as effective in getting recipients to click on them as messages advertising pharmacy drugs, which are the next most effective type of spam. The third most successful variety is spam advertising […]

Patenting is hurting scientific research & progress

From American Association for the Advancement of Science’s “The Effects of Patenting in the AAAS Scientific Community” [250 kb PDF] (2006): Forty percent of respondents who had acquired patented technologies since January 2001 reported difficulties in obtaining those technologies. Industry bioscience respondents reported the most problems, with 76 percent reporting that their research had been […]

OnStar: the numbers

From PR Newswire’s “OnStar Achieves Another First as Winner of Good Housekeeping’s ‘Good Buy’ Award for Best Servic” (3 December 2004): Each month on average, OnStar receives about 700 airbag notifications and 11,000 emergency assistance calls, which include 4,000 Good Samaritan calls for a variety of emergency situations. In addition, each month OnStar advisors respond […]

How doctors measure what percentage of your body is burned

From Daniel Engber’s “How Much of Me Is Burned?” (Slate: 11 July 2006): In the 1950s, doctors developed an easy way to estimate the ratio of the area of a patient’s burns to the total area of his skin. The system works by assigning standard percentages to major body parts. (Most of these happen to […]

Who was saved in the storming of the Bastille?

From Wikipedia’s “French Revolution” (5 July 2006): On July 14, 1789, after hours of combat, the insurgents seized the Bastille prison, killing the governor, Marquis Bernard de Launay, and several of his guards. Although the Parisians released only seven prisoners; four forgers, two lunatics, and a sexual offender, the Bastille served as a potent symbol […]

Napoleon’s losses in the invasion of Russia

From Wikipedia’s “Napoleon I of France” (5 July 2006): The French suffered greatly in the course of a ruinous retreat; the Army had begun as over 650,000 frontline troops, but in the end fewer than 40,000 crossed the Berezina River (November 1812) to escape. In total French losses in the campaign were 570,000 against about […]

Why airport security fails constantly

From Bruce Schneier’s “Airport Passenger Screening” (Crypto-Gram Newsletter: 15 April 2006): It seems like every time someone tests airport security, airport security fails. In tests between November 2001 and February 2002, screeners missed 70 percent of knives, 30 percent of guns, and 60 percent of (fake) bombs. And recently, testers were able to smuggle bomb-making […]

DIY worm kits

From Jose Nazario’s Anatomy of a worm (Computerworld: 15 September 2004): Now imagine a world where worm attacks frequently occur because hackers and rogue developers have access to “worm kits” or development tools that provide the basic building blocks for rapid worm development. Historically, worms were basic clones of one another that didn’t change after […]