Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

1. Why God Did Not Create the Universe
A neat discussion about Stephen Hawking’s latest book "The Grand Design". Another good discussion is in Has Stephen Hawking ended the God debate?. The title of the articles does seem to be slightly provocative. I bought the book and hoping to finish reading it sometime soon.

2. Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits
A NYTimes article discussing about effective study habits. Could be helpful !

3. Inside Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines: ‘We don’t need anymore Fart apps’
Not sure how important is knowing the guidelines is ! They are vague enough to give leeway for Apple to reject apps. Probably the bigger news is allowing 3rd party tools dev tools. MonoTouch is maturing well and hopefully this will propel it more.

4. Google scribe appears to have some absorbing states
Even though lot of people focused on Google Instant this week, another cool tool is Google Scribe. It has become my past time to push it to the extreme and see how it behaves. Some times it feels like making two emacs doctors speak to each other but more fun ! This buzz post has done some analysis and found some absorbing states. Neat !

5. TalkMiner
This is a very neat site that allows you to "search" within video lectures. It does OCR and finds the text in video and makes it searchable. A really really cool idea. I did some sample tests and I can definitely see the potential.

6. Search: now faster than the speed of type
Looks like an interesting move by Google. I very rarely go to Google homepage – searching instead using browser address/search bar. Also I mostly search for rarer queries that I do not thing this feature will help me a lot. But the technology behind this feature – I am really interested in knowing them ! Hopefully Google puts out a paper soon !

7. K-Anonymity Privacy Protection Model Needs a Little Help
I am getting more interested in privacy preservation and stuff. So this post and its future seems pretty exciting.

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Hello all, I am back after almost a month. I completed my masters successfully – more on that later ! Now to the usual business….


1. India unveils prototype for $35 touch-screen computer
Probably one of the most important announcements of recent times. Using a tablet instead of PC/laptop is a smart idea – But I hope this does not limit the usefulness of the device. If students are the primary target, it must be more than a media consumption device. And building a general purpose tablet is pretty hard. The device seems to have a lot of features – color screen, USB, WiFi and even ability to video conference ! If they can really bring the price to sub $50 it will be amazing ! That being said, I have my own doubts about how the information will be passed to students – If the students are dependent upon this device, then most likely they will not have access to WiFi at home. If they could somehow make a way to access the EDUSAT / GyanDarshan programs it will be interesting. I guess we will see more of government’s plan soon !

2. In Price War, New Kindle Sells for $139
I was pretty surprised by this move as their previous price cut resulted in Kindle 2 being sold out ! At this rate, I am sure they will fall to sub $100 within this year !

3. Researcher Releases Facebook Profile Data
Interesting information ! I did download the whole torrent file out of curiosity (and seeding them !) but the information as such available in this torrent is not very interesting – Lets see if they any one else takes this further ! I would be most interested in friendship information that is publicly available. Even if only 50% of people have their friends public that should allow us to estimate lot of interesting things . Keeping my fingers crossed !

4. Phys Ed: Your Brain on Exercise
Looks like exercising results in new brain cells. Yet another nudge for me to start going to gym 🙂

5. A Scientist Takes On Gravity
One of the weirdest articles I read in recent times – I am not sure what the implications but is definitely an interesting read.

6. You Want My Personal Data? Reward Me for It
A very interesting idea ! The article had lot of neat ideas – My favorite line is this – "Every search on Google, Mr. Acquisti notes, is implicitly such a transaction, involving a person “selling” personal information and “buying” search results". I installed Bynamite extension couple of weeks ago and playing with it. Some of the information it provides are interesting. I would be very interested in knowing how the ad networks get my "interest". Also if I delete an interest in Bynamite, does it really removes it from the ad networks ?  A related article is Online, We Pay With Our Time Spent Searching.

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1. April Fools 2010 : The Definitive List
The list of April 1 jokes by TechCrunch. I seem to have missed the xkcd’s . It was a real good one . They also had added some witty comments for most common Linux commands (find ,echo etc) . If you want to find all of commands and its responses check out the js file used for parsing the command .

2. Thine Is the Kingdom
An excellent review of the book “Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years” by Diarmaid MacCulloch. The review contains some thoughtful yet provocative lines like : (Christianity is ) "a world religion founded on the brief public ministry, trial and execution of a single Jew in a remote corner of the Roman Empire" and "To suggest that such supernatural stories are allegorical can be considered a radical position in even the most liberal precincts of the Christian world" .

I have added it to my to read book list. Hopefully once I finish my masters I will have some time to read this book 🙂

3. 50 Things
This post is from MIT Admissions blog and talks about some 50 general piece of advice to MIT’s class of 2010. Most of them are applicable to other colleges too. Had fun reading. Thanks Kripa for the link !

Some goodies in the list are :  "Half of you will be in the bottom half of your class at any given moment. Way more than half of you will be in the bottom half of your class at some point in the next four years. Get used to it." and "The MIT name on your resume won’t mean much if that’s the only thing on your resume.    ".

4. Much ado about NULL: An introduction to virtual memory
A nice technique to prevent crashes due to de-referencing NULL pointers. 

An alternate technique using signal/ setjmp/ longjmp is here – For the love of POSIX: A more useful way to not segfault from null pointers . As the author notes , dont use this technique in production code ! setjmp and longjmp are complex beasts and better to write code without them 🙂

5. Take It to the Limit
Another nice post from Steven Strogatz. Here he explains about Archimedes’ technique to find the value of π and more importantly , how the formula for area of a circle πr^2 is derived using basic principles from calculus. Neat !

6. How I got sued by Facebook
An interesting post about the perils of using data for purposes other than what is implicitly agreed. Arvind has a post discussing similar stories – Is Making Public Data “More Public” a Privacy Violation?.

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1. Simpler "Hello World" Demonstrated In C
Two nice links from Slashdot . One to compile a hello world without libc Hello from a libc-free world! and the other post is a old one – A Whirlwind Tutorial on Creating Really Teensy ELF Executables for Linux . I hope to try out all the commands in these posts soon.

2. Fun Stuff
Time Machine by Tom Toles  and Memorizing Pi in Spiked Math. The Tom Toles one was really good , even by Toles’ standard. As usual, the punch line was at the bottom of the cartoon in tiny print 🙂

3. Fingertip Bacteria: A Promising Forensic Tool
A pretty exciting post where they use genomic profile of bacteria in our hand (fingertips, actually) to uniquely identify us. A microbial signature, if you will ! Looks cool to me. It is interesting for lot of reasons which are mentioned in the article – You can scrub off your fingerprints in a crime scene but not your "microbial" fingerprint.  Also, using this microdata, the researchers can figure out what they eat , where they live and work ! Real , real cool stuff if it comes fruition. (Privacy is definitely dead 😉 )

4. Software: Running Commentary for Smarter Surveillance?
Personally, I am not a big fan of Computer Vision. But this project looks promising. They try to convert surveillance data into a running commentary. And they use this text to analyze unusual stuff. I am not sure how good this system will ever be , but I really like the approach of focusing on the higher level stuff instead of getting lost in minutiae of tracking, segmentation etc.

5. How Privacy Vanishes Online
One more scary article on Privacy. But the only new news is the involvement of FTC in Netflix 2 and Google Buzz.

6. G.M. Tinkers With Augmented Reality System for Cars
Nice article on the futuristic augmented reality system for GM cars. Augmented reality is a big area now a days with Bing using it in Bing Maps. Using it in cars is even more cool. I checked youtube for other demos but was not able to find any. Share if you find one !

7. IE Test Drive
The last big news was platform preview of IE 9. If you are interested check the link.

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1. Cookies, Supercookies and Ubercookies: Stealing the Identity of Web Visitors
This is a two part post by Arvind Narayanan on identifying the identity of a person using a variety of techniques. The first part is here and second part is here . The techniques include using a more sophisticated version of cookies, using browser history in a more intelligent fashion , using data from social networks and social bookmarking . There were some interesting observations in this post like the set of Facebook groups that you are member of is more or less unique. He also talks about federated identities which are convenient but makes it easy to track.

He also gives two useful links – One which uses browser history to find the Wikipedia topics you are interested in. The page is here. Beware, once you visit the page it starts analyzing your history – so visit it only if you really want to. That said, I felt I got a lot of interesting info from my previous pages ! The second useful link is a page where if you give your email id , it tells which of your online identities are linked – Check it out here . I have to say , I was pretty impressed with the results.

2. Please Rob Me !
This was my favorite site of this week. It uses information from Twitter and with some simple processing tells if the house is empty ! I am sure no robber is going to take its word but still it was a fun project and hopefully serve to raise awareness ! A BBC article is here.

3. Some Fun Stuff
I got some positive comments about including comics in the post. So here are the comics that impressed me this week. XKCD  talks about tautology   , Abstruse Goose on Gödel’s incompleteness theorems  and probably the most relevant to us is from Calvin and Hobbes.

4. E-mail Provides Interesting Insights Into Social Networks
An interesting article . Has some discussion on triadic and focal closures.

5. Facebook directs more online users than Google
What happens next ? They are already one of the largest link or image sharing site and now they are becoming a bigger referrer. I am not sure how it is going to impact the users but I only hope it doesn’t increase the number of crappy ads they show ! (at least don’t show the ads i have actively rejected earlier !)

6. A 50-Watt Cellular Network
Hmm interesting. I think (i have not cross checked) Times rated the CEO of this company as one of the top 8 people to watch out.

7. Mirror symmetry broken at 4 trillion degrees
I don’t really know the significance of it. But the fact that we can generate temperature of up to 4 trillion degrees is mind boggling. I was naturally curious how they measured the temperature , which is detailed in this post titled Hottest Soup in Universe . "Technology has improved so much" !

8. Bloodied By Warner, Redbox Also Damns New Releases To Piracy
After the Amazon-McMillan row comes Warner Vs Netflix/Redbox. Basically, both of them will hold off on the release of new Warner Brothers DVD and Blu-ray movies until after they’ve been on sale for 28 days. Bad time for consumers !

9. Forbes India: Why CEOs want Govt job
Nice read !

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