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January 30, 2012

5 Amazing Things Internet May Have Ruined

 

Many of us are unable to survive without the internet because our modern society has grown to become so reliant on it. We go online everyday and has grown so accustomed to the net that we don’t actually realize the impact that the internet has on our lives. Needless to say, the internet has serves us well by allowing us to connect with the rest of the world ever-so-easily.
the internet 5 Amazing Things Internet May Have Ruined
(Image source: Shutterstock)
Yet, this convenience comes with a price tag. We should take a moment and ask ourselves what are some of the things we may have sacrificed along the way. That way, we can gain a proper perspective and approach internet with some caution to ensure that we don’t lose more than what we gain.

1. Privacy

This is something all of us internet users are probably aware of, especially if we’re on some social networking site like Facebook. It used to be the case when stalkers have to resort to physical means to stalk their victims. Not anymore now, with our greater reliance on the internet to provide us with entertainment, goods, information, etc. Such dependence usually means we have to reveal bits and pieces about ourselves (i.e. contact details, credit card numbers, our preferences, etc) in order to transact with the net. Privacy gets compromised as a result, and stalkers use that to their advantage.
Even if you resolve not to engage in any social networking sites by not signing up for one, photosof you or any other information about yourself may still end up in Facebook. How? Well, so long as you have friends who are using Facebook or any of such sites, they can always post things about you that are open to the rest of the world. Got drunk at the party last night? Your friend (or enemy) snaps away with his or her mobile device and post it up on Facebook for the pleasure of the entire network.
Besides, you must’ve probably provided your particulars to some internet company as you register for their newsletters, purchase their products online, etc. Who’s to say that the information you’ve given to them are kept confidential? Don’t you ever wonder how you receive random email spams? Cookies are also embedded within sites to track your mouse movements so that they can be analyzed for marketing purposes, or even for the government to track you.
Are we not all under tight surveillance here in cyberspace?

2. Reliability of Information

With millions of blogs and websites out there on the net, one question we often ask is how much is the information they provide accurate and reliable. Given the convenience and low cost of publishing a blog or a website, there seem to be a lack of accountability for what are being published. The ease of modifying your online publication (as compared to offline publications like books and newsletters) makes putting out incorrect information less of an issue to the owner of the site. He or she can always amend the mistakes at no cost.
media and information 5 Amazing Things Internet May Have Ruined
(Image source: Shutterstock)
Specialized journalists who adhere to the accuracy of the stories they produced are nowreplaced by bloggers who may not have such practices. The result is that you get a massive number of different versions of the same story because there’s no way to verify it without a trustworthy source (e.g. from a news site). At the worst, opinions can be misinterpreted as facts by readers online who may then go on to spread them as the gospel truth in social networking sites.
As we internet users become aware of the existence of rumors masquerading as truths, we start to become skeptical in whatever we see or hear about be it in Facebook or blogs. This, in effect, creates a generation of cynics among us, who regards internet information as unreliable and shaky at best.

3. Copyrights

While some bloggers write their entries and pay little attention to the correctness of their information, others simply lift them off from other sources and claim it as their own. Plagiarism, as they call it, is rampant in cyberspace. You would’ve probably seen the same content appearing in different websites with no references to the original source. The reason why many seems to be doing it is perhaps because the free concept of the internet has led us to believe information is meant to be spread.
Such ingrained mindset has a similar impact on our perspectives of paying for entertainment. Since the coming of Napster, purchasing for music has become unnecessary for some of us. We could just download the latest albums of our favorite artistes off the net. Then along came the popularity of movies, e-books, applications and games, all of which could be downloaded illegally through file-sharing and bit-torrent applications.
Whether or not you support the free distribution of information and digital commodities like music, copyrights have never ever been so drastically infringed before the internet was available.

4. Genuine Communication

On one hand, internet facilitates communication like no other technology has done so: Emails and chat messengers allow us to be in contact with anyone in the world so long as you’re online. In that sense, internet users like you and I are empowered with an enriched network of unprecedented accessibility. Communication, however, is more than accessibility or contactability. For the sake of connectivity, internet has sacrificed quality and perhaps, genuine communication.
Messages in the form of text can be hard to interpret. Most of us have experienced misunderstandings that arise from the ambiguity of emails or online chats. To make up for the lack of facial expressions and body languages present in real life, emoticons naturally arise to minimize the confusion. Nevertheless, it is still quite hard for one to feel as heard online as when one connects with another in real life. Yet, such quality communications are more and more being replaced by online communication. Again, it has to do with our dependence over the internet.
Shy individuals may hail such superficial online communication as their savior to a better social life. To that, I would say internet provides a good initiation stage for them to know people. For the friendship to progress further, it would still require a physical meet-up in order to truly connect, What happen is that these individuals end up relying on online communication that they become too comfortable with it to advance to offline conversations.
A virtual social life online is still a pseudo one.

5. Work/Life Balance

As accessibility, connectivity and contactability improves with the internet, work expectation increases. Customers expect companies to be available 24-hours a day online, which means that a fully functional website is a must. The implication of such universal expectation is that employees have to access their work emails during the wee hours after office hours. The line between working time and your time becomes blurred.
work life balance 5 Amazing Things Internet May Have Ruined
(Image source: Shutterstock)
Even without the rising expectation of the society at large, the mere fact that internet is accessible 24/7 only means that you can check your emails any time outside work. Your bosses know that for a fact and would use that to their advantage, by sending you work during weekends. Their reason? Everybody’s doing it, so it’s expected of you to follow with the rest of the world.
But of course, it may not happen that way because it depends on the company culture and policy on taking work home. What I’m saying is that the temptation is there in most workplaces to utilize the awesome accessibility of the internet to push work into our personal space. Sometimes even employees themselves want to take work back home knowing that they can do it over the weekend.
If you want to maintain work/life balance, sometimes it’s necessary to draw that line and segregate work time from your time.

One Thing the Internet Will Never Ruin – Creativity

One thing, however, remains un-ruined by the internet and probably will never be: Creativity.
It seems that there’s no end to human creativity. This is especially so when user-generated content is a primary characteristic of the internet. Looking at all the video mashups in Youtube, satirical blogs, podcasts, etc, it’s clear that the internet will evolve along with human’s unlimited creativity. The beautiful thing about the internet is its ability to connect with the world, with everybody inspiring and sharing information with everyone else. Rather than undermining creativity, the internet cultivates and unites the world with it.

The 5 Most Popular Stand-Up Comedians On Facebook

 


stand up comediansIt’s easy to find yourself aimlessly browsingFacebook looking for ex-lovers and long-lost school friends or former work colleagues, when really you should be telling the world about the stuff you really like. Facebook features fan pages – official and fan-run – for many  entertainers. Among the most popular are stand-up comedians, some of whom have over 6 million fans on the social networking site alone.
The following 5 most popular stand-up comedians are collated based on the number of “Likes” they have received on Facebook.

5: Russell Peters: 676,130 Likes

Starting stand-up in his teens, Canadian Russell Peters is of Anglo-Indian origin and as a result his material regularly features humour based on his upbringing. As a Catholic with English heritage he’s perfectly placed to lampoon all manner of racial and religious prejudices and the results are often hilarious.
Like all of the other comics in this list, Peters has done a bit of movie acting as well as releasing various DVDs. Most notably he has appeared in Source Code and New Year’s Evein 2011.

4: Chelsea Handler: 1,862,222 Likes

(Warningadult material)
There is a good chance that Ms Handler’s popularity is as much to do with her stunning good looks as her comic ability, but there’s also a very strong possibility that the majority of her Facebook fans are women.
Put simply, Chelsea tells dirty jokes, from a woman’s point of view. More likeable than Sarah Silverman, she’s managed to corner the market in vibrator/sex toy gags and her shows are regularly packed out by an audience of women of all ages. She also acts and hosts her own talk show, Chelsea Lately on the E! channel.

3: Michael McIntyre: 2,361,923 Likes

The hugely popular British comic is the slightly effete son of a successful comedy scriptwriter (Canadian Ray Cameron). Michael McIntyre has had a successful run in stand-up in the UK since 2008, going on to host his own live stand-up showcase on BBC television and performing sell-out gigs at some of Britain’s biggest venues. He’s also been a judge onBritain’s Got Talent and famously pulled out of a corporate gig for a debt collection company due to the poor treatment he had received while in financial hardship several years earlier.
McIntyre’s style – which can be observed on his various record breaking DVDs – is a combination of skipping across the stage and laughing at himself, with his material basically observational gags on his mundanely suburban life. It’s all in the delivery.

2: Dane Cook: 4,141,694 Likes

It should come as no surprise that Dane Cook is popular; he has a grungy Wolverine look, great attitude and excellent material.  He’s been performing to massive audiences since around 2000 and has appeared in a long line of films such as Mystery MenEmployee of the MonthGood Luck ChuckDan in Real Life and My Best Friend’s Girl.
However he’s no stranger to controversy, having been on the receiving end of every comedian’s worst fear – accusations of plagiarism. Joe Rogan is among the comics to express anger at Cook for misappropriating their routines.
Despite this, however, Dane Cook enjoys a loyal following, many of whom have hit the Facebook “Like” button.

1: George Lopez: 6,235,403 Likes

The American comedian, actor, and talk show host spreads his abilities far and wide which might explain how he hits the number one spot of most liked comic on Facebook.
With a sitcom and stand-up career running parallel to a talk show, it’s hardly surprising that the comic – whose routine regularly features material on Mexican American culture – is the most popular in this list. Lopez has of course made a few films, notably The Spy Next Doorwith Jackie Chan and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
Surely there is more to the George Lopez phenomenon? Well, he also seems to be a pretty decent guy, so that probably helps (along with the “Likes” he gets from the Spanish-language Facebook).
So what do you think? Are these stand-up comedians hugely overrated? Who would be your number one?

January 29, 2012

World's longest lab experiment still going 85 years later

 

In 1927, Professor Thomas Parnell of the University of Queensland set out to teach his students a lesson, and that lesson is still going on today and has at least another 100 years to go.
John Mainstone took over the project after a colleague discovered the "weird" object in a cupboard.
(Credit: University of Queensland)
The physics professor wanted to demonstrate to his pupils that solid material could have viscous properties, so he used tar pitch, a derivative of coal once used to waterproof boats, in an experiment to prove his point.
At room temperature, pitch appears to be solid and can even shatter if hit with a hammer, but despite its look and feel, pitch can also flow at room temperature — just really, really slowly.
To conduct the Pitch Drop Experiment, Parnell melted some pitch into a glass funnel with a sealed stem and allowed it to settle for three years. In 1930, the funnel was unsealed, clearing the way for the pitch to flow freely, but it sure did take its sweet time.
Eight years went by before the first drop of pitch hit the beaker below, and it was another nine years before the second drop hit. Parnell passed away in September 1948, but a third drop was recorded in 1954, before the Pitch Drop Experiment was stored away in a cupboard.
The experiment may never have seen the light of day again had it not been for John Mainstone.
Mainstone, who joined the University of Queensland physics department in 1961, took over the project after a colleague discovered the "weird" object in the cupboard. With some coaxing, Mainstone also got the university in 1975 to publicly display the experiment in a cabinet in the foyer of the department building.
Now, the Pitch Drop Experiment has its own live webcam. The eighth and most recent drop was recorded on 28 November 2000, but wouldn't you know it? The camera malfunctioned when it fell. To date, no one has actually witnessed a drop fall.
The experiment isn't kept under special environmental conditions, so the rate of flow fluctuates with seasonal temperatures. However, Mainstone expects that the ninth drop will occur sometime in 2013 and adds that it could be at least another 100 years before all the pitch flows out of the funnel.
It's pretty safe to say Parnell got his point across, albeit slowly, and his perseverance didn't go unrecognised. In 2005, Parnell and Mainstone were awarded the Ig Nobel Prize, an America parody of the Nobel Prize, for physics. The Pitch Drop Experiment also holds the world record for being the longest running lab experiment in the Guinness Book of Records.
This is what pitch looks like before and after being hit with a hammer.
(Credit: University of Queensland)

January 28, 2012

Top 5 Upcoming tablets in 2012

 
Eyeing the increasing competition, we may also expect manufacturers to keep the prices of expected tablets reasonable.
Despite lower than expected sales, Android tablets remain hot favourites of the handsets vendors - this further gains ground if we look at the number of tablets lined up for launch this year.

Moreover, these new tablets are likely to come with better design and features. Eyeing the increasing competition, we may also expect manufacturers to keep the prices very reasonable.

Sony Tablet P

This one has already been announced and will be available within next 10-15 days in India. The biggest USP of this tablet is its form factor. It has two screens measuring 5 inch each; together they give you 10 inch space and when folded gives you a form factor of a large smartphone. How it performs in the market is something that needs to seen but this PSP (Playstation) certified certainly has a lot going for it.

Under the skin, this tablet houses a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 mobile processor and runs on Android Honeycomb OS. Sony P has a 5 megapixel camera at the back and a 0.3 megapixel camera in the front. It has quite a unique design and the interface is programmed to use both the screens combined and individually.

The device, with both 3G and WiFi connectivity, will cost Rs 36,990 but might not be liked by many users because in a time when high end feature phones come with around 4 GB of internal memory they would expect a tablet to have minimum 16 GB of internal storage capacity.

Asus Transformer Prime TF201

This is another tablet with a confirmed launch date, and a unique form factor. Like its predecessor, Asus Transformer, this tablet has a keyboard docking station which transforms it into a laptop.

The tablet is going to be launched in February at a price slightly higher than its earlier version, which sold for Rs 29,999 with keyboard dock.

Transformer Prime TF201 features a 10.1 inch touchscreen display. It houses a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 mobile processor and will run on Android 3.2 Honeycomb, though Ice Cream Sandwich update already lined up for it. In terms of connectivity also, the tablet is fully loaded with 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth etc.

Samsung Galaxy 7.7

Another tablet that is expected to be launched in a couple of months is the Samsung Galaxy 7.7, though no formal announcement has been made in this regard. This tablet will come with a 7.7 inch Super Amoled Plus display supporting 1280x800 pixel resolution. Inside, it would pack a dual core 1.4 GHz microprocessor with Mali-400MP graphics chip to power the Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system.

Samsung has added Universal Remote Control functionality in Galaxy 7.7 that will let you control your television as well as home entertainment systems through your tablet.

Samsung Galaxy 7.7 will support SIM calling and has a 3 megapixel camera at the back while a 2 megapixel one will be there in its front. It supports 3G and WiFi and will come in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB storage options along with support for micro SD card of up to 32 GB capacity. Samsung has not revealed its price yet but we expect it to be within Rs 30,000 price bracket.

Acer Iconia A200

This one is a mid range 10 inch tablet from Acer. It boasts a 10.1-inch display with a native resolution of 1280x800 pixel, and has a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor with an integrated low-power GeForce graphic chip which is capable of playing 1080p HD videos.

The tablet runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb operating system and will be upgraded to Android 4.0 later. In the front, Acer has only 2 megapixel front camera for HD video chats.

Acer Iconia A200 has a full USB 2.0 port, which means that it will support 3G dongles. The Iconia Tab A200 doesn't offer SIM slot and is entirely dependent on the WiFi for Internet connectivity. Bluetooth, GPS are there. It has also dual speakers for good audio experience.

While the price and availability of this tablet for India is yet to be announced, we expect it to be launched by March within a price range of Rs 20,000. The tablet has just started selling in USA for $350 (Rs 18,000 approx).

Motorola Xoom 2

The Xoom tablet did not get the cash register ringing for Motorola. However, the company will be hoping to change this with the upgraded Xoom tablet that is loaded with many interesting features and a stylish design.

Though it is not clear as when Motorola would bring the Xoom 2 to India, but it is already being launched in phases in different parts of the world, so we can expect it to come to India within next three months.

There are two versions of the Motorola Xoom 2 tablet with screen sizes of 8.2 and 10.1 inches, but both have the same display resolution of 1280 × 800 pixels and even the same hardware. Both tablets have an LTE version and a WiFi only version. Apart from that they use a 1.2 GHz dual core processor and run on Android 3.2, which will be upgraded later.

The 10.1 inch Xoom 2 has a detachable key board as an accessory. Motorola has also included Infra-red in the tablets that helps it work as a universal remote for all your gadgets. Other connectivity options are present in full force.

You can read our hands-on here (Xoom 2 is called Xyboard in USA). Motorola Xoom 2 is expected to be priced around Rs 30,000- 40,000.

Like A Scene From The Titanic

 

Like a scene from the Titanic: Astonishing pictures show lifeboats fleeing Costa Concordia moments after cruise ship ran aground

  • Search efforts continuing but official says it will be a 'miracle' if anyone is found alive
  • Rescue teams detonate explosives to ease access to decks
  • Costa Concordia owner insists captain did not have authority to change route
The headlines across the globe described the aftermath of the Costa Concordia disaster as like a scene from the Titanic.
And these dramatic pictures, released this evening, show the accounts were not far wrong.
Lifeboats can be seen spilling from the sides of the boat into the gloomy waters off the island of Giglio as the cruise liner sinks into the sea.
Passengers at the rear on the starboard side wait to climb aboard those lifeboats which haven't already been deployed.
Disaster: Lifeboats can be seen fleeing the doomed Costa Concordia moments after it hit rocks off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13
Disaster: Lifeboats can be seen fleeing the doomed Costa Concordia moments after it hit rocks off the Italian island of Giglio on January 13
Fleeing: The boats can be seen in the waters near the
 island of Giglio while passengers wait to board others still on board. At the prow of the ship, holidaymakers can be seen attempting to make their way to safety
Fleeing: The boats can be seen in the waters near the island of Giglio while passengers wait to board others still on board. At the prow of the ship, holidaymakers can be seen attempting to make their way to safety
Escape: A boat is seen near the front of the ship being lowered into the water, containing holidaymakers who minutes earlier had been enjoying dinner
Escape: A boat is seen near the front of the ship being lowered into the water, containing holidaymakers who minutes earlier had been enjoying dinner


Pictures from when Concordia went down were reminiscent of the 1912 sinking of Titanic, recreated here by the 1997 James Cameron film
Pictures from when Concordia went down were reminiscent of the 1912 sinking of Titanic, recreated here by the 1997 James Cameron film

NASA finds 11 New Solar Systems

 
CAPE CANAVERAL, FloridaNASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope has found 11 new planetary systems, including one with five planets all orbiting closer to their parent star than Mercury circles the Sun, scientists said on Thursday.

The discoveries boost the list of confirmed extra-solar planets to 729, including 60 credited to the Kepler team. The telescope, launched in space in March 2009, can detect slight but regular dips in the amount of light coming from stars. Scientists can then determine if the changes are caused by orbiting planets passing by, relative toKepler's view.

11 new solar systems found


Kepler scientists have another 2,300 candidate planets awaiting additional confirmation.

None of the newly discovered planetary systems are like our solar system, though Kepler-33, a star that is older and bigger than the Sun, comes close in terms of sheer numbers. It has five planets, compared to our solar system's eight, but the quintet all fly closer to their parent star than Mercury orbits the Sun.

The planets range in size from about 1.5 times the diameter of Earth to five times Earth's diameter. Scientists have not yet determined if any are solid rocky bodies like Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury or if they are filled with gas like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The Kepler team previously found one star with six confirmed planets and a second system with five planets, said planetary scientist Jack Lissauer, with NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

Nine of the new systems contain two planets and one has three, bringing the total number of newly discovered planets to 26. All are closer to their host stars than Venus is to the Sun.

"This has tripled the number of stars which we know have more than one transiting planet, so that's the big deal here," Lissauer told Reuters.

"We're starting to think in terms of planetary systems as opposed to just planets: Do they all tend to have similar sizes? What's the spacing? Is the solar system unusual in those regards?" he said.

Kepler is monitoring more than 150,000 stars in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra.

The research is published in four different papers in Astrophysical Journal and the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

(Reporting By Irene Klotz; Editing by Jane Sutton and Sandra Maler)