Saturday, March 22, 2008

PageOnce -- all your online accounts in one place

Not just social networks, but banking, airlines, etc.

Patients do okay if told they're told they're taking helpful placebo

They gave a pink placebo pill three times a day to patients they termed “neurotic”, and the explanation given to the patients was startlingly clear about what was going on.

Here is the standardised script which was prepared, and carefully read out to each patient:

“Mr Doe … we have a week between now and your next appointment, and we would like to do something to give you some relief from your symptoms. Many different kinds of tranquillisers and similar pills have been used for conditions such as yours, and many of them have helped. Many people with your kind of condition have also been helped by what are sometimes called ’sugar pills’, and we feel that a so-called sugar pill may help you, too. Do you know what a sugar pill is? A sugar pill is a pill with no medicine in it at all. I think this pill will help you as it has helped so many others. Are you willing to try this pill?”

They got good results.

Lingtastic -- translation through SMS, e-mail, VoIP, or phone (for extra)

Price scaled according to skill level required and where the interpreter is based.

Spottt -- ad exchange network

The basic idea is that you place the Spottt 125×125 ad unit on your site, above the fold (no adult content). They provide a simple embed code, or you can use your own ad serving software (we use OpenAds). For every two ad impressions that you serve, you’ll get one free ad somewhere on the network...

Roomapes -- post profile and find a place

A Google mashup that also has roomie rating.
This is like the Google-Craigslist mashup MapsKrieg.

Tying a tie -- various knots

This is the Half Windsor.

Babies see pure color, but adults peer through prism of language

More evidence that we create a good part of our reality.

InsideTrip -- tailor your flight beyond just cheap fares

Quality is measured by factors spanning 3 categories (speed, comfort, and ease) and addressing 12 so-called “pain points” (such as number of stops, security wait time, legroom, aircraft type, connection time, and gate location).

Half of all clicks on display ads are worthless

Six percent generate half the clicks.

The average heavy clicker is 25 to 44 years old, earns less than $40,000 a year, spends a lot of time online but not a lot of money online, and likes to frequent auctions, gambling sites and job boards. Sounds like a lot of these heavy clickers are out of work and have nothing to do.

Humans are just meme-propagating machines

Interview at Wired with Susan Blackmore.

Blank password for XP protects from internet attacks

Remote access is denied in this instance.

Solar-collecting roads heat buildings

... RES [Road Energy System] lays the collection system within concrete -- think the black asphalt of a road or runway. The piping connects to undeground storage areas. Remember the last time you walked on black asphalt on a sunny August day and you understand the heat being transferred into the water in the pipes. This water is then transferred into the storage area. On demand, in cold weather, the hot water is used to heat buildings and to keep the road above freezing. After cooling, the water is moved into cold storage to provide air conditioning for summer months.
Doesn't this mean an awful lot of water? How do you keep the water hot for months?

FUH2 -- flipping off the Hummer

That's all it is. Photo after user-submitted photo of people giving the finger to Hummers all over the world.

Google bomb an enemy

From Wired. How can it be okay to post instructions like this?

ruralZED -- zero carbon house in U.K.

Website is kind of spare at the moment.

Healthy and safe hotel stays

10. Check the bed for bedbugs before you unpack. Have you ever woken up in a hotel room, felt itchy, and assumed you'd been bitten by mosquitoes in your sleep? It might have been bedbugs. Growing pesticide resistance has resulted in outbreaks of bedbugs in even some of the best hotels. These brown bugs, which are the size of an apple seed, can leave itchy welts on the skin. One veteran traveler suggests pulling back the comforter quickly and watching closely to see if any bugs scamper. Also look for bloodstains on pillows or mattress liners and carefully check the seams of mattresses. If you see anything suspicious, ask for another room -- then repeat the process. Even if you don't find any bugs, move the bed away from the wall, tuck in the sheets, and keep the blanket from touching the floor. Just in case!

EveryBlock -- a data point on every block

A thorough interview for this neighborhood data aggregator.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ben Olken on the economics of bribery and assassinations in developing countries

So Olken and Jones looked at 57 leaders who died in office from accidents or natural causes and “found big changes in growth when autocratic leaders die in office—both positive and negative,” but no sub­stantial change when democratic leaders died in office. “The results suggest,” they write, “that individual leaders can play crucial roles in shap­ing the growth of nations,” provided they are ruling with minimal or nonexistent checks and balances to their power (think Augusto Pinochet or Robert Mugabe).

Lingtatstic -- interpreters compete for your business

... a customer with an account will be able to request a live interpreter from our website and they will receive a call from that person in seconds. They can specify language, specialty, max price and skill level and the interpreters compete for their business. That call can come on a normal phone, cell phone, skype, Yahoo, Google talk, or MSN. We can even conference in a third party on any of those applications too!
Closed beta for the moment.

Lightway -- collect solar during the day, lighten up during the night

Lightway is first of its kind in the world which assimilates the necessary solar energy during the daytime and then using its inner devices it enlightens the area (for instance, house or streets) during the nights.

MicroRNA's non-cancer, protective role demonstrated

... a family of microRNAs--short strands of genetic material--protect mouse cells during development and allow them to grow normally. But that protective role could backfire: The researchers theorize that when these microRNAs become overactive, they can help keep alive cancer cells that should otherwise die--providing another reason to target microRNAs as a treatment for cancer.

Grammar myths

2. You shouldn't split infinitives. Wrong! Nearly all grammarians want to boldly tell you it's OK to split infinitives. An infinitive is a two-word form of a verb. An example is "to tell." In a split infinitive, another word separates the two parts of the verb. "To boldly tell" is a split infinitive because boldly separates to from tell.

Computer simulation model of rat neurocortical column successfully accomplished

Acts all biological-like.

3-day fog killed at least a couple of thousand in London (1880)

Happened a few times before and after. In 1952, one killed about 4000.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Born Rich's Jamie Johnson comes out with new film

A member of the Johnson & Johnson family, the article calls him the rich man's Michael Moore, and he's come out with a new doc called The One Percent, covering the same territory as his first film. He also got Milton Friedman to walk out on him.
Most interesting is that his own father, in the same vein, actually made a film about injustice in South Africa, for which he was put in his place.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

stickK -- agree to a contract and consequences online to help change your life

Users can set up a contract to include payments to charities if they fail to meet their contracts, and friends can be used to make the final call on the result as well, reducing the chance that users will lie about the result of a contract.

Solar nail-on tile for the roof

Scoring free airline vouchers

A free roundtrip ticket sounds like a good deal, but the travel voucher is totally the way to go. The roundtrip ticket is usually subject to blackout dates and all sorts of other restrictions which greatly limit when and where you can fly. Additionally, free roundtrip tickets are usually exempt from earning frequent flier miles. Travel vouchers, on the other hand, can be used just about any time, anywhere and the flights you purchase usually earn miles.

8aweek -- to keep track of how you spend time on the Web

Numbers to show what's really happening.

MIT's effcient nanowire ultracapacitors could replace batteries

People have been going at this forever apparently.

Conspiracies that actually happened

Although their execution was not as solid.

Neuroimaging supporting biodifferences in girls' superior language skills

The information in the tasks got through to girls' language areas of the brain -- areas associated with abstract thinking through language... In boys, accurate performance depended -- when reading words -- on how hard visual areas of the brain worked. In hearing words, boys' performance depended on how hard auditory areas of the brain worked.

Why Free is the future of business

Wired's take on giveaway economics. Nice history of Gillette at the beginning.

Humanity Lobotomy -- on net neutrality

Some fine history of communication costs and development arc.

Nanocrystal coating warms up LED lighting

The final LEDs were also better than commercially available LEDs at creating visible light, giving off more than 300 lumens of visible light for every watt of all light emitted. This figure, known as the "luminous efficacy", is high compared to typical white LEDs [~30-60 lumens].

Why are Finnish kids so smart?

Finnish youth, like their U.S. counterparts, also waste hours online. They dye their hair, love sarcasm and listen to rap and heavy metal. But by ninth grade they're way ahead in math, science and reading -- on track to keeping Finns among the world's most productive workers.

Neurological basis for degrees of cocaine addiction

Probably why some can use it casually while others can't.

Little primer on the Dow Jones Industrial Average

Here is a Dow deletion history table.

Gene glitches may hold secret of long life.

Also, 25 genes regulating lifespan in yeast and worms (1.5 billion years evolutionary difference) identified.

Nuconomy -- beyond Google Analytics

For example, Nuconomy is designed to consider the impact of widgets, Ajax, Flash, mobile, etc., which don’t generally show up in page view metrics. And they are also measuring everything on both a contributor level (think analytics by author in a blog) and user level (people on the site).

Correlation is a big party of Nuconomy, which shows how things on the site affect other things. Do more posts/articles mean more page views? Does one author get more comments but less page views? How do photo uploads affect the number of comments?

Solar and wind leaves

Piezoelectric generators on the underside of each photovoltaic leaf.

Jungle frog's anti-infection agent may help diabetics

In laboratory tests, researchers found that the paradoxical frog’s peptide, known as pseudin-2, increased release of insulin in cultured cells by 50 per cent.

Proving you're a Jew getting harder

The rabbinate’s handling of the issue has placed it on one side of an ideological fissure within Orthodox Judaism itself, between those concerned with making sure no stranger enters the gates and those who fear leaving sisters and brothers outside.

Grocery items with nasty corporate histories

You like your Nestle Quik cocoa for milk?

To avoid having to abide by the new legislation, Nestle agreed to a voluntary protocol to end forced labor on cocoa farms by 2005. Being that the major chocolate companies would be overseeing this new program, it wasn't too surprising that nothing ever came of it.

Suburbs the next slum?

Fundamental changes in American life may turn today’s McMansions into tomorrow’s tenements.

oDesk -- outsourcing site to connect to programmers, Web designeres, etc.

Global talent pool.

Are our brains wired for mathematics?

If a [brain] lesion knocks out one ability but leaves another intact, it is evidence that they are wired into different neural circuits. In this instance, Dehaene theorized that our ability to learn sophisticated mathematical procedures resided in an entirely different part of the brain from a rougher quantitative sense.

Packable or transforming furniture

Gruesome origins of popular fairy tales

Man, those Grimm Brothers sure could be twisted.

Insurance myths quiz

From the Insurance Bureau of Canada, I think.

2007 Digital Economy factbook in pdf

In-depth, statistic-heavy, well-cited, and freely-available online.

Four antidepressants do NOT outperform placebo

Well. Brings into question reporting protocol for unpublished findings.

The pattern they saw from the trial results of fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Seroxat), venlafaxine (Effexor) and nefazodone (Serzone) was consistent. "Using complete data sets (including unpublished data) and a substantially larger data set of this type than has been previously reported, we find the overall effect of new-generation antidepressant medication is below recommended criteria for clinical significance," they write.

Numobiq -- the network is the cell phone

Founded by three veterans from Sun Microsystems, it wants to bring sophisticated applications to the simplest cell phones by keeping all the complexity in the network... Now, they’ve built a new virtual machine they think will take mobile apps to the next level.

Sprout -- online WYSIWYG Flash editor

Not that I know anything about these things, but all sorts of apps are being made friendlier and friendlier for the user.

Gary Gygax dies


1 in 100 U.S. adults behind bars

Excuse me?

It cost an average of $23,876 dollars to imprison someone in 2005, the most recent year for which data were available. But state spending varies widely, from $45,000 a year in Rhode Island to $13,000 in Louisiana.

Misperceptions meet state of the art in evolution research

Throughout the talks, there were two recurrent themes: we can identify major environmental changes that might have sparked new selective pressures, and many of the major adaptations we view as designed for a specific lifestyle actually originated as an adaptation for something else entirely.

Iron deposits in brain may contribute to Alzheimer's?

Such iron crystals are highly reactive and could lead to the formation of toxic free radicals, which attack and destroy nerve cells. If this assumption can be verified in vivo, agents that hinder the aggregation of transferrin may be the foundation for a new family of drugs.

Behavioral economics -- New Yorker article covering some ideas

Like neoclassical economics, much democratic theory rests on the assumption that people are rational. Here, too, empirical evidence suggests otherwise. Voters, it has been demonstrated, are influenced by factors ranging from how names are placed on a ballot to the jut of a politician’s jaw. A 2004 study of New York City primary-election results put the advantage of being listed first on the ballot for a local office at more than three per cent—enough of a boost to turn many races. (For statewide office, the advantage was around two per cent.) A 2005 study, conducted by psychologists at Princeton, showed that it was possible to predict the results of congressional contests by using photographs. Researchers presented subjects with fleeting images of candidates’ faces. Those candidates who, in the subjects’ opinion, looked more “competent” won about seventy per cent of the time.

Redux -- algorithm discovers friends for you

You fill out a profile with all the standard questions (music, age, sex, books) with the added bonus of an optional Myers-Briggs personality test. The site also lets users post photos, list their location, or chat with each other... The algorithm isn’t “dumb” or based purely on matching up people based on answering questions the same. It actually learns what properties signify compatibility based on how people use the site and takes special care to match people up with niche interests (something Shirazi calls the “Anomaly Filter”).

Voyant -- financial planning app

Need internet connection to get advisor input if desired.

If you stopped smoking right now...

Got into an auto collision? You have to...

With collision reporting centers list in the GTA.

Autism: Scientist reconsider what they think they know

In a synthesized voice generated by a software application, she explains that touching, tasting, and smelling allow her to have a "constant conversation" with her surroundings. These forms of nonverbal stimuli constitute her "native language," Baggs explains, and are no better or worse than spoken language. Yet her failure to speak is seen as a deficit, she says, while other people's failure to learn her language is seen as natural and acceptable.

AutoPulse -- auto CPR compression machine

Those using the machine are able to administer just two breaths for every 30 chest compressions carried out by the device, freeing them up to perform other tasks.

Zero Pollution Motors hopes to bring to the U.S. an air hybrid car with an 800-1000 mile range

For less than $18k by 2009-10.

Using scarce, better accomodations as carrot to induce improved performance from sailors

The navy quickly decided that the sailors who perform better should get the roomier accommodations ashore. This led to remarkable increases in performance by junior, unmarried, sailors seeking more comfort during the 60-80 percent of the time their ship is not at sea. There are numerous skills, and tests to measure them, that sailors can, or must, take. The draw of more comfortable living quarters has motivated sailors to an extraordinary degree, to learn more, take more tests, and do better on the job. This happened to such a degree that some NCOs think it would be a good idea if there were never enough barracks rooms for all the junior sailors.

blist -- online database

blist makes it easy for anyone to create private or collaborative databases for anything from party or wedding guest lists, fantasy football statistics, and personal finances to professional information such as sales contacts, project management sheets, campaign tracking, status reports, patient records, and more.

A community of data and data templates allow you to get started right away, and keeps you from duplicating tedious data entry work wherever possible.