Monday, August 16, 2010

DRAMATIC DRIFTWOOD WASHES ASHORE


This huge piece of driftwood washed up on the beach at La Push, a small community in Clallam County, Washington.

La Push, surrounded by the lush forest of the Olympic National Park, is located on the northwest coast of Washington’s most westerly peninsula, at the mouth of the Quillayute River.

The tree is a Sequoia Semper Virens, or Costal Redwood, only grown in Monterey, California.

It would have travelled hundreds of miles before being washed up on the beach at La Push.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Suit alleges Disney, other top sites spied on users

A lawsuit filed in federal court last week alleges that a group of well-known Web sites, including those owned by Disney, Warner Bros. Records, and Demand Media, broke the law by covertly tracking the Web movements of their users, including children.

Attorneys representing a group of minors and their parents filed the suit Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, records show. The suit alleges that Clearspring Technologies, a software company that creates widgets and also offers a way to serve ads via widgets, is at the center of the wrongdoing.
Web site operators such as Disney, Playlist.com, and SodaHead are "Clearspring Flash Cookie Affiliates," the plaintiffs allege in their suit. Clearspring set "Flash cookies on (affiliate site) users' computers...online tracking device(s) which would allow access to and disclosure of Internet users' online activities."
The Web sites working with Clearspring knew users weren't just tracked at sites owned by affiliates, but were followed without their knowledge wherever they went online, the defendants wrote in their suit.
Clearspring and Disney representatives were not immediately available for comment Saturday. A representative for Warner Music Group, parent company of Warner Bros. Records, declined to comment.
A similar lawsuit was filed last month against Clearspring rival Quantcast, as well as a host of that company's clients, including ABC and NBC. The same law firms that filed that suit--Parisi & Havens, and the Law Office of Joseph Malley--were responsible for filing the recent complaint.
All the news lately about Web privacy--or the lack thereof--is enough to make anyone paranoid about logging on. The Wall Street Journal recently published an expose on Web privacy and concluded that "one of the fastest-growing businesses on the Internet...is the business of spying on Internet users." And we've seen controversies over privacy at Google and at Facebook. While Congress is looking into improving privacy protections for Web users, it would seem some people are going to take up the issue in court.
The suit against Clearspring was filed on the same day that researchers from UC Berkeley issued a report on how more than half of the Internet's best known Web sites use Adobe's Flash technology to surreptitiously gather information about their users, according to a report in Wired.com.

Man Scrawls World’s Biggest Message With GPS ‘Pen’


One man drove 12,238 miles across 30 states to scrawl a message that can only be viewed using Google Earth. His big shoutout: “Read Ayn Rand.”

Nick Newcomen did a road trip over 30 days that covered stretches from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. First, he identified on a map the route he would need to drive to spell out the message. He put a GPS device in his car to trace the route he would follow. Then, he hit the road.

“The main reason I did it is because I am an Ayn Rand fan,” he says. “In my opinion if more people would read her books and take her ideas seriously, the country and world would be a better place — freer, more prosperous and we would have a more optimistic view of the future.”

Newcomen, unlike previous GPS artists, actually traveled the lines he traced on the map. He used a GPS logger (Qstarz BT-Q1000X) to “ink” the message. Starting his trip in Marshall, Texas, he turned on the device when he wanted to write a letter and turned off the device between letters. The recorded GPS data was loaded into Google Earth to produce the image above.

“The first word I wrote actually was the word ‘Rand’, then I went up North to do the word ‘Read’ and finished it with ‘Ayn,’” says Newcomen.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Breath test may be able to detect common cancers

An "electronic nose" could be used as a simple breath test to detect lung, breast, bowel and prostate cancers, Israeli scientists said Wednesday.
Using the sensor to pinpoint chemical variations, the team found they could not only distinguish between healthy and malignant breath but also identify the four different common tumor types.
While more work is needed to develop the technology, the early success could lead to the development of a cheap, easy-to-use and portable test to help diagnose cancer earlier.
"If we can confirm these initial results in large-scale studies, this new technology could become a simple tool for early diagnosis of cancer along with imaging," said Abraham Kuten of Technion Israel Institute of Technology.
Kuten and his colleagues studied the breath of 177 people -- some healthy and some with various types of cancer -- to detect the different chemicals emitted from the surface of cancer cells as they grow.