Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Google users: Read this carefully...

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Google privacy
EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE... Google's privacy policy changes tomorrow.


Today is your last chance to adjust your Google privacy settings ahead of a major change to the way Google collects and collates data about you, its users.
From March 1, the company will begin to aggregate all the information it acquires about its users who are logged in to Google services into a single, unified pool of data.
This collectable information is what Columbia Law School professor and privacy advocate Eben Moglan refers to as the "data dandruff of life". It comprises the obvious and the obscure. Details you expect to be logged as well as inferred data that is created as a result of joining the dots.
In the past, data collected in the course of a web search would be kept separate from, for instance, your YouTube viewing activity, your Gmail usage or your Map queries.
From Thursday, that will cease being the case.
And unless you specifically scrub your Google Web History, everything that has been collected about your past search activities and the sites you clicked through to, can be scooped up and combined with information gleaned from usage on other Google-owned sites.
The changes will allow Google to better target ads to users and in doing so, enable the company to extract a higher price from advertisers. This is not unusual; all web publishers are attempting to deliver more targeted advertising. But not all publishers can combine as much information as Google can.
In tandem with the impending changes, Google has taken the opportunity to unify some 60 separate privacy policies into one simpler document.
The company has also been up front about the coming changes and for the past few weeks has posted notices on its websites and emailed its users explaining the changes.
However, it's fair to assume that many users have been oblivious to the new policies either because they may be more relaxed about privacy on the internet or because they haven't drilled down into the detail.
Despite the advance warning, not everyone is comfortable about the impending changes. A letter sent to Google's CEO Larry Page by a group of US state attorneys-general earlier this month characterised the move as an invasion of consumer privacy and criticised the company for failing to provide a proper ability to opt out.
The US-based Electronic Frontier Foundation points out that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information. But it does mean the information will be partially anonymised after 18 months and that Google will abstain from using it for certain purposes.
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Many people are comfortable with a lowering of the privacy bar that has come about in recent years as a result of the advent social networking sites such as MySpace and then Facebook.
However, if you're not one of those, here's how you can quarantine your Google Search History from the new data aggregation process.

  • If your Web History has been activated, you should see a button which says: "Remove All Web History". Then click "Okay" to confirm.
  • When this is done you will see a "Resume" button, which you can click if at any time in the future you change your mind.

If you want even more control, you can also try these additional tools:

  • Google Dashboard: A place where you can control the data associated with your Google Account.
  • Eject button: And if you're still not satisfied and want to opt out altogether, Google provides a one stop shop to opt out of everything and take your "data dandruff" with you.

Source:  © Fairfax NZ News
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Apple's new environmentally green data centre...

Apple's Maiden data center already boasts a white cool-roof and is set to add the largest ...
Apple's Maiden data center already boasts a white cool-roof and is set to add the largest end user-owned, onsite solar array in the U.S.
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Following widespread criticism of its environmental record from groups including Greenpeace, Apple has made efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its products and facilities in recent years. As part of these ongoing efforts, the company has revealed plans to build the United States' largest end user-owned, onsite solar array at its Maiden, North Carolina iDataCenter.
The news comes from a newly released report outlining the environmental impact of Apple's worldwide facilities, including its retail stores, R&D facilities, and operations and data centers. Being completed in 2011, the Maiden facility already boasted a green design and received LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council - a feat that Apple points out hasn't been achieved by any other comparably sized data center.
Further enhancing the facility's environmental credentials, Apple will build a 100-acre, 20-megawatt facility on land surrounding the data center to supply 42 million kWh of renewable energy to the facility annually.
The Maiden facility's existing energy-efficient design elements include a white cool-roof the maximize solar reflectivity and reduce the building's cooling requirements, and a chilled water storage system that allows 10,400 kWh of electricity consumption to be transferred from peak to off-peak hours each day. It's conceivable that this system could also be employed to store electricity generated by the solar array during the day for use at night.
Apple hasn't announced when the solar array will be constructed, but the report also reveals the company is building a fuel cell installation that is scheduled to go online later this year. The 5-megawatt facility will be located directly adjacent to the data center and will be 100 percent powered by biogas to provide more than 40 million kWh of round-the-clock baseload renewable energy annually. Upon completion, Apple says it will be the largest non-utility fuel cell installation in the U.S.
The report indicates the company is dedicated to becoming a greener Apple, but the environmental impact of its facilities are just a drop in the ocean compared to emissions from other sources. As much as 98 percent of the company's total greenhouse gas emissions come the production, transport, use, and recycling of its products, with the company's corporate facilities accounting for the remaining two percent.
Source: Apple Facilities Report (PDF) via 9to5Mac
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Friday, February 17, 2012

MI5 claimed Charlie Chaplin was not a spy...

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    :no:MI5 claimed Charlie Chaplin was not a spy...
    Silent British born film star Charlie Chaplin was the target of a spying investigation conducted by British intelligence agency MI5, following a request from America's Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to papers released by Britain's National Archives on Friday.
    The FBI asked MI5 for help in getting Chaplin banned from the United States for suspected Communist ties. Specifically, the FBI requested that the British agency look into the mysterious circumstances of Chaplin's birth -- no record was found of his birth in England at the time -- suggesting that his real name was Israel Thornstein and that he "may have been born in France." Ultimately the MI5 found no evidence of either allegation.
    The FBI also charged that Chaplin had made a covert donation to the American Communist Party in 1923.
    Chaplin's MI5 file, which was opened in 1952, offers numerous newspaper clips, including from the Communist newspaper the Daily Worker, which praised Chaplin, saying, "His films have lampooned the great and the dictators, raised up the common man against the rich."
    However, the MI5 remained skeptical of the FBI's claims, and ultimately dismissed them.
    "It may be that Chaplin is a communist sympathizer but on the information before us he would appear to be no more than a 'progressive,' or radical," the file, which was closed in 1958, concludes.
    Chaplin denied ties to Communism, but was nonetheless banned from the United States in 1953, as McCarthyism raged in America. The "Great Dictator" actor opted not to appeal the decision and instead live in Switzerland, where he died in 1977 at the age of 88.
    Acknowledgements: Zorianna Kit)
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-02-17/spies-found-no-record-of-chaplins-birth/3836184 No record of Charlie's birth.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRDmeU9XAYg View video.
    http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-news/british-spy-group-mi5-reveals-charlie-chaplin-may-have-been-a-frenchman/ Was Charlie French?

  • Kiwipete

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    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Schizophrenia linked to infection in pregnancy...

    Schizophrenia (Sepultura album)
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    Schizophrenia linked to infection in pregnancy
    A new study of the brain mechanisms behind schizophrenia has found the illness could be triggered by an infection during the early stages of pregnancy.
    The study, by researchers from University of Otago ’s Department of Psychology, found a one-off infection in a pregnant rat could result in long-range neural problems in her offspring.
    PhD candidate and lead author Desiree Dickerson said the study, believed to be the first of its kind, was an exciting step toward understanding the brain mechanisms that underpinned schizophrenia.
    “There is a considerable body of evidence suggesting that changes in neural synchronisation may underlie a range of symptoms seen in schizophrenia,” she said.
    “At the same time many studies have found that infection during early-to-mid pregnancy slightly increases the overall risk of children developing this illness as adults, with recent research implicating the mother’s immune response.”
    Ms Dickerson said the study helped “connect the dots” between maternal infection and the synchrony research.
    “We show that a single activation of an immune response during pregnancy can lead to adult offspring showing disrupted communication between two key brain regions implicated in schizophrenia,” she said.
    “Moreover, these offspring also displayed hallmark schizophrenia-like changes in their behaviour as they became adults, such as an abnormal startle response.”
    Ms Dickerson said effective communication between brain regions required synchronised firing of groups of cells within the brain.
    “This can be compared to a crowd performing a Mexican wave. Brain cells in individuals with schizophrenia are like people trying to produce the Mexican wave independently and with poor timing -- the wave doesn’t form cohesively and the message is distorted.”
    WinchesterUntil now, there had not been a good model for investigating how and why the desynchronisation occurred, she said.
    “Importantly, this study has provided a chance to examine what happens in schizophrenia at a biological level that would otherwise be inaccessible. This will ultimately lead to better understanding and treatment of this severe mental illness.”
    Acknowledgements: Elaine Winchester - Atareira/Hutt Valley Mental Health

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    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Kim Dotcom's $4.3 million Coatsville mansion seized by authorities...

    Artwork removed from Kim Dotcom's mansion in Coatesville today. Photo / Brett Phibbs


    Artwork removed from Kim Dotcom's mansion in Coatesville today. Photo / Brett Phibbs

    The $4.3 million home where Kim Dotcom's pregnant wife and three children live has been seized by New Zealand authorities.
    Staff for the Official Assignee are currently scouring the 2.16 hectare property in Coatesville, north of Auckland, which borders the larger "Dotcom Mansion" where Dotcom and his family lived until he was arrested by police last month.
    Dotcom was refused permission to buy the $30 million property by the Overseas Investment Office as he did not meet the "good character" test. But he was able to buy the neighbouring lifestyle block in December, as property is less than five hectares of non-urban land and therefore did not need approval. The home is 565sqm and has a valuation of $4.3m.
    Read more:


    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2091428/Megaupload-case-5th-arrest-FBI-continues-hunt-2-men-involved-175m-piracy-ring.html   Megaupload police invasion of Auckland mansion