The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office is preparing to become the first public agency in the Bay Area to force some convicts to submit to iris scanning, a strategy that may jump-start debate about how police should use a powerful and emerging technology. [...] Authorities plan to begin scanning the irises of the county’s 2,500 sex offenders within a few weeks – when they register during a move or when they check in annually as required by law. There are no plans yet to expand the scanning to others.
Source: Demian Bulwa, San Francisco Chronicle, November 5, 2007
Our increasingly interconnected world has made it easier for information and disease to spread. However a new study from Harvard University and Cornell University shows that fewer ‘degrees of separation’ can make social networks too weak to disseminate behavioral change. The finding that ‘small world’ networks are limited in their power to shape individual behavior could have implications for health care policy and the treatment of epidemics.
Source: Harvard University news release, November 5, 2007
A Seattle-based startup called Cleverset thinks it has the secret to the next-generation recommendation system: a type of computer modeling found mainly in artificial-intelligence research labs. Cleverset’s system weighs the importance of the relationship among individual shoppers, their behavior on the site, the behavior of similar shoppers, and external factors such as seasons, holidays, and events like the Super Bowl. Using these ever-changing relationships, Cleverset’s system serves up products that are statistically likely to match what the customer will find interesting.
Source: Kate Greene, Technology Review, November 8, 2007
Lost drivers soon will be able to Google for help at the pump. As part of a partnership to be announced Wednesday, the online search leader will dispense driving directions at thousands of gasoline pumps across the United States beginning early next month. The pumps, made by Gilbarco Veeder-Root, include an Internet connection and will display Google’s mapping service in color on a small screen. Motorists will be able to scroll through several categories to find local landmarks, hotels, restaurants and hospitals selected by the gas station’s owner.
Source: Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press, November 7, 2007
A new startup called YourStreet is bringing hyper-local information to its users by collecting news stories and placing them on its map-based interface, down to the nearest street corner. While there have been many companies that combine information and maps, YourStreet is novel in its focus on classifying news by location. When a user opens the site, it detects her location and shows a map of that area, stuck with pins that represent the locations of news stories, user-generated content called conversations, and people who have added themselves to the map.
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, November 9, 2007
The Internet’s dark side and the growing threat of nefarious attack via the ‘Net were the central themes of a pointed cyber security speech by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Director Robert Mueller yesterday at The Pennsylvania State University. “If we lose the Internet, we do not simply lose the ability to e-mail or to surf the Web. We lose access to our data. We lose our connectivity. We lose our intellectual property. We lose our security. What happens when the so-called ‘Invisible Man’ locks us out of our own homes, our offices, and our information?” Mueller said.
Source: Network World, November 7, 2007
[Eye-Fi is a new company which makes Wi-Fi camera-memory cards.] They produced a 2-GB SD memory card mated with a Wi-Fi chip. Just sync the card to a hard drive or Wi-Fi network, and plug it into a digital camera and start snapping away. Pics are then routed to the hard drive or to one of 17 photo vendors (like Facebook or Flickr.) The card’s software deftly handles scaling and compression while privacy settings at the individual sites allow you to filter what gets published.
Source: Cliff Kuang, Wired News, November 9, 2007