Roland’s Sunday Smart Trends #232
September 21st, 2008

Safe Transactions with Infected PCs

Your computer has been breached by malicious hackers: it’s completely loaded with malware and spyware. You’re about to get online, connect to a financial institution, and make some transactions. Is there anything, at this point, that can keep your identity off the black market? SiteTrust, a tool released today by Waltham, MA, data-security company Verdasys, aims to protect users from fraud, even when their computers have been compromised.
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, September 15, 2008

Turning Social Networks Against Users

Ever since Facebook opened its doors to third-party applications a year and a half ago, millions of users have employed miniature applications to play games, share movie and song recommendations, and even “zombie-bite” their friends. But as the popularity of third-party applications has grown, computer-security researchers have also begun worrying about ways that social-networking applications could be misused. The same thing that makes social networking such an effective way to distribute applications — deep access to a user’s networks of friends and acquaintances — could perhaps make it an ideal way to distribute malicious code.
Source: Erica Naone, Technology Review, September 15, 2008

WSJ.com to get social-networking makeover

The newspaper site is expected to launch “Journal Community” on Tuesday to allow paying subscribers to comment on individual stories, create discussion groups on specific topics, and ask one another for advice, according to a report Sunday by the Associated Press. Like social networks Facebook or MySpace, the community will allow subscribers to create personal profiles. But instead of missives on favorite movies and music, these profiles will feature subscribers’ their real names, job details, and interests, according to the report.
Source: Steven Musil, CNET’s Digital Media, September 14, 2008

A quarter million teachers to get free wikis

A San Francisco wiki services provider has just finished a multiyear project under which it gave teachers all over the world 100,000 free wikis. And now, it is doubling up and getting set to give away another quarter million. The company, Wikispaces, decided in 2006 that it would make helping teachers use the collaborative software to further cooperation between students, both in their own schools and with schools in other cities and countries, a cornerstone of its business.
Source: Daniel Terdiman, CNET’s Gaming and Culture, September 15, 2008

Political attitudes are predicted by physiological traits

Rice University’s John Alford, associate professor of political science, and his colleagues studied a group of 46 adult participants with strong political beliefs. Those individuals with “measurably lower physical sensitivities to sudden noises and threatening visual images were more likely to support foreign aid, liberal immigration policies, pacifism and gun control, whereas individuals displaying measurably higher physiological reactions to those same stimuli were more likely to favor defense spending, capital punishment, patriotism and the Iraq War,” the authors wrote.
Source: Rice University news release, September 18, 2008

User-generated science

Web 2.0 tools are beginning to change the shape of scientific debate.
Earlier this month Seed Media Group, a firm based in New York, launched the latest version of Research Blogging, a website which acts as a hub for scientists to discuss peer-reviewed science. Such discussions, the internet-era equivalent of the journal club, have hitherto been strewn across the web, making them hard to find, navigate and follow. The new portal provides users with tools to label blog posts about particular pieces of research, which are then aggregated, indexed and made available online.
Source: The Economist, September 18, 2008


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