Archive for the ‘The Web’ Category

Can someone just tell me that my next glass came from a $200 bottle?

When you take a sip of Cabernet, what are you tasting? The grape? The tannins? The oak barrel? Or the price?

Believe it or not, the most dominant flavor may be the dollars. Thanks to the work of some intrepid and wine-obsessed economists (yes, there is an American Association of Wine Economists), we are starting to gain a new understanding of the relationship between wine, critics and consumers.

via Freakonomics Radio: Do More Expensive Wines Taste Better? – NYTimes.com.

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Internet credibility is a major problem, and while veterans of the internet understand that not everything on the web is credible, that is something that is not always clear to those who are relatively new to the World Wide Web.  Ars Technica reviews a study reviewing the internet behaviors of college freshman, and relates some troubling findings:

The researchers observed 102 college freshmen performing searches on a computer for specific information—usually with Google, but also making use of Yahoo, SparkNotes, MapQuest, Microsoft we assume this means Bing, Wikipedia, AOL, and Facebook. Most students clicked on the first search result no matter what it was, and more than a quarter of respondents said explicitly that they chose it because it was the first result. “In some cases, the respondent regarded the search engine as the relevant entity for which to evaluate trustworthiness, rather than the Web site that contained the information,” wrote researchers Eszter Hargittai, Lindsay Fullerton, Ericka Menchen-Trevino, and Kristin Yates Thomas.

Only 10 percent of the participants mentioned the author or authors credentials when performing their research, and according to screen captures of those students, “none actually followed through by verifying either the identification or the qualifications of the authors.” The researchers said this was the case even when the student stated directly that he or she should check to see who the authors were and what their qualifications were.

via Students trust high Google search rankings too much.

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I found this article interesting, particularly from the eye of a statistician.  Particularly since some of the same problems that results for “meta-analysis” studies are actually reflected in this articles, which deals with the aggregation of Video Game reviews.  In many ways, we see that the problems are similar to the weakness in a meta-analysis study.  Namely, different studies (or in this case, reviewers) have different purposes and designs to how they evaluate something, and trying to put them all together in a nice simple number is just, well, too simplifying.

Linked below for reference.

The world of game reviews is often difficult to navigate. Everyone uses different scores, and a large emphasis is placed on the single score given to games by Metacritic, a review-aggregation site. Metacritic uses a scale of 1 to 100 for reviews, a figure calculated by averaging multiple scores. What comes out after that averaging is seen as something akin to a gold standard for judging the quality of a game. Weve been asked numerous times why were not included in the game rankings given by Metacritic: our reviews arent linked from the site, and were not included in the final uber-score. Thats by design.

via Game reviews on Metacritic: why we avoid inclusion.

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A fascinating article about user “fingerprinting.”  Basically it looks at the way you have your computer and browser setup in order to “profile” your activity on the web.  It has nothing to do with cookies, and the more you customize your settings (presumably to prevent identification) the more unique you become (at least until everyone does it).

Anyway, a great read.

You’re concerned about your online privacy, and you do all the right things to keep from being tracked around the Web: purge your cookies regularly, clean out Flash “supercookies,” even switch to browsers like Browzar, which lets you “search and surf the web without leaving traces on your computer.” Doesn’t matter—your browser is giving you away.

via How your Web browser rats you out online.

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How to Quit Facebook Without Actually Quitting Facebook – Facebook – Lifehacker.

A quick link, a bookmark really.  I probably will go through with this soon.

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Very, very cool.   Plan to update the post with commentary a bit later.

Ars Technica – Nobel Intent – Engineering bacteria for environmental cleanup.

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A nice guide on Google Voice can be sometimes hard to find.  Posting this so I can refer people to it later:  From Android Central.

What exactly IS Google Voice?

Think of Google Voice as your own personal switchboard.  You give someone the 10-digit number Google assigns to your Google Voice account, and when they call that number, it rings on your phone.  Or phones.  Or the one phone you specify.  Oh, it has has a killer voice mail system too.I know what youre thinking, and yes, its very cool.  Thanks, Google.Its also a free service, but check with your phone company and mobile provider to make sure you know of any fees they have for call forwarding. Also, for now Google Voice is for US customers only.  Were all waiting for Google to open things up for the rest of the world, heres hoping its soon.

via Getting started with Google Voice | Android Central.

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Plants vs Zombies Music Video

Ok, sometimes I’m late finding things on the web (especially on Youtube), but this music is so fun I have to share. The Plant vs Zombies game is really a great game as well, for those of you with iPhones/iPod Touches (I’ve never played the computer version).

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Now, far be it for me to try to tell big corporation what to do.  I’m just a blogger.

Yet, it just make so much sense it’s ridiculous.  Palm is down to $4 per share, and a current market cap of 600 million.  It sports a powerful patent portfolio as the first mover on portable touchscreen technology, such that Apple has yet to challenge, even though Apple seems to be willing to go after (relative) smartphone newcomer and probably patent starved HTC.

Palm tried to hack the iTunes syncing, boldly including pinch-and-zoom and Apple did some saber rattling but didn’t file the lawsuit.  Apple’s action, or lack thereof, proves to me that Palm’s patent portfolio is rather imposing.  The truth in the technology world is that true all out patent wars are dangerous to both companies involved.  There is invariably patents that are overly broad and open to interpretation, and the patents are far more valuable as they are rather, threats, rather than if they become concretely interpreted in a courtroom.   So why is a $200 BILLION dollar company like Apple afraid of a 0.6 billion dollar company?  Because Apple has made so much money off of touchscreen technology that a judgment not in their favor can literally mean billions of dollars in fines, as well as court orders that can cripple many billions of dollars of possible future revenue.  It is just not worth it.

So what about Google?  Well that armor of old patents, will allow Google to innovate freely and add features to Android without fear of lawsuit, like the reluctance to pinch-and-zoom that has gone for far too long.  There are also so real smart engineers over Palm that can probably help improve on the platform.  WebOS will die, but will live on in another version.  The ideas are innovative, and the OS is probably still the best out there, it just needs real muscle behind it.

BTW, it makes a lot of sense for Apple to buy Palm as well.  Unfortunately I’m a little more scared of Apple trying to kill all innovative competitors with lawsuits, just like they have started to do with HTC.

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A report from DC think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies pains a pretty stark picture about the security dangers of major enterprises around the.  Ars has a summary, and you can get a direct link to the pdf document by clicking here.

No rules: Internet security a Hobbesian “state of nature”

By Nate Anderson |

Life in cyberspace can be nasty, brutish, and short. So says a new report PDF on international cybersecurity, which argues that the Internet is a Hobbesian “state of nature” where anything goes, where even government attacks maintain “plausible deniability,” and where 80 percent of industrial control software is hooked into an IP network.It’s also a world where the US is both a model and a bully. When 600 senior IT security managers were asked which state actor was most likely to engage in cyberattacks, the top response was the US 36 percent, even among traditional US allies. On the other hand, US security practices were some of the world’s most admired.

via No rules: Internet security a Hobbesian “state of nature”.

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