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Those crazy Ars Technica writers again, pointing out how data and surveys can be manipulated.  From someone with epidemiology background, I was particularly interested in the comments about how the Metacritic score was affected.

The whole article is actually worth a read, but it struck a nerve with me from the point of view of someone with interest in both statistics and gaming….

In conclusion?

Modern Warfare 2 can be a fun game. The single-player is short, but intense. It’s not a $1 billion game in our opinion, however, and the precedents set by its release and success aren’t pointing towards good things for the industry.

Of course, after selling all those games, why should Activision care?

via What we (and Activision) learned from Modern Warfare 2.

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Further update on the reported attack on Google, as it turns out, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer may have been to blame.  Please, if any of you are still using Internet Explorer, it is time to switch to a better browser now.  Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.

The German government has warned web users to find an alternative browser to Internet Explorer to protect security.The warning from the Federal Office for Information Security comes after Microsoft admitted IE was the weak link in recent attacks on Google’s systems.Microsoft says the security hole can be shut by setting the browser’s security zone to “high”, although this limits functionality and blocks many websites.However, German authorities say that even this would not make IE fully safe.Speaking to BBC News, Graham Cluley of anti-virus firm Sophos said the warning applied to versions 6, 7 and 8 of the browser.

via BBC News – German government warns against using MS Explorer.

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I posted on this earlier, and Ars Technica has a followup post this morning.  I think the most relevant concern is below, which has to do with the cost of allowing government monitoring:

Why only subject lines? If the attackers could get access to subject lines, why couldn’t they access entire e-mails? Apparently because the hackers infiltrated automated systems set up to provide such information to law enforcement in the US and elsewhere. (Getting access to the contents of e-mail messages is harder under US law than getting access to addresses, subject lines, etc, which are considered to be on the “outside of the envelope” and subject to pen register searches).

According to a Macworld source, “Right before Christmas, it was, ‘Holy s—, this malware is accessing the internal intercept [systems].'” Later, Google cofounder Larry Page supervised a Christmas Eve meeting on the security breach.

Fun fact: Google’s security team managed to penetrate one of the servers being used by the attackers, which was how the full extent of the attack—more than 30 companies—was revealed.

Breaches by design. Former Ars writer Julian Sanchez, now covering security at the Cato Institute, sees a problem with these automated law enforcement tracking systems in place at most major ISPs and Web companies. “As an eminent group of security experts argued in 2008, the trend toward building surveillance capability into telecommunications architecture amounts to a breach-by-design, and a serious security risk. As the volume of requests from law enforcement at all levels grows, the compliance burdens on telcoms grow also—making it increasingly tempting to create automated portals to permit access to user information with minimal human intervention.

“The problem of volume is front and center in a leaked recording released last month, in which Sprint’s head of legal compliance revealed that their automated system had processed 8 million requests for GPS location data in the span of a year, noting that it would have been impossible to manually serve that level of law enforcement traffic. Less remarked on, though, was Taylor’s speculation that someone who downloaded a phony warrant form and submitted it to a random telecom would have a good chance of getting a response—and one assumes he’d know if anyone would.”

via Google and China: the attacks and their aftermath.

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Pretty astounding news, and really important regarding US relations with China.  I suspect China will hack my account now, but thought this should be further publicized anyway.

Well, we’ve got to hand it to Google—the company’s “don’t be evil” schtick has long worn thin and governments around the globe are already probing its potential monopoly power, but who else would come out swinging against the entire Chinese government and announce an end to its own collaboration in censorship, all while recognizing that it could lose access to the entire Chinese market? And do it in a blog post?

This far but no further

The extraordinary announcement came this afternoon: Google has had it with China’s pervasive web of censorship and spying, and the company is done censoring its search results in China. The decision wasn’t made in a vacuum, but rather came after years of increasing cyberattacks from the Chinese mainland. A recent, massive infiltration attempt that targeted Google and 20 other tech companies was the final straw. Though Google stops short of naming the Chinese government as the party behind the attacks, the implication is clear.

via Furious Google throws down gauntlet to China over censorship.

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Those of you who use a Fujitsu ScanSnap on the Mac (a device which I LOVE and highly recommend) who have updated to Snow Leopard, you may have noticed that you can’t “Save to Folder,” and the work around was to “Attach to Email” and then copy the attachment to somewhere on your computer.  Kinda annoying.  Well Fujitsu updated their driver for you, but it isn’t the easiest thing to find on their website.  They may have also notified me by email but maybe it got spam blocked.  Anyway, I don’t know how long this has been out, I just happened to go look because I was annoyed with the work-around today.  Anyway, the link is below.

Snow Leopard Update for ScanSnapFujitsu announces ScanSnap Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard Update for ScanSnap S1500M, S300M, S510M, and S500M.Updating select ScanSnap models listed above is a two part process. The first update restores features associated with ScanSnap Manager and the second update restores features associated with FineReader for ScanSnap.Note: These updates are for compatibility with Snow Leopard only. If you are using an earlier Mac OS, do not install these updates.

via Snow Leopard Update for ScanSnap : FUJITSU United States.

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Disclosure Policy

I’m a bit late to the game, but the FTC has recently published a set of guidelines for endorsements and testimonials which includes requirements for bloggers who review products and services to disclose what sort of compensation they receive. The purpose of these guidelines is to protect consumers by exposing the “material connections” between advertisers and endorsers. Basically, if a blogger receives anything as compensation, whether it is a payment, free products, or anything else of value in exchange for writing something, the reader should be made aware.

It is about freaking time.  Posts “reviewing” or products and services has polluted the web, and the endorsements need to be made clear whenever anyone searches out a posts and reads something.

So I thought I should also briefly give my disclosure policy, which is… I don’t get paid for anything.  Pretty simple. 🙂  It would be nice if I could serve up Google Adsense or something, but I haven’t had the time to figure out how to do that within WordPress.com, and I think they are blocking it, honestly.  If you see any ads on my page, they are generally not mine, and belong to WordPress.com, the blog-hosting company that I use.

Maybe, someday, that’ll change.  As of right now, I post on my blog largely because I’m bored, feel like it, or just want to track a link that I can reference to my friends later.

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From Arstechnica: A look at Apples love for DRM and consumer lock-ins.

A look at Apple’s love for DRM and consumer lock-ins

Apple makes great products—you’ll get no argument from us. But Apple also likes keeping tight control over those products, and if anyone outside of Apple’s blessed circle attempts to get in, the company is more than willing to try to use (or abuse) the law to its advantage.

This stuff isn’t new if you have been following Apple in the news at all (beyond just buying their products).  It is easy to think of Apple as being “open” because they play a key role in balancing the computing world from the near-monopoly that is Microsoft.  However, a quick look shows that Apple isn’t so great with regards to how it treats it’s consumers either.

Full disclosure, I use a mac, and I love Mac OSX (at least compared to other options out there, although Windows 7 is certainly a huge improvement.)  My issues with the iPhone are well documented, although I still think it is a great product.

Anyway, a good read.

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Wow, I’ve been so busy that I didn’t even notice this release until my phone reminded me this morning.  If you’ve done anything “hacky” on your phone (including letting me mess with it), it might be worth it for you to read this post from Precentral.net (link to the post below).

webOS 1.3.5 is upon us! It brings with it a new way of handling apps.

For the non-nerds, er, non-homebrewers: the big news here is that Palm is now storing apps in a new place – the USB partition – so you are limited only by the 8 gigs of onboard storage. Install away, friends! While you’re at it, rejoice in the knowledge that the Official App Catalog is no longer tagged “Beta.” Now we’ve hit the big time.

via Apps, Homebrew, and webOS 1.3.5 | PreCentral.net.

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Congratulations to Evernote, for reaching 2 million users.  I personally love the service, and I’ve been with them since they were in Beta.  Techcrunch reviews the numbers, and I’m personally really happy to see this company succeed, because I’m hoping the company sticks around! 🙂

The idea of a life recorder that captures every moments of your life on video is still a bit of a tech fantasy, but an early version of the life recorder already exists. It is called Evernote, the popular iPhone (and now Android) app which lets you record your memories by snapping geo-tagged photos, making voice notes, or just text notes and making it easy to search through them. Evernote does not yet support video recording other than as an attachment (for premium subscribers), but when that becomes more practical it will.

“Evernote is definitely positioned to be the lifelogging tool of choice,” says CEO Phil Libin. “That ambient video capture was my original plan for Evernote—always recording, not storing, you bookmark it—that is exactly what we want to do.” Next year Evernote will introduce voice search, which will be a big step towards that ultimate vision (if you can search audio, you can search through what was said in videos). But full life recording is still a few years out. For now, Libin is more focussed on polishing his current product as it enters the mainstream.

Evernote just reached 2 million unique users, only 7 months after reaching its first million. It took Evernote half the time (233 days) to get to the second million milestone than it did the first million (433 days). These numbers are total unique logins over the life of the service.

via Evernote Reaches Two Million Lifeloggers, Half Of Them Are On The iPhone.

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A solid answer to a very relevant question nowadays…

It’s chilly in most of the US right now, so we’ll assume you’re worried about the interior of the window fogging up. The fogging occurs because of the temperature and moisture differential between the inside of the car and the outside of the car. Outside it’s cold and dry—it might not seem dry with all the snow and slush but winter air has very low humidity—and inside it’s warmer and moister thanks to your body heat and the moisture from your breath being trapped inside.

In an emergency, when you need the window defogged right now, the fastest way to do so is to rapidly lower the inside temperature so that the moisture stops condensing on the glass. Turning the defrost vent on without heat or opening the windows is the fastest way to dissipate the fog on the window. While fast, it isn’t very comfortable for the occupants of the car so it’s best reserved for times where you find the window suddenly fogging up and you need to see out in a hurry.

It’s significantly more comfortable to use your heater and employ other tricks to manage the moisture than it is to keep your car freezing cold. Warming the inside of the car and blowing warm air across the windshield using the defrost setting will evaporate the moisture. Skip using the recirculate feature if your car has it, you want to push the humid air out of the car and bring dry air in from the outside. You might be conditioned to use the recirculate feature to make the most of your AC in the summer but in the winter it doesn’t matter—your engine has more than enough excess heat to go around.

via How Can I Defog My Car Windows Quicker? – Cars – Lifehacker.

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