Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Monday, 11 June 2012

Beware Facebook ‘account cancellation’ scam -

Beware Facebook ‘account cancellation’ scam - 

Last summer, some Facebook users fell victim to the distressed traveler scam, where they received a message from one of their "friends", claiming they're overseas and need money to get out of a jam.

This summer, we’re seeing a new Facebook-related scam – this time saying your account will be cancelled unless you click to confirm or cancel the request. If you click on the link in the authentic-looking email, malicious software (“malware”) could be installed on the your computer. Once the computer is infected, victims may see a pop-up window that says you should purchase the advertised software to rid your PC of this malware.

This isn’t coming from Facebook. You initiate cancellation requests and it’s all done within your Facebook account and not via a random email.

"Scareware" tactics trick users into buying software to remedy a problem caused by the same individual or organization (or a partner in crime). But when a social network like Facebook has more than 900 million members, chances are high the spammed messages in our inboxes are reaching Facebook users -- and thus more likely to fall for the scam.

The email may look something like this:

Hi [email address],

We are sending you this email to inform you that we have received an account cancellation request from you. Please follow the link below to confirm or cancel this request.


The Facebook Team

To confirm or cancel this request, follow the link below: (a hyperlink is included)

Related: This scam promises to reveal Facebook stalkers

The link might look like it’s an official Facebook page but it’s really a third-party website that asks you to run an executable program.

If you receive this email, simply tap the delete button to send the message to trash. It’s also highly recommended to use strong antimalware software to protect your computer from various threats.

Read more -

Marquette University study shows Radiation from Airport scanners extends into Organs -

Marquette University study shows Radiation from Airport scanners extends into Organs - 

A study by the Marquette University College of Engineering concludes that the radiation dose from full-body backscatter X-ray scanners in airports extends to organs beyond the skin, but is still lower than health standards.

The study is the first nongovernment funded research to estimate the amount of radiation to individual organs. The research was conducted by Taly Gilat Schmidt, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Marquette, and Michael Hoppe, a Marquette graduate student.

The study estimates the radiation exposure to 29 organs – including skin, eye lens, heart and the brain – using complex mathematical models that more accurately represent the shape and tissue density of human bodies and organs. By comparison, previous studies funded through the Transportation Security Administration   used more simplified, generic mathematical models, according to Marquette.

The Marquette study used four models: a 34-year old male, a 26-year-old female, an 11-year old female and a 6-year-old male. Although radiation is deposited beyond the skin, the study concludes radiation doses in organs for all four models is below recommended standards and considerably lower than radiation levels of other x-ray procedures, such as a mammogram.


28% of Federal Contract Funds Go to Just 10 Companies…All Make Weapons Systems -

28% of Federal Contract Funds Go to Just 10 Companies…All Make Weapons Systems - 

If this is the age of budget cutbacks and government austerity, someone ought to tell the Pentagon and its weapons contractors, because they haven’t gotten the memo about shared sacrifice. According to a summary of the top federal contractors produced by the Federal Procurement Data System, the Defense Department gave out $372.8 billion (70%) of the $532.6 billion in government contract spending in fiscal year 2011, with just 10 arms makers accounting for 28% of all contracting dollars, up from 25% a year before, and the top 5 accounting for 20.8%.

This top heavy pattern, in which companies that have fattened themselves for years on the government teat push and shove to crowd out the runts, is even more egregious when one examines the top five providers of military hardware. Lockheed-Martin, which has been the largest government contractor every year since 1995, collected $42.9 billion, an increase of $7.1 billion over 2010 and almost double the haul of Boeing ($22.1 billion), and far ahead of General Dynamics ($19 billion), Raytheon ($14.4 billion) and Northrop Grumman ($12.8 billion). Put another way, Lockheed-Martin got 11.5% of defense contract dollars and 8% of all contract funds. Boeing also saw an increase of $2.7 billion.

Although the budget deal reached between President Obama and Congress last year contemplates across the board cuts at the end of 2012 that would greatly reduce the haul of these weapons makers, Republican leaders in Congress are vowing to exempt the Defense Department and its contractors.


Europeans Are Dumping Euros For Bitcoin -

Europeans Are Dumping Euros For Bitcoin - 

With the huge debt crisis in Europe, locals are moving their money out of banks in fear of losing their savings.

Where are they putting their money?

Some are turning to Bitcoin, reports the Financial Post.

Bitcoin is a an internet-only currency released in 2009, created in order to avoid fees for transferring money to different currencies and credit card companies.

Because Bitcoin isn't under the control of central banks or governments, there is a perception that it's not susceptible to political pressures. This is why so many are flocking to bitcoin and leaving the European banks.

More from the Financial Post:

...The sudden rise (in Bitcoin transfers) has been driven by people in countries like Greece, Italy, Spain — and even the Netherlands — anxious to protect their savings.

“We’re getting requests from people literally saying, can we mail you euros? We can’t do that legally, but they keep asking.”

It's interesting that people are willing to put their money on Bitcoin, where security breaches by hackers have already occurred, rather than in century old banks or government treasuries. This says a lot about how the people feel about the European banks.


iPhone app that helps you decide whether you'd be better off staying with him or calling it quits -

iPhone app that helps you decide whether you'd be better off staying with him or calling it quits - 
Relationship fix: The app allows uncertain girlfriends to review their feelings towards their boyfriend from an objective point of view

Figuring out whether you need to break up with your partner or just work harder at the relationship can be terribly difficult.
Now just a few taps of your phone could give you the answer - or at least bring you far closer to making a decision.
Chicago-based programmer Sarah Gray created the app 'Should I Break Up With My Boyfriend?' in her living room when working through a tumultuous relationship several years ago.

Ms Gray said she realised she was up and down on a daily basis and wanted to track her feelings about the relationship from an objective perspective.
The clever app requires girlfriends to rate how they feel about their significant other on a daily basis as well as recording their feelings.

It then analyses the data and reveals how the user's feelings fluctuated in comparison to their general outlook on life.
Ms Gray said: 'Being able to see your relationship clearly and objectively is the first step on the path to a happy, healthy, love life - whether it’s with him, with someone else, or on your own for a while.

Yes or no? Feelings graphs can help you figure out whether you spend most of your time together feeling happy or sad (file picture)
'Sometimes, we need an objective voice to help us appreciate a good thing or accept something painful. And this app helps us tap into the best voice of all - the one inside ourselves.'
The app warns that it cannot replace 'discussions with a licensed therapist, a best friend or a favourite pet', but it can certainly provide a fresh point of view.
Users can also share results with trusted friends via email or SMS.
The conflicted dater is not able to look at their own results for a whole fortnight, so their answers will not be influenced by their most recent feelings.
When viewed afterwards, developers MercuryApp hope the patterns will have more impact and help provide answers.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2157564/Should-I-break-boyfriend-The-iPhone-app-helps-decide-youd-better-staying-calling-quits.html

Want to be a female astronaut in China? You better smell good, no scars, married, and to have given birth naturally -

Want to be a female astronaut in China? You better smell good, no scars, married, and to have given birth naturally - 

In the coming days, the People’s Republic of China will become the eighth country to see one of its female citizens in space, and just the third country to put them there with its own technology.

But the name of the first female taikonaut remains a closely guarded secret in the countdown to the expected launch of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft on Saturday. And the woman who is sure to be hailed as a Chinese national hero as soon as she reaches orbit appears to have been chosen based on some bizarre criteria that were not applied to the Shenzhou-9’s two male crewmembers.

According to several of China’s top space experts, to be considered for the mission, female taikonauts needed to be married and to have given birth naturally. Xu Xianrong, a professor with the General Hospital of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, said recently that the additional qualifications would "ensure [the woman’s] body and mental condition was mature enough." (All taikonaut candidates are chosen from the ranks of the PLA Air Force’s fighter pilots.)

Such criteria would have excluded Roberta Bondar, who in 1992 became the first Canadian woman in space when the United States space shuttle Discovery blasted into orbit. Ms. Bondar remains unmarried at age 66.

The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union, only got married to fellow cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev six months after she flew on the Vostok-6 mission on June 16, 1963. (Ms. Tereshkova made history 49 years to the day before Saturday’s planned launch of the Shenzhou-9.)

"There’s no evidence that shows space life impacts women physiologically, but after all this is the first time for China [to send a woman into space]. We must do it more carefully," Prof. Xu said in remarks carried by China National Radio on Monday.

Major Liu Yang and Captain Wang Yaping, the two women who have reportedly emerged as the finalists from a group of seven female taikonauts that began training in 2009, are both 34-year-old married mothers, with one child each. "They are selected as members of the first batch of female astronauts in China because of their excellent flight skills and psychological quality," the official Xinhua newswire reported.

Major Liu and Captain Wang also appear to have been subjected to further screening that would seem to have little to do with their capabilities. According to a recent issue of Space International magazine, which is produced by the state-run China Academy of Space Technology and thus seen as representing the government’s view of the space program, any women chosen for space missions had to be odour-free and have flawless skin.

Female taikonauts "even must not have decayed teeth because any small flaw might cause great trouble or a disaster in space," Pang Zhihao, the managing editor of Space International said in remarks printed by the official China Daily newspaper. A scar might open and start bleeding in space, he explained, while cramped conditions would "intensify body odour." (Smelly men didn’t seem to be a problem for Mr. Pang.)


CLUTTER: TWITTER Offers Advertisers More Than 140 Characters... -

CLUTTER: TWITTER Offers Advertisers More Than 140 Characters... - 

Twitter’s basic ad unit is a tweet, which is why the company says it is having early success with mobile ads. But advertisers want more than just 140 characters, and Twitter is happy to help them out there, too.
That’s the point of the TV ads Twitter bought yesterday — to showcase what marketers can do when they get their hands on an actual Twitter Web page. And that’s what Twitter hopes to point out in high-profile ad campaigns to come.
Twitter’s Nascar campaign shows what Twitter can do with a single keyword term — and, presumably, what an advertiser can do once they purchase that keyword for a day (or more?). But Twitter has been steadily amping up what advertisers can do on Twitter.com for a couple years.
First it overhauled the site to make it easier to embed graphics and videos. The idea was to play up the notion that you didn’t have to write a thing to enjoy Twitter — you could just visit Twitter.com’s “consumption environment” and look at the the cool stuff other people, and/or advertisers, put up.
Then, late last year, it started offering brands their own pages, which made the message even clearer for advertisers: You can use our site to do more than put up Tweets — you can stick videos on there, or even stuff that looks a whole lot like the big banner ads that everyone says are dead but everyone keeps spending a lot of money on anyway.
You’ll see some combination of this stuff used throughout the summer, in the big Pepsi promotion that Twitter announced last month. It’s also likely to come into play with the ad campaigns Twitter is trying to sell in conjunction with ESPN.
All of this is important to Twitter because, while it hopes that the self-serve ads it launched earlier this year become the equivalent of Google’s AdWords engine, it also wants cool stuff it can sell to the Pepsis of the world. Those guys want a whole lot more than tweets — they want big honking Web ads, like the kind they can still get at Yahoo or AOL — but not at Facebook.


School pulls patriotic song “God Bless the USA” at graduation, but Justin Bieber’s flirty song 'Baby' is OK... -

School pulls patriotic song “God Bless the USA” at graduation, but Justin Bieber’s flirty song 'Baby' is OK... - 

A controversial Coney Island principal has pulled the plug on patriotism.
Her refusal to let students sing “God Bless the USA” at their graduation has sparked fireworks at a school filled with proud immigrants.
Greta Hawkins, principal of PS 90, the Edna Cohen School, won’t allow kindergartners to belt out the beloved Lee Greenwood ballad, also known as “Proud to be an American,” at their moving-up ceremony.
Five classes spent months learning the patriotic song, which skyrocketed in popularity after the 9/11 attacks and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
It was to be the rousing finale of their musical show at the June 20 commencement. The kids, dressed up for their big day, would wave tiny American flags — which, as the lyrics proclaim, “still stand for freedom.”
But Hawkins marched in on a recent rehearsal and ordered a CD playing the anthem to be shut off, staffers said.
She told the teachers to drop the song from the program.
“We don’t want to offend other cultures,” they quoted her as explaining.
The curt edict stunned both staff and parents.
“A lot of people fought to move to America to live freely, so that song should be sung with a whole lot of pride,” said mom Luz Lozada, whose son, Daniel, is in kindergarten.
The song has been sung at previous school events. Last year’s fifth-graders, including another Lozada child, performed it at graduation.
“Everybody applauded and whistled,” the mom said. “They gave it a standing ovation.”
Parents — many immigrants from Pakistan, Mexico and Ecuador — “love it,” Lozada said.
A teacher agreed: “It makes them a little goosebumpy and teary-eyed. I’ve never come across anyone who felt it insulted their culture.”
Department of Education spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti gave The Post an explanation staffers said they never heard — that Hawkins found the lyrics “too grown up” for 5-year-olds.
The song starts: “If tomorrow all the things were gone, I’d worked for all my life. And I had to start again, with just my children and my wife, I’d thank my lucky stars, to be livin’ here today.”
Scaperotti said the department supports the principal’s decision. “The lyrics are not age-appropriate,” she said.
But Justin Bieber’s flirty song about teen romance, “Baby,” was deemed a fine selection for the show. Hawkins had no problem with 5-year-olds singing lines such as, “Are we an item? Girl, quit playing.”

Read more: - 

'Baby Boxes' Spread in Europe... - where infants can be secretly abandoned by parents -

'Baby Boxes' Spread in Europe... - where infants can be secretly abandoned by parents - 

The United Nations is increasingly concerned at the spread in Europe of "baby boxes" where infants can be secretly abandoned by parents, warning that the practice "contravenes the right of the child to be known and cared for by his or her parents", the Guardian has learned.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which reports on how well governments respect and protect children's human rights, is alarmed at the prevalence of the hatches – usually outside a hospital – which allow unwanted newborns to be left in boxes with an alarm or bell to summon a carer.

The committee, a group of 18 international human rights experts based in Geneva, says that while "foundling wheels" and baby hatches had disappeared from Europe in the last century, almost 200 have been installed across the continent in the past decade in nations as diverse as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Czech Republic and Latvia. Since 2000, more than 400 children have been abandoned in the hatches, with faith groups and right-wing politicians spearheading the revival in the controversial practice.

Their proponents draw on the language of the pro-life lobby and claim the baby boxes "protect a child's right to life" and have saved "hundreds of newborns". There are differing opinions on this key social issue across Europe. In France and Holland women have the right to remain anonymous to their babies after giving birth, while in the UK it remains a crime to secretly abandon a child.

However UN officials argue that baby hatches violate key parts of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which says children must be able to identify their parents and even if separated from them the state has a "duty to respect the child's right to maintain personal relations with his or her parent".

In an interview with the Guardian, Maria Herczog, a member of the UNCRC committee, said that the arguments from critics were a throwback to the past. "Just like medieval times in many countries we see people claiming that baby boxes prevent infanticide … there is no evidence for this."

Herczog, a prominent child psychologist from Hungary, says baby boxes should be replaced by better state provision of family planning, counselling for women and support for unplanned pregnancies.


Drone to go jogging with you... - Joggobot Makes You Run Faster, Longer, Harder -

Drone to go jogging with you... - Joggobot Makes You Run Faster, Longer, Harder - 

Runners, you no longer have to convince your reluctant partner to put on sneaks and hit the streets with you, thanks to my new favorite drone: the Joggobot, a companion robot for runners. Using a built-in camera, the autonomous drone hones in on sensors in a custom shirt and exhorts you to keep up with it.

“People might feel chased if the Joggobot was behind them,” says researcher Eberhard Grather in a video.  So instead your little drone friend flies in front of you.

Floyd Mueller and Grather, researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, tricked out the Parrot AR Drone, which is usually operated with a smartphone, to fly autonomously. You can set it for companion mode — in which the drone flies at a steady pace — or coach mode, “which sets a slightly more challenging speed,” reports WiredUK. (Coach mode sounds suspiciously like the fake rabbit used on dog race tracks.)

Unfortunately, the battery only lasts 20 minutes at this point. But I look forward to further developments on the early prototype.

Not everyone is as enthused by the running companion as I am. Says fellow journalist Charles Homans on Twitter, “Soon drones will not only be able to kill you with impunity but also harass you about getting into shape.”


Prime Minister David Cameron left his eight-year-old daughter in a pub -

Prime Minister David Cameron left his eight-year-old daughter in a pub - 

Prime Minister David Cameron left his eight-year-old daughter in a pub following a Sunday lunch, after a mix-up with his wife Samantha.
The couple's daughter Nancy wandered off to the toilets while they were arranging lifts and they only realised she was not with them when they got home, The Sun said.

Mr Cameron rushed back to the Plough Inn in Cadsden, Bucks, where he found his daughter with staff.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The Prime Minister and Samantha were distraught when they realised Nancy wasn't with them.

"Thankfully when they phoned the pub she was there safe and well. The Prime Minister went down straight away to get her."

Downing Street said the incident happened "a couple of months ago".

The Camerons were at the Plough Inn - near the Prime Minister's country retreat Chequers - with Nancy and their other children Arthur, six, and 22-month-old Florence, as well as two other families.

When Mr Cameron left the pub he went home in one car with his bodyguards and thought Nancy was with his wife and their other children in another car. Mrs Cameron had assumed her eldest daughter was with her father.

The mistake was only discovered when they got home.

Mr Cameron drove back to the pub and found Nancy helping staff. She was away from her parents for about 15 minutes.

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/uk/cameron-leaves-daughter-8-at-pub-16170643.html