Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

This is the first photograph ever posted on the Internet - Uploaded nearly twenty years ago -

This is the first photograph ever posted on the Internet - Uploaded nearly twenty years ago - 

The first photographic image ever uploaded to the Web was a Photoshop disaster. It was created to sell something, and featured attractive women in a come-hither pose.

In short, photo-uploading was born with some original sins that have never quite washed away.

Here it is, in all its glory:

Next Wednesday, July 18th, the photograph at the center of that image — a homemade promotional shot for Les Horribles Cernettes, a comedy band based at the CERN laboratory near Geneva — will turn 20 years old. Despite the artifact’s world-historical significance, its full story has never been told. Few enthusiasts of art or photography or technology will be marking its 20th birthday, in no small part because it’s such an odd and un-artistic image.

“It’s sort of terrible and charming,” said Lesley Martin, a photo scholar at the Aperture Foundation, after being shown the image for the first time. But she added that that’s par for the course with photographic firsts. The first known photograph, for example, was of a semi-visible rooftop, seen through a window.

“They’re always semi-accidental and seemingly inconsequential at the time,” Martin told me. “The first photos are always, from the perspective of a sophisticated viewer today, somewhat non-events and of non-subjects.”

The first Web photo was no exception. It wasn’t even taken for the purposes of science or technology. The photographer, Silvano de Gennaro, was an IT developer at CERN who worked near Tim Berners-Lee and the other inventors of the Web. But “I didn’t know what the Web was,” he recalled.

On the 18th, he was backstage at the Hardronic Music Festival, an annual event thrown by CERN’s administrators, waiting for the Cernettes — whom he managed, and whose songs he writes — to come on stage. He wanted a picture for their next CD cover, so he told the four members to lean in and smile.

His Canon EOS 650 clicked, and that was that. “When history happens, you don’t know that you’re in it,” de Gennaro said.


Where will you be this time tomorrow? Smartphone data can guess within 20 metres -

Where will you be this time tomorrow? Smartphone data can guess within 20 metres - 

Researchers have developed an algorithm that can predict where you will be in the future using data gathered from your friends smartphones.

In the study of two hundred people, the algorithm was able to predict the location of some users 24 hours later within 100 meters, some as close as 20 meters.

Mirco Musolesi, lead researcher and computer science lecturer at the University of Birmingham, said the algorithm is exploiting the synchronized rhythm of the city.

“I know this kind of thing looks kind of Big Brother,” said Musolesi.

“There is a problem for privacy, it is a big problem for these kind of services in general.”

Still, if users’ phone information could be protected, the algorithm has a potential future in targeted advertising, said Musolesi.

The algorithm predicts someone’s movements by comparing their data with people in their social group. For example, if Bob usually goes to the gym on Tuesday, but instead does an errand, the algorithm will look to his friends, Jack and Joe. If Jack and Joe are doing their normal routine, the algorithm will, probably correctly, predict Bob will continue on to the gym, his normal routine, following his errand.

“The mutual information between these two patterns is very high,” said Musolesi. “The movement of friends is highly coordinated, and synchronized.”

The Birmingham group won 3,000 euros for their work, part of a Nokia-sponsored Mobile Data Challenge, which gave a winning team an opportunity to analyze smart phone data —location, communication patterns and app usage— collected from 200 volunteers over the course of 18 months.


Broke Scranton, PA cuts all employees to minimum wage! -

Broke Scranton, PA cuts all employees to minimum wage! - 

Employees of a Pennsylvania city, who have all seen their salaries cut to minimum wage as the mayor grapples with budget problems, are hoping a judge restores their paychecks in full.

Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty cut everyone's pay -- including his own -- on Friday, saying the state's sixth-largest city is broke because the City Council blocked his proposed tax increase. Doherty, a Democrat, warned nearly 400 police officers, firefighters and public works employees about his doomsday plan, prompting a Lackawanna County judge to order the city to pay full wages to all employees, citing that it is a violation of their contracts. Hours later, the payday envelopes went out, and, despite the judge's order, they were light.
"They are now going to have to throw their bills in a hat and randomly pick what gets paid on time."
- John Judge, President of Scranton's Firefighters Union
“This needs to be resolved," Scranton firefighter and president of the local firefighters union John Judge told FoxNews.com. "My members are getting a check for $7.25 an hour. These are people that are the head of their households. They have mortgages. They have other living costs. They are now going to have to throw their bills in a hat and randomly pick what gets paid on time.”
The judge was not in his chambers Monday, but attorneys for the local city workers' unions were planning to go to court Tuesday morning to ask him to hold Doherty in contempt of court for violating the injunction.
In addition to scaling back wages, Doherty's move cut off overtime, worker's compensation and disability.
The city of Scranton has battled budget woes for years, but the problems reached a boiling point after the City Council blocked Doherty's plan to raise taxes to cover a $16.8 million shortfall, opting instead to borrow money to cover the budget gap.
“The mayor is trying to strong-arm the council into doing what he wants, but it’s the city’s employees that are paying the price,” Judge said, adding that the workers in his department saw their paystubs go from about $1,500 every two weeks after deductions to a gross pay of about $600. “This is not a case of no cash. It’s a cash-flow problem.”
The cuts were sudden, as city employees were only given eight days' notice. Doherty also claimed last week that there is only $5,000 left in the city’s accounts.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/07/09/political-statemate-leads-to-city-workers-salaries-cut-down-to-minimum-wage-in/