Neil deGrasse Tyson Testifies to Congress on Behalf of NASA

Earlier this month our favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson,  went before Congress to plead his case  for NASA.  In recent years the budget for NASA has been slashed mercilessly by the folks down in Washington DC, all many of whom have little to no clue about science and technology.

Tyson makes his case by pointing out the obvious ties between NASA and everyday technology, much of which has stemmed from NASA and military technology.  He eloquently talks of the lack of science education and new engineers and scientists in today’s United States and points out that many of today’s aging generation of scientists got their start and motivation during the 50’s and 60’s space race.

The full eight minute video has been posted to YouTube and can also be seen below.  If you aren’t familiar with Tyson, he is the head of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s Museum of Natural History and is also the host of NOVA on PBS.  If you agree with his arguments then contact your local representative and make your voice heard now before it’s too late.

MySpace Loses Even More Ground, Gets Dropped From Windows Live

Just when you thought things couldn’t get much worse for MySpace, the once-king of social networks, it’s now official that Microsoft is giving them the boot from their Windows Live services.  MySpace was once one of the prominent social services that Live users could connect to, thereby importing and exporting status updates via Windows Live Messenger and importing MySpace contacts into both Messenger and Hotmail.

However, it seems Microsoft has recently sent an email to all Live users who had connected MySpace accounts to notify them that these import/export services will be ceasing within the next few weeks.  They even point out in their message that this will have no effect on other social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn – it’s strictly MySpace that is getting the boot.

Both Messenger and Hotmail are two of Microsoft’s most popular properties, but it’s unlikely this email went to very many of their users, and those who did receive it will likely be hearing the death knell for MySpace.  That’s the sound that most of the world heard a while back.  A copy of the email, which was posted earlier by Neowin, can be seen below.

Nokia Files Patent for Vibrating Tattoo

Does it drive you crazy when you miss a call or text? Have you ever been annoyed by the problem of trying to use your phone, only to discover that the battery is low? Nokia has found a unique way to alleviate these types of problems that many people have to deal with more often than they would like. Soon, you could be able to get a tattoo that will vibrate to let you know that your phone has received a message.

Nokia has filed a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for a magnetic tattoo that generates a tingling or itching sensation whenever the person’s phone rings. The tattoo would be made with ferromagnetic material that would be added to the ink that is used to make a tattoo. After the skin has healed, the ink would be magnetized, and connected with a person’s mobile device.

The patent application says: “prior to using the ferromagnetic inks for attaching to human skin, the ink material may be exposed to elevated temperatures to cause demagnetization. Such demagnetized ink is then used for creating an image by dispersing the ink material on or under the skin to make a functional, tattoo like image. Once the apparatus is settled and the skin cured, the user with the functional image may use permanent magnets to magnetize the functional image on the skin again”.

In other words, once you get this high-tech form of tattoo, and connect it to your phone, you will be physically alerted every time you get a call, message, or text. You can set it to remind you of an upcoming appointment. It can let you know that your phone is running out of juice, so you can go charge it before it dies.

The tattoo will also act as a form of identity. Instead of typing in a password, the tattoo itself functions as your password. Don’t like the idea of having a visible tattoo, somewhere on your body? The magnetic mark can also be applied in a way that is invisible.

The way I see it, the advantages of the tattoo are many. If your phone is connected to your tattoo, and someone steals your phone, that person won’t be able to access it. You would never miss a call, message, or text ever again. On the other hand, Nokia has not said what will happen if you get the magnetic tattoo, and hook it up to your phone, and then upgrade to a new phone after that.

Image: Tattoo by BigStock

GNC-2012-03-29 #754 Tech News and Info

How many hours a week do you work, I read that working more than 49 hours a week is excessive.. I guess I have been working excessive hours for the past 30 years… Full stack of Tech News and Info. Heads up will be looking for someone to do the show on Monday as I do not think I will get into Indy early enough to do the show.

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What Social Media Really Deserves

Shitter Toilet RollHere at GNC, we pride ourselves on the quality and integrity of our writing, but for one article only, it’s going to go down the pan….literally.

Much of the Internet is full of crap and Twitter is responsible for its fair share. Put the two together and you get Shitter, toilet paper printed with a Twitter feed of your choice. No, really.

It’s a bit pricey to clean up your number twos at $35 for four bog rolls but imagine the satisfaction you’ll get from wiping your arse with the musings of some Z-list celebrity. Alternatively you could view it as a post-modern critique of the “me” culture.

Perhaps “sheeting” will catch on as the verb of the year – remember you heard it here first!

Frequency A Personal Video Cloud

FrequencyThe last couple of days I have been trying a new video aggregator called Frequency, which is similar to Plizy and Showyou if you are familiar with those applications. It is available on the iPad and has a corresponding Web site.

You can sign up either using Facebook or through your email address. If you choose to sign up using Facebook it will automatically add the videos shared by the people you follow on Facebook to your grid. If you choose to sign up with your email address you can easily add your Facebook and Twitter account later.

When you sign in the first time you will see the category and channel grid. It is nicely laid out with the categories on the left , the channels in the middle and Frequency Top 25 on the right. At the top is a bar which lets you easily go from the channel and grid guide, to your personal guide or to your preferences. Once you have filled in your guide the channels will also show up across the top. You can easily go to the channel you want to watch by swiping across that bar and taping on the channel when you get to it. You can easily hide or show that bar by flipping the switch off or on in the icon that is on the right side of the bar. To check what channels are available in a category you simply tap on that category. You can then swipe down through the channels within that category. When you find a channel you want to add you simply tap on the follow button. Once you have added all the channels you are interested in you are ready to go into your guide.

The guide is set up beautifully with the videos from each channels in a column which you can easily swipe through. To watch a video you simply tap on it. You can either watch the video in a window or you have the option to go full screen. You can AirPlay to your Apple TV or through XMBC to your computer. You can favorite a video or save it for later. If you want to share a video to Twitter or Facebook you simply tap on the appropriate  icon which is at the bottom screen. You can also email a video to someone.

If you are like me you may have the tendency to add channels that you later realize you have no interest in. If you want to delete a channel  you simply hold your finger on the icon until the X appears and then clicking on the X.

I do like Frequency I think it has a beautiful UI, however there are somethings I don’t like about it. As a big Google Plus users I miss the ability to share to Google Plus. Also when you share to Twitter and Facebook there is no ability to add a comment. Once a video ends the next video will start, this can be both a good thing and a bad thing, there are times when I just want to watch the one video and then stop. I also wish you could add Web sites that aren’t in the Channel Guide directly on the iPad applications; right now the only way to do that is through the Web site, where you can add an RSS feed from a Web site. It will becoming unresponsive at times forcing me to restart it. The freezing problem got so bad that at one point I ended up deleting it and reinstalling it. The final negative thought I have is I am not sure what makes it stand out from the crowd other than the UI, of course for a lot of people that maybe enough. I have to admit the more I use it the more I like it

If you have an iPad and are looking for a beautifully designed video aggregator that lets you watch the videos your friends and followers are sharing on your social networks along with ones from your favorite Web sites then definitely take a look at Frequency. It is free and available through the iTunes store.

Facebook Doesn’t Want Employers to Ask for Your Password

Employers who are asking their current employees, or potential applicants, for their Facebook passwords need to watch out. Facebook has heard about this nasty practice, and is not the least bit pleased about it. An official statement was released by Erin Egan, the Chief Privacy Officer of Facebook Policy.

I found it to be an interesting read. The statement points out that the practice of asking employees, or potential employees, for access to their Facebook profile or private information, is inappropriate. It is referring both to when an employer specifically asks for someone’s Facebook password and situations where the employer directs someone to access their own Facebook page while the employer “shoulder surfs” so that he or she can view the information that is on it.

This is more than a rude and inappropriate request, though. It is also a violation of Facebook’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” for a person to share their password, or for someone else to ask a Facebook user for their password.

Part of the official statement points out the many ways that an employer can have a legal liability issue as a result of demanding access to a worker’s, or applicant’s, Facebook page. For example, let’s say that an employer accesses the Facebook page of a person who is a member of a protected group.

Maybe the person is over a certain age, or is part of a minority group, or is gay, lesbian, transgendered, or bisexual. If that information appears on the person’s Facebook page, and the employer fires, or chooses not to hire that person, it opens up the employer to a discrimination lawsuit.

What if an employer reads something on a person’s Facebook page that suggests that the person has committed a crime? This could be as simple as viewing a photo where it appears that an underage worker or applicant is drinking alcohol. Or, there could be information that indicates that the person was involved in a much more serious crime. The employer could now be held liable if they do not report that crime.

The most interesting quote from the statement, by far, is this one:

“We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges”.

In other words, Facebook is not simply going to stand idly by and allow this to happen. It seems to me that they are prepared to take employers who break the rules to court.

Image: Facebook Social Media by BigStock

Caught Out Again By Auto Update Reboot

Microsoft logo

Dear Microsoft,

There’s a bug in your auto-update program that makes Windows 7 reboot the PC even when the program has been told not to restart the PC.

Last night, I was doing a full format of a 1 TB drive, which takes several hours to complete. Part way through, auto-update told me that it had installed new software and that a restart would be needed. I’m 100% sure that I clicked on the “Restart Later” button before heading off to bed with the format in progress. However, when I came into my PC this morning, it had rebooted and the format hadn’t finished. Now I won’t be able to do what I needed to do today because I’ll have to restart the format and wait several more hours.

Microsoft, how hard can this be? If I press the button “Restart later”, that means I’ll choose when to restart later, not the operating system. And besides, why can’t it check for obvious activity, like formats in progress or files not saved before rebooting the PC?

Please can you fix this for version 8? It’s almost enough to make me buy an Apple….

Yours sincerely,

Andrew

Robot Underpants #43 03.28.12

Langley, Spin and Starman discuss Hoffspace, Canadian tranny supermodels, play a game of “Condom or Android” and talk about “Hunger Games” (spoilers)

Ending Track:
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“Mind Machine” (mp3)
from “Future Automatic”
(COP International)

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Apps That Will Get You Ready for Diablo III

Diablo III will be released on May 15, 2012. My friends and I simply cannot wait to start playing! If you weren’t lucky enough to get into the beta, then you will want to check out a few D3 related apps. These can help prepare you to start playing Diablo III the instant the servers go live.

Diablo III Lore is an app that is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It requires iOS 4.2 or later. I’ve heard a lot of people asking about how they can quickly learn more about the lore of the Diablo games so that they will understand who the some of the NPC’s are, and the stories behind some of the quests, in D3. This is the app for that. Scroll through, and read to your heart’s desire.

Diablo III Skill Calculator is an app that I found on Google Play. It is compatible with Android devices. In Diablo II, the way you chose skills, and built your character, was a very big deal. Once selected, you couldn’t change anything. In Diablo III, you are going to have more flexibility about changing your skills than you did in Diablo II. This app will show you the skills that each class can use. You can play around with them right now, and get familiar with how it works before release day.

Diablo 3 Handbook is another app I found on Google Play. It is compatible with Android devices. This app is a game guide for Diablo III. You get information about each class, about active and passive skills, items, followers, and the world itself. It also contains a skill calculator.

Countdown For Diablo is available through the iTunes store. It is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It requires iOS 3.0 or later. Are you dying to know exactly how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds are left before Diablo III is ready? This is the app for that. You can check it as often as you like. Is it ready yet? No? How about now? Still no? How about now?…

It is worth noting that none of these apps are made by Blizzard Entertainment, the company that makes the Diablo III game.