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Tag: Information

Change the Future

Posted by Andrew at 6:44 AM on November 5, 2009

The Science Museum, London, is celebrating a century of science and as part of the festivities, it asked visitors to vote for the scientific discovery or invention that most “changed the future”.  The ten objects it put forward were:

1. Apollo 10 Capsule
2. DNA Double Helix
3. Electric Telegraph
4. Model T Ford
5. Penicillin
6. Pilot ACE Computer
7. Steam Engine
8. Stephenson’s Rocket
9. V2 Rocket Engine
10. X-ray Machine

And the winner was……the X-ray Machine, beating penicillin and the DNA double helix into 2nd and 3rd place respectively.  The discovery of X-rays in 1895 by Wilhelm Roentgen started a new era of medical diagnosis allowing medics to see inside living people without relying on surgery.  Today, the descendants of these first X-ray machines can almost measure what we think.

Amazingly, the particular X-ray machine shown was developed at home in under a year by Russell Reynolds while he was still at school.  He was assisted by his father, a general practitioner, and another inventor William Crookes.

Although some doctors were quick to pick up on the new invention it wasn’t until the 1920s that X-ray machines were widely used in medicine.

Making The Modern World is a complementary web site containing over a hundred scientific discoveries which helped shape civilisation.  Worth a browse.

What inventions today will have such an impact when we look back from 2109?

An Introduction

Posted by Andrew at 12:54 AM on November 3, 2009

As this is my first post to Geek News Central, perhaps I might introduce myself.  My name is Andrew Palmer, and Todd’s asked me to come on-board as one of the new contributors to the website.  I’m delighted to be here and I hope to share some of my thoughts about the world around us.

To give you a bit of background about myself, I live in Belfast in the UK and I work as an ICT project manager in a public sector health and social care organisation.   Think hospitals and health centres.

Prior to that, I worked in the private sector for a number of IT consultancies and software houses.  To up my geek credentials, I coded for many years in C and C++ on Sun Solaris Unix developing power systems analysis software.  Seriously hardcore.

Coming from the other side of the pond, I also hope to bring a British and European perspective to an often US-centric world.  Sometimes the ripples from the US reach here in different and unexpected ways.

Currently, I run OpenSuSE 11.1 Linux at home and Ms Vista at work.  Home is pretty well kitted out with IP devices, including web cams, internet radios, NAS devices, a media server and a proper firewall against the Internet (SmoothWall Express).

Outside of IT, I have a range of interests including motorsport, scuba diving and cinema: I’ll try and bring whatever elements of those that I can to the GNC.

Of course, I will be adhering to Todd’s high standards of disclosure and you can assume that unless stated otherwise, all products or services mentioned will have been purchased or obtained by myself without privilege.

Be seeing you.

Andrew

Unscrupulous Scruples: Watch where you click.

Posted by J Powers at 9:51 PM on September 28, 2009

antivirus

I’ve been seeing this more and more. You have to upgrade a product – a home (free) edition or something. You press the link and it sends you to a page that talks about upgrading. In fact, everything this page screams is “We don’t have the free version, you must buy an upgrade to continue”.

But if you scan the page, you see on the bottom in small print “No thanks. Register the Free version”.

Another case in point: I was searching for Drivers for a friends computer. I got to the companies webpage and selected what I thought was the driver. Instead, it shuttled me to download a program that would then collect information on my PC and find the right drivers.

It was not malware, but more of Bloatware. And that program wasn’t afraid to do the same thing – ask to install more Bloatware.

This practice is on the verge of misleading. You have to really scan pages to make sure you are selecting the right option.

Case in point #2: There is a great website out there that helps webmasters. We won’t get into the name, because this is not a witch hunt. I will say that when you purchase something on their site, you are taken to a page that looks like you have to press an “OK” button. However, this button is not to OK the purchase, but to add additional services. By scanning down the page, you find the “No thanks – Continue” option stuffed in the bottom part of the page.

In advertising creation, you learn a little trick. When an eye hits an ad, they instinctively start in the middle and work clockwise around the ad. Therefore, you put your “Hook” in the middle and the other items on the sides, including the name of the product.

What these sites have done is made the ad, but then put the “No thanks” in a spot where upon first glance, the eye will miss.

I just bought my ticket for Blogworld / New Media Expo. I used a discount site to purchase the plane ticket and hotel. After making the initial purchase, I was inundated with options I should look at. I suppose it’s so the discount site can offer lower fares. Once again, I had to carefully scan for the “No Thanks” option, although those other buttons looked like they were part of the processing.

Recently, people have been finding extra charges on their credit cards. They went to an online shopping site and chose the great deal of the day. They then pressed a button that looked legitimate to sign up for monthly deals (or something like that). Of course, those deals came with a price.

I really think that the FTC needs to start recognizing these little nuances in websites. It would be like if you went to the grocery store and the clerk started asking “Should I also add in a gallon of milk?” even if you didn’t grab milk.

As for this upgrade – I understand you need to make money off the product, but being sneaky about doing it is only going to make me go somewhere else. Put the “No thanks” in a more visible area. The consumer will buy your product if they don’t feel they are getting swindled.

Google can help, Google can hurt

Posted by J Powers at 12:23 AM on September 28, 2009

There are many great things that Google has come out with in the last couple years. I have been all for what they accomplished, even if I don’t use everything. But the last couple ideas haven’t been warmly accepted by the IT populous.We’ll take a look at a few of the ideas, Good, bad and indifferent.

The Good

We’ll start with the one thing that Google has been doing right for years: Search. I remember when it came on the scene – I was pretty much torn between Metacrawler and Dogpile; I was never a Yahoo or MSN search user. Google just seemed to fit better. The later additions like images and news helped out a lot. Add to it the fact the default search on Firefox was Google. Even when i used IE I would switch it over.

Bing is a nice alternative nowadays, although I like the Google vs. Bing site. They do have to think of another name. google-vs-bing is a bit long and if you forget to put in dashes, you will not be on that site.

Gmail: I switched to Gmail a few years ago. I didn’t like the fact that Yahoo was holding my email hostage – even if it was a free service. Hotmail is no different; if I don’t pay the yearly fee, I don’t get to download my mail.

Gmail let me control my mail the way I wanted. It had some great features to connect with others and I really wanted my mail to come through in Thunderbird. Now with the iPhone, it just seems best to stay in the cloud, although i still download to TB for another way to archive.

Toolbar: I have to admit, I haven’t used the toolbar since the newer versions of browsers had the search feature added on the top. Why add another layer? It might just slow down the experience and clutter the screen.

I remember using the highlight tool a lot. Now with Firefox, I just use the highlight add-on. Works pretty well, especially if you are using webpages for reference – highlight the key points.

Maps: This has grown immensely in the last few years. It’s even changed the way I search maps. Satellite view, street view, even hybrid maps have enhanced my use.

I remember when first found out the map could be moved by click-dragging or re-sized by scrolling. I think I played with those features for hours. And yes, I tried to find my house when the Satellite feature first came out.

Labs: This was an impressive feature. No closed beta testing – the ability to put something out in public without giving to everyone. I could then use the “soon to be” features at my discretion.

Analytics: What can I say? I need help with my websites. Being able to have someone help me understand where problems lie is key. Having it come from the place that pretty much wrote the rules on how search is done is even better.

The Bad

SideWiki: Google’s recent choice of SideWiki is not a good one. It takes away from a website. As an administrator, I want comments on my site to be on my site. I don’t have sidewiki setup and I don’t want to confuse people as to where they comment on.

I also don’t like sites that steal my comments. Digg is a good example. While I don’t like Facebook or Twitter stealing comments for tweets, it does promote my brand a lot better with replies on posts.

Chrome Frame: As an IT professional, I hate this idea. It would be like having the Ford dealer put in Ford parts into your Chevy. Once they were done, they cannot really guarantee it’s not going to fail.

If  your company runs IE6 for some reason at this point, they may have legitimate reasons to keep it that way. It’s not that a company doesn’t want you to have the latest version of software. It’s all about how it works with the other programs you have to use.

The Dead Pool: Jaiku, Video, Notebook and Dodgeball were all parts of Google that didn’t work out. However, they sometimes did enhance other areas with the technologies within. Notebook helped with Docs, for example.

Indifferent

Docs: I use Google Docs, but only for simple items. Documents I have to share that are not sensitive, for example. There is a lot of functionality in Office and OpenOffice that Google Docs hasn’t even touched. There are even some quirks in Docs that make it tougher to switch over.

Reader: I guess I just haven’t gotten the gist of this idea yet. I’ve used feed aggregation before, but sometimes I like to “Hunt” for news. When I used newsgator, I found that I was going back to the same items time and time again.

Blogger: I used Blogger when it first came over to Google. I remember that year I decided to give up meat for 40 days (a personal choice, although I did it during the same time as “Lent”). I used Blogger for my personal journal. And yes – this was before “Supersize Me” came out.

I like to control my own brand, though. Therefore, I moved off the platform. I also wasn’t serious about my Blogger profile. It ended up being pushed to the wayside and forgotten until it was removed by the system. I won’t get that data back.

Feedburner: There are a lot of people who live and breathe by this item. I personally don’t use it, although I do have my site up on Feedburner. You never know where a lead will come from.

YouTube: This was a great item, but then they put too many restrictions on the site. I don’t like being told what I can or can’t say or promote. Nonetheless, I know that being on YouTube is a powerful marketing tool. Therefore, certain items go on YouTube, like promoting a new show or item.

Chrome: The browser is an interesting one. It’s got a lot of great features, but as an IT pro, I cannot recommend it for business. It’s like I said with Frame – You may have to control the environment. Chrome doesn’t always give you choices on updates.

Book Search: Of course this is new to a lot of people. I still like the feel of a paperback while I sit in bed just before I fall asleep. I think there are a lot of people out there that are just like me, too. Digital books haven’t really found the happy medium yet – But when that someone comes out with the way to read a book online that is more inviting than the paper copy, the proverbial pendulum will swing.

There are a lot more products out there. It really is interesting how many pots Google has their hands in. It may someday get them in trouble with the FTC or EU, but for now, there are some great free alternatives to items you need to use.

Pirate Bay wants safe Haven in it’s own Country

Posted by geeknews at 1:08 PM on January 16, 2007

The Pirate Bay is looking for a safe haven and they think the only place that can be done is in a country that they control. In what can only be described as a interesting proposition the notorious Torrent site Pirate Bay is asking for donations to acquire the now infamous Sealand. Sealand is a man made island in international waters off the British coastline. The Sealand story itself is quite bizarre but even more bizarre is Pirates Bay desire to acquire it. Read more at Arstechnica.com

Heading for Hawaii

Posted by geeknews at 9:05 AM on January 13, 2007

Last year I stayed a extra day in Vegas to just chill out and have done the same this year. The bags are packed and mission control is shut down here in the room. I have a 500 gig hard drive that has 475 gigs of video on it all collected on the show floor at CES that I will need to work through.

When I get back to Honolulu I will start cranking up the encoding machine and will be releasing a pile of video interviews with companies that I thought were innovative. The best part is that 90% of these interviews will be with companies you have likely never heard of along with some interviews from large Fortune 500 companies on products that I found to be real cool.

The value in the getting these out will not be the short tail instant reporting but the long tail exposure these companies will get over the next year. So while I do not have a production staff of 30 I am pretty proud of what has been collected and now will come the task of getting it all pushed out.

Todd…

Wanted High Performance External Drive!

Posted by todd at 1:13 AM on December 28, 2006

I have been sifting through a lot of sites and not quite finding what I need, what I am looking for is a high performance external drive to use with my MacBook Pro the current external I am using I am not happy with the performance. If you have a suggestion on a high performance external drive drop me a line. geeknews@gmail.com

Merry Christmas

Posted by todd at 2:40 PM on December 25, 2006

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas may you enjoy your time with family and friends and I hope Santa Clause brought you all some cool tech toys.  Todd…

Merry Christmas

Posted by todd at 2:40 PM on December 25, 2006

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas may you enjoy your time with family and friends and I hope Santa Clause brought you all some cool tech toys.  Todd…

Putting ones Dirty Laundy on the Interent is not being smart

Posted by todd at 1:24 AM on December 21, 2006

It seems some Bloggers love to air their own dirty laundry on their blogs. For those that are gossip mongers I am sure that type of material really gets the juices flowing. I must admit that I love industry gossip. But the type of gossip I am looking for is not usually associated with  a deal gone bad or someone getting fired.

Here is some advice, when you have a business deal go bad close the door talk about it, learn from it and move on. When you fire someone do it in private and if a public statement has to be made, be as gracious as possible and leave the dirt off the net. If someone calls looking for a reference then you can say your piece otherwise when I and many others look to do business with you we will likely avoid ya like the plague because loose cannons can cost companies and projects millions of dollars.