GeekSpeak for 2010-05-15

Hey, That's My Phone!

Lyle, Al, Miles, and Ben discuss phones, book notes, and other personal property as well as their theft.

Tale of missing iPhone revealed - San Jose Mercury News

Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a personal plea for the return of a missing next-generation iPhone prototype last month after the secret device’s disassembled carcass surfaced on the website Gizmodo, according to court papers unsealed Friday.

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Amazon Spying On Your Ebook Highlighting

“There have already been plenty of questions over who ‘owns’ the ebooks you’ve bought, with stories of remotely deactivated books and remotely deactivated features — neither of which happens when you have a real physical book. But there are also other concerns opened up by newly activated features. Apparently one new feature — sent in by a few concerned readers — is that Amazon will now remotely upload and store the user notes and highlights you take on your Kindle, which it then compiles into ‘popular highlights.’”

DNA Spider Robots – Autonomous, Creepy, And Possibly Useful

Science
always has to push it. Not content with big ol’ Frankenstein-complex robots that have started building our cars and mimicking our women, some of our greatest minds have been busy creating molecular-level robots that can tool around inside the human body. So cue the dramatic music, and enter the DNA spider.

Originally created by Milan N. Stojanovic from Columbia University, this Spider robot, made entirely out of DNA and scotch tape, has been upgraded from its initial version by a team of researchers from schools like Caltech, Columbia, Arizona State, and the University of Michigan. It can now walk up to 100 nanometers unaided by using one of its biotin-labelled DNA legs to bind to and then cut itself from a trail of DNA “bread crumbs”, located on what has been dubbed “DNA origami”, though you’ll find few cranes and sailing-ship designs here.

This distance doesn’t sound like much, since every time you twitch with laughter at the clever wit of the blog post you’re reading, you’re moving hundreds of millions of nanometers, but its a big deal in the nano-world. Previous DNA robots could only move five or ten nanometers before crapping out, so this is alot like seeing your first child actually make it across the room on two feet without smacking headfirst into the coffee table. Ice creams all around!

Five Things IE9 is (Actually) Doing Right

“Microsoft — the company we all love to hate — is turning over a new leaf. This is true, at least, with its latest iteration of Internet Explorer, the company’s web browser.”

Google: Street View cars also saw websites you were visiting

Google today said it will stop collecting Wi-Fi network data from its Street View cars, after an investigation from the German Data Protection Authority (DPA) found the search company was also collecting data about websites people were visiting on public hotspots.

Google’s Street View cars weren’t only taking 360-degree images of our streets for use on Google Maps, but they were also pulling publicly broadcast SSID and MAC information from Wi-Fi hotspots. This data was then tied to the businesses that had the public Wi-Fi and included in their listings.

“It’s now clear that we have been mistakenly collecting samples of payload data from open (i.e. non-password-protected) WiFi networks, even though we never used that data in any Google products,” Alan Eustace, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Research said today.

$200 Billion Broadband Scandal

“We estimate that the failed fiber optic deployments have cost America over $206 billion in higher phone rates, tax breaks and other financial perks to the phone companies, and it has cost the American economy an estimated $500 billion annually in loss of new growth — so far a total of about $5 trillion.”

Broadband makes women happy

Though men are stereotyped as gadget hounds, information technology actually brings more happiness to women worldwide.

A new study (PDF) from UK-based BCS—The Chartered Institute for IT analyzes 35,000 responses from the World Values Survey to make the case that IT actually makes people happier.

Air Force May Suffer From PS3 Firmware Update

“When Sony issued a recent PlayStation 3 update removing the device’s ability to install alternate operating systems like Linux, it did so to protect copyrighted content—but several research projects suffered collateral damage.”

Atlantis blasts off on final mission

Space shuttle Atlantis lifted off today on its STS-132 mission to the International Space Station – the final flight for the venerable vehicle.

Students now get priority access to Google Voice

Google on Friday began giving students priority access to its Google Voice service, which has remained in a closed beta since its transition from GrandCentral in March of last year.
Typically, invites for the service can take anywhere from a few hours to several months to arrive after a user signs up. But the company is now promising those who have an e-mail address that ends with .edu access to the service within 24 hours. Google had done something similar for active members of the U.S. military back in August.

YouTube gets useful 'unlisted' video option

YouTube is now offering a third level of privacy for users to implement on their videos, one that makes it easier to share clips privately without actually having to set the video to private.
The new “unlisted” option lets anyone with a link to the video watch it, however it won’t show up in YouTube’s search results, channels pages, or on user profiles. And unlike YouTube’s current private video option, the user who created unlisted video doesn’t need to set up permissions for who can watch his or her video, just like the watcher does not need to be registered with YouTube to watch it. Instead, all the viewer needs is the URL.