• Best Hacking Forum
  • Best Blog Online

  • Sponsored Links

    Hey people here is yahoo multimessenger for u all. U need not to
    download that 11Mb .EXE file for signin to different accounts.

    Just open up ur notepad and paste the text given below:


    Now save this file as multi.reg anywhere or say ddesktop.
    when u r done, just double click this file and u will be asked to
    merge it to the registry then click yes.
    thats it!u did it!

    Now open an many number of yahoo messenger u wish to open.

    Read more!

    Hiding speaker wires is always a problem, but it's made worse when you want to install a surround sound system with several satellite speakers. The wires from the front speakers to a computer or home entertainment center can at least blend into the clutter of wires behind a desk or audio-video center. But the long wires feeding the surround-channel speakers that are typically placed to the sides or the back of a room can be visually obtrusive.

    Logitech's Z-5450 Digital 5.1 Speaker System solves that problem by using wireless links with receivers built into the rear speakers. The $499.99 system, sold through logitech and many retailers, includes a subwoofer, three front speakers and the two wireless rear speakers. Total power is 315 watts, with 116 watts to the subwoofer and the rest divided among the satellite speakers.
    The system, which is THX-certified, has three digital and five analog inputs that allow connection of all sorts of audio sources, as well as a computer. It also has built-in decoders for DTS soundtracks and Dolby Pro Logic II for surround-sound playback from two-channel analog sources. With its compact control box, the tidy system surrounds you with sound, not wires.

    Read more!

    Now that scientists have spotted the pain and pleasure centers in the brain, they’ve moved on to more expensive real estate: the brain’s shopping center. They have been asking the big questions:
    What is the difference between a tightwad’s brain and a spendthrift’s brain?
    What neurological circuits stop you from buying a George Foreman grill but not a Discovery Channel color-changing mood clock?
    Why is there a $2,178.23 balance on my January Visa bill?
    This last question isn’t yet fully answered, even after I stared at said Visa bill while lying inside a functional M.R.I. machine at Stanford University. But scientists are closer to solving the mystery. By scanning shoppers’ brains, they think they’ve identified a little voice telling you not to spend your money. Or, in my case, a voice saying, “At this price, you can’t afford not to buy the mood clock!”
    For convenience’ sake, economists have traditionally assumed that buyers make rational choices: I think, therefore I shop. You pass up the George Foreman grill because you sagely calculate that the money would be better spent on, say, your child’s college fund. Or at least the mood clock. You choose to forgo one good in exchange for something better.
    Even the most rational economists, though, realize that the shopper’s mind is more complicated. The brain’s “impartial spectator,” as Adam Smith warned, has to duel with “the passions.” Last year, after surveying shoppers’ passions, behavioral economists at Carnegie Mellon University developed what they call the Tightwad-Spendthrift scale.

    But this kind of survey reveals only what shoppers choose to confess. To find out more, the economists teamed with psychologists at Stanford to turn an M.R.I. machine into a shopping mall. They gave each experimental subject $40 in cash and offered the chance to buy dozens of gadgets, appliances, books, DVDs and assorted tchotchkes. Lying inside the scanner, first you’d see a picture of a product. Next you’d see its price, which was about 75 percent below retail. Then you’d choose whether or not you’d like a chance to buy it. Afterward, the researchers randomly chose a couple of items from their mall, and if you had said yes to either one, you bought it; otherwise you went home with the cash.
    The good news, for behavioral science, was that the researchers saw telltale patterns, which they report in the Jan. 4 issue of the journal Neuron. “We were frankly shocked at how clear the results were,” said Brian Knutson, the Stanford psychologist who led the experiment. “It was amazing to be able to see brain activity seconds before a decision and predict whether the person would buy it or not.”
    The bad news, for my son’s college funds, is that my responses to this experiment were not what could be called a happy medium, despite my best efforts at restraint. I passed up not just the Foreman grill but the sonic power toothbrush and the Bar Master electronic drink guide. But Dr. Knutson and his Stanford colleague, Elliott Wimmer, reported that “subject JT” chose to buy “50 percent of the items, approximately 2 standard deviations more than the average 30 percent buy rate.”
    I will not try to justify my need for the mood clock, the “Dodgeball” DVD, the desk-clip lamp and the smoothie maker. I would rather pin these choices on two culprits.
    The first was my nucleus accumbens, a region of the brain with dopamine receptors that are activated when you experience or anticipate something pleasant, like making money or drinking something tasty. In the experimental subjects at Stanford, this region was activated when they first saw pictures of things they wanted to buy. My nucleus accumbens just happened to respond more strongly than the typical subject’s, so what else could I do? If it feels good, buy it.
    The other culprit — the main villain, really — was my insula. This region of the brain is activated when you smell something bad, see a disgusting picture or anticipate a painful shock. It was typically activated in the brains of the other shoppers when they saw a price that seemed too high. I’d like to think of my insula as particularly stoic, the strong, silent type, but he’s probably just an oblivious slob.
    The lazy insula is a rarer affliction than you’d guess by looking at Americans’ indebtedness. Tightwads slightly outnumber spendthrifts, according to surveys by George Loewenstein and his colleagues at Carnegie Mellon, Scott Rick and Cynthia Cryder. These behavioral economists think tightwads aren’t any more rational than spendthrifts, because neither group is carefully weighing the long-term benefits of a Foreman grill versus college tuition. Dr. Loewenstein says the brain scans demonstrate that both kinds of shoppers are guided by instant emotions.
    “We developed this propensity to experience direct pain when we spend money,” Dr. Loewenstein said. “This explains why tightwads won’t spend money even when they should. It also helps to explain why we overspend on credit cards, and why people prefer all-you-can-eat buffets instead of paying for each item they order. We like schemes that remove the immediate pain of paying.”
    These schemes are a blessing for pathological tightwads, but they leave spendthrifts worse off. Paying cash is the usual cure suggested, but that hasn’t worked for me, presumably because my insula is such a slug. So I asked the Stanford psychologists to test another approach. After the shopping experiment, they scanned my brain while showing me a copy of my $2,178.23 Visa bill and a control image of Dr. Knutson’s credit card bill for a similar amount.
    “When we compared your responses,” Dr. Knutson told me, “we saw a little spot of insula activation when you saw your own bill.”
    This gives me hope for a technological cure for spendthriftness: a credit card that would remind you of your outstanding balance every time you started to buy something. It could flash the total in large numbers, or announce it in a voice (say, Simon Cowell’s) designed to arouse any insula.
    I realize there are certain practical obstacles to this scheme, like the unwillingness of merchants or credit -card companies to put themselves out of business. Even if a bank were willing to market the card, it would be tough to get spendthrifts to sign up for it.
    But what’s the alternative? You might remove the pleasure of shopping by somehow dulling the brain’s dopamine receptors so that not even the new Apple iPhone would get a rise in the nucleus accumbens, but try getting anyone to stay on that medication. Better the occasional jolt of pain. Charge it to the insula.

    Read more!

    More than 40 percent of teens and preteens surveyed say they've recently come across nudity and pornography on the Internet, and most say they weren't looking for it, according to a study released today.
    Those numbers were highest among older boys: Nearly four in 10 males aged 16-17 said they'd gone to adult sites on purpose within the past year, compared to just eight percent of girls at the same age.

    Still, filtering software seemed to lower the risk that kids would see something inappropriate, and only a small percentage of the children reported being disturbed by what they saw.
    "Sometimes it's possible for people to overreact" to children's exposure to pornography, said study lead author Janis Wolak, a research assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire. "It's important

    to give youth credit. Most kids have a lot of common sense."
    Wolak and colleagues launched a three-month telephone survey of 1,422 kids aged 10-17 in March 2005. All the children surveyed were Internet users, and all were interviewed with the consent of their parents.

    The findings are published in the February issue of the journal Pediatrics.
    Forty-two percent of the kids surveyed said they'd encountered online pornography -- defined broadly as pictures of naked people or sexual activity -- over the past year. Of those, two-thirds -- about 34 percent of all those interviewed -- said their exposure to the material was unwanted.

    By contrast, just 25 percent of all kids interviewed in a 1999-2000 survey said they'd had unwanted exposure to online pornography.

    The kids most likely to have purposely looked for pornography were those who used file-sharing programs to download images, were harassed online, talked online with strangers about sex, or used the Internet at the homes of friends.

    The children who sought adult material were 8.6 times more likely to be male as compared to kids not exposed to pornography. Kids who used computers with filtering software were 40 percent less likely to have sought and found adult material.

    According to the researchers, the survey results are probably within 2.5 percentage points of the real numbers among American kids who use the Internet as a whole.
    Wolak acknowledged that some of the kids surveyed could have been lying. "There's always some possibility that kids are not entirely candid," she said. "But we did focus groups with kids before we actually did the study, and the (survey) results were quite consistent with what the kids told us."

    How did the children come across adult material if they didn't want to? Wolak said some reported accidentally downloading pictures while downloading games, while others reported mistyping Web site addresses and ending up on inappropriate sites.

    "Most kids were not disturbed," she said. "About five percent said they very or extremely upset, but most of the kids were not particularly disturbed by what they saw."
    According to Wolak, more research needs to be done to determine if viewing adult material has any lasting effects on kids. "It's premature to state that pornography is harmful in a broad sense," she said. "We really don't know."

    For now, the new study shows that "unintentional exposure (to adult material) is a normal experience that is a consequence of most normal Internet use," said David S. Bickham, a staff scientist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital Boston.
    It's possible that even more kids are looking for adult material but weren't willing to admit it in a phone survey, he said.

    What should parents do? "Talking to your kids about safe online use is important, but it won't necessarily help them avoid unintentional exposure to pornography," he said. "Make sure whatever e-mail service your child is using has a very good spam filter -- this will keep most of the pornography spam at bay. Talk to kids about keeping e-mail addresses private. This means not giving out addresses to enter Web sites or having your address posted anywhere online."
    Also, he said, consider filtering software. "While exposure to pornography online is beginning to be a normative experience, installing filtering software on your computer will help delay the initial exposure," he said.

    Fred Zimmerman, associate professor of public health at the University of Washington and author of The Elephant in the Living Room: Make TV Work for Your Kids, had more advice: "As with any media issue, the best strategy for parents is to keep open lines of communication with their children," he said. "As any parent knows, talking to your child can help prevent unpleasant experiences and provide a place for kids to turn when they do happen."

    Read more!

    PARIS (AP) -- Global warming is so severe that it will "continue for centuries,'' leading to a far different planet in 100 years, warned a grim landmark report from the world's leading climate scientists and government officials. Yet, many of the experts are hopeful that nations will now take action to avoid the worst scenarios.

    They tried to warn of dire risks without scaring people so much they'd do nothing -- inaction that would lead to the worst possible scenarios.

    "It's not too late,'' said Australian scientist Nathaniel Bindoff, a co-author of the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report issued Friday. The worst can be prevented by acting quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions, he said
    The worst could mean more than 1 million dead and hundreds of billions of dollars in costs by 2100, said Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado, one of many study co-authors. He said that adapting will mean living with more extreme weather such as severe droughts, more hurricanes and wildfires.
    "It's later than we think,'' said panel co-chair Susan Solomon, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist who helped push through the document's strong language.
    Solomon, who remains optimistic about the future, said it's close to too late to alter the future for her children -- but maybe it's not too late for her grandchildren.

    The report was the first of four to be released this year by the panel, which was created by the United Nations in 1988. It found:
    --Global warming is "very likely'' caused by man, meaning more than 90 percent certain. That's the strongest expression of certainty to date from the panel.
    --If nothing is done to change current emissions patterns of greenhouse gases, global temperature could increase as much as 11 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100.
    --But if the world does get greenhouse gas emissions under control -- something scientists say they hope can be done -- the best estimate is about 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
    --Sea levels are projected to rise 7 to 23 inches by the end of the century. Add another 4 to 8 inches if recent, surprising melting of polar ice sheets continues.
    Click here to read the report (pdf).
    Sea level rise could get worse after that. By 2100, if nothing is done to curb emissions, the melting of Greenland's ice sheet would be inevitable and the world's seas would eventually rise by more than 20 feet, Bindoff said.
    That amount of sea rise would take centuries, said Andrew Weaver of the University of Victoria in Canada, but "if you're in Florida or Louisiana, or much of western Europe or southeast Asia or Bangladesh ... or Manhattan ... you don't want that,'' he said.
    The report spurred bleak reactions from world leaders.
    "We are on the historic threshold of the irreversible,'' warned French President Jacques Chirac, who called for an economic and political "revolution'' to save the planet.
    "While climate changes run like a rabbit, world politics move like a snail: Either we accelerate or we risk a disaster,'' said Italy's environment minister, Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio.
    And South Africa's Environmental Affairs Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said failure to act would be "indefensible.''
    In Washington, Bush administration officials praised the report but said they still oppose mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. The problem can be addressed by better technology that will cut emissions, promote energy conservation, and hasten development of non-fossil fuels, said Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.
    About three-fourths of Americans say they expect global warming will get worse, according to a recent AP-AOL News poll. However, other recent polls have found they don't consider it a top priority for the U.S. government.
    But doing nothing about global warming could mean up to a 10-degree Fahrenheit temperature rise by the end of the century in the United States, said report co-author Jonathan Overpeck at the University of Arizona.
    Elsewhere, the projected effects of global warming would vary on different parts of the globe.
    Temperatures would spike higher near the poles, according to the report. Within 22 years -- whether greenhouse gases are controlled or not -- most of the Northern Hemisphere will see more high temperature extremes, the report showed. Places like Northern Africa will get even less rainfall.
    This climate change "is just not something you can stop,'' said Trenberth. "We're just going to have to live with it. If you were to come up back in 100 years time, we'll have a different climate.''
    People experience the harshest effects of global warming through extreme weather -- heat waves, droughts, floods, and hurricanes -- said study co-author Philip Jones of Britain's University of East Anglia. Those have increased significantly in the past decade and will get even worse in the future, he said.
    Given all the dire predictions, why are scientists nearly all optimistic? They think their message is finally getting through to the people in charge.
    United Nations environmental leaders are talking about a global summit on climate change for world leaders and they hope President Bush will attend.
    "The signal that we received from the science is crystal clear,'' said Yvo de Boer, the executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, a multi-national body that tries to change policy to fight global warming.
    "That makes it imperative that the political response that comes from this crystal-clear science is as crystal-clear as well.
    "I sense a growing sense of urgency to come to grips with the issue,'' de Boer said. "I think the major challenge is to further the negotiating agenda in a way that makes major players feel safe to step forwardly on this issue.''
    The major player that has at times been absent is the United States, the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases.
    "The world cannot solve the climate change problem without the United States,'' Achim Steiner, who heads the UN Environment Program, told The Associated Press.
    "The world is looking to the Bush administration and to the United States and how it has to be a key part'' of solving global warming, he said.
    De Boer was optimistic, there too. In an interview, he said that despite U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increasing 16 percent since 1990, change is afoot.
    Citing congressional interest and carbon dioxide emission limits requested by top industry CEOs, de Boer said: "I see a very important momentum building throughout the country.''

    Read more!

    Is your job making you fat?

    Like many desk jockeys, Kelly Gilstrap stares at a computer for a living. He's a program manager for Sprint, and while his brain works hard on the job, his body's essentially in idle mode.

    Gilstrap, 38, wasn't getting much activity after hours either. So a couple of years ago he decided to try lunchtime workouts at his office gym in Overland Park, Kan. Previously, he'd had a hard time fitting in exercise before or after work. But exercising during his workday is a plan he's been able to stick with.

    "It's more than convenient," he says. "You don't have to get in your car. It's right here."
    Most workers aren't lucky enough to have a fully equipped 71,000-square-foot fitness facility at the office, but health experts say finding ways to fit in fitness during the workday is an increasingly important strategy in the battle of the bulge.

    Given that many people spend a big chunk of their waking hours at work, "your job certainly could be contributing to weight gain," says Cedric Bryant, chief exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise.

    An ACE-commissioned study found that, not surprisingly, people whose work is largely conducted while sitting behind a desk, such as secretaries, lawyers and teachers, get little physical activity during the day.

    "There's a huge difference in the amount of physical activity people get in different professions," says lead study author John Porcari, a professor of exercise and sports science at the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse. "There was almost a four-fold difference between the most active and the least active."

    In the study, the researchers gave pedometers to 98 workers in 10 different occupations and asked them to wear the devices for three consecutive workdays.
    Secretaries logged an average of 4,327 steps, less than half of the often-recommended goal of 10,000 steps a day for optimal health. Teachers got 4,726 steps, lawyers 5,062 and police officers 5,336.

    Wanna get moving? Deliver the mailMail carriers topped the list of most active workers, with a whopping 18,904 steps a day. Next came custodians with 12,991 steps, restaurant servers with 10,087 steps, factory workers with 9,892, construction workers with 9,646 and nurses with 8,648.

    Porcari says most people would likely clock an additional 2,000 steps after work in the course of running errands or doing chores, even if they didn't go to the gym or engage in other purposeful physical activity. Still, many people would come up short of their 10,000 steps.
    "If you're basically at a sedentary job, you need to make it a point to get exercise during your leisure time," Porcari says.

    That's especially important if you're trying to shed pounds or maintain weight loss, he says. People trying to slim down should aim for an hour of physical activity a day.
    Fit in fitness all dayOf course, finding time to work out during the morning rush or at the end of a long day isn't easy for many people. That's why more of us should strive to fit in some fitness during the day, Bryant says.

    That doesn't necessarily mean running a couple miles at lunch. "Just look for opportunities to move during the course of the workday," he says.
    A few suggestions: hold informal meetings during a walk outside; use the farthest restroom in your building; take a few flights of stairs during your coffee break.
    Even standing and pacing in place while talking on the phone helps, Bryant says. So does walking down the hall and talking with a co-worker instead of sending an e-mail. Wearing a pedometer can help you track your progress.

    You might also ask human resources about getting an office gym, holding some fitness classes in the conference room or providing incentive programs to help workers shape up. Increasingly, companies are realizing that fit workers mean a healthier bottom line — so workplace fitness is a win for everyone.

    "When people are healthy, it's pretty well documented that health-care costs are lower, sick days are fewer and productivity is greater," Porcari says.
    Healthy bottom lineObesity, inactivity and resulting health problems are "really impacting the profits of companies today," says Brenda Loube, president of Corporate Fitness Works, a company in Montgomery Village, Md., which manages corporate fitness centers including the one at Sprint.

    Loube says her business is growing precisely because companies find that investing in workers' health pays off.

    Read more!

    High-tech telescopes on the ground and in space that perform daunting astronomical peep shows in a search for Earthlike worlds aim to answer one of humankind's most monumental questions: “Are we alone?”

    Arguably, a more pointed question might be: “Just how crowded is it?”
    There is ongoing deliberation relating to the societal, philosophical and religious fallout that stems from resolving such a stellar inquiry.
    Michael Michaud is the author of a newly published exceptional book, "Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials" (Copernicus Books). He suggests that the “prime question” is straightforward: Should we simply be watchers and listeners from our outpost in the universe, or should we actively seek contact by sending out messages, proclaiming our presence?

    As the book suggests, our answers to those queries expose both our desires and qualms about encountering extraterrestrials. Contact may not lead to a Woodstock of the skies — nor does it imply Armageddon.

    Michaud told Space.com that his research for the book led to several realizations. For example, he said the debate has been dominated by supporters and opponents of one scenario: remote contact through radio signals.

    “As my book points out, that is far from being the only possible model of contact. Secondly, I became increasingly convinced that nonscience, nontechnology factors such as motivations and ethics may be crucial for the outcome of contact,” Michaud said.

    Michaud said that he was struck by the centuries-old dialogue between belief and observation that got under way with Galileo Galilei, the 17th-century Italian astronomer and physicist.
    “Science has steadily improved our perceptions of the physical world, but still is unable to answer some basic philosophical questions. Someday, science may be able to answer questions now in the realm of belief, but we aren’t there yet. Both science and belief have roles to play, though the dialogue will be fruitful only if both sides show tolerance and civility. There is no place for arrogant assertion when so little is known,” Michaud said.

    Serendipitous resultsIs it time for the U.S. Congress to re-look at the ET encounter business — given the increasing rates of extra solar planetary detection?

    “I doubt that an initiative to restore NASA funding for SETI would succeed in the present environment, particularly when NASA is cutting funding for space science projects,” Michaud responded. “In my view, we need to broaden our approach to encourage related activities that might produce serendipitous results, such as expanding funding for extrasolar planet searches.”

    Moreover, Michaud suggested that there’s need to address the possibility of an artifact somewhere in the solar system — one that could have ceased operating millions or billions of years ago.

    Read more!

    An artist's conception shows astronauts walking up to an early lunar habitat. The actual habitat, due for deployment in the 2020s, may be made of inflatable material and covered with moon dirt.

    Imagine a world where microwave-beaming rovers cook dust into concrete landing pads ... where your living quarters are dropped onto the land from above, then inflated like an inner tube ... where the grit is so abrasive that even the robots have to wear protective coveralls.
    It may sound like science fiction, but these are actually some of the ideas being floated as part of NASA's plan to build a permanent moon base starting in 2010. To follow through on those sky-high ideas, the space agency is turning to some down-to-earth experts, ranging from polar researchers to miners and earth-movers.

    "We will be looking outside the agency quite a bit as well as inside the agency," said Larry Toups, habitation systems lead for NASA's Constellation Program Office. "We have a lot of folks here who are very innovative and understand the space environment quite a bit, but you do have a lot of expertise outside NASA as well, and we intend to involve those folks."

    Those folks include the twin giants of America's space industry, The Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin. But some less conventional players are involved as well:
    Illinois-based Caterpillar and allied companies have been advising NASA on the dynamics of dirt and the challenges of moving heavy equipment over the lunar surface.
    Canada-based Norcat and Electric Vehicle Controllers are working together to develop a drill suitable for mining on the moon. Norcat is traditionally better-known for its industrial safety training programs, but this June the company is sponsoring a planetary mining conference, with the moon in its sights.

    Delaware-based ILC Dover, which manufactures components for NASA's spacewalk suits as well as the airbags used by NASA's Mars rovers, is branching out to develop inflatable prototypes for lunar habitats. Nevada-based Bigelow Aerospace may offer its own inflatable modules for future moon outposts.

    The National Science Foundation is working with NASA and ILC Dover to build and deploy an inflatable test habitat in Antarctica later this year.
    NASA announced the broad outlines of its plan for an eventual lunar outpost less than two months ago. The general idea is to set up shop on the rim of a crater near one of the moon's poles. Such areas would be in sunlight, with a line-of-sight link to Earth all year round. The first crews would stay for just a week at a time, but by 2025, six-month tours of duty would be the norm.

    The polar outpost would serve as NASA's base for lunar research and a test bed for Mars exploration. Some have even grander plans, envisioning the moon as an eventual platform for luxury hotels, astronomical observatories and helium-3 mining operations. The idea of a permanent platform is what distinguishes the future effort from NASA's previous moon program, said Dallas Bienhoff, manager for in-space and surface systems at Boeing Space Exploration.

    "Just getting there and getting home was a big deal for Apollo," he told MSNBC.com. "We know we can do that, even though we haven't done it in 30-plus years. What we want to do is prepare the beachhead for people other than NASA. Basically, the intent is to lay down the foundation for a permanent presence on the moon by whoever wants to be there."

    Read more!

    Internet Dating 2.0

    After typing in all manner of personal information (okay, I fudged on my weight), I hit the send button with a certain trepidation. I watched in horror as my instant background check appeared before the gathered group of onlookers at iDate 2007, an Internet dating conference held in Miami this week. The make of my unfashionable car, a reference to my ex-husband, info on a dubious family member (how many times did I bail him out of jail?) and other tidbits about my life popped up onscreen and made my palm sweat on the mouse. But seconds later, I was deemed clear of any criminal or sex offender charges or other black marks.

    The company, HonestyOnline, offers a certification system that takes the lie out of online. The checks can dig down to confirm your ex- is an ex- and your B.A. isn't BS, and figure out pretty much what you earn every year.

    "It's an extra layer of protection to determine if a guy is Jack the Ripper with three wives," said William Bollinger, executive vice president of National Background Data, LLC, which invented CrimSAFE, a database used by HonestyOnline.

    Along with the background checks, HonestyOnline can show up at your house, snap some profile pictures, stand you on the scale, run a tape measure from head to toe, and even, if requested, leave with bodily fluids to assure potential mates you have nothing communicable. After you pass muster, you graduate to a sticker on your online profile testifying that you are ready for love.

    At iDate 2007, vendors demonstrate ways to meet, court, virtual date and even marry without ever leaving home or taking the trouble to actually meet your intended. "People don't have time, so they date online," says Marc Lesnick, conference coordinator, describing an industry he says earned more than $1 billion last year.

    Moving around the exhibit hall, my picture is snapped with a cell phone. Suddenly, I appear in the middle of a 15th century Venetian ballroom scene on a computer, with a mask over my image. Valentina, an artificial intelligence hostess, greets me and invites me to Venice Chronicles' party. An actor working from the website's office directs the fantasy by giving orders, moving our images and forcing us to make conversation with each other.

    For more realistic scenarios, the company OmniDate can place you in a virtual restaurant with an animated date, literally. Both parties work keyboards and save thousands of calories on the five-course Italian dinner. You can survive some of the more awkward first date moments, such as ordering the high-ticket item on the menu, without abandoning the comfort of your pajamas. Animated figures called avatars stand in and react like you would when the waiter dumps hot soup into your virtual lap. The avatars move, speak, and even kiss goodnight for you.

    For those of you who need a new cell phone nightmare, the driver in front of you could be cruising for a date. On Mobilove, I scrolled through the profiles of "lookn4luv", "LuckyL", and "Manoman," and sent text messages to the people on my hot list. An instant response brought rejection, proving that a typical dating experience can be found on the go. Already 500,000 Americans have posted their pictures and mini profiles on their cell phones, and users are growing by 20% every month, according to Mobilove vice president Nils Knagenhjelm.
    The cell phone can also be turned into a Don Juan miracle tool: thanks to Vumber you can get many numbers with only one phone — and even numbers from more desirable area codes. You can be reached at a New York City number one minute and L.A. the next, or small-town Alabama, where you really live. If the person dialing one of the numbers turns out to be a less than desirable caller, poof! the number disappears with a few keystrokes. "You can vanish without a trace," said Geoff Schneider, executive vice president of Vumber.

    While eHarmony brags about its personality profiles, Plenty of Fish quietly ignores theirs. This site, with 400,000 hits a day, was created by Markus Frind, who still runs it out of his apartment. He figured out people essentially exaggerate on profile answers. He follows a more sensible creed: actions speak louder than words.
    For example, Susie says she wants a solid, stable man who earns $100,000-plus but keeps clicking on profiles of muscle-bound bad boys. Plenty of Fish makes sure she meets plenty of underemployed weightlifters, and some of the stable ones she ignores. "People don't even realize we do this. They just know they are getting results," said Frind, who compares his strategy to grocery store purchase tracking: diet claim or no, you're still picking up ice cream every week.

    In another profile model, Chris Walker is experimenting with behavioral matchmaking. An early innovator, he started in the 1960s with punch card computer dating. After years of matching people, he now focuses on how people choose to spend their time. Infopersonals.com also asks for frank answers on back hair, relationships with exes and the number of sexual partners.
    But there are still those who believe in actual face time. "The personal touch still blows away everything else out there," says Paul Falzone, CEO of The Right One and Together, one of the nation's largest old-school matchmaking dating services where people sign up and are interviewed in person. "Sure, people get matched online," Falzone adds, "but monkeys also occasionally fall out of trees."

    Even computer crazy Walker agrees. "Until you actually meet somebody, don't get excited."

    Read more!

    A week after Nintendo's Wii debuted in November, the Wall Street Journal reported that the gaming console was leaving some users as sore as the gym often does. Unlike traditional hand-held video games, where users sit on the couch exercising little more than their thumbs, the Wii (pronounced "we" not "why") features digital sensors that let users virtually play the game. In Wii Sports, a game that comes with the console, users mimic the motions used in sports like bowling, tennis and baseball. In other words, the game may be virtual, but the physical exertion is very real.

    So much so that, according to the Journal, gamers complained of "aching backs, sore shoulders — even something some have dubbed "Wii elbow." Nintendo spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan downplayed the report, saying the company hadn't received any complaints from users about soreness. "If people are finding themselves sore, they may need to exercise more," she said. "It was not meant to be a Jenny Craig supplement."

    But that's where she may be wrong. Not only have some gamers started turning the Wii and other similar active gaming consoles into a new form of exercise, but medical researchers are touting their health potential for more than just weight loss. A research team at the University of Toronto is developing a "therapeutic video game" to treat children who suffer from hemiplegic cerebral palsy, a condition that can partially paralyze one side of the body. If the children regularly use their weaker side, their motor function can improve. The problem is getting the children to do so outside of therapy sessions. Active video games might do the trick, thought William Li, an undergraduate engineering student at the University of Toronto who is conducting research at the university's Bloorview Kids Rehab teaching hospital.
    With university researchers, he devised a game console that requires the children to use their dominant hand to hold down a button on their chair. With the weaker hand, the children can play an active video game. "It's a lot of fun to use, and the movements are the types of things that might be promoted in physical therapy or occupational therapy," Li says. "[And] the kids don't have to feel different. This is a game they can take home and play with siblings and friends."

    Wii's psychological impact may even speed up the recovery process. Mary Jane Zamora, who lives in Redondo Beach, Calif., has battled breast cancer since she was diagnosed in February 2005. After a round of chemotherapy before Christmas in December, she was too tired to get off the couch. Then her grown daughters brought over a Wii. Together they played bowling, tennis and golf. "It got a little exhausting," Zamora says, but she was hooked and began playing on her own every day. Soon after joining a local bowling league, she was named the league's Most Improved Player. "What this game did for me was encourage me that I could still do these kinds of things," she says. "It came around when I needed it. I can see where people could really benefit from being able to interact without having do to much physical exertion."

    But weight loss is still probably the biggest health benefit the Wii will have for users. Active video games like the Wii can fight child obesity, according to a report published by the Mayo Clinic in the January issue of Pediatrics. In that study, researchers found that children burned three times as many calories playing "active" video games versus playing traditional hand-held video games. Because the study was done before the Wii debuted, researchers tested Sony's EyeToy and Microsoft's Xbox. But Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, the report's lead researcher, expects the Wii to have the same effect. "If children are up moving around versus sitting down, then they're going to burn more calories," she says.

    In December Mickey DeLorenzo, a computer programmer in Philadelphia, hypothesized that he could lose weight by playing the Wii for 30 minutes a day. He lost nine pounds in six weeks and is on his way to becoming the next Jared of Subway fame. In January DeLorenzo signed a book deal, tentatively titled The Wii Workout and teamed up with Traineo.com, a social networking site for dieters and fitness buffs, to feature his new regime. "It's becoming something like a Richard Simmons show," says DeLorenzo, who's received dozens of fan emails. "People will write, 'You've inspired me to buy a Wii and start working out.'"

    Two months after dismissing the Wii's exercising potential, Nintendo spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan now embraces it. "One of our hopes was that people would find a way to enjoy the Wii sitting on the couch or getting up and moving their body around," she says. "This huge fitness craze was more than we had anticipated."

    Read more!

    THESE still are early days for the Internet, globally speaking. One billion people online; five billion to go.

    The next billion to be connected are living in homes that are physically close to an Internet gateway. They await a solution to the famous “last mile” problem: extending affordable broadband service to each person’s doorstep.

    Here in the United States, 27 percent of the population lacks access to the Internet, according to a study completed last year by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. Among those who do have access, about 30 percent still rely on slow dial-up connections. The last mile for households with no or slow connections may be provided by radio signals sent out by transmitters perched atop street lights, as hundreds of cities have rolled out municipal Wi-Fi networks, or are in the process of doing so.

    The impulse behind these projects is noble. It’s a shame, however, that lots of street lamps and lots of dollars — a typical deployment in an urban setting will run $75,000 to $125,000 a square mile, just to install the equipment — do not really solve the last-mile problem.
    If you’re sitting with your laptop at an outside cafe, you’ll be happy with the service. But if you happen to be at home, you realize that service to the doorstep is not enough: you still need to buy equipment to bolster the signal and solve the “last mile plus 10 more yards” problem — that is, getting coverage indoors.

    Wi-Fi signals do not bend, and you usually can’t get much of a useful bounce from them, either. Because Wi-Fi uses unlicensed bands of the radio spectrum, by law it must rely on low-power transmitters, which reduce its ability to penetrate walls. Travel-round-the-world shortwave, this ain’t.

    Trying to cover a broad area with Wi-Fi radio transmitters set atop street lights brings to mind a fad of the 1880s: attempts to light an entire town with a handful of arc lights on high towers. But overeager city boosters around the country soon discovered that shadows obscured large portions of their cities, and the lighting was not as useful as had been expected. Municipal Wi-Fi on streetlamps, another experiment with top-down delivery, may run a similarly short-lived — and needlessly expensive — course.

    WiMax, which will be a high-power version of the tower approach, comes in two flavors: mobile, which has not yet been certified, and fixed, which is theoretically well suited for residential deployment. Unfortunately, it’s pricey. Peter Bell, a research analyst at TeleGeography Research in Washington, said fixed WiMax would not be able to compete against cable and DSL service: “It makes more economic sense in semirural areas that have no broadband coverage.”
    An intriguingly inexpensive alternative has appeared: a Wi-Fi network that is not top-down but rather ground-level, peer-to-peer. It relies not on $3,500 radio transmitters perched on street lamps by professional installers but instead on $50 boxes that serve, depending upon population density, more than one household and can be installed by anyone with the ease of plugging in a toaster.

    Meraki Networks, a 15-employee start-up in Mountain View, Calif., has been field-testing Wi-Fi boxes that offer the prospect of providing an extremely inexpensive solution to the “last 10 yards” problem. It does so with a radical inversion: rather than starting from outside the house and trying to send signals in, Meraki starts from the inside and sends signals out, to the neighbors.

    Some of those neighbors will also have Meraki boxes that serve as repeaters, relaying the signal still farther to more neighbors. The company equips its boxes with software that maintains a “mesh network,” which dynamically reroutes signals as boxes are added or unplugged, and as environmental conditions that affect network performance fluctuate moment to moment.
    At this time last year, two of Meraki’s co-founders — Sanjit Biswas and John Bicket — were still Ph.D. students at M.I.T., pursuing academic research on wireless mesh networks in the course of building Roofnet, an experimental network that covered about one-third of Cambridge, Mass., and offered residents free service.

    Last year, Google invited Mr. Biswas to give a presentation about his experience providing wireless Internet service to low-income communities. At the time, Google was testing its first municipal Wi-Fi network in its hometown, Mountain View, Calif., using transmitters attached to street lamps.

    After Mr. Biswas’s talk, a Google engineer told him that people using Google’s network said they could get online at home only by holding their laptops against a window. Mr. Biswas said he was not surprised. Using municipal Wi-Fi for residential coverage, he said, was “the equivalent of expecting street lamps to light everyone’s homes.”

    Mr. Biswas and Mr. Bicket realized that their mesh-network gear designed for residential use could avoid that problem, and hasten the extension of Internet access worldwide. They founded Meraki, took a leave of absence from M.I.T. and, along with a third co-founder, Hans Robertson, moved to Silicon Valley. In short order, Google and then Sequoia Capital, one of Google’s original venture capital backers, invested in Meraki.

    Moore’s Law, with its regular doubling of transistors on a single silicon chip, makes possible the miracle of a Meraki “mini,” as the company calls its basic product for the home. It contains a Wi-Fi router-on-a-chip, combined with the same microprocessor and same memory that formed the heart of a Silicon Graphics workstation 10 years ago. These components are now cheap enough today to be included in a box that sells for $49.

    The fact that 200 million Wi-Fi chips will be manufactured this year leads to economies of scale that will drive down the price of extremely intelligent network equipment. Meraki’s products are still being tested, but word-of-mouth has attracted 15,000 users in 25 countries.
    One early adopter was Michael Burmeister-Brown, a director of NetEquality, a nonprofit in Portland, Ore., that provides free Internet access to low-income neighborhoods. He had not been impressed by Portland’s municipal Wi-Fi service. Because the Wi-Fi transmitter has to be both close and within unobstructed view, the limitations brought to Mr. Burmeister-Brown’s mind the sign on the back of 18-wheel trucks: “If you can’t see my mirror, I can’t see you.”
    In Portland, the access points were installed only at every other intersection in residential areas — creating an “I can’t see you” problem. MetroFi, the service provider, advises residents who are not close to a transmitter to buy additional equipment to pull in the signal, with a starting price of $119 — and that is without the “professional installation” option.

    For NetEquality, Mr. Burmeister-Brown decided to try out the Meraki equipment in several neighborhoods. In the largest, consisting of about 400 apartments, five DSL lines were used to feed 100 Meraki boxes, which cover the complex with a ratio of one box to every four apartments. Each box both receives the signal and passes it along, albeit at diminished strength. For an initial investment of about $5,000, or $13 a household, the complex can offer Internet access whose operating costs work out to about $1 a household a month.

    The bandwidth can match DSL service, but here it is throttled down a bit to deter bandwidth-hogging downloads. Nonetheless, Mr. Burmeister-Brown says everyone is able to enjoy Web browsing with what he describes as “really snappy response.” The sharing of signals among neighbors does not compromise privacy if standard Wi-Fi security protocols are switched on.
    Meraki’s products are not yet for sale, and its networks have not been tested with extensive deployment across a large city. Nonetheless, the intrinsic advantages of its grass-roots approach, with next-to-nothing expenditures for both equipment and operations, are impossible to ignore.

    MR. BISWAS says there are about 800 million personal computers in the world, but only 280 million are connected. The rest are “stuck in the 1980s” — close to being connected, but not quite.

    Meraki does not wish to go into the Internet service provider business itself, but it aspires to equip any interested nontechnical person to become a “micro” service provider for his or her local community. If the provider wishes to use advertising to cover costs rather than charge an access fee, little would be needed in order to cover the minimal outlays for equipment and operations.

    This low-cost network model offers the prospect of broadband service reaching inside many more households. One billion and one. One billion and two. One billion and three ... .

    Read more!

    While GM may have come late to the hybrid party, they’re storming onto the scene with the announcement of dual-mode and plug-in hybrid vehicles for 2008 and 2009.

    General Motors’ Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid SUV was unveiled at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show today, fully equipped with some innovations that could make GM a serious hybrid contender in the near future. The Vue Green Line, which will debut in 2008, will pack a punch with a standard 3.6 liter V6 while also improving fuel efficiency as much as 45 percent with a unique dual-mode hybrid system. The dual-mode hybrids will include direct injection and variable valve timing, a nickel-metal hydride battery pack and two active cooled permanent magnet motors. Said Tom Stevens, GM’s group president of its powertrains division:
    This will be the auto industry’s first front-wheel-drive vehicle to use a 2-mode hybrid system, which improves fuel economy while maintaining performance and capability.

    The dual modes in question allow for adjustment between highway and city driving. While its unclear as to whether the dual-mode hybrid system will be user-controlled or automatic, the hybrid system will actually operate differently depending on the type of driving being done. GM’s dual-mode hybrid improves upon previous single-mode systems from Toyota and Ford that don’t adjust due to usage.

    GM has also begun production on a plug-in hybrid version of the Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid, although the exact production dates are hazy on this one. Due out some time in 2009, the plug-in version of the dual-mode hybrid will use a Lithium-Ion battery pack in place of the current nickel-metal hydride standard, and can be charged at any standard 110-volt electrical outlet (the voltage standard will likely differ for foreign versions of the vehicle).
    GM has begun work on a Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid production vehicle, said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. The technological hurdles are real, but we believe they are also surmountable. I can’t give you a production date for our plug-in hybrid today. But I can tell you that this is a top priority program for GM, given the huge potential it offers for fuel-economy improvement.

    Read more!

    Researchers at the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China have developed a device that uses sound waves to levitate objects and small animals. Needless to say there has been substantial unrest in the Chinese cockroach community.

    Wenjun Xie and his team of colleagues used ultrasonic fields in their testing to keep a myriad of small animals in levitational stasis. Scientists were able to successfully levitate beetles, ants, spiders, ladybugs, tadpoles and fish between the sound wave emitter and reflector that comprise the device. While the ants, ladybugs and other insects were successfully levitated for over 30 minutes apiece without harm, the fish used in the experiment perished despite the scientists’ attempts to add water to the field with a syringe.

    While the team has tested the levitation equipment on small quantities of mercury and iridium, the heaviest known liquid and solid respectively, this is the first time it has been used to levitate living creatures. The initial aim of the project was to devise a way to levitate hazardous materials that could corrode containers or for whatever reason aren’t conducive to storage. And while the successful levitation of hazardous materials could prove useful for the production of pharmaceuticals and other industries that involve volatile substances, Xie says that the levitation of animals could open up a whole new realm of possibilities for such technology:
    Our results may provide some methods or ideas for biology research. We have tried to hatch eggs of fish [during] acoustic levitation.

    Results for the study were published in the online periodical Applied Physics Letters on November 20th.

    Read more!

    Cisco Systems Chief Technologist Dave Evans has lofty plans for the airports of the future, but will the government, or necessity, be able to keep up?

    Cisco Systems Chief Technologist Dave Evans sprung a slew of new aviation technologies on attendies of the FAA/NASA/Industry Airport Planning Workshop this weekend. The event, held at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, featured Evans’ suggestion that pilots of the future could fly without hands, outside the plane, in their underwear.
    Evans beleives that advances in brain-machine interfaces, in which the human brain actually exchanges electronic signals with a computer via electronic wires, could be the key to remote flight in the future. Pilots could concievably sit at home eating a bowl of Cheerios as they pilot the red-eye to Tokyo, all the while navigating with a video camera located in the plane’s cockpit. A move which prompts the questions, Should we do something just because we can, and how will consumers react to these changes?

    Despite Evans’ optimism about the upcoming changes, many participants of the workshop remained wholly skeptical. Steve Martin, chief financial officer at the North American division of industry association Airports Council International, believes the implementation of such technologies is much more difficult than their production.
    I think it’s a real challenge for government to react to technology changes, whether it’s security or flying. I don’t see government agencies being able to keep up with technology’s exponential growth.

    A more practical technology suggested by Evans was one in which Airport screeners could remotely check in passengers carrying a cell phone embedded with an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip. Evans also discussed the use of Virtual Intelligence Personnel, perhaps an android or computer, which could actually learn to do the jobs of airport employees simply by interacting with them. Evans built a similar technology for Cisco which can perform such menial tasks as making travel reservations, or indicating to an employee where a certain filing cabinet is.

    With an aviation industry that still uses Boeing jets from the seventies, is it wise to make such updates that circumvent the needs of consumers? Sure, some airport employees are ill-mannered or unkempt, but that doesn’t mean we should spend billions of dollars to replace them just because we’re able to. Not to mention, it might be hard to convince the millions of uneasy fliers to get on the plane if they know that there’s nobody in the cockpit. As legimate as the technology may be, and as useful as it might be to pilots and employees of the industry, such a move in the next few decades would likely bring a slew of opposition, the likes of which wouldn’t be worth the benefits such technology could offer.

    Read more!

    A new x-ray scanner at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport takes skin-deep photos of passengers to detect guns and explosives, but should personal privacy be the price of safety?
    Dubbed backscatter, such x-ray scanning systems are capable of photographing the bodies of individuals through clothing, producing a composite image of the contours of each passenger’s body. The technology, which has been successfully tested at London’s Heathrow Airport and a number of prisons, hasn’t been implemented in U.S. airports due to privacy concerns.
    Backscatter now faces its introduction to the United States following a revision to the system by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that blurs out private areas while still allowing for the detection of any dangerous materials that passengers may be carrying. The exact date of backscatter’s debut has yet to be set upon, but the TSA has said that it will be featured in Terminal 4 at Phoenix Sky Harbor, which handles about 80 percent of all passengers there.

    We’re hoping to have it up for the increased traffic we are anticipating over the holiday and the bowl games, said Paul Armes, regional federal security director for the TSA.
    Not all passengers will be required to pass through the backscatter, however. The device will initially be used as a secondary means of scanning for passengers that fail an initial pass through the standard metal detectors.

    And while the TSA is gung-ho on security that the backscatter promises, many are hesitant to accept the violation of privacy that the backscatter poses. Barry Steinhardt, head of the ACLU’s technology and liberty program, fears that intimate images taken by the backscatter could easily be abused by airport employees and security agents:
    It’s absolutely predictable that as this technology becomes commonplace, you’re going to start seeing those images all over the Internet.

    Despite public skepticism TSA officials contend that revisions to the backscatter will fully protect the privacy of passengers. One precaution being taken to ensure passenger privacy is a remote screening process, meaning that only off-site officials in private rooms will be able to view the images. The TSA has also said that images taken by the backscatter will not be stored in the system, but rather deleted immediately after a photo is taken to eliminate abuse.
    We did have concerns about the privacy issue before this current technology was available, said Deborah Ostreicher, Deputy Aviation Director for the TSA. But we are assured that passengers will be protected.

    Assuming that all goes well with the initial run of the backscatter at Sky Harbor, similar technologies will be introduced to a number of other major U.S. airports early in 2007.

    Read more!

    A study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester indicates that video games provide players with much more than a good time.

    Teamed up with multimedia think tank Immersyve Inc., lab coats at the University of Rochester conducted a study of 1,000 video gamers to gauge what kept them glued to the screen.

    Participants in the study were separated into four groups, each of which played a different video game. Gamers were given a survey before and after gameplay to determine what aspects of video games were appealing prior to actually playing a game, and what sort of satisfaction was achieved during and after play.

    Rochester researchers determined that while the notion of fun was largely thought to the be the primary motivation for video gaming, the psychological enrichment derived from the challenge of gaming was found to be the greatest consideration for video gamers when deciding to play or re-play a game.

    It’s our contention that the psychological pull of games is largely due to their capacity to engender feelings of autonomy, competence and relatedness, said Richard Ryan, a motivational psychologist at the University of Rochester.
    These factors, in addition to a sense of personal achievement, were found by researchers to enhance overall psychological wellness within gamers.
    University researchers conducted a related study in 2003, in which video games were evaluated for their abilities to enhance visual skills in players. Conducted by Daphne Bavelier, an associate professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, the study showed that individuals who play action-style video games can actually process visual information at a rate 30 percent faster than non-gamers.

    Researchers recruited a group of gaming aficionados who played Medal of Honor, Grand Theft Auto 3 and Half-Life on a regular basis, as well as a non-gaming control group. In a first test an image would appear on a video screen for 1/160th of a second, and subjects were asked to indicate where on screen they had seen the image. The gaming group demonstrated a much higher degree of accuracy in locating the image than non-gamers.
    In another test participants were shown a video screen in which 12 objects appeared for a fraction of a second. The subjects were then asked to assess how many objects they had seen. Researchers again found that members of the gaming group were much more likely to respond correctly than non-gamers.

    According to Bavelier, whom published the findings of the study in the May 29th, 2003 issue of Nature, These results indicate an enhanced allocation of spatial attention over the visual field, even at untrained locations, in [video game players].

    Read more!

    Contact Me

    Name: prethi
    Home: Banglore, Karnataka, India
    About Me: i wanna b a techie girly
    See my complete profile sivashankar2@thandora.com Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

    Must Have Software

    Sponsored Links

    © 2006 Tech Noise--All About Technology