Not So Great Britain

Video Game Addiction: a New Diagnosis

June 23, 2007
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The telltale signs are ominous: teens holing up in their rooms, ignoring friends, family, even food and a shower, while grades plummet and belligerence soars.

The culprit isn’t alcohol or drugs. It’s video games, which for certain kids can be as powerfully addictive as heroin, some doctors contend.

A leading council of the nation’s largest doctors’ group wants to have this behavior officially classified as a psychiatric disorder, to raise awareness and enable sufferers to get insurance coverage for treatment.

In a report prepared for the American Medical Association’s annual policy meeting starting Saturday in Chicago, the council asks the group to lobby for the disorder to be included in a widely used mental illness manual created and published by the American Psychiatric Association. AMA delegates could vote on the proposal as early as Monday.

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Pentagon Confirms It Sought To Build A ‘Gay Bomb’

June 22, 2007
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A Berkeley watchdog organization that tracks military spending said it uncovered a strange U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting.

Pentagon officials on Friday confirmed to CBS 5 that military leaders had considered, and then subsquently rejected, building the so-called “Gay Bomb.”


Where were you online? Advertisers know

June 22, 2007
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Personal identity has taken on a new meaning in the digital age, where basic facts like your name, address or age are far less important to some people than the collected records of what you were looking at online.

Technologies for monitoring and interpreting Internet habits as a predictor of future behavior cropped up at the start of this century, but only now are gaining momentum as the newest gold mine for Web sites and their advertisers.

Known as behavioral targeting, the premise is to follow the sites you visit and build a picture of what products may interest you, then deliver related advertising in time for you to choose your purchase.

U.S. marketers will nearly double their spending on such advertising to $1 billion next year from $575 million in 2007, according to research firm eMarketer. By 2011, behavioral targeting will surge to nearly $3.8 billion of online ads.


Cameras May Watch You Take Tests Online

June 22, 2007
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New technology will place cameras inside students’ homes to ensure that those taking exams online don’t cheat.
This fall, Troy University in Alabama will begin rolling out the cameras for many of its approximately 11,000 online students, about a third of whom are at U.S. military installations around the world.

The device, made by Cambridge, Mass.-based Software Secure, is similar in many respects to other test-taking software. It locks down a computer while the test is being taken, preventing students from searching files or the Internet. The latest version also includes fingerprint authentication, to help ensure the person taking the test isn’t a ringer.

But the new development is a small Web cam and microphone that is set up where a student takes the exam. The camera points into a reflective ball, which allows it to capture a full 360-degree image. (The first prototype was made with a Christmas ornament.)


Murdoch Talking With Yahoo About Swap for MySpace

June 21, 2007
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News Corp.‘s Rupert Murdoch has been discussing a deal to swap his MySpace social-networking site with Yahoo for a one-quarter stake in the Internet-portal company, even as he pursues his $5 billion offer for Dow Jones.

The talks with Yahoo are preliminary and began before chief executive Terry S. Semel resigned Monday, said a source familiar with the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussion is ongoing. It is unclear whether the talks will move forward under Semel’s successor, Jerry Yang.

Yahoo declined to comment. The talks were reported in today’s Times of London, which is owned by News Corp.


What The “Chinese Style” Internet Will Look Like

June 20, 2007
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Control freaks the world over, including most recently Tony Blair, have called for the introduction of a Chinese style Internet, where the World Wide Web is tightly regulated and free speech stifled on the whim of a government censor.

Here’s what Internet 2, the Chinese format, will look like.

Say goodbye to downloading your favorite music or videos in seconds via high-speed cable or ADSL. There is no high speed broadband Internet in China. Since every website you access has to first pass through a government approved list, even the likes of Yahoo and Google lag and stumble onto your monitor, as if you’re using dial-up.


Feds told they need warrants for webmail

June 20, 2007
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A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court’s ruling against warrantless seizures of email. Law enforcement agents need to obtain a warrant before looking at a user’s email even if it is stored online, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday.

For 20 years, long before the introduction of knee-jerk law enforcement powers ushered in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Stored Communications Act (SCA) has been used by government agents to carry out secret searches and seizures of stored email, without requiring a warrant. A case brought by Steven Warshak challenged this practice.


Virtual worlds ‘could replace real relationships’

June 20, 2007
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The internet-based virtual world Second Life may have a serious impact on people’s real life relationships, one of Britain’s best-known scientists warned yesterday.Baroness Susan Greenfield, director of the Royal Institution, said she feared users of the popular simulation could abandon the messy intimacy of “real-life” human relations for two-dimensional liaisons in the virtual world.Second Life was started in San Francisco in 1999 and now has seven million players who can create their own characters, known as avatars, buy goods, throw parties and build their own homes.

However, Baroness Greenfield says the implications have not been thought through. “People who dismiss it as a game will be in for a rude awakening,” she said. “This will have a huge impact on society.

“Offering people the chance to have a permanent soap opera going on, in which they can participate, will be even more pervasive than reality TV such as Big Brother.


China uses chips in dog crackdown

May 3, 2007
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The Chinese authorities in an area of Beijing have begun implanting digital chips into dogs in a bid to cut down on the number of unregistered dogs. Chips the size of a rice grain are being injected into the necks of dogs in a pilot project in the Xicheng district, Xinhua news agency reports.

The chip contains details of the dog’s breed, birth, inoculations and owner.

China implemented a “one-dog” policy back in November as part of a campaign to tackle a surge in rabies cases.


Posted in China, RFID

Anti-mast campaigners showcase Coleshill cancers

April 25, 2007
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THOSE WHO ardently believe that mobile phone masts are linked to a high incidence of cancer appear to have found a showcase in Coleshill, Warwickshire.

According to a report in The Sunday Times, Margaret Hines-Randle and 30 of her neighbours in Coleshill are either suffering with cancer or have already died from it.

Residents collated data on their illnesses and sent it to Dr John Walker, a member of the Electromagnetic Radiation Research Trust who studies instances of cancer around mobile phone masts.

He told the paper, “The masts typically throw out microwaves in three directions, and where the beams hit the ground is where you will usually find the cluster of cancers or disease.”

In a single street – Castle Drive, and part of adjacent roads – 31 cases of cancer were found (including Hines-Randle). That’s equivalent to one in every second person living in the immediate area.


McAfee: RFID chips exposing users to danger

April 25, 2007
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The current generation of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology is vulnerable to eavesdropping, cloning and forging.

That’s according to an April security trends report from security software vendor McAfee Inc. The Sage report is issued semiannually by McAfee Avert Labs based on its research into high-tech threats.

The report warns that as RFID technology becomes more pervasive, the risk for users increases dramatically. The study notes that the technology is increasingly embedded in clothing, food and health care products and that some companies are even embedding RFID chips into the bodies of employees. Some states have already passed laws to prohibit forced implantation of the chips.

The report found that the rapid spread of RFID technology is making it very attractive to hackers, who can clone chips and steal authentication information to gain access to a users’ personal information. Some researchers have warned that a virus placed on an RFID chip can infect other networked chips, and ultimately assault vulnerable databases.

Government agencies and large retail firms are playing a key role in the spread of the technology — and adding to the growing list of vulnerabilities, the report said.


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