Techspoitation

This is not progress

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TECHSPLOITATION I can't stop thinking about the Antikythera Mechanism, a 2,000-year-old computerlike device made by some Greeks who wanted to predict the motion of the sun, moon, and stars. Fashioned out of highly-sophisticated interlocking gears, the mechanism was discovered a little over a century ago in a shipwreck off the coast of the Greek island Antikythera. Read more »

Crap of the future

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annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION Because I write about technology and science for a living, a peculiar burden falls on my shoulders every holiday season. I'm expected to make pronouncements about what stupid gadgets people should buy for the holidays. I've already been asked repeatedly if I'd rather buy a Wii or a PlayStation 3. I'll admit I found it vaguely glamorous that people were shooting and rioting in line while waiting to buy the PlayStation — it gave me that retro concert-trampling-frenzy feeling. Read more »

Happiness science

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annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION I took a five-question happiness quiz, and it turns out I'm very satisfied but not overly so. If I start feeling down, the quiz advised, I should look inside myself for answers.
No, I wasn't reading Cosmopolitan or OKCupid.com. The quiz was part of a study by happiness researcher Ed Diener, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois.
Over the past couple of years, happiness has come into vogue as an object of study. Read more »

Microsoft Linux

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annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION I'm living in a bizarro business deal universe. Microsoft and Novell, which distributes a version of Suse Linux, have formed a partnership. When Microsoft's notoriously anti-Linux CEO Steve Ballmer announced the deal, he claimed it was because customers demanded it. But the open-source community is worried something else may be afoot.
PC Magazine columnist John Dvorak speculated last week that Microsoft was trying to do an end run around free software licensing, essentially breaking the GNU General Public License (GPL) via legal loopholes. Read more »

When sex sucks

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annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION Are you hoping that breeding with somebody with "good genes" will help you have a child who is somehow better then you are? So are a lot of creatures. Unfortunately, it looks like some good genes can't be passed on. Read more »

TV is history

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annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION The most interesting social experiments are often the least flashy. A researcher at UC Berkeley's School of Information Management, Jeff Ubois, proved that last week with the release of his meticulous study on an odd topic: why researchers can't research TV.
Ubois found that studying one simple event in recent TV history was impossible. Read more »

Welcome to the CSA

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annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION I love a good alternate history yarn for the same reason I love science fiction. Both genres analyze present-day trends by projecting them into another reality. That other reality might be the future or simply a transformed version of the present.
In the United States, there are two incredibly popular alternate history scenarios: 1. What if the South had won the Civil War? and 2. What if Germany had won World War II? Read more »

GooTube is dead

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annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION By the time you read this, the meme "GooTube" will already be dead. Everyone will have stopped talking about the freakishly large amount of money Google paid for video-sharing Web site YouTube. Read more »

Geowanking

Selling polygons with Urban Mapping
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annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION About 18 people were gathered in the San Francisco offices of Urban Mapping, a company whose mild-mannered founder, Ian White, described their business model to me as "selling polygons." Instantly, I felt at home. I was among the geowankers, a group of high-tech map enthusiasts whose areas of expertise range from making customizable Web maps (often built out of polygons) and geolocation software to map-based online storytelling and handheld devices that provide information about your environment as you walk through it. Read more »

Small pieces unjoined

What if they're un-Googleable?
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annalee@techsploitation.com
TECHSPLOITATION I think ubiquitous digital surveillance and searchability have given me a weird new sense of entitlement. I feel like I should be able to find anybody on the Web, and if I can't — well, why not hire somebody to search the databases I can't access? I caught myself having this exact bizarro train of thought the other day, when I was trying to locate an old friend of mine from high school.
I did all the usual things that generally yield results and have helped me find out all kinds of useless things about lost childhood friends. Read more »