Archive for March 16, 2009

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Google recently launched behavioral targeted ads for AdSense. This means AdSense displays adverts not only on the context of the webpage, but on the context of your browsing history. The aim is to provide more relevant and efficient adverts, but tracking cookies being used across hundreds of thousands of websites raises obvious privacy issues, as Google can use this information to log website you have been on.

googlesearch19Usually, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is very critical of big corporations who intrude on people’s privacy, but their criticism was not very harsh. Why? Because Google has developed a web browser plug-in that permits users to opt-out of this scheme.

The plug-in is available for Internet Explorer and Firefox and modifications to browser preferences in Chrome and Safari also allow people to opt-out. Google also maintains an ‘Ad Preferences Manager‘ which allows this tracking cookie to be disabled until the next time cookies are wiped.

There are several reasons to disable these cookies. Firstly, you may not entrust Google with your details. Secondly, adverts based on past browsing may be displayed to other users of the computer… not perfect if, for example, you were buying a present for a family member and they are suddenly swarmed with advertisements about it!

Most tracking cookies can be disabled if you modify browser settings. In Firefox, for example, in Preferences>Privacy, you can refuse to ‘accept third party cookies’.

Protect your privacy from Google AdSense’s new behavioral ads

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[Nicked from gHacks technology news]

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drive_namer

If you have a number of drives with locked file names (like your DVD drives), renaming them is not something that windows allows you to do so. To the help comes gHacks with a little portable program called Drive Namer. It’s actually been designed for exactly that purpose but it can change other drive types too, like Compact Flash, SD Memory Card, virtual drives etc.. The application requires the Microsoft .net Framework 2.0 to run but does not have any other requirements.

It’s easy to install: just open the zip folder and extract the contained Drive_Namer_(net2).exe file to a directory of your choice. Once you’ve opened the program, it will display the small form (see above). It provides a pull down menu for all drive letters of the computer system including those not in use. Changing the drive letter of a DVD drive would simply involve selecting the correct drive letter of the DVD drive from the menu and entering a name in the form next to it. A click on the Set! button will enable the name on the system, which then can be checked in Windows Explorer.

The original location of Drive Namer is no longer providing the file download for the program. You can download it below right from the Ghacks server. The download has a size of 10 Kilobytes. There is also a download link at the Donation Coder website pointing to a file host. Could go down in the future which is why gHacks provides the download mirror as well.

drive namer

Photography: Mary Ellen Mark

Posted: March 16, 2009 in creativity
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Wooster favorite Mary Ellen Mark has been selected as one of eleven world-renowned photographers commissioned by USA Network for “Character Project” a photographic document of the characters that make up the “face” of our American landscape. Check out Wooster for more info.

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CENA7

Posted: March 16, 2009 in creativity
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Santo André – 2009

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São Bernardo do Campo – São Paulo – 2009

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The West often points its fingers at China’s abysmal environmental record. Whether that’s fair or not given that it was us who with our once insatiable consumer demands have created or at least contributed to it, is still a question that is not easy to answer. But let’s also not forget that China often is leading the West with initiatives contributing to a healthier environment. This post by Green Car Congress is just another example:

Caijing.com.cn. The government of China is considering providing rebates of up to 50,000 yuan (US$7,300) to buyers of cars powered by alternative technologies, Industry and Information Technology vice minister Miao Wei told Caijing in an interview 12 March. Covered vehicles would include those powered by biofuels, electricity and hybrid systems.

<!––>The proposed rebates will range between 10,000 to 50,000 yuan ($US1,500-$7,300) depending on the energy efficiency of the cars, according to Miao, who formerly was president of Dongfeng Motor Corp., China’s third-largest automaker.

The reimbursement plan is being drafted by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Science and Technology, which plan to release a scheme for classifying cars by energy efficiency in two months, Miao said.

The question though is: wouldn’t it be better to use this money to discourage people from buying cars and, amongst other measures, do so by investing more in public transport?

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According to research published in The Journal of HortScience, produce now lacks not only the taste, but also the amount of nutrients it had just 50 years ago.

basket-of-vegVegetables today are larger, but contain more “dry matter” which dilutes the concentrations of minerals.  This results in 5% to 40% less magnesium, iron, calcium, and zinc.

Selective breeding to increase crop yields has let to genetic dilution, which has also in turn caused declines in protein and amino acid levels in produce.

Because of the increased use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, crops are now harvested so quickly that the plant has less time to absorb nutrients either from synthesis or the soil.

This seems to be more proof that the industrialization of agriculture is a dangerous and slippery slope, and supporting organics is extremely important to our future.

[Eat.Drink.Better. – Image credit: Ramson on flickr Creative Commons]

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chinese-scrap

It’s hard to calculate the overall effects. I guess on the positive side we can say that we’re consuming less and therefore diminishing less of the planet’s finite resources. On the negative side of the ledger though people lose their jobs and livelihoods, and in addition, as far as recycling goes, more scrap and other junk will go into landfills, putting more pressure on the environment and creating headaches for the next generation. And then of course there are growing question marks hovering over the future of our recycling schemes. China’s recycling industry industry is the one of the linchpins to all the equations as the following NYT articles highlights. But the real question is: what will we learn from it all? Consuming less in future? Creating waste-free cities?

by Dan Levin
The New York Times

Each morning Tian Wengui emerges from the home he makes under a bridge here, two large sacks slung over his shoulder. Through the day, and well into the night, he scours garbage cans for soda bottles, soy sauce containers and cooking oil jugs. Selling the refuse to one of Beijing’s ubiquitous recycling depots, Mr. Tian can earn $3 on a good day. But good days are getting harder to come by.

Since Mr. Tian migrated from Sichuan province, the multibillion-dollar recycling industry has gone into a nosedive because of the global economic crisis and a concomitant fall in commodity prices. Bottles now sell for half of what they did in the summer. “Even trash has become worthless,” Mr. Tian said recently as he made his way to a collection center, his sacks nearly bursting.

The collapse of the recycling business has affected people like Mr. Tian, the middlemen who buy the waste products and the factories that refashion the recyclable waste into products bound for stores and construction sites around the world. American and European waste dealers who sell to China are finding that their shipments are being refused by clients when they arrive in Asia.

The ultimate victim may be the environment, already overrun with enough trash in places to threaten people’s health, now further burdened with refuse that until recently would have been recycled.

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