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Links September 2009

The NYT has an interesting article about research into treating insomnia over the internet [1]. I wonder how many other psychological issues can be effectively treated over the net.

From next year all Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate sold in Australia will be made from fair-trade cocoa [2]. Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate is the most popular type of chocolate sold in Australia so this is a significant market shift. For a long time Cadbury has sold fair trade chocolate under the name Green and Black. Of course we now have to wait for Cadbury to use fair trade cocoa in all their other chocolate varieties.

Mike Rowe gave an interesting TED talk about the value of manual labour [3]. He suggested that there should be a PR campaign for skilled manual labour jobs and noted that his observation (through his work on his “Dirty Jobs” TV series) was that the people who do some of the less popular jobs appear to be happier.

The GapMinder.org web site has some interesting analysis of statistical information on countries and regions [4]. It is based on the work of Hans Rosling who is well known for his high quality TED talks [5]. Unfortunately the web site requires Flash, I will probably try it out with Gnash some time.

Miru Kim gave a TED talk about her work photographing herself nude in abandoned buildings and industrial spaces [6]. Among other things she photographed herself lying naked on a pile of bones in the crypt underneath Paris which is fairly dangerous. I’ve visited the crypt, it’s an interesting experience but I was very careful to touch nothing – you never know which of the bones came from victims of smallpox and other nasty diseases. Strangely they have an ongoing problem of visitors stealing bones, when I visited there were several bones at the exit that had been confiscated from visitors – some of which had mummified flesh attached…

Steinar H. Gunderson wrote a good description of the basics of how the TCP protocol works [7]. He also links to a web page he wrote that will measure your potential TCP throughput and give you information on the link. This is really handy if you are behind some sort of firewall and want to know what is being done to your TCP stream when it’s in transit.

Apparently Christian couples tend to use a shared email account to reduce the risk of cheating [8]. It’s hardly a surprise that Christians have a much higher divorce rate than atheists and agnostics [9].

The NY Times has an interesting article about iPhones overloading the AT&T network [10]. Recently I’ve been having some problems sending MMS with my Three phone, some relatives who use Three have been having connection problems in certain areas with marginal signal quality, and the download speed of my Three data connection is significantly reduced (used to be ~70KB/s, now I’m lucky to get 20KB/s). I suspect that the new smart phones that are being sold are largely to blame. But the up-side is that when they engineer their network to work properly with the smart phones then my Internet use (ssh and basic web browsing) will work really well.

Michael Tieman wrote an interesting blog post about software patents which compares them to Land Mines [11]. Of course this analogy falls down badly while the US is still leading the world in manufacturing land mines.

Rebecca Saxe gave an interesting TED talk about how brains make moral judgeents [12]. In her research she did some tests with using magnetic pulses to decrease the function of the region of the brain that allows people to judge the others and she was able to significantly affect the results of judgement tests.

Brendan Scott analyses the netbook wars and concludes that it has been a significant loss for Microsoft [13]. ArsTechnica has an analysis of the real word-processing requirements [14], they suggest that in most cases MS-Word (and other word-processor) documents could be replaced with HTML or Wiki pages for a better end result.

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