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Links February 2011

Australia’s Department of Finance has mandated that the MS-Office document format should be the standard document format for all agencies [1]. Paul Wayper notes the fact that MS doesn’t plan to support it’s own standards and suggests ODF, also known as ISO/IEC standard 26300:2006. [2].

Psychology Today has an interesting blog post by Marnia Robinson about scientific reasons for avoiding porn addiction [3]. Her post links to a number of other posts on the topic on Psychology Today.

Psychology Today has an interesting post by Noam Shpancer titled “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker” [4]. It seems to me that the belief to the contrary is due to people rationalising bad things that happened to them, “it’s not all bad as it made me stronger”.

Psychology Today has an interesting article by Noam Shpancer about the soldier as hero myth [5]. He argues that soldiers are really just employees, the risk to American soldiers in war zones really isn’t that great and that they are just pawns to the military-industrial complex.

Anders Ynnerman gave an interesting TED talk about visualising medical data which includes many startling 3D pictures of humans and animals that are being scanned [6]. He describes how this is useful in forensic analysis by the police and in better understanding biological processes.

Margarita Manterola gave an interesting Debconf talk titled “Making Debian Rule, again”, she has some interesting ideas for improving Debian [7]. She is most focussed on social problems and the questions and comments had some interesting ideas. The Center for Non-Violent Communication [8] was mentioned in the questions, apparently their success includes teaching better communication skills to violent criminals, so it seems that they can help with some big problems.

Benjamin Mako Hill wrote an interesting article about the ratio of writers to readers on Wikipedia [9]. While he makes some good points I’m wondering about the measure of an “editor”, there have been few months where I have made 5 edits, so I guess I’m just a reader. I probably should take more care in logging in when I make changes though, I’ve made more than a few small changes from random systems (client sites, Internet cafes, etc) without bothering to login. This would mess up the stats a bit.

The Reid Report has an interesting article about Bush being limited in his international travel due to the fact that he has admitted being a war criminal [10].

Understanding Prejudice is an interesting article that summarises a lot of psychological research [11]. It gives many ideas for anyone who wants to reduce prejudice.

Robin Harris wrote an interesting ZD Net article about vibrations and the impact on disk performance [12]. Apparently it’s very common to be able to get more performance from drive arrays if you dampen vibration, previously I believed that unless you had extreme vibration to cause catastrophic problems then nothing would go wrong. But it seems that even smaller amounts of vibration can cause a 30% performance loss or worse! There is work in progress on vibration-damping racks.

In a story published in The Australian about the NSW ambulance service being shut down due to a virus, Professor Caelli cites SE Linux as an example of a technology to make computers more virus resistant [13]. Professor Caelli also states that there should be a legal requirement to have backup systems for computers that have such grave consequences if they crash.

Sinclair Community College is offering a new class “Fundamentals of Linux Security”, it includes SE Linux [14].

Slate has an interesting article about Pickpockets [15]. Apparently they are becoming extinct in the US as law enforcement has prevented the “Fagins” from training younger people, and it’s only in Eastern Europe that the skills base remains.

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