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     Volume 4 Issue 17 | October 15, 2004 |

   Cover Story
   News Notes
   A Roman Column
   Human Rights
   Straight Talk
   In Retrospect
   Time Out
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   Slice of Life
   Book Review
   Dhaka Diary
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See Your Soap Anywhere
Electronics giant Sony has come up with an innovation that could be very useful for travellers who just cant miss their favourite serials while they are away from home, by designing a portable, wireless TV that can play a viewer's favourite stations anywhere in the world. According to the New York Post, the LocationFree TV, can access a cable box, home computer, TiVo or DVD player via the Internet and receive pre-recorded or regular programming anywhere as long as there is a high-speed Internet connection. When the system is used at home, it can hook up to its bay station via a wireless connection using the same radio frequencies that millions of wireless home computer users have. On the road, it has an ethernet port that a viewer can use to plug into a high-speed connection and use the Internet to access the bay station and whatever it's connected to back home. The TV can also be used to surf the Web, check e-mail and using a screen-capture function, take pictures of scenes as they unfold on TV.

Crack Your Crosswords
Tired of stressing your grey cells to get that crossword puzzle right? Well, it's time for you to turn a little tech savvy and get Web Crow, a new software programme that helps in solving crosswords. According to Nature, the program, developed by computer engineers Marco Gori and Marco Ernandes at the University of Siena, is capable of reading crosswords in any language, understand the clues, search the web for the correct answers and then fit them into the puzzle. The program is an improvement over the first crossword-solving computer program called Proverb. Web Crow can give most crossword experts a run for their money due to its multi-lingual abilities, believe its creators. "It may not be able to solve the most difficult clues all the time but it can solve most in most languages. What experts can do that, even in two languages?" Gori said. Gori and Ernandes are also hopeful that the algorithms developed for Web Crow can also be applied in other areas requiring artificial intelligence like, for extracting useful info from net automatically or to generate the most befitting combinations from a large data, such as course schedules or staff shifts.

Hurricane Blows Away Junk Mails
Thanks to the number of hurricanes that have hit Florida, a large chunk of the world's junk emails have been blown away. According to The Mirror, Florida which is touted as the spam capital of the world, has had a drop in the percentage of junk messages, including porn and gambling pop-ups, after hurricanes named Charlie, Ivan and Frances smashed the headquarters of some of giant email firms. "There has been a blip. There are probably only 200 spammers in the world and most of them are in Florida," Paul Wood, of anti-spam firm Messagelabs, was quoted by the paper as saying. "There are 35 billion emails a day and 85 per cent are spam. After the hurricanes, that fell to around 75 per cent," Steve Linford, of junk email watch group Spamhaus, added.

The Future Of Our Face
Evolution might have brought about a lot of changes in the human face, but technology seems to be aiming at perfecting it Digitally. According to BBC, a new exhibition at London's Science Museum titled Future Face questions the widespread use of digital enhancement to "improve" faces in photos and the implications of this technology for society. It explores how the face has been depicted and altered throughout history and opens with the declaration: "The face is our interface with the world. Through it we navigate personal, social and cultural spaces." According to The Future Face curator Professor Sandra Kemp, "I don't mean the exhibition to be a warning because it's interrogative, raising questions but I hope it will make people pause for reflection. The sensation of face transplants has diverted us but something that interests me is what is happening digitally. "Lots of people don't have sticky photo albums anymore. Their pictures are held digitally and they can be altered on Photoshop. People are enhancing their faces all the time. This face is smooth and narrow, with a small jaw, big lips and manga Japanese eyes for the females," she said. Kemp fears that digitally enhanced images in the media and on our PCs will lead us to lose the features, which make the face unique. "The more we smooth out our face, the more we are depriving it of its abilities," she added.

Hijacking A Computer
Flawed software code used by numerous Microsoft applications to render images could mean that a specially constructed image file could hijack a computer or spread a virus. Ten years ago the idea of an image infecting a computer was the subject of a hoax email. But what was once a myth is now a genuine threat after Microsoft disclosed a flaw in the image processing code used in a range of its software programs. Some experts blame the new threat on shoddy programming. "In a properly coded world, a graphic should not be able to infect your computer," Graham Cluley, senior researcher with the UK-based anti-virus firm Sophos was quoted by newscientist as saying. So far, no one is known to have exploited the flaw and Cluley says it is far from certain anyone will develop a computer virus based on it. A crafty programmer can use such a flaw to execute unauthorised code on a computer, potentially providing a point of entry in order to take complete control.

Source: The New Scientist.com / Webindia123.com / Google



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