This is almost funny: they can’t write correct English, they can’t write “correct” slang, and they can’t send to the correct recepient
Two schools in Georgia were on lockdown for two hours today after an autocorrected message sent to the wrong person led police to suspect a shooter may be looking to harm students.
“Gunman be at west hall today,” read the text, referencing West Hall middle and high schools.
Tracing the message back to its sender, police quickly learned that autocorrect was to blame for the threat. The unidentified person was merely informing the recipient that they were “gunna” be at the school today.
The word “gunna” was autocorrected to “gunman,” and the text was sent to the wrong person, triggering a call to police.
“While this event caused a great deal of anxiety among students, staff and parents,” said Hall Superintendent Will Schofield in a statement, “be assured that we will always err on the side of caution when it comes to the safety of our boys and girls.”
Here’s how you can do that:
1. Sign into your Google account.
2. Go to https://www.google.com/history
3. Click “remove all Web History.”
4. Click “ok.”
Note that removing your Web History also pauses it. Web History will remain off until you enable it again.
[UPDATE 2/22/2012]: Note that disabling Web History in your Google account will not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information and using it for internal purposes. It also does not change the fact that any information gathered and stored by Google could be sought by law enforcement.
With Web History enabled, Google will keep these records indefinitely; with it disabled, they will be partially anonymized after 18 months, and certain kinds of uses, including sending you customized search results, will be prevented. If you want to do more to reduce the records Google keeps, the advice in EFF’s Six Tips to Protect Your Search Privacy white paper remains relevant.
If you have several Google accounts, you will need to do this for each of them.
Mrs. Nixon to Mrs. Kennedy (on the eve of the 1960 election): “I slept with the future president of the United States last night.”
Mrs. Kennedy responded: “That Jack’ll do anything for a vote.”
A NEW WAY TOFund & Follow Creativity
What is Kickstarter?
Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.
Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.
A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.
All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.
Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse. We hope you agree… Welcome to Kickstarter!
Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.
The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this green thing back in my earlier days.”
The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”
She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.
Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.
Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.
Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.
We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then.
Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.
But isn’t it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?
Whether you want to smash a forehand like Federer, or just be an Xbox hero, there is a shocking short cut to getting the brain of an expert
I’m close to tears behind my thin cover of sandbags as 20 screaming, masked men run towards me at full speed, strapped into suicide bomb vests and clutching rifles. For every one I manage to shoot dead, three new assailants pop up from nowhere. I’m clearly not shooting fast enough, and panic and incompetence are making me continually jam my rifle.
My salvation lies in the fact that my attackers are only a video, projected on screens to the front and sides. It’s the very simulation that trains US troops to take their first steps with a rifle, and everything about it has been engineered to feel like an overpowering assault. But I am failing miserably. In fact, I’m so demoralised that I’m tempted to put down the rifle and leave.
Then they put the electrodes on me.
I am in a lab in Carlsbad, California, in pursuit of an elusive mental state known as “flow” - that feeling of effortless concentration that characterises outstanding performance in all kinds of skills.
Flow has been maddeningly difficult to pin down, let alone harness, but a wealth of new technologies could soon allow us all to conjure up this state. The plan is to provide a short cut to virtuosity, slashing the amount of time it takes to master a new skill - be it tennis, playing the piano or marksmanship.
That will be welcome news to anyone embarking on the tortuous road to expertise. According to pioneering research by Anders Ericsson at Florida State University in Tallahassee, it normally takes 10,000 hours of practice to become expert in any discipline. Over that time, your brain knits together a wealth of new circuits that eventually allow you to execute the skill automatically, without consciously considering each action. Think of the way tennis champion Roger Federer, after years of training, can gracefully combine a complicated series of actions - keeping one eye on the ball and the other on his opponent, while he lines up his shot and then despatches a crippling backhand - all in one stunningly choreographed second.
Flow typically accompanies these actions. It involves a Zen-like feeling of intense concentration, with time seeming to stop as you focus completely on the activity in hand. The experience crops up repeatedly when experts describe what it feels like to be at the top of their game, and with years of practice it becomes second nature to enter that state. Yet you don’t have to be a pro to experience it - some people report the same ability to focus at a far earlier stage in their training, suggesting they are more naturally predisposed to the flow state than others. This effortless concentration should speed up progress, while the joyful feelings that come with the flow state should help take the sting out of further practice, setting such people up for future success, says Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi at Claremont Graduate University in California. Conversely, his research into the flow state in children showed that, as he puts it, “young people who didn’t enjoy the pursuit of the subject they were gifted in, whether it was mathematics or music, stopped developing their skills and reverted to mediocrity.”
Despite its potentially crucial role in the development of talent, many researchers had deemed the flow state too slippery a concept to tackle - tainted as it was with mystical, meditative connotations. In the late 1970s, Csikszentmihalyi, then a psychologist at the University of Chicago, helped change that view by showing that the state could be defined and studied empirically. In one groundbreaking study, he interviewed a few hundred talented people, including athletes, artists, chess players, rock climbers and surgeons, enabling him to pin down four key features that characterise flow.
The first is an intense and focused absorption that makes you lose all sense of time. The second is what is known as autotelicity, the sense that the activity you are engaged in is rewarding for its own sake. The third is finding the “sweet spot”, a feeling that your skills are perfectly matched to the task at hand, leaving you neither frustrated nor bored. And finally, flow is characterised by automaticity, the sense that “the piano is playing itself”, for example.
Exactly what happens in the brain during flow has been of particular interest, but it has been tricky to measure. Csikszentmihalyi took an early stab at it, using electroencephalography (EEG) to measure the brain waves of expert chess players during a game. He found that the most skilled players showed less activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is typically associated with higher cognitive processes such as working memory and verbalisation. That may seem counter-intuitive, but silencing self-critical thoughts might allow more automatic processes to take hold, which would in turn produce that effortless feeling of flow.
Later studies have confirmed these findings and revealed other neural signatures of flow. Chris Berka and her colleagues at Advanced Brain Monitoring in Carlsbad, California, for example, looked at the brain waves of Olympic archers and professional golfers. A few seconds before the archers fired off an arrow or the golfers hit the ball, the team spotted a small increase in what’s known as the alpha band, one of the frequencies that arises from the electrical noise of all the brain’s neurons (The International Journal of Sport and Society, vol 1, p 87). This surge in alpha waves, Berka says, is associated with reduced activation of the cortex, and is always more obvious in experts than in novices. “We think this represents focused attention on the target, while other sensory inputs are suppressed,” says Berka. She found that these mental changes are accompanied by slower breathing and a lower pulse rate - as you might expect from relaxed concentration.
Defining and characterising the flow state is all very well, but could a novice learn to turn off their critical faculties and focus their attention in this way, at will? If so, would it boost performance? Gabriele Wulf, a kinesiologist at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, helped to answer this question in 1998, when she and her colleagues examined the way certain athletes move (Journal of Motor Behavior, vol 30, p 169).
At the time, she had no particular interest in the flow state. But Wulf and her colleagues found that they could quickly improve a person’s abilities by asking them to focus their attention on an external point away from their body. Aspiring skiers who were asked to do slalom-type movements on a simulator, for example, learned faster if they focused on a marked spot ahead of them. Golfers who focused on the swing of the club were about 20 per cent more accurate than those who focused on their own arms.
Wulf and her colleagues later found that an expert’s physical actions require fewer muscle movements than those of a beginner - as seen in the tight, spare motions of top-flight athletes. They also experience less mental strain, a lower heart rate and shallower breathing - all characteristics of the flow state (Human Movement Science, vol 29, p 440).
These findings were borne out in later studies of expert and novice swimmers. Novices who concentrated on an external focus - the water’s movement around their limbs - showed the same effortless grace as those with more experience, swimming faster and with a more efficient technique. Conversely, when the expert swimmers focused on their limbs, their performance declined (International Journal of Sport Science & Coaching, vol 6, p 99).
Wulf’s findings fit well with the idea that flow - and better learning - comes when you turn off conscious thought. “When you have an external focus, you achieve a more automatic type of control,” she says. “You don’t think about what you are doing, you just focus on the outcome.”
Berka has been taking a different approach to evoke the flow state - her group is training novice marksmen to use neurofeedback. Each person is hooked up to electrodes that tease out and display specific brain waves, along with a monitor that measures their heartbeat. By controlling their breathing and learning to deliberately manipulate the waveforms on the screen in front of them, the novices managed to produce the alpha waves characteristic of the flow state. This, in turn, helped them improve their accuracy at hitting the targets. In fact, the time it took to shoot like a pro fell by more than half (The International Journal of Sport and Society, vol 1, p 87).
But as I found when I tried the method, even neurofeedback has a catch. It takes time and effort to produce really thrumming alpha waves. Just when I thought I had achieved them, they evaporated and I lost my concentration. Might there be a faster way to force my brain into flow? The good news is that there, too, the answer appears to be yes.
That is why I’m now allowing Michael Weisend, who works at the Mind Research Network in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to hook my brain up to what’s essentially a 9-volt battery. He sticks the anode - the positive pole of the battery - to my temple, and the cathode to my left arm. “You’re going to feel a slight tingle,” he says, and warns me that if I remove an electrode and break the connection, the voltage passing through my brain will blind me for a good few seconds.
Weisend, who is working on a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency programme to accelerate learning, has been using this form of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to cut the time it takes to train snipers. From the electrodes, a 2-milliamp current will run through the part of my brain associated with object recognition - an important skill when visually combing a scene for assailants.
The mild electrical shock is meant to depolarise the neuronal membranes in the region, making the cells more excitable and responsive to inputs. Like many other neuroscientists working with tDCS, Weisend thinks this accelerates formation of new neural pathways during the time that someone practises a skill. The method he is using on me boosted the speed with which wannabe snipers could detect a threat by a factor of 2.3 (Experimental Brain Research, vol 213, p 9).
Mysteriously, however, these long-term changes also seem to be preceded by a feeling that emerges as soon as the current is switched on and is markedly similar to the flow state. “The number one thing I hear people say after tDCS is that time passed unduly fast,” says Weisend. Their movements also seem to become more automatic; they report calm, focused concentration - and their performance improves immediately.
It’s not yet clear why some forms of tDCS should bring about the flow state. After all, if tDCS were solely about writing new memories, it would be hard to explain the improvement that manifests itself as soon as the current begins to flow.
One possibility is that the electrodes somehow reduce activity in the prefrontal cortex - the area used in critical thought, which Csikszentmihalyi had found to be muted during flow. Roy Hamilton, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, thinks this may happen as a side effect of some forms of tDCS. “tDCS might have much more broad effects than we think it does,” he says. He points out that some neurons can mute the signals of other brain cells in their network, so it is possible that stimulating one area of the brain might reduce activity in another.
Others are more sceptical. Arne Dietrich of the American University of Beirut, Lebanon, suspects that learning will be impaired if the frontal cortex isn’t initially engaged in the task. What’s more, he thinks you would need a specialised type of tDCS to dampen activity in the prefrontal cortex. “But then again, it is not clear what sort of ripple effect tDCS has globally,” he concedes, “regardless of which brain area is targeted.”
In any case, it is clear that not all forms of tDCS bring about flow. Roi Cohen Kadosh at the University of Oxford certainly saw no signs of it when he placed an anode over the brain regions used in spatial reasoning.
This debate will only be resolved with much more research. For now, I’m intrigued about what I’ll experience as I ask Weisend to turn on the current. Initially, there is a slight tingle, and suddenly my mouth tastes like I’ve just licked the inside of an aluminium can. I don’t notice any other effect. I simply begin to take out attacker after attacker. As twenty of them run at me brandishing their guns, I calmly line up my rifle, take a moment to breathe deeply, and pick off the closest one, before tranquilly assessing my next target.
In what seems like next to no time, I hear a voice call out, “Okay, that’s it.” The lights come up in the simulation room and one of the assistants at Advanced Brain Monitoring, a young woman just out of university, tentatively enters the darkened room.
In the sudden quiet amid the bodies around me, I was really expecting more assailants, and I’m a bit disappointed when the team begins to remove my electrodes. I look up and wonder if someone wound the clocks forward. Inexplicably, 20 minutes have just passed. “How many did I get?” I ask the assistant.
She looks at me quizzically. “All of them.”
Diy brain enhancement
Zapping your brain with a small current seems to improve everything from mathematical skills to marksmanship, but for now your best chance of experiencing this boost is to sign up for a lab experiment. Machines that provide transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) cost £5000 a pop, and their makers often sell them only to researchers.
That hasn’t stopped a vibrant community of DIY tDCS enthusiasts from springing up. Their online forums are full of accounts of their home-made experiments, including hair-curling descriptions of blunders that, in one case, left someone temporarily blind.
What drives people to take such risks? Roy Hamilton, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, thinks it is part of a general trend he calls cosmetic neuroscience, in which people try to tailor their brains to the demands of an increasingly fast-paced world. “In a society where both students and their professors take stimulant medications to meet their academic expectations,” he warns, “the potential pressure for the use of cognitive enhancing technologies of all types is very real”.
Sally Adee is a technology feature editor at New Scientist
A guy walks into a bar in the South and orders a white wine.
All the rednecks sitting around the bar look up from their beer and whiskey, expecting to see some pitiful Yankee from the north.
The bartender says, “You ain’t from around here, are ya?”
The guy says, “No, I’m from Canada.”
The bartender says, “What do you do in Canada?”
The guy says, “I’m a taxidermist.”
The bartender says, “A taxidermist? What in the hell is a taxidermist? Do you drive a taxi?”
“No”, says the Canadian “A taxidermist doesn’t drive a taxi, I mount animals.”
The bartender grins and hollers, “It’s okay boys. He’s one of us.”
If the timeline is true, this is an amaizing artistic use of Photoshop.
To me, this looks like the video is played from back to front, though (namely, starting from a photo and gradually making it more and more a sketch).
People who want by the yard, but try by the inch, should be kicked by the foot!
Nothing tastes as good as slim feels.
Nobody plans to fail, they just fail to plan.
Worry is interest paid in advance for a debt you may never owe.
Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at.
Entire country loses internet for five hours after woman, 75, slices through cable while scavenging for copper
By Tom Parfitt in Moscow
The woman damaged a fibre-optic cable with her spade
An elderly Georgian woman was scavenging for copper to sell as scrap when she accidentally sliced through an underground cable and cut off internet services to all of neighbouring Armenia, it emerged on Wednesday.
The woman, 75, had been digging for the metal not far from the capital Tbilisi when her spade damaged the fibre-optic cable on 28 March.
As Georgia provides 90% of Armenia’s internet, the woman’s unwitting sabotage had catastrophic consequences. Web users in the nation of 3.2 million people were left twiddling their thumbs for up to five hours as the country’s main internet providers - ArmenTel, FiberNet Communication and GNC-Alfa – were prevented from supplying their normal service. Television pictures showed reporters at a news agency in the capital Yerevan staring glumly at blank screens.
Large parts of Georgia and some areas of Azerbaijan were also affected.
“It was a 75-year-old woman who was digging for copper in the ground so that she could sell it for scrap,” said a spokesman for Georgia’s interior ministry said yesterday.
Dubbed “the spade-hacker” by local media, the woman – who has not been named – is being investigated on suspicion of damaging property. She faces up to three years in prison if charged and convicted.
A spokesman for Georgia’s interior ministry said the woman was temporarily released “on account of her old age” but could face more questioning.
The damage was detected by a system monitoring the fibre-optic link from western Europe and a security team was immediately dispatched to the spot, where the woman was arrested. The interior ministry said she had no accomplices.
The cable is owned by the Georgian railway network. It is heavily protected, but landslides or heavy rain may have exposed it to scavengers.
Pulling up unused copper cables for scrap is a common means of making money in the former Soviet Union. Some entrepreneurs have even used tractors to wrench out hundreds of metres of cable from the former nuclear testing ground at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan.