Text Messaging the Solar System


It's a good week for patience, as seen in The Week, after an Australian website started transmitting text messages to Gliese 581 d, the closest planet outside our solar system likely to support life. Estimated delivery time: 20 years. Check it out Earthlings: http://www.hellofromearth.net



It's Risky to Search for Stars in Cyberspace


Actress Jessica Biel has overtaken Brad Pitt as the most dangerous celebrity to search for in cyberspace. According to Internet security firm McAfee Inc., who surveys which A-list celebrities are the riskiest to search for, Biel was deemed the most dangerous, with fans having a one-in-five chance of landing at a website that has tested positive for spyware, adware, spam, phishing, or viruses.

"Cybercriminals are star watchers too - they latch onto popular celebrities to encourage the download of malicious software in disguise," said McAfee's Jeff Green. "Every day, cybercriminals use celebrities' names and images, like Kim Kardashian and Rihanna, to lure surfers searching for the latest stories, screensavers and ringtones to sites offering free downloads laden with malware."

Brad Pitt topped the list in 2008 and Paris Hilton came in first in 2007. Coming second on the list for the second year running was pop star Beyonce, with McAfee finding that putting "Beyonce ringtones" into a search engine yielded a dangerous website linking to a distributor of adware and spyware. Actress Jennifer Aniston was third, with more than 40 percent of the Google search results for "Jennifer Aniston screensavers" containing nasty viruses. Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie tied as the eighth most dangerous celebrities on the Web while newlyweds Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen came in fourth and sixth respectively.

However, U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who have been featured on most celebrities list this year, were not at the top of risky public figures to search. The Obamas ranked in the bottom-third of this year's results, at No. 34 and No. 39 respectively. Best advice? Go to the stars' official sites!
They're GRAS,
Erin

How Cyberattacks Affect Your Online Home


Did you hear about the massive cyberattack that shut down Twitter for several hours last week and also interfered with Facebook? Maybe you experienced it yourself when you tried to update the world about your daily activites and suddenly you couldn't.

It turns out it was caused by a Russian effort to silence a Georgian blogger, according to Internet security experts as seen in The Week. The blogger, known as Cyxymu--the Cyrillic spelling of Sukhumi, a Georgian city damaged during last year's war with Russia--is famous for his anti-Russian posts. Security experts believe that Russian cyberattackers sent out a huge volume of spam with links to Cyxymu's sites on Twitter and Facebook; when the spam's recipients clicked the links, the resulting traffic overwhelmed the sites.

Talk about a sci-fi, action, thriller movie plot gone awry; obviously it isn't too far fetched when it actually hits home... your home. These are modern times we're living in so please do yourself a favor and take a moment to understand what a DDoS is, and better yet, remind yourself of the most important tip I always tell you: Don't click on links in email messages or blog posts, especially if you don't know the person who wrote it!
Be safe, surf well, NetLingo is here to help.
PEEP,
Erin

It's Official: You Can't Text While You Drive!

Many of us have done it, many of us still do it, and many of us will keep on doing it even though there are now laws against it. But this vice may actually end up killing someone and believe me, you don't want that on your conscience, let alone your criminal record. I'm talking about texting while driving.

Drivers who send text messages while at the wheel are 23 times more likely to get into an accident, a new report concludes. Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institiute installed video cameras in the cabs of long-haul trucks and observed them for 18 months. They found that just prior to collisions or near-collisions, the truckers typicallty spent five seconds or more looking at their texting devices instead of at the road. Yikes! Truckers texting while driving? First I was fearful of your random drunk driver on the road, now I have to be concerned about EVERYONE on the road including truckers? And what happens when all of our kids grow up?

They don't have to grow up, it's already happening. Kids who are as young as 14-years-old are trying to educate other teens about the dangers of doing it. Why? Because they've already killed people. Please take this opportunity to share this information with your teenager so they don't make the same mistake. Still not quite sure, read through the thousands of news reports about deaths while text messaging here.

One of my best friends is afraid to eat in the car for fear she might choke and then die in an accident, but she has no problem texting constantly while she's racing around at 65 miles per hour. I tell her it's illegal and dangerous but somehow it doesn't matter to her, whatever's on her little phone is suddenly more important than her life and the lives of those around her. Listen up people, you can't do it any longer. Period. There are now bumper stickers that say "Don't Text While Driving," c'mon get a clue. For a list of Countries and U.S. States that ban cell phones and text messaging while driving, click here. And please, take a break from all that instant communication and keep your eyes on the road.
CIL,
Erin

Experts Worry Machines May Outsmart Man


According to one of my favorite journalists Eric Effron, Executive Editor of The Week, it was disturbing enough when scientists developed chess-playing computers that could vanquish even the world's great chess masters. Now comes the alarming news that machines could soon be putting us to shame in our national pastime.

Japanese researchers last week unveiled robots that can hit and pitch a baseball with remarkable acumen. The robotic hitter swings only at balls in the strike zone and almost never misses, while the pitcher robot throws strikes 90 percent of the time and is even developing a wicked curveball. The robots can't yet spit chewing tobacco, but with technology getting exponentially smarter as well as more agile (see my previous blog posts about kissing a robot and socially assitive robots), the prospect of a machine-ruled apocalypse, long a mainstay of science fiction, is starting to seem a little less far fetched.

Its not just Terminator aficionados who worry about the "rise of the machines." A group of leading computer scientists, artificial intelligence researchers, and "roboticists" recently convened a private conference in Menlo Park, CA, to debate the need for limits on research that "might lead to loss of human control over computer-based systems," according to a distressingly nonchalant account in The New York Times. Among the experts' concerns: What would happen if machines developed their own capacity to build ever-smarter and stronger machines? And what about robots that can "kill autonomously"?

The hope, apparently, is that with the right guidelines, the cutting-edge science that has been moving these scenarios into the realm of the possible will improve the human condition--rather than, say, spawn lethal, superintelligent machines that will eventually wipe out humanity. Those rules better be good. At the very least, though, Eric Effron suspects the machines will kick our sorry, human butts in baseball. But I might add, robot butts aren't nearly as fun to look at during the seventh inning stretch ;-)
NBFABS,
Erin