Daily TIPs: Loose Lips, Virtual Housecalls, Humless Turbines, & More

8/12/08

Web Surfers Give Away Secrets Online

Most Internet users—84 percent—say they don’t give out personal data online, but actually 89 percent of them do, according to a study done by AOL. ComputerWorld reports that the study found that, while people seem to be aware of the dangers of giving away data, they don’t actually take steps to protect themselves. The study also found that 34 percent of users expect to be a victim of credit card fraud, even though it’s only happened to 11 percent.

Telemedicine Boosts Healthcare, Study Finds

Two-way video conferencing between medical specialists and patients can lead to better outcomes than simply consulting over the telephone, according to a study in Lancet Neurology. Ars Technica says the study found that stroke victims in rural or remote areas were correctly diagnosed more often through telemedicine than by phone, 98 percent versus 82 percent.

Systems Takes the Hum Out of Turbines

One common barrier to using wind turbines to produce electricity is that their neighbors complain about the noise caused by the spinning blades and cogwheels. Now a German researcher has come up with an active noise damping system to counteract the problem. The Chemical Engineer Today reports that the system measures changing vibration frequencies and produces vibrations designed to cancel them out.

Bright Insects Identify Medicinal Plants

Drug discovery specialists have a new tool to lead them to plants that may have undiscovered medicinal benefits; they just have to follow the bugs. According to New Scientist, researchers have found that brightly colored insects like to sit on medicinally active plants. The plant produces substances the insects can use, and the bugs display bright colors to warn predators that they’re toxic.

Spyware Declines, But the Net Isn’t Safe

Some major online risks, such as spyware, are dropping in prevalence, but that doesn’t mean the Internet is free of danger. The PolicyBeta blog reports that a study by Consumer Reports found a 56 percent decline in the rate of serious spyware problems. Still, spyware cost the country $3.6 billion over the last six months, the report says.

Cotton-Backed Solar Cells on the Way

A company says it has developed a backing for solar cells made from cotton and castor oil, Greentech Media reports. BioSolar, of Santa Clarita, CA, says the bio-based backing is more environmentally friendly and will be about 25 percent cheaper than the petroleum-based film backing most solar cells use today.

States See Revenue Potential Online

Digital downloads—of games, music, and TV episodes—are soaring in popularity, and many states are thinking they ought to get a piece of the action. Daily Tech reports that 17 states and the District of Columbia now tax digital downloads. While lobbyists in California and Wisconsin have fought off the revenuers, other states are considering adding new taxes.

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