Daily TIPs, Online Egotists, Cloud Collaboration, Gaming the Future, & More

9/24/08

Narcissists Easy to Spot on Facebook

Psychologists at the University of Georgia wondered if they could use online profiles to identify the personality traits of the people who posted them and found that, for narcissism at least, it wasn’t hard to do. As Ars Technica explains, the researchers had students take a personality test to identify narcissistic personalities, then looked at their Facebook pages for both objective and subjective clues. Then they asked other students to spot the narcissists, and the students did, focusing on items like the number of friends and the self-promotional value of the profile photo.

Consumers Want Companies to Fight Climate Change, Survey Finds

Companies should take the lead in fighting global warming, say the majority of 28,000 Internet users from around the world surveyed by the Nielsen Company. Reuters says that 51 percent of those asked felt it was very important for firms to take steps to improve the environment, while another 36 percent called it somewhat important. And 40 percent said government should regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

Web-Linked Appliances Could Cut Energy Use

Tying your refrigerator, washing machine, and hot-water heater into the Internet could save energy and money. GigaOm reports that a number of startups are selling items such as in-home energy displays that tell how much energy a home is using and what it’s costing. A pilot project by Whirlpool that let devices decide when to turn themselves off, based on price and what they are doing, found that 98 percent of participants thought the program worked well.

Eye-Tracker Gives Surgeons an Extra Hand

A device that tracks eye movements to aim a surgical laser or other equipment could give doctors better control over procedures they’re performing. New Scientist reports on a device being developed that shines an LED onto a doctor’s eyes, and uses a camera to track where her eye is looking, then tells a robot to reposition a laser or an endoscope. The device frees surgeons, whose hands tend to be full, from having to move around additional equipment.

Planned Community Demonstrates Eco-Friendly Possibilities

An abandoned military base near San Francisco is being transformed into a new community, and planners are designing it to be a particularly “green” neighborhood. The area, known as Treasure Island, will have its street grid oriented to give rooftop photovoltaics maximum exposure to sunlight, while an organic farm would use fertilizer generated by the island’s waste treatment plant. Scientific American says this is just one of several projects planned in the U.S., China, and Abu Dhabi that aim to reduce the environmental costs of city living.

Oracle and Intel Collaborate on Cloud Computing

Oracle and Intel have announced they’ll work together to accelerate the development of cloud computing, in which software runs on an Internet-connected network of servers without regard to who actually owns them. The companies want to push computing and data storage into the cloud by improving the efficiency and security of such operations, CNET News tells us. Improving data encryption technologies will be a large part of the effort.

Game Hopes to Predict the Future

A new online game called Superstruct started running this week, and challenges players with “superthreats” such as disease pandemics, refugees displaced by global warming, and evil computer hackers, that threaten civilization. As Discover magazine reports, the game, from the Institute for the Future, hopes to harness the so-called wisdom of crowds to predict doomsday scenarios and come up with ways to deal with them.

Solar Panels Enter Black Market

Solar panels are becoming increasingly popular, with thieves who resell them on eBay, according to the New York Times. Although no one’s compiled statistics, police departments in California say they’re seeing a rash of such crimes. Outside of California, where fewer panels have been installed, thefts are rarer, but growing, the paper says.

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