May 28, 2010

Fun Friday: Six Degrees of Black Sabbath

So, how many steps away musically is Miles Davis from Garth Brooks? Using Six Degrees of Black Sabbath, you can find out.

Six Degrees of Black Sabbath is based on popular games that show connections, such as Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. To use it, just type in two different musicians or bands, and see how closely they are related.

So, how far apart (or close) are Kiss and Eminem? Use Six Degrees of Black Sabbath to find out.


May 27, 2010

Facebook Changes Privacy Settings

In response to criticism about privacy, Facebook has started rolling out new privacy settings. The new settings will become available to users over the next several weeks. The most significant change involves an option to change settings with a single click. For instance, you can easily change your settings from sharing with "Everyone" to "Recommended" just by clicking the Recommended setting:

For more information about Facebook's new privacy settings, see this article from All Facebook: The Unofficial Facebook Resource.

Most Internet Users Manage Their Online Reputation

More than half (57%) of adult internet users say they have used a search engine to look up their name and see what information was available about them online, up from 47% who did so in 2006, according to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

Young adults, far from being indifferent about their digital footprints, are the most active online reputation managers. For example, more than two-thirds (71%) of social networking users ages 18-29 have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online.

Reputation management has now become a defining feature of online life for many internet users, especially the young. While some internet users are careful to project themselves online in a way that suits specific audiences, other internet users embrace an open approach to sharing information about themselves and do not take steps to restrict what they share.

When compared with older users, young adults are more likely to restrict what they share and whom they share it with. “Contrary to the popular perception that younger users embrace a laissez-faire attitude about their online reputations, young adults are often more vigilant than older adults when it comes to managing their online identities,” said Madden.

Read the entire report here.

More eReaders Are Coming

At the beginning of the year, if you wanted to buy an ereader there were three main choices: the Amazon Kindle, the nook from Barnes and Noble, or a Sony Reader. Since then, the market for ereaders has exploded.

One of the new entries into market is the Apple iPad. Though developed as a mulit-function device that can surf the web, play games, and more, Apple made sure that the iPad can function as an ereader. Apple added the iBookstore to iTunes which gives iPad owners the ability to download ebooks direct to their device. While reviews of the iPad overall have been positive, reviews of it as an eReader have been mixed.

Another new eReader coming to market is the Kobo eReader. Developed through ebook retailer Kobo (which is partially owned by brick-and-mortar book retailer Borders), the Kobo eReader is basic: It doesn't feature a color touchscreen like the nook, nor does it feature wireless connectivity to download books like the Kindle or the nook. What it does have is a low initial price: $149.99, which is lower than the cheapest offering from Sony. With this low price and promotion through Borders, the Kobo eReader should be a popular device that will introduce many more people to ebooks.

A third new anticipated eReader is Spring Design's Alex eReader. The Alex eReader features a double screen display and is powered by Android like the nook, but the bottom color LCD is much larger. This allows the Alex eReader to run basic Android apps such as a web browser, email, and calculator apps, and also allows you to watch videos from sites such as YouTube. Early reviews have been generally positive; however many believe that because of the high price ($399), people would be better buying an iPad.

eBooks have seen tremendous growth over the past year. In 2009, ebook sales reached $169.5 million. No longer are ebooks and ereaders associated with a single store and device, like the Kindle. With the launch of the iPad and other new ereaders, ebooks sales will undoubtedly continue to grow.

May 21, 2010

Fun Friday: Pac Man Turns 30

To honor the 30th anniversary of Pac Mac, argueably the most popular early video arcade game, Google has turned its logo into a playable, mini-Pac Man game.

Just go to Google, click the "insert coin" button and start to play. For the real effect, make sure your sound is turned up.

Post your high score below. (Mine was 6810. But hey, I am at work, of course!)

(Update: Double click on the "insert coin" button and you can play Ms. Pac Man. Google says the game will be available for 48 hours.)

May 20, 2010

FaceBook and Privacy

FaceBook's privacy policies have been major news during the past several weeks. Bloggers have posted their top 10 reasons to quit FaceBook. Some have started to quit FaceBook, including engineers at Google and noted tech journalist Leo Laporte. The "quit FaceBook" movement has even inspired a "Quit FaceBook Day", which is scheduled for May 31.

With this in mind, here are several websites that showcase the development of FaceBook's privacy policies over time, and also some sites to help make sure that your FaceBook account does indeed stay private.
  • FaceBook Privacy: A Bewilding Tangle of Options
    This excellent graph from the New York Times shows a flow chart detailing the more than 170 options to manage your privacy on FaceBook. It also shows the development of FaceBook's privacy policy, which now at 5,830 words is longer than the United States Constitution.

  • Evolution of Privacy on FaceBook
    Matt McKeon has an interesting interactive chart that shows how the default settings that manage sharing of information on FaceBook have changed over time.

  • Reclaim Privacy
    This excellent bookmarklet will scan your FaceBook account settings and let you now how private your account settings are.

  • 7 Things to Stop Doing on FaceBook
    From the June 2010 issue of Consumer Reports comes this list of information to stay safer on FaceBook.
Where do you stand on the issue of FaceBook and privacy? Are you going to quit FaceBook on May 31? Or, like popular librarian blogger David Lee King, do your see reasons to stay with Facebook? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

May 18, 2010

Read the Original Script for New Robin Hood Movie Online

Recently, I came across an article on about the original script for the new Robin Hood movie, and how it was changed and manipulated over the years into becoming the movie that hit the theaters.

The original script for the movie painted a much different picture then what was released. The script, Nottingham, tells the story from the Sheriff of Nottingham's point of view. This obviously makes for a huge shift from the movie, and is also a very interesting take on the classic tale. Read the original here.

The article on Cinematical is interesting as it recounts how plot lines changed as the movie changed hands while being created. The full story of the script and its numerous changes can be found on the original script writer's blog.

It truly is an interesting tale, and a great read for movie buffs and all readers.

May 17, 2010

YouTube Turns Five

Five years ago in May, 2005 the beta version of launched. Since that time, YouTube has taken off, hosting everything from popular viral videos to Presidential debates, and now has over 2 billion views per day (that's 23,000 per second). To celebrate, YouTube has launched a Five Year channel that highlights some of the important videos that have been on the site, and also reflections on YouTube from the likes of Conan O'Brien, Katie Couric, and Pedro Almodovar.

Throghout the life of the Tech Desk we have highlighted some of our favorites, including the amazing video mashups, various Motown favorites, and early electronic newspapers.

Post your own YouTube favorites in our comments section!

May 14, 2010

Fun Friday: Electronic Books, the Early Years

Interested in the beginnings of electronic books? Popular blog Boing Boing has posted a magazine ad from 1986 regarding Radio Shack's new line of "Electronic Books." Take a look here.

May 9, 2010

DoGooder Extension/Addon Aims to Raise Money for Green Initatives

The other day, I was surfing one of my favorite blogs, Downloadsquad, and came across a great article by Lee Mathews about the DoGooder extension for Chrome/Firefox. The extension replaces advertisements on websites with those of "green initiatives and movements for positive social change."

My favorite feature of the extension is that it blocks ugly, frustrating, and just plain annoying advertisements with interesting, colorful, and surprisingly informative ads. Also, I do not have to feel guilty for blocking the advertisements on the site because, as Lee Mathews explains:
Unlike extensions such as AdBlock, DoGooder doesn't actually block a publisher's original ads. Instead, it loads them and then covers them up with its own ads. That's a good thing for publishers, since it means their ad impressions won't be affected. DoGooder also maintains a whitelist of websites which have similar advertising practices, and the extension allows users to flip back to the original ads if they wish to do so.
The only thing I wish I could change with DoGooder is the added icon to the Chrome interface. I hope this will be optional in the future. For additional details about the DoGood program, check out the DoGood Headquarters website.

The DoGooder Extension is available for Chrome and Firefox. I highly recommended it!

May 6, 2010

Google Updates Search Results

You may have noticed some recent changes at Google. They have updated some minor things, such as their logo. More importantly, they have updated the way search results are displayed. For more information, watch the video below.