June 23rd, 2008


College bans women from wolf-whistling at construction workers.

Wait, what?

A further education college is having to protect builders from wolf-whistling girls, in a reversal of traditional gender stereotypes. Officials at West Kent College in Tonbridge, Kent, sent an email to all pupils warning that the behaviour was "totally unacceptable", and saying any students caught harassing contractors would face disciplinary action. The email was sent after a demolition team started work on a £94 million, three-year building project at the campus.

The email read: "It has come to the attention of the college that some female students have been making comments to, or whistling at, the builders both whilst on site and as they walk around the campus. "Although we are sure no offence is meant, this constitutes harassment and is wholly unacceptable."


"Cell phones pop popcorn" video, revealed!

By now you may have seen that "useing cell phones to pop popcorn" video that's going around.

Needless to say, it's fake. There's nowhere near enough radio energy in a cell phone (max power: 1.6 watts) to pop popcorn. And now someone made a video showing how the faking was done.

Amazing what you can pull off if you don't care about shooting 1200 watts of microwave radiation straight into your face. ;]
Trajedy... for YOUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!

The real state of Iraq.

American television loves natural disasters. The Burmese cyclones that may have carried off as many as 200,000 people offered the cameras high drama. The floods in Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri along the Mississippi River, which have wiped out thousands of homes, have been carefully detailed hour by hour. But American television is little interested in the massive disaster blithely visited upon Iraq by Washington. Oh, there is the occasional human interest story. Angelina Jolie's visit sparked a headline or two. Briefly.

By now, summer of 2008, excess deaths from violence in Iraq since March of 2003 must be at least a million. This conclusion can be reached more than one way. There is not much controversy about it in the scientific community. Some 310,000 of those were probably killed by US troops or by the US Air Force, with the bulk dying in bombing raids by US fighter jets and helicopter gunships on densely populated city and town quarters.

In absolute numbers, that would be like bombing to death everyone in Pittsburgh, Pa. Or Cincinnati, Oh.


Do you care? Of course not. Not enough to do anything about it, anyway.

Assira: MicroSoft does Kittenauth.

Asirra (Animal Species Image Recognition for Restricting Access) is a CAPTCHA that works by asking users to identify photographs of cats and dogs. This task is difficult for computers, but our user studies have shown that people can accomplish it quickly and accurately. Many even think it's fun!

Past projects have used photographs to tell computers and humans apart. Examples include Carnegie Mellon's PIX CAPTCHA, Oli Warner's KittenAuth, and work done by Chew and Tygar. These projects have a common weakness: they use relatively small image databases. There's a fundamental reason for this. It's difficult for a computer to automatically classify pictures with high accuracy — that's why the task is useful as a CAPTCHA. An image database small enough to be constructed manually by a researcher is also small enough to be manually reconstructed by an attacker.

Asirra is different because of our unique partnership with Petfinder.com, the world's largest site devoted to finding homes for homeless pets. They've provided us with over three million images of cats and dogs, manually classified by people at thousands of animal shelters across the United States. In exchange, we provide a small "Adopt Me!" link beneath each photo, supporting Petfinder's primary mission of finding homes for homeless animals.


The good news is that this should speed the development of OCR/ODR technology.

Just think of the homeland security applications! I'm putting together my optical cat recognition grant proposal for DARPA right now.


I went and clicked on all dogs / no cats, just to see what it would do. It told me I was a bot. Haha.
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