We've all used the web to research and help diagnose what might be causing that nagging ailment, whether it be related to sudden fatique or a new pain not associated with an obvious injury. But when you use the web in place of a doctor, do you tend to worry that your symptoms are indicative of a worst case scenario? If so, your real ailment might be cyberchondria.
Earlier this week, Microsoft researchers published the results of a study examining health-related web inquiries as well as a survey of the company's employees. The results of the study indicate that people who use search engines as a self-diagnosis tool often conclude the worst about whatever it is that ails them.
"People tend to look at just the first couple of results," said Eric Horvitz, an artificial intelligence researcher at Microsoft Research. "If they find 'brain tumor' or 'A.L.S.,' that's their launching point."
According to the study conducted by Horvitz, who holds a medical degree, and his fellow investigator Ryen W. White, a specialist in information retrieval technology, web searches for ailments like headaches and chest pain were equally or more likely to land surfers on pages describing dire conditions as benign ones. For someone who is suffering from a headache, search results would link the symptom to brain tumors just as often as they would with caffeine withdrawal, even though the chance of having a brain tumor is highly unlikely.
The researchers suggest that a combination of human nature to jump to worst-case conclusions combined with a reliance on web search rankings contribute to the tendency to be a cyberchondriac.
Does this describe you or anyone you know? Hit the jump and tell us.
In some respects, MySpace, FriendFinder, and every other social networking site could be considered a human flesh search engine. So could Google, Yahoo, and the rest of the online search portals, particularly when combined with incognito-based browsing. But in China, the seemingly sexual term takes on a completely different meaning than the first one that most likely popped into your head.
Instead, the term refers to vigilante cybermobs who collaborate online to hunt down who they perceive as wrongdoers deserving of the cybermobs' own brand of justice. Take for example of the case of Wang Fei, a former advertising executive. His wife posted several blog posts lamenting her husband's alleged infidelity before she committed suicide by jumping out of the couple's 24th--floor apartment. Following her death, cybermobs posted Wang's personal information on several forums, including his phone numbers, address, and national ID number. Someone painted a slogan on his door that read "A blood debt must be repaid with blood." According to Wang's lawyer, the harassment forced him to resign from his job after his workplace became the subject of abuse, and oftentimes strangers in the street would confront him.
Wang's story isn't an isolated one, though according to at least one expert, large-scale human flesh engines do appear to be unique to China, partially as a result of China's "ingrained tradition of 'people's war' tracing back to Mao."
Could you see this becoming a trend in other parts of the world? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Hynix this week double-dipped into the record books by introducing the world's first and fastest 1 Gigabit GDDR5 graphics DRAM operating at 7Gb/s, a 40 percent improvement over 5Gb/s GDDR5. The new memory is built using a 54nm process and can process up to 28GB/s with a 32-bit I/O, the company claims. On a 512-bit memory bus, bandwidth should reach as high as 448GB/s.
In addition to speed, Hynix also emphasized power consumption. The new memory requires just 1.35V as opposed to 1.5V inherent in previous generation GDDR5 memory. This means that the improved GDDR5 not only bodes well for future high performance videocards, but the potential for lower heat and longer battery life could also be a boon for notebooks.
Hynix says its 1Gb GDDR5 graphics memory meets the JEDEC standard and plans to start volume production in the first half of 2009.
If you're going to throw the gauntlet down, do it a big way and let the competition know what they're up against. That's exactly what Micron has done, who demoed a new SSD drive like no other we've seen before.
Unlike standard SSDs, which come equipped for either a PATA or SATA interface, Micron's prototype drive eschews such quaint bandwidth limits and instead makes do with a PCI-E slot. The end result is a new level of benchmarking that blows every other SSD to date out of the water, including Intel's mighty X-25M.
The YouTube video does a poor job of zeroing in on the benchmarks during the demonstration, but Micron's Joe Jeddeloh reads off the numbers as the two-card test setup runs through a short series of tests. During an Iometer run, Jeddeloh claims the dual drive configuration posted 200,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second), proclaiming "that's what Flash can do when managed correctly."
While the demonstration showed two cards running in unison, later in the video Jeddeloh holds up a single PCI-E card that combines the two displayed in the test bed with 16 Flash channels and an x8 PCI-E connector. He says the card will achieve over 1GB/s of bandwidth and at least 200,000 IOPS, "coming to you soon."
“The keyboard/mouse interface is definitely still the superior interface for a competitive first-person shooter experience, much better than an analog joypad,” he told PC Gamer.
But why stop with games? Clearly, the PC can do at least two other things.
"The browser environment is faster—navigating web pages on the console is a really tedious experience… And I do think there’s the whole idea of PCs being everywhere, and having a game that you can play just about anywhere. Anywhere there’s a PC, if you’ve got a few minutes you can download Quake Live content and jump in and play your game,” he said.
However, Carmack conceded that console development definitely has its perks -- for instance, acting as a hardy shelter in the hail of issues that is PC development.
"There are interesting technical things, looking across the spectrum of graphics cards, looking at the very latest stuff on there, but there are also times when I say, 'Wow, the 360 is a nicer place to develop games.' You bypass a lot of the issues there. Wouldn’t it be nice just to develop strictly for that platform?"
"The official editor for Fallout 3, called the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit), will be available for free download in December and will allow Games for Windows® users to create and add their own content to the game."
"The release of the G.E.C.K. provides the community with tools that will allow players to expand the game any way they wish. Users can create, modify, and edit any data for use with Fallout 3, from building landscapes, towns, and locations to writing dialogue, creating characters, weapons, creatures, and more."
Even (circle one) <better/worse/Y>, Bethesda's sprinkling a smattering of DLC on top of its latest massively single player RPG, giving players a chance to nab a spot in the vaunted Brotherhood of Steel, grind Commies' bones to make more ground, and save a cleverly titled portion of Pittsburgh from total annihilation. DLC descriptions are as follows:
Operation: Anchorage. Enter a military simulation and fight in one of the greatest battles of the Fallout universe – the liberation of Anchorage, Alaska from its Chinese Communist invaders. An action-packed battle scheduled for release in January.
The Pitt. Journey to the industrial raider town called The Pitt, located in the remains of Pittsburgh. Choose your side. Scheduled for release in February.
Broken Steel. Join the ranks of the Brotherhood of Steel and rid the Capital Wasteland of the Enclave remnants once and for all. Continues the adventure past the main quest. Scheduled for release in March.
Are you man enough to save Pittsburgh? Or are you a builder -- not a fighter? Well, please don't comment about it. You know how much we hate it when you do that.
Your data means a lot to you, and Lenovo is looking to add one more layer of security to it with their latest concoction – a remote disable that you activate using a text message. The system, called Lenovo Constant Secure Remote Disable will be rolling out as early as 2009.
The remote disable allows anyone with a lost or stolen laptop to simply send a text message that will completely lock down the computer. According to Stacy Cannady, Lenovo’s Product Manager of Security, the computer waits to be turned on by the would-be thief, then locks itself down and uses this time to encrypt the hard drive. Once the machine is recovered all it takes is a “resurrection” password to completely unlock the whole thing.
According to Cannady, “The limitation here is that you have to have a WAN card in the PC and you must be paying a data plan for it. If that is true, when someone steals the PC, you can whip out your cell phone and send a message to your PC, wherever it is, and when the PC gets that message, it will shutoff at that moment. The only way to get it back is to type in the resurrection code.”
Now, let’s just hope that once this technology comes full circle to the Twitter using public, they don’t get the two mixed up!
A recent posting to the Engineering Windows 7 blog (one of our favorite sites for Windows 7 news, by the way) has some very useful information about the mysterious WinSxS directory in Windows 7 (and Vista), and how Microsoft is trying to curb Windows' appetite for disk space in Windows 7.
The C:\Windows\WinSxS folder (first introduced in Vista) looks as if it is a huge gobbler of disk space, (it uses 3.5GB of disk space on a new system, and can use 10GB or more as a system is used) but what does it do, and is that space really being "used up?"
As it turns out, both Windows Vista and Windows 7 use the WinSxS folder to point to files that are actually found elsewhere in Windows; in other words, the amount of space that the WinSxS properties sheet says is in use isn't accurate. So, what's the folder for?
By using the WinSxS folder to store what the blog calls the "installation and servicing state" of all system components, Microsoft makes it easier to roll out Vista installations with imaging technology and to patch the image offline (Windows XP and earlier versions aren't image-friendly, and require third-party tools and clunky workarounds to permit image-based deployment). Also, if you get rid of the WinSxS folder, you make it difficult to keep Windows running reliably. So, the word on the street is, "keep the WinSxS folder." To remove old files replaced by Windows Vista SP1, the blog entry provides a link to information about the command-line VSP1CLN.exe tool.
To find out how Microsoft is working to put Windows 7 on a disk-space diet, join us after the jump.
Earlier this week Google announced that they’re planning to cut back their gigantic, 10,000 strong contractor workforce. While not every single member of that 10 large workforce will be fired, Google is reportedly looking to downsize as best they can.
Make no mistake about it, Google is going to let some people go. But, according to Google co-founder Sergey Brin, they’re looking to convert as many as they can to regular employees. Though, details like this are vague at the moment.
But fret not; this has nothing to do with the economic crisis (or so they say). According to Google spokeswoman “We have 10,000, and we have had a plan in place for awhile to significantly reduce that number. This is something we've been thinking about for awhile--six or seven months. It predates the most acute phase of the (present economic) crisis.”
Early on in the browser wars, one of the key advantages Mozilla's Firefox held over Microsoft's Internet Explorer was performance. Most would agree that Firefox remains the snappier browser out of the two, but it's Google's recently released Chrome browser that can boast the title of Speed King, according to benchmark results published by ExtremeTech.
"Google uses its own knowledge of search and browsing habits to optimize Chrome, but Chrome is still in early development," ExtremeTech wrote in its conclusion. "It's also clear from our testing that Microsoft really needs to get IE8 out the door—IE7 not only has compatibility issues, but is substantially slower in many ways."
ExtremeTech goes on to note that Firefox 3.1 should show improved benchmark scores, but for the time being, Chrome is king, at least when it comes to speed. But who are we kidding - until Google can deliver on its promise to deliver extension support, it might not matter how fast Chrome cruises to the finish line.