Killer typo

Regular Google visitor with clumsy typing skills? Watch that you don’t hit the “k” before the “l” when entering the search engine name into your browser address bar, you could be in for a nasty shock. was registered by some phishy customers and if you were dumb enough to visit their site you would be bombarded with trojan sites and all sorts of malware, according to Icelandic computer security company F-secure. on the other hand will bring you to the Google homepage while will send you to a casino site. But, who types in anyway, don’t most users these days have it bookmarked or run the Google toolbar to access the search engine?

Cyber Skiver

Yahoo has added an intriguing feature to its Messenger software that will have bosses up in arms but allow malingerers and timewasters to save their skin. Stealth settings, Yahoo claims, will allow users to hide their online status from their boss, for instance, but remain visible and so chattable to their friends. It all sounds like good clean fun, to be honest, they should call it skive and hide. One thing that struck me though…how many bosses use Yahoo Messenger anyway? Haven’t those in higher places been persuaded to run Skype these days?

What the !$%� do they know!?

What the Bleep makes its UK debut soon and gets slated by my old New Scientist mucker Marcus Chown.

One thing the movie claims (among many other ludicrous things) is that loving thoughts make for beautifully symmetric crystals whereas asymmetric and ugly crystals form from polluted water, or water that has been “subjected to” unhappy thoughts.

It’s obviously pseudoscientific claptrap, linking spirituality, consciousness, and quantum mechanics, but crystallographer Rick Bagshaw of the University of Toronto admits that “the more you swear at uncrystallized samples, the worse the outcome.” So, his negative empirical evidence almost backs up the film!

Of course, a deficit of crystallisation is the last thing a crystallographer needs, so Bagshaw has adopted “a more loving tone” for the sake of crystal growth.

I’m going to keep a check on Bagshaw’s publication frequency to see whether bigging up his crystals leads to bigger crystals.

Charcoal Production Process

Another intriguing search brought a reader to the sciencebase science news site, they were looking for the charcoal production process apparently, anyway, I don’t believe I have a ready-made article on the subject so instead would like to direct you to the Wikipedia entry on Charcoal.

Another reader was looking for the molecular structure of oxygen. In molecular form it is either O2 (the stuff we breathe, dioxygen) or O3 (ozone, the stuff it’s best not to breathe, but without which we’d all fry under the sun’s UV), but it oxygen also has radical and ionic forms. Again, Wikipedia is a good place to look for such information – Oxygen

AOL users don’t care about science!

AOL logoAccording to America Online’s top searches for Spring this year, most of its users are looking for baseball players, diets, holiday destinations, wedding-related stuff, tax forms, proms, flowers, and other such matters. The nearest they get to anything academic is homework and university searches (Duke is the most popular search apparently). I didn’t see one mention of science, technology, nor computing. But, what is very worrying is that no one was looking for money off vouchers and online coupons, which is odd given the number of visitors the Sciencebase online coupons site gets each day (many of those from AOL). AOL unveils hottest searches for spring 2005, but to be honest the lack of certain subjects suggests to me that this is not a complete list by any means. logo

The philanthropic wing of Google is coming soon, get your grant-writing pens at the ready:

The foundation’s aims are to use the power of information and technology to address global challenges: climate change, poverty and emergent diseases. Google is working with partners in each of these fields and investing resources as well as tapping its employees’ strengths to advance five major initiatives:

  1. Develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE)
  2. Accelerate the Commercialization of Plug-In Vehicles (RechargeIT)
  3. Predict and Prevent
  4. Inform and Empower to Improve Public Services
  5. Fuel the Growth of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Google’s commitment amounts to 1% (as cited in 2004, when Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin wrote to prospective shareholders about their vision for the company) of equity and profits. As of January 2008, has committed over US$75 million in grants and investments aimed at the five projects listed above.

Olivia Newton John “Born again”

I’m in shock! Cambridge-born singer with the Aussie accent, Olivia Newton John, star of Grease (the movie) and Xanadu, is the granddaughter of Nobel physicist Max Born.

However, another site cites her maternal grandfather as being Welshman Max Born, allegedly a professor of German at Cambridge and Melbourne.

I plucked up the courage to visit her “official” site, where it is confirmed that it’s Max the physicist and not Max the Welshman. Thank goodness for that, otherwise there would have been no credence to the nickname she received among pre-teens during the 1970s of Olivia Neutron Bomb.

Old PCs for old

It really doesn’t come as a surprise to hear that a major UK computer seller is up before the courts accused of mis-selling second-hand computers as “shop soiled”. A friend of mine once took a machine to them for an overhaul, system cleanup, extra RAM that sort of thing. Came back to him in exactly the same condition as when he’d taken it in, they tried to charge him 150 quid for the privelege, But he easily caught them out when he showed them that the OEM security seal on the case hadn’t even been broken! Why did they think they’d get away with it. Perhaps it is because the general public is so trusting of an operator that has massive out of town stores. It would be the last place I’d go to buy anything to do with computers.

Biological fun…

Also spotted on the science writers’ discussion list I mentioned earlier, a press release came in with the subject line: “Happiness Related to Biological Fun”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as spicey as some had hoped, biological fun, they thought, being a nice euphemism. Apparently, it was nothing more than a truncation, and the full subject read: “Happiness Related to Biological Function”. Borrrring. I linked this to to the apocryphal “a penis” story told of the de Gaulles cos it’s sort of related…ish.