Posts Tagged ‘mdash’

Is the Planet in a Period of “Megaquakes,” or Just a String of Bad Luck?

April 18th, 2011 04:22 admin View Comments

earthquakeA house decimated by the 2010 earthquake in Chile.

What’s the News: Enormous earthquakes are rare; there have been only seven quakes with a magnitude 8.8 or above since the start of the 20th century. Of those seven quakes, three of them have happened in the past seven years: off the coasts of Indonesia in 2004, Chile in 2010, and Japan last month. Some researchers think this earthquake cluster marks the start of a period of megaquakes, while others believe that the earthquake cluster is simply a statistical fluke, with these unusually massive quakes just happening to occur within a short amount of time, according to recent analyses (PDF) of Earth’s earthquake history presented at the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting last week.

Some Scientists Say:

  • In a 2005 paper, researchers Charles Bufe and David Perkins from the US Geological Survey identified a cluster of large earthquakes about 50 years ago: three earthquakes with magnitudes of at least 9.0 in Russia, Chile, and Alaska between 1952 and 1964. The random probability of this earthquake cluster—that is, the likelihood the three quakes occurred within that timeframe just by chance—was 4%, they found. From 1950 to 1965, the researchers observed, there were a total of seven earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 8.5—a string of events with a random probability of 0.2%.
  • Building on that analysis, the researchers recently examined earthquake data up through the Indonesian earthquake in 2004. The likelihood of the last half-century’s earthquake distribution being random—with lots of strong quakes from 1952 to 1964, a period of relative calm, then seismic activity ramping up again in 2004—was 2%, they found.
  • Using their analysis, they estimated that the chances of a 9.0 or greater earthquake in the next ten years at 63%, as opposed to the 24% chance if massive quakes happen at random.

On the Other Hand:

  • Another study turned up no evidence that earthquake clusters were anything but chance. Another USGS seismologist, Andrew Michael, mined the seismic record for patterns, using a variety of magnitude thresholds and time scales to run multiple analyses. “I’ve run a large number of tests and can’t find any reason to reject the idea that clustering is random,” he told Nature News.

What’s the Context:

  • These analyses aren’t looking at aftershocks, which have long been known to follow a major earthquake, but at separate seismic events.
  • A recent study found that big earthquakes may trigger more quakes nearby, but don’t seem to up the odds that a large earthquake will happen in a distant part of the globe.
  • It’s not clear why massive quakes would cluster, if in fact they do. It could be that a monster earthquake reverberates through the planet, impacting how tectonic plates move. “Maybe on the very large scale we have a weakening of these very long fault zones that are on the verge of failure,†Bufe told ScienceNews.

Source: Is the Planet in a Period of “Megaquakes,” or Just a String of Bad Luck?

ContentAide: Get Daily Reports About Your Rival’s Facebook Page

April 18th, 2011 04:03 admin View Comments

Facebook Pages — the social network’s profiles meant for businesses, celebrities, and public entities — are becoming an increasingly important way to establish a long-term relationship with customers and fans. Many businesses are sprucing up their Pages with applications, and everyone is always on the hunt to get more Likes and Comments on their Updates (posts with higher user engagement will show up in more News Feeds).

Facebook’s built-in Insights tool does a decent job helping you keep tabs on your Page’s performance, but there’s some data that may be even more important: how your arch-rival is doing. Which is where ContentAide, a new startup from VentureBeat writer Cody Barbierri, comes in handy.

The service is pretty straightforward: tell it what Facebook Pages you’d like to keep an eye on, and the site will automatically generate a daily report on how that Page is performing. This isn’t just a Page’s overall ‘Like’ count either — ContentAide will also send you each individual status update and photo posted, along with how many Likes and Comments they received. You can receive reports for your own Pages and for competitors’ Pages as well.

Barbierri says that ContentAide uses an algorithm to figure out the relative success of each status update — if your page has hundreds of thousands of fans, then obviously it’s much easier to get 50 ‘Likes’ on a post than if you only had 1,000 fans, and the reports take this into account. Down the line, Barbierri hopes to add some deeper analysis, like automatic reports on what types of updates have been most effective.

ContentAide is charging $20 per month for one daily report and goes up from there — Barbierri says that in addition to individuals and small businesses, the service is looking to cater to consultants and firms that may want to receive multiple reports every day.

Source: ContentAide: Get Daily Reports About Your Rival’s Facebook Page

Google Teaches Computers “Regret”

April 17th, 2011 04:06 admin View Comments


mikejuk writes “Google is funding an AI project that will introduce the technical concept of regret into programs — but there’s a big difference between regret and being sorry. In fact regret is just the difference between maximum possible reward and the actual reward received and the project is about optimization. There are two things to learn from this situation. The first is that just because some numerical measure is called ‘regret’ it doesn’t mean it has anything to do with the common use of the term. Secondly if you are going to invent an AI technique then picking emotive words for your jargon is a good way to ensure publicity.”

Source: Google Teaches Computers “Regret”

China Space Official Confounded By SpaceX Price

April 17th, 2011 04:48 admin View Comments


hackingbear writes “Declining to speak for attribution, the Chinese officials from Great Wall Industry, a marketing arm of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CAST), say they find the published prices on the SpaceX website very low for the services offered, and concede they could not match them with the Long March series of launch vehicles even if it were possible for them to launch satellites with U.S. components in them. According to the SpaceX website, launch on a Falcon 9 — which has an advertised lift capacity of 10,450 kg. (23,000 lb.) — from Cape Canaveral costs $54 million — $59.5 million. If the SpaceX price is real and its quality is proven, both are big IFs, it is remarkable to see that US can beat China in term of price. Between August 1996 and August 2009, the Chinese rockets have achieved 75 consecutive successful launches were conducted, ending with a partial failure in the launch of Palapa-D on August 31, 2009. If we all learn from SpaceX, maybe soon China will outsource from the US.”

Source: China Space Official Confounded By SpaceX Price

How the Social Tech Bubble Is Different

April 17th, 2011 04:31 admin View Comments


theodp writes “Tech bubbles happen, writes BW’s Ashlee Vance, but we usually gain from the innovation left behind. But this one — driven by social networking — could leave us empty-handed. Math whiz Jeff Hammerbacher provides a good case study. One year out of Harvard, 23-year-old Hammerbacher arrived at Facebook, was given the lofty title of research scientist and put to work analyzing how people used the social networking service. Over the next two years, Hammerbacher assembled a team that built a new class of analytical technology, one which translated insights into people’s relationships, tendencies, and desires into precision advertising and higher sales. But something gnawed at him. Hammerbacher looked around Silicon Valley at companies like his own, Google, and Twitter, and saw his peers wasting their talents. ‘The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,’ he says. ‘That sucks.’ Silicon Valley historian Christophe Lecuyer agrees: ‘It’s clear that the new industry that is building around Internet advertising and these other services doesn’t create that many jobs. The loss of manufacturing and design know-how is truly worrisome.’”

Source: How the Social Tech Bubble Is Different

Judge Reveals Secret Righthaven Copyright Contract

April 17th, 2011 04:23 admin View Comments

The Courts

Hugh Pickens writes “Judge Roger Hunt has unsealed the confidential agreement between Righthaven and the Las Vegas Review-Journal that has allowed Righthaven to sue over more than 250 charities, impoverished hobby bloggers, reporters, and the newspaper’s own sources, for $150,000 each in damages and forfeiture of the sites’ domain names, and the contents of the agreement could end up being ruinous for Righthaven’s campaign of copyright lawsuits. The problem is that Stephens Media, the company that owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal, didn’t actually assign any of the rights related to copyright to Righthaven except the right to sue — and that has been found in Silvers vs. Sony Pictures to be illegal under case law. In other words, none of the important things that come with a copyright — such as the right to make copies of a work, or distribute it, or make ‘derivative works’ — were handed off to Righthaven. Only the right to sue was given, and that makes the copyright transfer bogus, argue lawyers for the Democratic Underground, which is being sued for one of its website users posting the first four paragraphs of a 34 paragraph story.”

Source: Judge Reveals Secret Righthaven Copyright Contract

Local Currencies To Replace Dollar For 5 Countries’ Dealings

April 16th, 2011 04:14 admin View Comments

The Almighty Buck

An anonymous reader writes “Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — the BRICS group of fastest growing economies — signed an agreement to use their own currencies instead of the predominant US dollar in issuing credit or grants to each other. The world does need a new financial architecture, but the BRICS by themselves are unlikely to to be able to drive that change.”

Source: Local Currencies To Replace Dollar For 5 Countries’ Dealings

The Real Reason Mike McCue Needs $50 Million: Google Is Building A Flipboard Killer

April 16th, 2011 04:00 admin View Comments

When news came out the other day that Flipboard just raised another $50 million at a $200 million valuation for its iPad news reading app, I gave CEO Mike McCue a hard time on Twitter and here on TechCrunch. Does an iPad app startup really need $50 million, or is this yet another sign of a bubble? McCue responded on Twitter, but yesterday we spoke by phone and he went into great detail about why exactly he thinks he needs $50 million.

He came up with the number a few months ago. It’s what he calculates he needs to get to cashflow positive, or at least pretty close (more on that below). Raising money is distraction, and his preference was to raise it all at once.

But towards the end of our conversation, he also mentioned another concern which was a factor in taking as much money as he can right now. “I see a lot of competition down the pike,” he says. Rumors have been reaching him that there is a team of engineers at Google who are “saying they are building a Flipboard killer.” He adds quickly, ” I have no idea what it is,” but hearing about “this desire to kill us” is unsettling and it does add “a little concern about the unknown.”

Could this product have anything to do with the magazine-like Google Fast Flip? It is kind of clunky now, but something like that could be developed into a slick, HTML5 browser-based flip interface for news reading on tablets. Or maybe it’s a completely different project—an app for Android tablets. Or maybe it’s nothing.

Setting aside the need to fend off both real and potential competitors flooding into the market, McCue has his own internal logic for why he raised so much money. “We want to build a large business here that has the ability to get into the billions of dollars in revenue,” he says. And to get there he needs to reach tens of millions of consumers and sign up 100 to 150 publishers from 17 today.

I asked him if he plans on building his own ad salesforce, and at this point that is not the plan. He wants to keep partnering with publishers and let them sell their own ads. wants to hire engineers, and bring his employee count up from 32 to 50 or 60. At about $200,000 per employee (including salaries, benefits and other expenses), plus the network costs to support as many as 40 million Flipboard readers, his operating costs could easily get to $20 million a year. Here is what McCue told me in his own words:


Q: Why do you need $50 million?

McCue: We want to build a large business here that has the ability to get into the billions of dollars in revenue. What is the revenue model? You could charge for the app, charge for subscriptions, or you could do advertising.

We decided the only way you could get to a multi-billion dollar business is through advertising. So given that, to build an advertising business, you’ve got to have a lot of scale. You’ve got to build a consumer brand, acquire tens of millions of users, and work with a lot of publishers to get there. You have to be international, and on multiple platforms. It is a big undertaking.

Q: What does the $50 million get you?

McCue: The next milestone is to be cashflow positive. I feel like I can get to cashflow positive with about 50 to 60 people. So our plan is to hire another 18 to 28 people, we have 32 now, then hover there and build out an advertising business with publishers. The bulk of those people will be engineers. Publishers will sell their own ads. . . . Assuming we can build an audience with a really good product, then we need about 100 to 150 publishing partners to build a really big business. We have 17 now.

Q: Flipboard is the No. 2 free iPad app right now. Can anyone else catch you?

McCue: I see a lot of competition down the pike. There’s talk that some people at Google are saying they are building a Flipboard killer, and I’ve heard those rumors. What I felt was a better approach was to build the best product no matter what the competition does. But this desire to kill us—a bunch of folks there have decided to build this product, I have no idea what it is—raises a little concern about the unknown. Anytime a company like that [might go after you], it certainly is the kind of thing I give a lot of thought to.

Source: The Real Reason Mike McCue Needs $50 Million: Google Is Building A Flipboard Killer

Today Is Record Store Day 2011

April 16th, 2011 04:30 admin View Comments


An anonymous reader writes “Today marks the 5th annual Record Store Day, a celebration of independent record stores. As a music lover, I think this day is of dire importance.” I know Free Comic Book Day (for 2011, that’s May 7) has gotten a lot of people into comic stores who otherwise wouldn’t — partly because of the many free comics given away — but hadn’t heard of the record-store equivalent. It’d be nice for record stories to give away tons of 7″ vinyl promos.

Source: Today Is Record Store Day 2011

Internet Explorer 10 Drops Vista Support

April 16th, 2011 04:28 admin View Comments


Pigskin-Referee writes “This week at Microsoft’s MIX11 Web developer conference, the company surprised many by making a pre-release version of Internet Explorer 10 available — less than a month after IE9 came out in its final form. But another surprise was uncovered by Computerworld’s Gregg Keizer: the next IE won’t run on any OS before Windows 7, including Vista. Microsoft took some heat when it came out that Internet Explorer 9 would leave millions of Windows XP users in the lurch, as the new browser would only run on Windows 7 and Vista. But the company confirmed that IE10 won’t even run on Vista.”

Source: Internet Explorer 10 Drops Vista Support