Interesting things I've bookmarked (old posts, page 27)

sled dog races

On Tuesday, March 15th, musher John Baker crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska, to win the 2011 Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Baker won in record time, becoming the first native Alaskan champion since 1976. Dog sledding season is now winding down, but over the past few months dozens of races have taken place across the northern hemisphere from Spain to Alaska, including La Grande Odyssee, Finnmarkslopet, and Yukon Quest. Gathered here are some highlights from many of these races, including the Iditarod, where 14 teams are still on the course, nearing the end of their 1,150-mile journey. [34 photos]

sled dog races

sled dog races

sled dog races

sled dog races

Etsy users irked after buyers, purchases exposed to the world

Even if users haven't entered their full names, their profiles are still searchable by username. Even better, people's Etsy profiles and their purchase histories (via the feedback they leave) are beginning to show up under Google results for their names. Even if the buyer didn't leave feedback, a seller could leave feedback for the buyer and still expose what that person purchased.Why does this matter? Not everyone wants their purchases to be made public--and some purchases are definitely more private than others. "I just found a woman who's Etsy profile comes up on Google as the 5th link. I was expecting 6 or 7 pages down, but it's on the very first page, right after her online resumes," wrote one concerned user on the Penny Arcade forums. "She signed up a year ago, under the old privacy policy, and hasn't logged in since 2010. And now I know what dildo she uses. Right down to the curvature and coloring."A different user added later on in the thread, "Found an XXL glass dildo with veins and swirled gold coloring (beautiful piece really) and checked to see if anyone favorited it. Someone did. She also favorited some cosplay cat eat hats [sic] and a bell collar/necklace thing. Then I found her on Facebook."Critics of Etsy's new policy seem to have a thing for searching for artisan dildos, but the point is pretty clear. Buyers have no idea that their purchases are being exposed, and they don't need to be embarrassing purchases to cause problems. We're reminded of the fallout from Facebook Beacon, the tool that allowed Facebook to show users' off-Facebook activities and purchases without their consent or knowledge. Facebook offered an opt-out for the service, but the damage was already done. Facebook eventually faced an FTC complaint and a class-action lawsuit--Facebook settled the suit in 2009 by shutting down the service and donating $9.5 million to an organization that fights for online privacy.

Japan Does Not Face Another Chernobyl

If a meltdown does occur in Japan, it will be a disaster for the Tokyo Electric Power Company but not for the general public. Whatever steam releases occur will have a negligible impact. Researchers have spent 30 years trying to find health effects from the steam releases at Three Mile Island and have come up with nothing. With all the death, devastation and disease now threatening tens of thousands in Japan, it is trivializing and almost obscene to spend so much time worrying about damage to a nuclear reactor.What the Japanese earthquake has proved is that even the oldest containment structures can withstand the impact of one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history. The problem has been with the electrical pumps required to operate the cooling system. It would be tragic if the result of the Japanese accident were to prevent development of Generation III reactors, which eliminate this design flaw.


WeatherSpark is a new type of weather website, with interactive weather graphs that allow you to pan and zoom through the entire history of any weather station on earth. Get multiple forecasts for the current location, overlaid on records and averages to put it all in context.

more profit for games on android

Spacetime Studios makes the popular Pocket Legends 3D MMO game for both iOS and Android. The game has gotten rave reviews on both platforms, being named one of the top five "groundbreaking" iOS games of 2010 by Mashable and one of the 10 best Android games available by's where things get interesting: Spacetime says its daily user activity on Android is more than double its level on iOS in practically every measure. On Android, the game is downloaded about 9,000 times a day, according to Spacetime; on iOS, daily downloads are in the 3,000 to 4,000 range. Perhaps even more significant, Android users who have the app use it about three times more than their Apple counterparts.

The reason a price on carbon is hard

In a sane world, where the public sphere consisted of sensible discussion of important issues, Julia Gillard and Labor would be a shoo-in for the next election, patted on the back for tackling the matter in a responsible way and applauded for attempting to fix the mess created by her inept predecessor, Kevin Rudd.She would be seen to be doing nothing more than keeping her commitment to put a price on carbon and doing it with due consultation with the other members of parliament - the independents and the Greens - with whose votes she governs and who were also elected to the Parliament by citizens of our democratic country.The discussion in this putatively sane world would be dominated by careful consideration of such matters as what price to place on carbon, the benefits of a carbon tax versus that of an emissions trading scheme, consideration of how our scheme would work with international schemes, and matters to do with compensation for industry and consumers.

Anatomy of a Web Crushing

I've previously posted this graph of Pinboard web traffic on the days immediately before and after the Delicious announcement. That small blue bar at bottom shows normal traffic levels from the week before. The two teal mountain peaks correspond to midday traffic on December 16 and 17th. My immediate response was to try to log into the server and see if there was anything I could to do keep it from falling over. Ceglowski's first law of Internet business teaches: "Never get in the way of people trying to give you money", and the quickest way to violate it would have been to crash at this key moment. To my relief, the server was still reachable and responsive. A glance at apachetop showed that web traffic was approaching 50 hits/second, or about twenty times the usual level. This is not a lot of traffic in absolute terms, but it's more than a typical website can handle without warning. Sites like Daring Fireball or Slashdot that are notorious for crashing the objects of their attention typically only drive half this level of traffic. I was expecting to have to kill the web server, put up a static homepage, and try to ease the site back online piecemeal. But instead I benefitted from a great piece of luck.

Anatomy of a Web Crushing

Aussies bigger whingers than Brits on carbon tax

Jill Duggan, who managed Britain's initial emissions trading scheme (ETS), said there was an incorrect perception that Australia would be going it alone if it put a price on carbon."The thing that struck me is how the debate has changed here and also that wide perception that I keep hearing that Australia shouldn't go first," she told reporters in Canberra today."Coming from Europe, that sounds slightly bizarre because there are 30 countries in Europe that have had a carbon price ... since the beginning of 2005.

51 hours left to live

Cancer 'victim' is making use of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act to end his suffering. He started a thread on reddit and answered a number of questions in the lead up to his death. Amazing clarity of mind for someone facing something so daunting.