Full compassion

"Full compassion" Continued...

Issue: "Ethiopia's new flower," May 31, 2008

On the website are videos-most around 18 minutes long-of "inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers," people like Amazon.com's Jeff Bezos, Malcolm Gladwell, Steven Leavitt of Freakonomics fame, and Bjorn Lomborg, the climate skeptic, whose TED talk asked how most effectively to spend $50 billion to solve global problems. The short length makes speakers get to the point, usually with humor. I particularly enjoyed David Macaulay (author of Pyramid) explaining the creative process behind his illustrated book on Rome, and writer Dave Eggers describing his after-school tutoring program.

The TED "brain trust" includes Bezos, philosopher Daniel Dennett, physicist Freeman Dyson, Google co-founder Larry Page, futurist Ray Kurzwell, biologist Richard Dawkins, evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker, and others.

Less for more

Broadband users on a budget, beware: Compared to other countries the United States is a sluggard, falling from fourth place in 2001 to 15th place in 2007, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): The United States lags behind many other countries in price, speed, and availability. Citing an analysis by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Arstechnica.com recommends policy changes to bring down the price ("The price paid per megabyte in the United States ($2.83) is substantially higher than those countries, all of which come in at less than $0.50 per megabyte.") and bring up the speed: "With an average broadband speed of 4.9 [megabytes per second], the U.S. is being Chariots of Fire-d by South Korea (49.5Mbps), Japan (63.6Mbps), Finland (21.7Mbps), Sweden (16.8Mbps), and France (17.6Mbps)."

Social insecurity

By Susan Olasky

Social networkers, beware: What makes the sites convenient for buddies also makes them convenient for crooks. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times, online criminals are beginning to exploit security weaknesses at the sites. The story cited a study done by computer security firm Symantec, which found that 91 percent "of the bogus U.S.-based websites used in so-called phishing attacks . . . imitated the log-in pages of two unnamed social networking sites-believed by industry executives to be the two biggest, MySpace and Facebook."

Some scams offer users of the sites free widgets to decorate their profile pages. Problem is the widgets are forms of spyware that may record keystrokes or steal log-in information. Other scams purport to be messages from online friends. But users who follow the link are taken to phony web pages. When they log in with their user name and password, "the con artists can then try those names and passwords to gain access to e-mail accounts, financial accounts and other websites, given that many people use the same password widely."

Susan Olasky
Susan Olasky

Susan pens book reviews and other articles for WORLD as a senior writer and has authored eight historical novels for children. Susan and her husband Marvin live in Asheville, N.C. Follow Susan on Twitter @susanolasky.


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