Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wolfram Alpha - Part Two

Following my previous blog post about Wolfram Alpha, the statistical search engine that uses natural language processing, this article from Ars Technica agrees with my point about the reliability of search results and accuracy of sources as well as the importance of context in understanding questions. Although useful as a general tool, I don´t think it can be trusted for accurate results and probably of less value than Wikipedia as a corroborated information source.

Password Reminders Open To Hacks

Ars Technica reports on a study by Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft that shows that the amount of personal information people put on line means that typical password reminder services are open to hacking. Friends, family and coworkers were able to guess the right answer to the questions in 20-25 percent of cases. Obviously the more personal information is available online, the easier it is to guess the answer.

Cola Drains Muscle Power

Caffeine is supposed to pick you up, but this article on the BBC reports that too much cola (we´re talking three litres or more here) can lead to tiredness and even muscle paralysis. This is due to a drop in potassium levels in the blood, probably as a result of too much sugars and caffeine. Even caffeine free variants of soft-drinks can cause diarrhoea, so drink in moderation.

Flu Boosts Karaoke

As Japan sees more cases of the Mexican swine flu, some schools and colleges have been closed to prevent further spread. According to the BBC this has meant that students with time on their hands have been packing out the karaoke bars. Talk about a silver lining!