You might have been Facebook’s lab rat
On Monday, Facebook had to explain the revelation that in 2012 it tinkered with the emotional content of some newsfeeds to study how people react. They wanted to know if people who saw lots of happy news in their feeds would end up happy or depressed…and if seeing too many negative posts made people just avoid Facebook all together. They found seeing positive posts encouraged similarly positive content. While the findings are not exactly thrilling, users were not excited to find out Facebook’s almost 10,000 word “Data Use Policy” which contains the word “research” apparently counts as “informed consent” to be a lab rat (and, according to reports, that very important word was added 4 months AFTER the study was conducted). This has opened a big discussion about whether companies should have their private experimentation reviewed by an ethics board of some kind.
Dork Tower had a funny comic about the whole kerfuffle though:
Report: Windows XP still on 25% of desktops
If you’re still using Windows XP, you’re in good company. Apparently users running Microsoft XP accounts for 25.31% of all global web traffic—despite that there is no longer support for this operating system. There’s speculation people aren’t upgrading because Windows 8 doesn’t appeal…or they could be waiting for the next big release (Windows “Threshold”) which is expected next spring. I’m not saying you should upgrade if you’re still on XP, but do remember that no security patches or updates means your machine is vulnerable to security threats.
3D printer uses Coke bottles as “ink”
A new 3D printer called Ekocycle, available later this year, uses filament cartridges containing at least three recycled 20 oz. PET plastic bottles. Will.i.am is the Chief Creative Officer of the company, and unfortunately the printer will only make things in a “curated” color palette of red, black, white, and natural (Coke is a partial owner in this venture). You can have one for $1,200 and make your very own iPhone covers, bracelets, shoes, etc.
The ultimate life hack—the Apollo 13 CO2 scrubber
If you’ve seen the movie Apollo 13 or are a space travel buff, you know what happened—the astronauts were using the lunar module to stay alive and conserve power in the command module…but the air filters weren’t designed to handle that many people for so long. Mission Control came up with a way to make a CO2 filter from the command module fit in the lunar module using things like socks and duct tape. Well, if you’ve ever wondered exactly what the instructions were, Gizmodo has them and, maybe it’s just me, but I thought it was pretty cool to read the actual 19 step procedure.
Kickstarter of the week: SYNEK—tapped fresh beer on your counter
One article called this Kickstarter, “the Keurig for beer.” The SYNEK comes with a bag that you can fill with your favorite craft tap/keg beer, then place in your SYNEK dispenser. It will keep the beer at the right temp and fresh for a month or more. You can buy pre-filled bags, or, fill your own bags at your local brewery (if they can build a growler, they can fill the SYNEK bags). You can swap out bags as you’d like, so you don’t have to commit to only one kind until the bag is used up. I myself dislike beer, but if you’re a fan (or know someone who is), this could be a fun device!
Google buys Songza for $39 million
Songza, if you don’t use it, is a music steaming app that lets you create customized playlists. Sure, there are other services out there that stream music but Songza does it based on your mood (and even the weather, thanks to a partnership with the Weather Channel), rather than the artist or song you “seed” your streaming with. The purchase should give Google some good market share in the streaming music biz, especially given that digital music store purchases continue to decline and Songza comes with 4.7 million active users. Google says they’re not going to change the service other than to make it, “faster, smarter, and even more fun to use.”
3D printed organs?
3D printing is clearly moving forward in leaps and bounds—it only makes sense that researchers would want to apply the technology to making something a lot more needed than an iPhone case. With people needing new organs and not enough of them to go around, folks have been trying to find a way to make them. A major sticking point has been how to create the blood vessels and ventricles needed to make any 3D printed organs actually work. Scientists from the University of Sydney, Harvard, Stanford and MIT have found a way. Engadget put it nicely: The team used an advanced bioprinter to create tiny interconnected fibers, and then coated them in human endothelial cells and a protein-based material, which hardens under light. They then removed the fibers, and voilà — a network of capillaries was born. Seriously, how cool is that?
Stretch the life of your iPhone
I am in the situation of keeping my iPhone 4S alive and running for another few months until the new ones are released. If you’re in the same boat, you might also like Mashable’s “9 Ways to Stretch Your iPhone’s Life When the End is Near” article. Their suggestions include some fairly common sense tips like, “delete apps you’re not using” but there are also things that I wouldn’t have thought of like turning off the background app refresh. You might want to check it out if you too are trying to delay upgrading.
Hilarious Game of Thrones opening credit sequence
If you somehow managed to miss this video in the last few days, you’re totally missing out, even if you’re not a Game of Thrones fan. YouTube user Mikolaj.Birek created a truly funny “VHS Intro” for Game of Thrones as it might have appeared in the 80s. I laughed out loud, but then I was a MacGyver fan, back in the day (here’s the real one for comparison if you don’t have HBO).