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Slashdot Redux

I recently picked this up from Slashdot. A British scientist became the first human to be infected by a computer virus! :) Yes – you heard that right – a computer virus. Read the full story here.

Apparently he infected a chip implanted in his body and then caused the virus to spread from his body to his PC! And he argues that human-to-human computer virus infections will also become common as implanted chips become commonplace!

Among other techie news, Sony recently demoed a flexible OLED screen thinner than a human hair! And it is flexible enough that it can wrap around a pencil even as the video keeps playing!! How cool is that. :)

Sony's flexible OLED screen Sony's flexible OLED screen

[Pics courtesy inhabitat.com]

And on top of all this, a research group in the University of New South Wales has successfully created a 4nm transistor made of just seven atoms! Just seven frikkin atoms!

Very cool stuff!

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Facebook vs robots.txt

Found this story through someone’s buzz updates. Pete Warden had built a service that crawled public Facebook profiles (public = not protected by robots.txt) and then displayed neat summary information about people’s social graphs (aggregated by country, things like who belongs to your inner circle etc).

In a rather evil move, Facebook decided to sue him! Their legal position was that even though the crawled pages are not protected by robots.txt, the legal validity of robots.txt has never been tested in courts.

Their contention was robots.txt had no legal force and they could sue anyone for accessing their site even if they scrupulously obeyed the instructions it contained. The only legal way to access any web site with a crawler was to obtain prior written permission.

I am willing to bet that Facebook itself has developed at least one web crawler in its short lifespan so far! Even if it hasn’t, should the business need arise, the last thing they will do is obtain written permissions from owners of websites they intend to crawl!

So here’s the irony: Pete knows he is right! Facebook knows Pete is right! But fighting lawsuits is so damn expensive in this country that a big company like Facebook can easily bully him into submission! Sadness.

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Is twitter taking a toll on other sites?

Twitter has a huge history of hiccuping but this time it seems like it is taking a toll on many other websites related to it. Ironically a website which tells whether twitter is down or not, went down as all the users were logged on to it This website is http://downforeveryoneorjustme.com/. One can check the downtime for any website. Well this website is made by Ryan King, who is now employed with Twitter.
Few days back Twitter went down because of their relatively new feature called Twitter Lists. They had to take that feature down.

Today is called the “Cyber Monday” where in a lot of deals are online and people would have been frantically searching for one online. But as cnet news puts it, “amid all the seasonal shopaholism, somebody forgot to feed the whale.” (whale being cartoon that pops up when the Twitter servers are overloaded)