Twitter Turns 5, Serves 1 Billion Tweets Per Week

Twitter is quickly joining the ranks of Kleenex, Xerox, and Google by becoming not only a brand name, but a verb used in daily life. Twitter celebrates its fifth anniversary this week and co-founder Jack Dorsey has been releasing tidbits of information about the popular service.

According to the official Twitter blog, after having taken three years, two months, and one day to reach their billionth tweet, that feat now takes roughly one week. In the past year alone the average number of tweets per day soared from 50 million last year to a substantially increased to a 140 million daily average last month. On March 11, 2011, over 177 million tweets were sent. If these numbers are absolutely accurate, predictions of Twitter’s downfall to Facebook made a year ago are certainly proving incorrect.

Jack Dorsey is continuing to release bits of information in 140 characters or less on his Twitter page. Among them is a link to Twitter’s first logo, an original sketch concept of then “Twttr”, and some inside information about how they handled server issues in the first days. In short, he’s giving anyone fascinated by the story behind one of the biggest underdog tech stories of all time a 5th birthday present.

Source: Jack Dorsey’s Twitter Page

Since 1938 – San Francisco Landmark Hotel Washes Coins

There was a time when going downtown was a big deal. People would get dressed up and women would put on their clean white gloves. This is when the Westin – St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco first started washing dirty and grimy coins. It was noticed that the tarnished coins would soil the gloves worn at the time. So since 1938, the Westin – St Francis Hotel has washed all the coins that are taken in by the hotel from their bar, restaurants, and cafes.

In a hidden room away from prying eyes, a lone employee scrubs the coins until they are clean and bright. The coins are then returned into circulation by the hotel once the scrubbing process is complete. It is believed that this is the only hotel that continues the coin cleaning process.

In a recent article it also states that:

“It’s a connection to a different time,” Holsen said as he rolled up his sleeves and tucked his tie into his dress shirt. “A connection to a more gentle time, when to go downtown was a big deal. Dress up, put on a hat and gloves, and go to Macy’s.”

Money washing at the St. Francis began in 1938 when hotelier Dan London noticed that coins dirtied a woman’s white gloves.

“Coins were used to pay for lunch tabs,” Holsen said, “tips, taxi rides, everything. It was rare to use a bill.”

Less coins are taken in by the hotel since Coke machines and pay phones are now a thing of the past. Coins that are bent, painted, or Canadian are removed prior to being placed back into circulation at the hotel. Only the cleanest and shiniest are allowed to circulate among the guests and patrons of the hotel.

Comments welcome

Source – SF Gate

Text Messages Reveal Emotional Timeline Of September 11, 2001

There should be an image here!The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have been called the defining moment of our time. Thousands of people died and the attacks had huge individual and collective consequences, including two wars. But less is known about the immediate emotional reactions to the attacks. For a new study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers analyzed text messages sent on September 11, 2001 for emotional words. They found spiking anxiety and steadily increasing anger through that fateful day.

The researchers took advantage of transcripts of more than 500,000 text messages sent to pagers on the day of the attacks. The transcripts were published anonymously last year on WikiLeaks. Psychological scientists Mitja D. Back, Albrecht C.P. Küfner, and Boris Egloff of the University of Mainz in Germany used software for automatic text analysis to look for words that relate to sadness (words such as crying and grief), anxiety (worried, fearful), and anger (hate, annoyed). They also noted when various events happened that day, such as the plane crashes, President George W. Bush’s two speeches, and the time when American Airlines reported the loss of two airplanes.

Anger accumulated through the day. By the end of the day, there were 10 times as many angry text messages as in the morning, before the plane crashes. Anxiety, on the other hand, rose and fell through the day; 30 minutes after a stressful event, significantly more anxiety-related words appeared in text messages than 30 minutes before. But anxiety always returned to baseline levels. The data show that people did not mainly react with sadness; that may have come later, the researchers say.

The fact that anger dominated in people’s immediate reactions may help explain some of the consequences of the attacks. Anger is known to make people want vengeance; this could explain the reports of acts of discrimination against Muslims in the days after the attacks, as well as the broader societal response, the researchers speculate.

[Photo above by cliff1066 / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Keri Chiodo @ Association for Psychological Science

[awsbullet:110 stories september 11]

The Myths Of Innovation

There should be an image here!In this new paperback edition of the classic bestseller, you’ll be taken on a hilarious, fast-paced ride through the history of ideas. Author Scott Berkun will show you how to transcend the false stories that many business experts, scientists, and much of pop culture foolishly use to guide their thinking about how ideas change the world. With four new chapters on putting the ideas in the book to work, updated references and over 50 corrections and improvements, now is the time to get past the myths, and change the world.

While reading The Myths of Innovation, you’ll have fun while you learn:

  • Where ideas come from
  • The true history of history
  • Why most people don’t like ideas
  • How great managers make ideas thrive
  • The importance of problem finding
  • The simple plan (new for paperback)

Since its initial publication, this classic bestseller has been discussed on NPR, MSNBC, CNBC, and at Yale University, MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Google, Amazon, and other major media, corporations, and universities around the world. It has changed the way thousands of leaders and creators understand the world. Now in an updated and expanded paperback edition, it’s a fantastic time to explore or rediscover this powerful view of the world of ideas.

The Myths Of Innovation

There should be an image here!In this new paperback edition of the classic bestseller, you’ll be taken on a hilarious, fast-paced ride through the history of ideas. Author Scott Berkun will show you how to transcend the false stories that many business experts, scientists, and much of pop culture foolishly use to guide their thinking about how ideas change the world. With four new chapters on putting the ideas in the book to work, updated references and over 50 corrections and improvements, now is the time to get past the myths, and change the world.

While reading The Myths of Innovation, you’ll have fun while you learn:

  • Where ideas come from
  • The true history of history
  • Why most people don’t like ideas
  • How great managers make ideas thrive
  • The importance of problem finding
  • The simple plan (new for paperback)

Since its initial publication, this classic bestseller has been discussed on NPR, MSNBC, CNBC, and at Yale University, MIT, Carnegie Mellon University, Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Google, Amazon, and other major media, corporations, and universities around the world. It has changed the way thousands of leaders and creators understand the world. Now in an updated and expanded paperback edition, it’s a fantastic time to explore or rediscover this powerful view of the world of ideas.

[awsbullet:scott berkun]

History Channel – How The States Got Their Shapes

If you are a history buff or would just like to know more about your country, the History Channel’s How The States Got Their Shape is a must see. The two-hour program covers facts and information that I never knew such as where was Davey Crockett born? Do you think you know the answer?

Some of you may recall the song about Davey Crockett, ‘born on a mountain top in Tennessee,’ but he was actually born in the State of Franklin. Here is what one article states about the State of Franklin:

The State of Franklin was set up in 1784 out of the westerly portion of the colonial state of North Carolina. Shortly after the War of Independence the original colonies were asked to pay for the war efforts and create a country with a sound financial policy. Since the taxing the population was difficult and cash was in short supply North Carolina ceded the western portion of the state to the federal coffers. Before the Congress could accept the offer North Carolina withdrew the offer. The citizens of the region decided that federal rule in the meantime was probably a good idea since North Carolina as a state had given this remote region little support in its fight with the Indians or protection from criminal refugees. They saw other benefits as an independent state in terms of taxation, representation and an understanding attitude toward local problems. Representatives of the North Carolina counties of Sullivan, Washington, Greene, and Davidson accepted the offer of cessation to federal territory. The state of Franklin existed for only four years to finally merge with the new state of Tennessee.

This was only one of many interesting facts about how the states were shaped, including facts about two other attempts to create more states. It was even considered at one time to divide up Texas into five separate states, which obviously failed.

The story of how the land between Canada and the U.S. was originally surveyed also was of interest. It took over 100 people some five years to draw the boundary lines between the two countries. But in one area a mistake was made. The U.S. built a fort along the border, only to discover that they were 3/4 of a mile inside of Canada. I won’t spoil how they resolved this issue but it was a novel approach.

The program provides information that is presented to the viewer in an entertaining manner.

Overall it is a great history lesson.

Comments welcome.

Source

The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains

There should be an image here!The best-selling author of The Big Switch returns with an explosive look at technology’s effect on the mind.

“Is Google making us stupid?” When Nicholas Carr posed that question, in a celebrated Atlantic Monthly cover story, he tapped into a well of anxiety about how the Internet is changing us. He also crystallized one of the most important debates of our time: As we enjoy the Net’s bounties, are we sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply?

Now, in The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains, Carr expands his argument into the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. As he describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind” — from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer — Carr interweaves a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience by such pioneers as Michael Merzenich and Eric Kandel. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways.

Building on the insights of thinkers from Plato to McLuhan, Carr makes a convincing case that every information technology carries an intellectual ethic — a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He explains how the printed book served to focus our attention, promoting deep and creative thought. In stark contrast, the Internet encourages the rapid, distracted sampling of small bits of information from many sources. Its ethic is that of the industrialist, an ethic of speed and efficiency, of optimized production and consumption — and now the Net is remaking us in its own image. We are becoming ever more adept at scanning and skimming, but what we are losing is our capacity for concentration, contemplation, and reflection.

Part intellectual history, part popular science, and part cultural criticism, The Shallows sparkles with memorable vignettes — Friedrich Nietzsche wrestling with a typewriter, Sigmund Freud dissecting the brains of sea creatures, Nathaniel Hawthorne contemplating the thunderous approach of a steam locomotive — even as it plumbs profound questions about the state of our modern psyche. This is a book that will forever alter the way we think about media and our minds.

Are You Lonely? Would You Like A Cease & Desist Letter? Email The CEO of AT&T

A customer of AT&T sent emails to the CEO of the company and received a response that if he did not stop sending emails, he would receive a cease and desist letter. The customer sent two emails in two weeks: one asking that his eligibility date be bumped up on his iPhone and the second outlining his disagreement with AT&T’s new rate plans. He further suggested he would switch to another carrier.

Shame on this person who had the gall to contact the CEO. After all, the CEO of any company is way too busy to respond to a peon’s request to do anything. With the exception of Steve Jobs, no other CEO of any major company would stoop so low as to read any emails from disgruntled customers. Just because someone is dumb enough to sign up for any type of a long range service contract with any phone company, that person should be happy to pay the monthly fee without crying over some minor changes.

You gotta love these big corporations.

Comments welcome.

Source

Bright Boys: The Making Of Information Technology

There should be an image here!Everything has a beginning. None was more profound and quite unexpected than Information Technology. Here for the first time is the untold story of how our new age came to be and the bright boys who made it happen.

What began on the bare floor of an old laundry building eventually grew to rival the Manhattan Project in size. The unexpected consequence of that journey was huge what we now know as Information Technology. And even more unexpected: trying to convince someone, anyone, that information was the key to most everything else.

For sixty years the bright boys have been virtually anonymous while their achievements have become a way of life for all of us. Bright Boys brings them home. By 1950 they’d built the world’s first real-time computer. Three years later they one-upped themselves when they switched on the world’s first digital network. In 1953 their work was met with incredulity and completely overlooked. By 1968 their work was gospel. Today, it’s the way of the world.

Dig Looks At Society Just Before Dawn Of Urban Civilization In The Middle East

There should be an image here!Thirty-one acres in extent, Tell Zeidan is situated where the Balikh River joins the Euphrates River in modern-day Syria. The location was at the crossroads of major trade routes across ancient Mesopotamia that followed the course of the Euphrates River valley.

Stein said Tell Zeidan may have been one of the largest Ubaid temple towns in northern Mesopotamia, and that it was as large or larger than any previously known contemporary Ubaid towns in the southern alluvial lowlands of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is today southern Iraq. However, because the site was not occupied after about 4,000 B.C., the prehistoric strata of Tell Zeidan are immediately accessible beneath the modern-day ground surface instead of being buried beneath layers of deposits from later periods.

“This means that, for the first time, archaeologists can excavate broad areas of an Ubaid temple town to understand how a proto-urban community actually functioned in the sixth-fifth millennia B.C.,” Stein said.

The new excavations Tell Zeidan reveal the emergence of an elite that possessed the political power necessary for communities to move from self-sufficient village life to societies dependent on trade and capable of acquiring luxury goods, Stein said.

Stein, a noted archaeologist who is a specialist on the Ubaid culture, began excavating the site in 2008 and returned in 2009. He is the American co-director of the Joint Syrian-American Archaeological Research Project at Tell Zeidan, and Muhammad Sarhan from the Raqqa Museum in the nearby provincial capital of Raqqa is the Syrian co-director.

“The two-millennium-long occupation spans four key periods: two phases of the late Copper Age on top, the Ubaid period in the middle and the Halaf period at the bottom,” Stein said.

The excavations so far show that the transitions between these periods were peaceful, including the period in which the influence of the Ubaid culture spread from its south Mesopotamian homeland up the Euphrates River into north Syria.

“One of our most remarkable finds was a stone stamp seal depicting a deer. The seal was unusually large, about two inches by two-and-a-half inches,” Stein said. The seal was carved from a red stone not native to the area, but was similar in design to a seal found 185 miles to the east near Mosul in northern Iraq.

“The existence of very elaborate seals with near-identical motives at such widely distant sites suggests that in this period, high-ranking elites were assuming leadership positions across a very broad region, and those dispersed elites shared a common set of symbols and perhaps even a common ideology of superior social status,” he said.

The seals were used as stamps to indicate possession of goods in the period before writing.

The team found obsidian blades and chips wasted during the production of the blades. The high-quality volcanic glass had to be brought to the community from sources 250 miles away in what is now Turkey. The greenish-black color and chemical composition show that it came from mines in the eastern part of the country.

The people in Tell Zeidan also had access to copper ore from sources near modern-day Diyarbakir, Turkey, about 185 to 250 miles away. Those materials were smelted at Tell Zeidan to produce metal tools that represent the most advanced technology of the fifth millennium B.C. People must have transported the material on their backs, however, as Tell Zeidan flourished at a time before donkeys were domesticated.

The wealth of the community came from irrigation-based agriculture, trade and manufacturing. “We found flint sickle blades everywhere, easily recognizable from the glossy sheen where they had been polished by the silica in the stems of the wheat that they were used to harvest,” Stein said. The people used bitumen, a tar substance obtained from pits 43 miles away, to secure the blades onto handles.

Along with the advanced technology, a wealthy ruling class and individual identification by stamp seals, the people at Tell Zeidan also built large public structures of mud bricks.

William Harms @ University of Chicago

[Photo above by Steve Hart / CC BY-ND 2.0]

[awsbullet:archaeology biblical]

What Others Know About You And What You Should Know About Yourself

Every once in a while I stumble on an article that is too good not to share with all of you who read this blog. So today when I read this over at The Consumerist, I thought I would pass this on. Basically what The Consumerist has done is to list Web sites that provide information about us that others know about us. This is information that we need to know, especially if there are errors about our past history that need to be corrected. Some of those that are listed can be completed online, while others you need to mail in with a copy of your ID and also a utility bill [each site may be different] by which to identify yourself.

Here is what The Consumerist has posted:

Employment History Reports
The Work Number
ChoicePoint (866) 312-8075
Acxiom
Abso

Tenant History Reports
ChoicePoint (877) 448-5732
First Advantage SafeRent (888) 333-2413
Tenant Data Services
RentBureau
UD Registry (818) 785-3905

Auto & Home Insurance Claim Reports
ChoicePoint
Insurance Services Office (ISO) (800) 627-3487

Credit Bureau Reports
Equifax
Experian
Transunion
Innovis
Payment Reporting Builds Credit (PRBC)

Full File Disclosure/Personal Information Reports
ChoicePoint
LexisNexis

Check Writing History Reports
ChexSystems (800) 428-9623
TeleCheck (800) 835-3243.
Shared Check Authorization Network (800) 262-7771 Fax: (800) 358-4506

Health History Reports
Medical Information Bureau (MIB) (866) 692-6901

Prescription Drug Purchase History Reports
Ingenix MedPoint
Milliman IntelliScript

Social Security Statement
Social Security Administration

Purchase Returns History Reports
Retail Equation

Gaming Patron’s Credit History and Transaction Data
Central Credit

Other Reports
TeleTrack

Utilities & Telecommunications Reports
National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange, Inc (NCTUE) Call 1-888-201-5643 for reports

I am currently checking online and mailing in requests for information on some of the history reports I am interested in.

Hope this helps.

Comments welcome.

Source.

Happy Birthday, Flintstones

There should be an image here!Today in 1960, The Flintstones premiered on ABC. Meet The Flintstones in this prehistoric Hanna-Barbera production. Primetime’s first animated series was also the longest running until The Simpsons came along. Not so coincidentally, the two shows aren’t all that different–even if the former emerged in the sixties, the latter in the eighties. Fred (Alan Reed), patriarch of the cave-dwelling clan, may be marginally more intelligent than the similarly blue collar Homer, but most storylines still revolve around his more dunderheaded moves. Fortunately, wife Wilma (Jean Vander Pyl) and Barney (Mel Blanc) and Betty Rubble (Bea Benaderet), their neighbors, are usually able to set things right. That was also true for Ralph Cramden of The Honeymooners, a direct influence (Reed even sounds like Jackie Gleason). But Ralph didn’t have a pet dinosaur and he did live in the Modern Age–if you can call the fifties “modern”–rather than the Stone Age.

This long-awaited DVD set includes all 28 episodes of the first season, including the lost Flagstones pilot. Notable segments include “Hot Lips Hannigan”–one of several riffs on beatnik culture–in which Fred, aka “The Velvet Smog,” sings and Barney beats the traps and “The Creature From the Tar Pits,” in which Fred fills in as Gary Granite’s stunt double in a Bedrock-set horror flick.

The Flintstones’s first season introduced two timeless couples from another time. Its success led to a theatrical release, two live-action features, and countless specials and spin-offs. New viewers may be surprised to find that Dino doesn’t make his official entrance until episode 18 (“The Snorkasaurus Story”), that Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm aren’t in the first season at all, and that the famous theme won’t hit the airwaves until the third (replacing instrumental “Rise and Shine”). Those quirky quotes, however, were in effect from the start: “Wiiilmaaaaaaa!” “Droll, very droll” and, especially, “Yabba-dabba-doo!”

Firefox 3.5 Exposed Users’ Porn Privacy – Users Didn’t Want To Upgrade

In what turned out to be an unusual reason not to upgrade Firefox to the latest version, it is being reported that privacy was an issue. It seems that users had buried their bookmarks deep down into secret files in order to keep their secret lurking private. For those who had hidden their porn sites from view, the new ‘location bar’ exposed the users’ past history or bookmarks the user did not want displayed to others using the same computer.

To correct this problem the folks at Mozilla added this feature:

Ability to Control What Appears in the Location Bar Search Results (Proactive Privacy)

When we expanded the capabilities of the location bar to search against all history and bookmarks in Firefox 3, a lot of people contacted us to say that they had certain bookmarks they didn’t really want to have displayed. In some cases users had intentionally hidden these bookmarks in deep hierarchies of folders, somewhat similar to how one might hide a physical object. Having something from your previous browsing displayed to someone else who is using your computer (or even worse) to a large audience of people as you are giving a presentation, is really one of the most embarrassing things that Firefox can do to you. So now in Firefox 3.5, users have complete control over what types of information are displayed in the location bar (or suggestions can be turned off entirely):

So now you know a way to hide your secret stuff from being viewed by others who use your system.

Comments welcome.

Source

Happy Birthday, Virginia Dare

There should be an image here!On this day in 1587, America’s first English child was born in a remote island wilderness. They named her Virginia Dare. Soon after her birth, Virginia and more than a hundred men, women, and children disappeared, leaving a cryptic message carved on a tree. What became of that infant girl and her people, now known as the Lost Colony?

In search of an answer, Marjorie Hudson wanders the back roads of North Carolina and Virginia in an aging Dodge Caravan with a satchel of research notes and a head full of memory and imagining. Amazed by abandoned farmhouses wrapped in kudzu, the Great Dismal Swamp “dripping with spotted snakes,” the bones of the Jamestown colony, and the living nation of the Lumbee, Hudson discovers an epic story more complex and more deeply moving than she ever imagined.

Weaving research and interview, memory and imagination, Hudson’s tale is a spellbinding journey, an invitation to deep mysteries that lurk in the history of America and in ourselves.

Happy Birthday, Smithsonian Institution

There should be an image here!Smithsonian magazine chronicles the arts, environment, sciences and popular culture of the times. It is edited for modern, well-rounded individuals with diverse, general interests.

Each subscription includes a membership to the Smithsonian Institution, which provides special discounts at Smithsonian gift shops, world travel opportunities through Smithsonian study tours, and information on all Smithsonian events in any area.

Get your subscription to Smithsonian and membership to the Smithsonian Institution today!