Friday, August 22, 2008


My pick of the week's top five items of interest:
  1. If you are attending Freed-Hardeman University, Oklahoma Christian University, or Abilene Christian University this fall, you may be getting a "free" iPhone or iPod (of course the students are still paying for it in increased tuition or technology fees). Several of our sister institutions are handing them out to incoming students so students can listen or record lectures, so campus-wide communications can be easily sent, and so teachers can take in-class polls. I'm interested to see if making these devices ubiquitous improves learning or just encourages students to phase-out during class.

  2. GUI Blooper: Read about some usability issues in Windows Search.

  3. Some MIT students were recently ordered by a judge not to present their report on hacking Bonston's subway system at this year's Defcon conference. The gag order has been dropped, but the students missed their opportunity to speak at Defcon. Instead of first sharing the security holes with the transit system and giving them time to fix the holes, the students were going to share their hacks at the conference but hide some of the details required to actually get free rides. This legal mess illustrates the many problems of turning security holes into public research.

  4. Scour, a new meta-search engine with some social enhancements, is offering to pay users to use their search engine. You earn points for searching and getting others to search, and eventually you earn a Visa gift card.

  5. A new visualization tool that helps experts understand flooding has recently been developed at Monash University. With their interactive tool, you can raise and lower the flood marks and watch the city drown.