GoLinks is a simple yet powerful and efficient links directory script with many features including unlimited categories, link submission, search engine friendly URL’s, multiple themes and language support with completely customizable templates.
Take a look at http://www.golinks-script.com to download, order and view a demo online.
jotabl has just launched to the public, a website that aims to bring Twitter and the traditional shoutbox service closer together.
jotabl is an interesting blend of social media. Sign up to receive your free shoutbox which you can embed into your website. Messages can then be posted in two different ways:
1. A user can include the URL to the shoutbox in their tweet, jotabl will pick this up and place it in your shoutbox.
2. A user can leave a message by signing in via Twitter, with the option to have the message tweeted for them.
With jotabl you have a full admin system that allows you to remove messages and block Twitter users from posting messages.
The shoutbox has now become more personal thanks to jotabl.
The purpose of the mission is to discover whether there’s frozen water in the craters near the moon’s south pole. If water is indeed found, it could have very important implications for further human missions on the moon, as a potential source for oxygen (you know why we need that) and hydrogen (for rocket fuel).
You can read about the mission in detail here, but here’s a very short version: LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) will send the Centaur rocket which helped it out of Earth’s orbit into the moon at a high speed, ejecting debris from the surface of one of moon’s craters. LCROSS’ specialized instruments will then analyze the debris for the presence of water, before impacting the moon itself.
LCROSS’ launch date is today; it’s scheduled to launch at about 08:30 PDT. What’s especially cool about this mission is the fact that NASA is providing us with a variety of ways to follow the launch and the mission during the next four months.
If everything goes well, LCROSS should impact the moon in about 111 days. NASA promises the moon won’t be damaged (much), but you never know with these scientist types. We’ll be watching closely!
Late last month, China quietly ordered PC manufacturers to bundle Internet access control software with all computers sold in the country. The software, which appears to be Windows-only, looks to provide a mix of features, including whitelists, blacklists, and on-the-fly content-based filtering. But the key feature that appeals to the government may be the fact that it allows blacklists to be updated remotely.
The government has already worked with the developers of the software, called “Green Dam-Youth Escort,” previously. Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co, which developed it, apparently worked out the basic features of the filtering when assisting the Chinese military in securing the distribution of internal documents, according to The Wall Street Journal, which broke the story over the weekend.
Rebecca MacKinnon, who is an Open Society Fellow and worked previously at the University of Hong Kong, has translated some of Jinhui’s press materials, which indicate that the Chinese government has worked with Jinhui to make Green Dam available as a free download, and assisted in getting it installed in schools. Jinhui had apparently already arranged to have the software bundled by a number of manufacturers.
There seems to be some confusion about the exact capabilities of Green Dam, as The Journal reported that one of Jinhui’s founders indicated that the software relies on a database of blocked sites that allows it to be updated remotely. Reuters, however, talked with the same person, who indicated that it can perform semantic and image-based evaluation of incoming content—as such, the founder claimed that it’s impossible for the software to be used for general censorship purposes. Still the two capabilities aren’t mutually exclusive, and it would certainly be possible to tune Green Dam’s semantic engine in a way that enabled it to filter out politics in addition to porn.
In any case, Green Dam will have to have been fairly well integrated into the host operating system in order to function well, which presents manufacturers with a whole host of potential problems. Manufacturers tend to bundle a lot of software with their machines, which raises the possibility of conflicts between Green Dam and other software on the machine. The auto-updating of the blacklist is also mentioned as another potential security risk, and certainly raises the prospect that computer makers will have to support software with behavior that changes over time. Although the government seems to have given manufacturers little time to adjust to the mandatory policy—it’s set to take effect July 1—for now, it appears that they’re being given the option of simply shipping disks in the box, rather than installing and enabling Green Dam.
Although China clearly exerts great control over the political content that reaches its citizens, the government appears to be extremely squeamish about is citizens’ interest in porn. As such, it’s tempting to take this policy announcement at face value: an attempt at social, rather than political control. Still, if the software does have the ability to perform remote updates of a blacklist, it will mean that the Chinese government has given itself the option of having the capacity to filter political content, available at the flick of a server-side switch.
For many years, Google, on its Explanation of Our Search Results page, claimed that “a site’s ranking in Google’s search results is automatically determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query.”
Then in May of 2007, that statement changed: “A site’s ranking in Google’s search results relies heavily on computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page’s relevance to a given query.”
A slight adjustment in wording, but an important comment on the supremacy of the algorithm that Google had touted for years. Google had finally acknowledged that its search results were no longer solely and automatically determined by the company’s vaunted algorithms. Now they simply “relied heavily” on them. Why the sudden change?
Google claims it was arbitrary, unrelated to any sudden philosophical shifts within the company. But it seems far too specific an adjustment to chalk up to a random brand-management edit. We are, after all, talking about the company’s official explanation of its search results. And indeed, sources say the language was changed to account for the continual calibration of the algorithm, which these days is done with a bit of human help.
Google, for example, employs a vast team of human search “Quality Raters” (You’ll find a copy of an old training manual here). Spread out around the world, these evaluators, mostly college students, review search returns against established criteria–testing different algorithms and see which works “best” in predicting the quality of a site (though not directly judging the quality of any individual site itself).
They’re aided by Google’s own registered users, who can now, when logged into their Google accounts, promote and delete sites from their own search returns according to their preferences. These data too are used to tweak and further optimize the algorithm. So Google’s objective evaluation and ranking of Web sites is to some extent defined by subjective reasoning of a collective human intelligence. And so it must be if Google is to continue returning search results that we perceive to be the “best” answers to our search queries.
In interviews serialized over the next three days, key Google engineers with central roles in managing the company’s search engine discuss resources and techniques they use to optimize the system for users world-wide. The series kicks off below with Engineering director Scott Huffman, who oversees the company’s search evaluation team. Senior Google software engineer Matt Cutts appears tomorrow. And Google Fellow Amit Singhal wraps up the series on Friday.