In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll raise my hand as a guilty party, too. But ever since I did Continue »
Google partnered with countless scientists and organizations worldwide from NOAA to the Navy to create a realistic map of the ocean floor using bathymetry (underwater topography), and there are many "hot spots" to click on to get more information like video, photos, and research data. While it's not like you can quite swim with the fishes, you can cruise the ocean floor and see the depth or relation to the land. And the collection of video and photos is growing all the time, much like the organic nature of Google Earth itself.
There is even a fish tracker that let's users follow the path of an actual shark off the coast of California, a number of shipwrecks near places like Hawaii, and plenty of photos of quirky creatures like the vampire squid. To check it out just download the latest Google Earth and start clicking. For more, be sure to watch the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric tonight.
In the age of the Internet, it sometimes seems that nothing's private. But what if EVERYTHING - including gossip, name-calling, and slander - was fair game?
On some Web sites - particularly one popular with college students called JuicyCampus.com - that sort of thing is thriving. Anything goes.
Tonight, I'll take an in-depth look tonight at the Web Site that's giving plenty of college students - and their parents - nightmares.
For an early peek, just click below.
Is it high-tech parenting or old-fashioned prying? For any parent concerned about what their kids are doing in the digital domain, dozens of software programs can log every keystroke, keep track of every Web page, read every e-mail, instant message, etc. Users can even set keyword "alerts," so if a child types or reads something they deem inappropriate an e-mail is sent to the person who installed the software. Sound scary? Orwellian? Handy? If you're under 18 years old then your parents may be reading this blog right now (although I doubt many of you are).
For tonight's Evening News with Katie Couric we talked to a family in the Midwest. They actually asked to be anonymous for fear of tipping their hand to their 15-year-old daughter, who is unaware her parents are spying on her. They say they have good reason to peer into her secret online world since she recently fell into the wrong crowd. They've seen evidence of drinking, drugs, sexual behavior and other activity that has them worried. The parents say they tried discussing everything with their daughter in person, but she shut them out. So, they turned to technology.
I know what the skeptics are saying: how is this any different than when kids used to grow up? Shouldn't kids be left to make occasional mistakes on their own? What about more chatting first? Certainly valid points, and clearly it all comes down to a personal choice for parents. The software is readily available online or in computer stores, and here's a list from CNET reviewing a handful of them. (Full disclosure: We interviewed CNET's technology expert Brian Cooley for our story airing tomorrow night.)
They all do roughly the same things, but keeping on top of the steady stream of covert information can turn into a full-time job. It can be rather tedious to parse all the data, and do you really want to see everything your child is up to? (gonna hang @ mall tonite with GG -- call me l8er, k?) Of course, there are those incidents when parents wish they'd paid more attention to what their child was up to online, like the tragic case of the 13-year-old girl in Missouri who killed herself after someone pretended to like her via her MySpace page and then rejected her.
Like so many tools for parents, experts say it's just that, a tool. Never a substitute for improving communication or face-to-face interaction. And most kids use the Internet in a positive and safe manner. But for some parents who don't know where else to turn, these programs can provide a (frightening) window into their child's Web world. Perhaps it becomes far too overbearing when it goes from tracking or monitoring to surveillance or stalking. And if your child ever finds out, then obviously there would be serious trust issues in the future. In all honesty, I don't have kids (yet), and I don't know what I would do. Oh, and as for using this type of software on a spouse, partner or friend? Keep in mind it's often considered illegal unless the subject of the spying knows about its existence on the computer. But that's a whole other story.
Ingenious. That's probably the best word to describe computer programmer John Breen. He's the man behind Freerice.com, a new Web site with a unique, two-pronged approach to tackling literacy and world hunger. A lofty-sounding goal, I know. But Breen is determined to make it happen, one click at a time.
When you first visit Freerice.com you see the vocabulary quiz that challenges your word wisdom. The game adjusts to your level of skill, giving you increasingly hard words as you progress. And, as a bonus, each time you get a definition right, 10 grains of rice gets donated to the United Nations World Food Program. How does the math work? Stay with me here –- Breen gets money from big-name sponsors like American Express, Fujitsu and Apple. Those companies place banner ads on the page. That money is then sent to the UN, which buys the rice in a particular region. To get the ball rolling, Breen actually sent the UN a check for $100,000 (yes, the UN verified it has his money). He has since collected about that much from the various companies, and the UN says it's in the process of buying a couple hundreds metric tons of rice to ship to Myanmar refugees in Bangladesh. More than 1.8 billion grains of rice (roughly) has been donated through Freerice.com thus far, according to Breen.
His background includes a deep interest in global poverty issues and he actually has another Web site called poverty.com, which collects large donations from the national income of participating countries. His new-age approaches to tackling age-old problems are getting plenty of attention. Freerice.com has become a viral, international sensation with people even posting their thoughts about it on YouTube.com. The general consensus is one of support and encouragement for Breen.
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