Peanut Shells Used To Design a New Air-Purifying Filter

A hot topic within society today is the quality of air that we breathe; major cities including London have found that pollution is quickly on the rise and this has led to the associated health problems for citizens. Air purification research is always advancing to the point whereby the research team at the centre for Advanced Biotechnology Studies within the National University of Mexico have developed an air-purifying filter that implements Peanut Shells.

Under the leadership of biotech expert Raul Pineda Olmedo, the team have found that the Biofilter specifically relies upon micro-organisms such as Fusarium fungi and Brevibacterium bacteria which typically grow in peanut shells. The research and studies have found that these microbes are able to absorb harmful substances in the air before converting them to carbon dioxide and water.

It takes 28 days before an effective amount of the organisms are able to colonize one of the filters. As yet, the only created prototype is in the form of a kitchen hood, however, the university hopes to further develop this project with the aim of bringing this innovation to market.

It is a fascinating insight into how a previously thought of disposable and ignored ingredient as in this case, could in fact be utilized in such a manner.

Virgin Media Spam Filter is Blocking Legitimate E-Mails

Not so long ago, Google stopped providing their e-mail service to ISPs which forced them to look elsewhere for an alternative. As a result, Virgin Media’s new e-mail platform doesn’t have a sophisticated and accurate e-mail filtering service which resulted in many genuine messages being undelivered. Many customers have already let their displeasure known via the company’s forum. One frustrated user said:

“I’ll add a ‘me too’ to this. All my emails to ntlworld and blueyonder addresses have been rejected for some time, which is infuriating as I have clients who use these. One such client has decided to jump ship from VM because of the problem—he can’t afford to have legit email rejected.”

Virgin Media responded to this message and clarified:

“Hi All,

Apologies for the rejected email issues, if problems remain ongoing please drop me PM and I can provide contact details for our postmaster, they’ll be able to look into why these emails are being blocked for you.”

Clearly, the system is incapable of properly judging which e-mails are spam and the problems appear to be fairly widespread.

According to The Register, a Virgin Media spokesman described the situation and said:

“Since Google removed its service for ISPs from the market we’ve moved to a different email platform, meaning some emails may have not been getting through. We are helping businesses who feel their emails have been wrongly blocked.”

Doing this on a case-by-case basis isn’t ideal and only going to make customers angry while their vital business e-mails are lost. This could dramatically impact on their profit margins and nullify contracts where communication is key. Virgin Media needs to sort this out as a matter of urgency or business customers will leave in great numbers.

Proposed “Online Safety Bill” Being Debated In the House Of Lords

Guess whose back? Indeed after a short hiatus I am back and raring to be creative concerning my written articles for eTeknix, although, in reality it has only been around 6 weeks since my last piece. So, what to write? I know, let’s delve into the proposed “Online Safety Bill” which is currently being debated in the UK courtesy of the House of Lords.

According to reports on the government’s own Parliament website, the bill is being debated at the “1st sitting committee stage” and proposes a law to compel “internet service providers and mobile phone operators to provide an internet service that excludes adult content” This includes provisions to offer strict and compulsory age verification checks to NSFW sites and also a role for Ofcom. There are also proposals to educate parents through digital on demand programme services and a licensing scheme for such websites.

It will be interesting to see how the debate develops and also the challenges of implementing such a law, after all, ISPs will first have to define what constitutes an “adult” website before blocking it to individuals who are under the age of 18. A further interesting angle is the proposal to “require electronic device manufacturers to provide a means of filtering internet content”.

Logically these proposals are unworkable and may in all probability be circumvented by various tech means; there is also the question of legitimate and educational sites that might fall under the banner of such a law. Another aspect which could cause concern is the proposed age verification checks, the only way this could be implemented is for a mechanism to be introduced to verify consumers through official identification without it being intercepted by hackers and a myriad of external cyber threats.

Image courtesy of echo

Yahoo Labs Finds Filtered Photos Are More Popular

A new paper from Yahoo Labs “Why We Filter Our Photos and How It Impacts Engagement” delves into its findings after analyzing 7.6million photos on Flickr. They found that filters boost engagement on Flickr.

Thanks to social photo sharing apps the majority of the photos we seem to see these days on the internet have been filtered. Filtered photos sure have their haters, but love them or hate them they are here to stay. Yahoo Labs found that photos that are filtered are 21% more likely to be viewed than their original and 45% more likely to be commented on.

Yahoo Labs even found that warmer filters boost engagement more than cooler filters. So now you know if you want your photos to be a bit more popular always go for warm filters. They even were able to nail down that casual shooters tend to use heavy filtering while more experienced photographers generally use filters that have a light effect. So the takeaway is if you don’t want to look like a casual photographer you need to use filters that lightly enhance the photos, not change them drastically. It sure is an interesting point, as it wouldn’t have occurred to me that choosing a filter made that much difference to how others give it their attention.

Latest Doom Mod Adds Instagram Filters and a Selfie Stick!?

Doom may be 22 years old, but the modding community just doesn’t want to give up on this game! Not only have we currently got the stunning Brutal Doom mod bringing the game up to a more modern and considerably more violent standard, now we’ve also got something a little more… hipster.

InstaDoom adds 37 real Instagram filters to the game. They’ve all been carefully recreated in the Doom Engine and to make things even sillier, they’ve even modded in a selfie stick.

Not the most useful mod ever, but I just love that this game is still getting the attention it deserves and it may be the first good use of a selfie stick I’ve ever seen.

You can download the mod over at DoomWorld.

TalkTalk Forces Porn Filter on Customers

UK ISP TalkTalk is activating an adult content filter by default for all its users, thanks to prompting by tech-illiterate Prime Minister David Cameron. Under TalkTalk’s HomeSafe system, any website deemed to be hosting adult content will be blocked, unless users opt out.

According to the Alex Birtles, writing on the TalkTalk blog, auto-on content policing is for the user’s “peace of mind” and is “helping families stay safe online”. Birtles then writes, “We pre-tick the ‘on’ option, but it’s the customer’s choice”.

The Open Rights Group (ORG), however, contests the idea that content filtering benefits the public. Jim Killock, executive director of ORG, told the BBC, “Censorship should never be turned on by default.”

He added, “Filters block all kinds of websites, including some that provide useful advice to children and young people,” referring to instances of abused children being blocked from websites such as childline.org and samaritans.org by supposed adult content filters.

Source: BBC

UK Government Adult Website Filter Issues To Be Fixed

Recently the UK government flipped the switch and activated their adult content filter, which would prevent many users here in the UK from seeing adult sites, needing to opt out of the scheme to access them. However, the band didn’t just block certain adult sites, but it also blocked copyright blogs, relationship education sites, the sites for women’s crisis centres, all of which were marked as being dangerous for family viewing!

The government has admitted the error, but in all honesty they shouldn’t have launched into this stupid plan without more extensive testing and it’s just another prime example of a bunch of people governing a system they no little or nothing about. To fix the problem, the government has started work on white-listing certain sites that shouldn’t be censored, while also building an appeals system should any site be blocked unfairly.

I’m personally completely against this idea, but only because myself and my family are computer literate enough to manage it ourselves, as well as actually supervising my younger children while they use the internet. It will however be interesting to see how successful this new scheme is, obviously its off to a bad start, but I guess it needs time to be fine tuned to the point where it actually does some good, and of course those who don’t want a block can always have the filter removed.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of JPupdates.

CNN and Twitter Become Official Partners, Said To ‘Revolutionize’ News Gatherings

It appears that head Twitter’s head of news, Vivian Schiller, has announced their first project, namely a partnership with CNN and the New York startup Dataminr. It is said that the partnership, along with Dataminr, will help journalists cover breaking news and making sense of the flood of public information on Twitter.

Dataminr is a five-year-old startup that has raised $48 million from investors like Box Group, Venrock and IVP. Until now it has worked with clients in financial services, helping banks and hedge funds make real-time investment decisions by processing huge amounts of social media content and extracting the high-value information. Dataminr uses machine learning algorithms to analyze the Twitter firehose of data and highlight the needle in the haystack so CNN reporters can find the most important, relevant, and reliable facts and images from around the world.

“There is actually a very different set of algorithms that help us determine if information spreading on Twitter will move markets, as opposed to becoming a big news story,” said Dataminr CEO Ted Bailey. “So it’s not a matter of more or less data, but of how the service is focused and tuned.”

CNN is one of the companies that set up Twitter accounts in their news gathering since 2009. Now it wants to bring a purpose-built product and official partnership. For example, CNN first learned about a shooting this weekend at a mall in Maryland through Dataminr, which has been deployed in-house for several months now, and picked up on a tweet from a first responder on the scene. The alert helped CNN be one of the first on the story. The company says it now produces about two stories a day based off tips from its Dataminr alerts.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Verge