links for 2010-10-08

  • Google just announced that it plans to shut down 1-800-GOOG-411, its voice-powered directory assistance service, on November 12. GOOG-411, which launched in 2007, was the company's first foray into voice-powered search. According to Google, GOOG-411 "provided a foundation for more ambitious services" on smartphone platforms like Google's own Android and Apple's iPhone. Interestingly, today's announcement also notes that Google plans to put all of its resources "into speech-enabling the next generation of Google products and services across a multitude of languages."
  • A California student got a visit from the FBI this week after he found a secret GPS tracking device on his car, and a friend posted photos of it online. The post prompted wide speculation about whether the device was real, whether the young Arab-American was being targeted in a terrorism investigation and what the authorities would do. It took just 48 hours to find out: The device was real, the student was being secretly tracked and the FBI wanted their expensive device back, the student told in an interview Wednesday. The answer came when half-a-dozen FBI agents and police officers appeared at Yasir Afifi’s apartment complex in Santa Clara, California, on Tuesday demanding he return the device. Afifi, a 20-year-old U.S.-born citizen, cooperated willingly and said he’d done nothing to merit attention from authorities. Comments the agents made during their visit suggested he’d been under FBI surveillance for three to six months.
  • You can quickly create a seamless background texture in our online image editor Phoenix. First import, and select your seamless tile with one of the selection tools. Next use the "Define Pattern" functions under the Select menu to set it as the foreground fill. Then use the paint bucket tool to fill the canvas with the new pattern.
  • Did you ever feel like there just weren't enough hours in the day? Have you ever stayed up late because you weren't tired enough to go to bed? Have you ever felt like you didn't get enough sleep and it was, too soon, time to get up? Have you ever wished for more free time to pursue different activities and goals? If you can relate to these feelings, you will be interested in the 28 Hour Day. Under the 28 Hour Day system, the current week would remain at exactly 168 hours. (24×7=168) However, this 168 hour period would be divided into six 28-hour days rather than 7 24-hour days. Some of the benefits of extending the length of the day are relatively clear: you would simply have more time to do the things you wanted to do. Everything you do now in a typical day could be done for a little longer: you could sleep longer, work longer, spend longer blocks of time with your family and friends, and have more leisurely meals.
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