In a previous post we mentioned XeroBank as a possible alternative to TOR.
Once you’ve figured it out, XeroBank is a great system! It’s a VPN connection to their servers which assigns you either a Dutch,
US or Canadian IP address; other nation’s IP addresses are not available. There is some confusion on their website as to whether other countries are available or not. The website merely says you can choose a country.
Once connected via the VPN, you can use all your browser and other programs to access the internet. We did not try their email service. The system is fast and you can even stream in video quite easily. Basically, it’s a great service if you have lots of time to read up on it and figure it out on your own because there is no customer support or documentation from the company; the public forums are the only place you’ll get any answers.
The sign up process and administration process are not straightforward. It is very hard to understand how to log in to the account and how to use it. Four emails to customer service over the course of 3 weeks after sign up and no answers.
They say the first month of the service is free but as you’re signing up you’re asked for your credit card and they charge you $1 for the first month; it is then very difficult to cancel your subscription, actually you can only put it on hold by going onto the website of the billing company that they use and suspend your account, but we only learned that by asking the question on their public forum where we received an answer from someone we presume to be an employee; emails to support were never answered.
Customer support is non-existent. They are more interested in the technology than their customers. (If you want to see the people who might be behind the XeroBank, please have look at the delegation they sent to the last DEFCON event.)
Scientific Federated Search Sites
I had to locate articles written by a prominent scientist and here are some of the sites that proved useful. You may not know much about science, but a guy who does is probably published. If the subject of your inquires is published, then you may not have the subject-knowledge to evaluate individual articles; however, you can apply evaluation method #2 to determine if the journal is reputable and viewed as a valued source of research data.
Scitopia.org is a federated search portal to the digital libraries of leading science and technology societies worldwide.
The Science.gov Alliance
Science.gov is a gateway to over 50 million pages of science information provided by U.S. government agencies, including research and development results.
WorldWideScience.org is a global science gateway enabling federated searching of national and international scientific databases.
This is a comprehensive federated search site for medical information.
Federated Search, The Blog
If you want to learn more about federated search technology check out Sol Lederman’s Federated Search blog, which is sponsored by Deep Web Technologies a major player in this field. Sol wrote a nice FUMSI article about his experience writing this blog.
Poor writing is not a recent problem. In 1946, George Orwell wrote his essay, Politics and the English Language, about his five rules of writing effectively. Orwell concluded that if you follow his five rules, then you would distinguish yourself by clearly communicating your ideas.
- Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech seen in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Strive for ‘100 steps per minute’
You should be taking 100 steps each minute for half an hour a day if you want to achieve “moderate” exercise by walking, a study shows.
Texter saves you countless keystrokes by replacing abbreviations with commonly used phrases that you define. It runs in the Windows system tray and works with applications you’re typing in. It can also set return-to markers for your cursor and insert clipboard contents into your replacement text, in addition to more advanced keyboard macros.
How did I ever live without this?
Wikipedia has become a source of information for millions, but it is not without its problems. Vandalism occurs, and many authors think they know much more about a topic than they truly do. Many authors have political or commercial agendas that they build into Wikipedia articles. As most of the authors are anonymous or pseudonymous, it is difficult to evaluate the content of an individual article.
How Wikipedia Works
If you use Wikipedia, may I suggest that you refer to How Wikipedia Works. Chapter 4 is titled, Understanding and Evaluating an Article. This is the most useful chapter for professional researchers. If you haven’t used Wikipedia much, may I also suggest reading Chapter 3, entitled Finding Wikipedia’s Content, which is about searching.
Go to the top of the article and click on the tab marked history for a list of the people who have changed the article. You can compare the changes to see what changed in each version of the article by using the radio buttons. You will often notice that certain “contributors” are really vandals and knaves.
Look at the History and Discussion tabs for the article on the Danish Muhammad cartoon controversy to see how these can be really important. You can quickly tell who not to trust from reading the discussion pages and looking at the history tab content on many articles. For example, look at the contributor RanEagle in the history tab and click on talk.
Mark Schaver writes on the Depth Reporting blog about a site, WikiScanner, that reveals organizations where employees have made anonymous edits of Wikipedia articles.
The following article illustrates the dangers of using web-base collaborative applications.
Google Privacy Blunder Shares Your Docs Without Permission
by Jason Kincaid on March 7, 2009
For some time we have been trying to integrate email, calendar, and contacts with our work-flow system using Outlook with Business Contact Management.
Vampire in the machine – don’t let Microsoft Outlook bleed you dry seems to summarize our experience with Outlook.