Cyber addicts, angry mum sets up ‘rehab’ centre for you!


KUALA LUMPUR: She was furious to find her son at a cybercafe, engrossed in his game, when he was supposed to be at rugby practice in school.

But what shocked Zaridah Abu Zarin, 39, even more was seeing children, some as young as four, completely absorbed in playing online games.

 Sunday matinee: Zaridah (left) and Wong (right) watching a movie with youths at their centre in Bandar Sri Damansara Sunday.

Moved by what she saw, Zaridah decided to set up a centre with her business partner, Michelle Wong, to help youths and children overcome their addiction to Internet games for free.

“There were also four children, squeezing in one seat, just so that they could share the computer in the cybercafe,” said the KidQ daycare centre director at Bandar Sri Damansara here.

Wong, who is also a director at KidQ, said the centre, named “U”th Community Centre, that started yesterday, would be a place for children to participate in enjoyable and productive activities.

“There’s more  meaning to life than going to the cybercafe. One of our immediate steps is to conduct an intervention for children addicted to the Internet at cybercafes.

“Since we run a daycare centre, we have the facilities to allow youths and children to conduct activities,” said the 47-year-old.

Wong said she and Zaridah would ask the children about their interests and match them with suitable activities.

“With our background in childcare,k we can also find professionals to coach them and help them with job placements in future,” she said.

Zaridah said if things went well, they would like to expand the centre to reach out to children in different areas.

By YUEN MEIKENG meikeng@thestar.com.my

Google’s latest wheeze: Work out these blurry house numbers for us


Google, the pride of open everything, uses real blurry house number images as its Captchas, so that the general public can tell them what the number really is.

An openly available image of Sergey Brin in the open air.(Credit: Google+,Sergey Brin)

I have spent much of the day blurry-eyed, moved by Google’s Sergey Brin declaring his company the only great defender of the open Web.

The tears have, it has come to my attention, mainly emerged from laughter at Google’s sweet, thoughtful gall that everything it claims the world desires just happens coincidentally to benefit it commercially.

Still, no sooner had my eyes dried a little when the Telegraph offered me Google’ latest exemplar of sheer, beautiful openness.

For it seems that Google is using real images from Street View as security checks. Yes, if you want to access your own Google account, the company is asking you to decipher a slightly blurry image of a real house number.

It seems that if enough people decide on a particular number, then Google sharpens up the image on Street View.

Yes, you are being asked to work for Google, Openly. For free. And if you don’t, well, you may not be able to access your own Google account.

The Telegraph naturally declares that certain privacy groups are foaming at the lips on hearing of this little scheme — which, according to a Google spokesman, only occurs in 10 percent of security questions.

But surely some people, on hearing of this and Google being fined $25,000 by the FCC for, um, non-compliance with its inquiry into Wi-Fi eavesdropping, might feel that openness has a highly subjective definition in Google’s complex collective cranium.

Google’s version of the open Web seems very simple: let us get at everything. Whether it’s books, streets, houses, Facebook accounts, iPhoto accumulations or perhaps even the remains of your spaghetti bolognese.

Something is open if Google can see it and scrape it. And when Google sees it and scrapes it, it can create a fuller picture of every element of your life — just in case, you know, some lonely advertiser might pass by and show interest.

Some might call this freedom. There again, doesn’t freedom sometimes entail being free not to let rapacious, baby-faced organizations peer into your life?

Chris Matyszczyk is an award-winning creative director who advises major corporations on content creation and marketing. He brings an irreverent, sarcastic, and sometimes ironic voice to the tech world. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET.

Related posts & articles:

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FCC Proposes: Fine for Google Wi-Fi snooping ‘obstruction’

Google testing Google News tweaks

Sergey Brin, Google: Web freedom faces greatest threat ever. ‘It’s scary.’ (nextlevelofnews.com)

Google’s Sergey Brin: China, SOPA, Facebook Threaten the ‘Open Web’ (wired.com)

Teamwork made Man brainier, say scientists


Enlarge

Learning to work in teams may explain why humans evolved a bigger brain, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

Compared to his hominid predecessors, Homo sapiens is a cerebral giant, a riddle that scientists have long tried to solve.

The answer, according to researchers in Ireland and Scotland, may lie in .

Working with others helped Man to survive, but he had to develop a brain big enough to cope with all the social complexities, the experts believe. – Reuters Photo

In a , the team simulated the , allowing a network of to evolve in response to a series of .

There were two scenarios. The first entailed two partners in crime who had been caught by the police, each having to decide whether or not to inform on the other.

The second had two individuals trapped in a car in a snowdrift and having to weigh whether to cooperate to dig themselves out or just sit back and let the other do it.

In both cases, the individual would gain more from selfishness.

But the researchers were intrigued to find that as the brain evolved, the individual was likelier to choose to cooperate.

“We cooperate in large groups of unrelated individuals quite frequently, and that requires to keep track of who is doing what to you and change your behaviour accordingly,” co-author Luke McNally of Dublin’s Trinity College told AFP.

McNally pointed out, though, that cooperation has a calculating side. We do it out of .

“If you cooperate and I cheat, then next time we interact you could decide: ‘Oh well, he cheated last time, so I won’t cooperate with him.’ So basically you have to cooperate in order to receive cooperation in the future.”

McNally said teamwork and bigger brainpower fed off each other.

“Transitions to cooperative, complex societies can drive the evolution of a bigger brain,” he said.

“Once greater levels of intelligence started to evolve, you saw cooperation going much higher.”

The study appears in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a journal published by Britain’s de-facto academy of sciences.

Commenting on the paper, Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary anthropologist at Oxford University, said the findings were a valuable add to understanding brain evolution.

But he said there were physiological limits to cooperation.

Man would need a “house-sized brain” to take cooperation to a perfect level on a planet filled with humans.

“Our current brain size limits the community size that we can manage … that we feel we belong to,” he said.

Our comfortable “personal social network” is limited to about 150, and boosting that to 500 would require a doubling of the size of the .

“In order to create greater social integration, greater social cohesion even on the size of France, never mind the size of the EU, never mind the planet, we probably have to find other ways of doing it” than wait for evolution, said Dunbar.

By Mariette le Roux AFP

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