Earthquake alerts

Those of us with friends and relatives in Australia, New Zealand and in other countries on the Pacific rim are well aware that earthquakes regularly hit the region. Many of them are minor but recently there have been more serious events, most of which are not picked up by the UK or European press. A Google News alert will pick up those that make the headlines in the regional press that are local to the quake, but aftershocks are not always reported. Search engine Ask has a map showing recent earthquakes and their magnitude on a map at http://www.ask.com/earthquake but there is no email or RSS alert option so you have to keep going back to the site to see the latest news. The US Geological Survey has detailed information and alerts on earthquakes at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/. In addition there are two RSS feeds: one is for earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 2.5 (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/catalogs/eqs1day-M2.5.xml) and the second for those with a magnitude greater than 5.0 (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/catalogs/eqs7day-M5.xml).

If you are a Firefox user there is an eQuake add-on at https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/2239 which uses the USGS data. It alerts you with the basic information (date, location, and magnitude) of each earthquake but you can specify a lower limit for the magnitude, for example 4. By default your browser will ‘shake’ proportional to the earthquake magnitude but you can configure the alert methods. I have only just installed it so I’m not sure how disruptive the quaking browser effect is going to be …… and as I write this an earthquake of 4.9 has just hit the Santa Cruz Islands region! And having just spell checked this article a 6.8 quake has occurred off the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand. If nothing else this is an interesting way to demonstrate the frequency of earthquakes.

Tighter controls on Wikipedia edits

I spoted this piece of news in Information World Review. It seems that the German language version of Wikipedia will restrict instant editing of articles so that trusted editors will have to pass the content before it appears online. The changes will come into effect later this year, and it has been suggested that this approach could be applied to the English language version of Wikipedia. There have been questions about the accuracy and bias of some of the articles, but I have always found that the articles in the scientific areas I research have been excellent. I have noticed, though, that some biographies have obviously been ‘edited’ either by the person themselves or by their PA to present the ‘official’ picture that they wish to portray. Wikipedia already requires users to sign in before they can edit certain pages, for example those on Tony Blair and George Bush, so this is taking the process of control a stage further.

Telecoms blast from the past

I am having a grand clear-out in the office and at long last have decided that my archive of telecoms software and manuals has to go. Before I sort the paper, binders, books and disks into the relevant piles for recycling I offer them free of charge to anyone who might be interested for historical reasons, research or whatever!

The list is on http://www.rba.co.uk/telecoms.htm

You do not have to take the whole lot – you can take an individual item. Email me at karen.blakeman@rba.co.uk if you are interested in any of them. Closing date 5th October 2007. After that date, they will be irrevocably recycled.

ITU-T recommendations now free of charge

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has made over 3000 ITU-T recommendations available free of charge following a trial of the new service. The standards are used by equipment manufacturers, telecommunication network operators and service providers throughout the world.

According to the ITU press release:

Mr Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), presented the results of the trial to the 2007 meeting of ITU’s Council. He said that not only had the experiment been a success in raising awareness of ITU-T, it would also attract new members. Most importantly, he noted, it had helped efforts to bridge the “standardization gap between countries with resources to pursue standardization issues and those without. “There has been very positive feedback from developing countries, said Johnson. “Last year exactly 500 ITU-T Recommendations had been sold to developing countries; this year, after allowing free access, they have downloaded some 300 000.

Hat tip to Gary Price who posted the story on his Resource Shelf blog.

Google Reader now has search ..

.. but not here :-(

According to the Google Reader Blog the new search box is located directly above the reading panel to the right of the Google Reader logo. A pity I can’t see it here in Firefox. According to the blog it lets you search your subscribed feeds. If you want to do a blog search outside of your feeds then get thee hence to Google Blogsearch.

A quick check in Opera, my second browser of choice, revealed nothing. A totally blank page! I did, however, manage to spot the elusive search box in IE 7 and it seems to do what it claims.

Facebook profiles to be Googled …

… unless you say otherwise.

If you have logged on to Facebook today you will have spotted the announcement that people can now search for your profile from Facebook’s Welcome page and that “in a few weeks, it [your profile] may also be found through search engines like Google.”

The stuff that I have on my profile can be found on my web site and blog – in fact a lot more information can be found about me on both of those!- so I am not that worried. Those of you who are concerned about it may want to start removing any information that, in retrospect, you think was not such a good idea to divulge after all! The announcement has a link to the Search Privacy page where you can untick the public search engine box. Anyone who does discover your public search listing must register and log in to contact you via Facebook, and public search listings will only contain names and profile pictures. Hmm … maybe it wasn’t that sensible to upload that photo taken at the Online Information conference dinner last year.