Light Friday: How to Stop NSA from Spying on You
June 14, 2013
Plus: Robot Subs Search for Alien Life Cheetahs Thrive on Tight Turns Acting Savvy Saves You Money Big Brother may be watching you, me, and just about everybody, but is there a way to escape this digital Panopticon? Following National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden's However, phone taps and email records are not the only way one can track your information online. A study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology showed that combining just four cell phone calls from data can distinguish any one caller from another, New Scientist So, how can we keep our secret information, well, secret? New Scientist lists several apps that can encrypt your communications and send them over wireless networks, but these encryptions are not foolproof. Further, you can use the WebRTC Additionally, volunteers are working together on Project Meshnet However, the only real way to keep your digital information out of the government's hands? Don't create any. Engineering.com Cheetahs Thrive on Tight Turns A tight turning radius is a highly desirable trait in a sports car. But did you know it's also key to the success of cheetahs in the wild? Cheetahs are natural sprinters capable of short bursts of up to 60 mph. Alan M. Wilson, a professor at the Royal Veterinary College at the University of London, recently published a paper "Cheetahs don't actually go very fast when they're hunting," Wilson told The New York Times Wilson and his team used tracking collars with solar-charged accelerometers, gyroscopes, and GPS technology to monitor the movements of five cheetahs in the Okavango Delta region of Botswana in southern Africa over the course of six to nine months. The team observed 367 hunting runs, and found that while the animals did hit speeds of up to 58 mph, the average speed was 33 mph. Their agility is aided by sharp claws that give them exceptional grip on the terrain. And, it turns out, cheetahs also have a great braking system, which lets them decelerate as much as 9 mph in a single stride. These two traits lead to the ability to make incredibly tight turns, which in turn help cheetahs outmaneuver their prey. Acting Savvy Saves You Money Doing your consumer research before making a purchase truly pays off, but your gender plays a major factor in how much you have to pay up. Researchers teamed with AutoMD.com to find out what auto shops would quote to callers who knew their stuff, and those who didn't. The findings, published on Kellogg Insight In the experiment, subjects called numerous auto repair shops and, reading from a script, created three scenarios. While one round of callers said they had done their research and had an accurate market price for the repair ($365), another group said that they had a value far too high in mind ($510). The final group of callers said that they had no idea how much the repair price should cost. The results showed that those who quoted the prices too high were ripped off, while the groups who named an accurate price and those who had no idea pretty much fared the same offer. Yet the tables turned when the experiment came down to men versus women callers: Females fared much worse when they said they had "no idea" what the repair would cost, yet they were able to negotiate a price better than men (35 percent versus 25 percent of the time, respectively). Florian Zettelmeyer, one of the researchers, says the findings indicate that a woman who admits she doesn't know her stuff is taken literally, while a man who claims the same may be viewed as having a hidden agenda... "Maybe you're being really strategic," he notes. Yet women who break free from stereotypes and speak up to haggle a price may take businesses by surprise so much that they will get a lower offer. Simply put: know your stuff, ask for a discount, and don't ever guess a price.