Four short links: 18 May 2009

Scientists, Scammers, Satellites, and Safe Havens

  1. Scientists Without Borders — “Mobilizing Science, Improving Lives”. mobilize and coordinate science-based activities that improve quality of life in the developing world. The research community, aid agencies, NGOs, public-private partnerships, and a wide variety of other institutions are already promoting areas such as global health, agricultural progress, and environmental well-being, but current communication gaps restrict their power. Organizations and individuals do not always know about one another’s endeavors, needs, or availability, which limits the ability to forge meaningful connections and harness resources. This situation is especially striking in light of the growing realization that integrated rather than focused approaches are crucial for addressing key challenges such as extreme poverty and the glaring health problems that accompany it. See also Geeks Without Borders, but is there anyone running a program that sends geeks into the field where they’re needed? I know a lot of open source folks who have been volunteering around the world in poor nations, but I haven’t found a site that coordinates this. Can anyone point me to such a thing?
  2. The Psychology of Being Scammed — UK government report into the psychology of scammers’ victims. Lots of insights into successful scams (parallels drawn to finance or startups left as exercise to reader) and some counter-intuitive findings like Scam victims often have better than average background knowledge in the area of the scam content. For example, it seems that people with experience of playing legitimate prize draws and lotteries are more likely to fall for a scam in this area than people with less knowledge and experience in this field. This also applies to those with some knowledge of investments. Such knowledge can increase rather than decrease the risk of becoming a victim. (via Mind Hacks)
  3. GPS Accuracy Could Start Dropping In 2010 (Tidbits) — the Air Force has had difficulty launching new satellites. The GAO has calculated – using reliability curves for each operational satellite – that the probability of keeping a 24-satellite constellation in orbit drops below 95 percent in 2010, and could drop as low as 80 percent in 2011 and 2012. (via geowanking)
  4. Open Database Alliance — an attempt to provide a safe home for MySQL given the Oracle acquisition of Sun. […] a vendor-neutral consortium designed to become the industry hub for the MySQL open source database, including MySQL and derivative code, binaries, training, support, and other enhancements for the MySQL community and partner ecosystem. The Open Database Alliance will comprise a collection of companies working together to provide the software, support and services for MariaDB, an enterprise-grade, community-developed branch of MySQL.
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  • http://freelancing-gods.com Pat Allan

    Nat: regarding your comments on the first link, Engineers Without Borders organise placements in developing nations.

    There are also government programs in Australia – Australian Youth Ambassadors (AYAD) is one – that cover a range of placements, a small percentage of which may be tech related.

    An equivalent program in the US is the Peace Corps, but no idea if they have any tech-focused placements, and same for the UK’s Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO).

    If you hear of anything that’s a bit more flexible (ie: on the volunteer’s terms instead of the organising group’s terms), I’d love to hear about it.