BBC video: App that detects naked pictures on your smartphone

It may be a meme nowadays but “Send nudes” or “sexting” has been a phenomenon that’s giving parents nightmares specially that younger children are getting online much earlier than before. I’m a parent and whenever my 6-year-old daughter grabs hold of my phone and I don’t anything from it, I quickly go over and have a look at what she’s doing, watching or looking at.

The good folks over at YIPO Technologies has come up with an app that aims to help parents stop their kids from sending or receiving naked photos: Gallery Guardian. The BBC was able to take it for a spin and came up with some interesting results, check out their video below:

Gallery Guardian is still in development but clearly it has great potential. Can’t wait to have it installed on my daughter’s tablet device. If it will be made available in the Philippines that is.

Sweden out to bust our privacy

This is one of the most ridiculous and revolting news I’ve ever read since I heard that Cesar Montano and Manny Pacquiao are running in the upcoming May elections in our country.

Sweden seeks telecoms monitoring

Sweden’s government has presented a bill to give its defence intelligence agency powers to monitor any e-mail or phone call into or out of the country.

The fact that the idea came from the Swedes is even more surprising. I’ve come to think of their government and people as amongst the few who really value, protect and promote basic human rights like the freedom of speech and the privacy of one’s communication. Right Uncle Sam?

As if adding insult to injury, they even had this to say:

The government says conversations within Sweden would remain untouched.

Oh sure, protect your own citizens’ privacy, but what about the rest of the worlds’?

We took so much, spent and continue to spend so much just to protect our privacy especially over the internet and here comes a proposal to monitor global flow of communication that happens to pass by Sweden without a court order?!

They may argue that it’s their territory and its their servers and communication facilities but it doesn’t mean that they can just pry into our e-mails and listen into our phone calls just because it happens to pass by through their country.

What will the Swedish government gain from this? If they are under the threat of terrorism then they could, but still under lawful means, tap in our communications then again are they under threat? Hmm…they could’ve been listening too much to what Bush and Blair has been blabbering about ever since 9/11, but then I still think the Swedes are too smart for that.

Speaking of smart people, these plastic surgeons from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery which is one of the world’s largest specialty association that represents over 2,700 facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons throughout the world. AAFPRS members are board certified surgeons whose focus is surgery of the face, head, and neck. AAFPRS members subscribe to a code of ethics.

Farewell Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin

Steve IrwinI was having dinner in the kitchen when I overheard the news in the TV reporting that renowned naturalist and conservationist Steve Irwin has died after being stung by a stingray in the chest.

Rushing to watch the report, what I saw and heard saddened me very much. The ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin is dead. An excerpt from the BBC News website reports:

Australian naturalist and television personality Steve Irwin has been killed by a stingray during a diving expedition off the Australian coast.

Mr Irwin, 44, died after being struck in the chest by the stingray’s barb while he was filming a documentary in Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.

I’ve grown fond of Steve and his unconventional approach to exploring wildlife which I found not only very educational but also entertaining. Watching his show “The Crocodile Hunter” in the National Geographic Channel further inspired me to study Biology and even dream of becoming a naturalist like himself.

sting rayThe sting ray is member of the Dasyatidae family of cartilaginous fish, with about 70 species worldwide. They are related to sharks and can be found in tropical seas as well as fresh waters like streams and rivers. They have barbs on their tail coated with toxic venom hence their name. They are not aggressive animals and would only use their barbs in defence or when they feel threatened. Experts say that the sting is painful but the venom is rarely lethal and deaths, like Steve’s could result due to the trauma of the sting itself, sometimes measuring up to 20cm long. This is effect, is like being “stabbed in the heart” since Steve was struck in the chest.

In the wake of this tragedy, my prayers and condolences goes out to his family and I grieve along with the many fans he has worldwide. Indeed, the world has lost a great naturalist and agent of wildlife protectionism. An obituary for Steve Irwin, who died at 44 can be found here at the BBC website. Conversely, a Wikipedia page has just been setup in his honor and can be viewed here.

Farewell ‘Crocodile Hunter’ we will miss you.

What age should a child start to use a PC?

Another interesting story this time from the BBC website; “The rise of the cyber-children

It asks powerful and profound questions like; “What is the best age to introduce chilren to using computers?” and “Would it give the child an advantage or a head-start?”

In the UK, children as young as 18 months to two-and-a-half years old have started to use the computer keyboard and mouse, according to the report. It adds,

Worldwide research on very young children and their use of IT is limited, but one recent report from Sheffield University in the UK called Digital Beginnings makes for interesting reading.

For instance by the age of four, 45% of children have used a mouse to point and click, 27% have used a computer on their own at home, rising to 53% for six-year-olds, and 30% have looked at websites for children at home.

Well, that’s in the United Kingdom, I wonder what are the figures are here in the Philippines? Then again more questions pop in my mind like, “How many Filipino kids have access to computers?” “How young are those Filipino kids?” “What do they do with the computer or have they experienced the internet already?” “Do they use Windows or Mac? Have they ever seen nor used Linux before?” “Do they become smarter or perform better than others?” These are just some questions racing in my mind regarding the subject of children and computers.

In my opinion, based on my own childhood experience, studies and observations, I do not agree on starting children as young as 18 months to 2 years in using the computer. Even if they use software and programs custom-made or intended for children’s education and skill levels, it’s still not a good idea especially if one is in keeping interest of the child’s development. I say, again based on my own experience which I would share on a follow up post, to wait until they have grown tired of their toys then give them the computer or wait until it becomes a necessity for them to learn to use the computer because of the need for making school projects or research via the internet easier.

Aside from the bright colors, moving pictures, graphics, cool sounds and the occassional vibrations from the mouse (if you have one that is equipped with such feature) what other stimulation could a child get from a box, a stripped-down typerwriter, a monitor screen and a device named after one of the filthiest creatures on the planet?

Compare that to the stimulation a child could get from a set of building blocks, puzzles, even a ball of clay or some quality time with mommy and daddy. If you’re a parent or an older sibling wanting to fully develop the creative mind and motor skills of a child, would you push him/her in front of a modified version of the ‘idiot box’?

In my next post, I’ll reinforce my stand by sharing with you my own childhood experience regarding computers and child development.