Emerging Technology

CSIRO re-creates the perfect kilogram… Southerner migration north slows… People ignore ad-like content… IT’s dirty little secrets

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Aussie researchers create roundest object ever

Australian CSIRO researchers are redefining something taken for granted the world over – the kilogram.

They are cutting, grinding, and polishing a boule — a big crystal — of ultrapure silicon-28 into two baseball-sized spheres (one is for double-checking) that weigh exactly one kilogram each, according to Wired. The scientists are using silicon because it allows them to measure precisely the number of atoms of that silicon isotope in any given hunk.

What’s more, the boules are “the roundest objects in the world,” according to one of the scientists working on the project. Sticking to the circular means technicians only have to worry about one dimension – diameter – making the delicate measurements much easier.

Why are they bothering? Wired says the official kilo, a 118-year-old lump of metal stored in a vault at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures near Paris — has eroded by as much as 50 micrograms in the past century. Without an official kilo, chaos is likely to break out any moment – let’s hope we can just hold on.


Sunshine State migration slowing

The flow of NSW and Victorian residents into Queensland is slowing according to Queensland’s top demographer. But there is still a significant number of “Mexicans” heading for better jobs and more sunshine: 98,000 people made the move north last year giving Queensland a net gain of 25,800.

The planning, information and forecasting unit of Queensland’s Department of Local Government and Planning predicts that this will rise again from next year, and peak at 40,000 a year by 2012.


Don’t make your ads look like ads

It’s official – people ignore content that looks like advertising, according to a new study reported by webpronews.

A group of people were asked to use a particular website to find the US’s current population. The figure was displayed in large red letters in plain sight in the right hand corner – 86% of users failed to find the answer.

According to the study’s authors, users tend to ignore heavily formatted areas because they look like advertisements. Interestingly, however, most users said they saw the “Population Clock”; they just didn’t use it, even though it contained the exact information they were looking for.

Most users said they scanned the big red number US 302,781,150, but only made it to 302 before skipping off to the search box labelled “Population finder” or some other area.

The study’s authors say it shows that it’s not just paid ads users are filtering from web sites, but areas that might contain ads. Web users are conditioned to focus on the main area of a web site, when looking for meaningful information.


Working in IT: Five dirty little secrets

TechRepublic has come up with 10 dirty little secrets of working in IT – the sort of thing they usually tell you only after you’ve started the job.

1. The pay in IT is good compared to many other professions, but since they pay you well, they often think they own you.
The longer the skills shortage rolls on, the better the pay, but there is a downside. If you need to work six hours on a Saturday to deploy a software update to avoid downtime during business hours, you get “there’s no time in lieu for that since you’re on salary – that’s why we pay you the big bucks!”

2. It will be your fault when users make silly errors.
There is no fury like a PC user scorned. Expect “what’s wrong with this thing?”, “this computer is NOT working!” or “what did you do to the computers?”. In fact, the problem may be that they unplugged the mouse from the back of the computer with their foot. When you tell them that, don’t expect an apology.

3. You will go from hero to zero and back again several times a day.
When you put in the fix, they will love and praise you like a god; when the printer stalls because of a network slow down, their wrath will know no limit. Quite like small children, really.

4. Your co-workers will use you as tech support for their home PCs.
Your less tech-savvy co-workers will view you as their personal IT support department. They’ll stop by for a quick chat, all friendly like, and then just throw in a casual question: “that reminds me, I was using my computer last night when…”.

5. You’ll spend far more time propping up old technologies than implementing new ones.
Budding young IT workers often imagine they will spend their days toying with the latest cutting-edge technologies. The reality is that’s not usually the case in most IT jobs. The truth is that IT professionals typically spend far more time maintaining, babysitting, and nursing established technologies than implementing new ones.





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