Archive for February, 2005

T-Mobile voicemail security flaw

Thursday, February 24th, 2005

Gizmodo reports on a security flaw with T-Mobile voicemail. It’s a bit of a nuisance to have to add a password to accessing voicemail from your own device, but may well be worth it regardless.

A propos T-Mobile security flaws, Blackberry must be quite frustrated that Jon Stewart kept referring to Paris Hilton’s hacked gadget as a “Blackberry” on The Daily Show the other night even though her gadget was a Sidekick II. Another reference to such a mix-up is on So who’s getting their news from whom?

Budapest sights (& a conference)

Friday, February 18th, 2005

This on CT.

I just came across some beautiful pictures [link to PowerPoint slides] of synagogues in Budapest most of which I have never seen despite it being my hometown. You will notice that they are tucked away with quite some care in several cases, which makes it easy to miss them. The photographer has many other slideshows available on his Web site.

I have also posted some photos of the main synagogue and my high school, but mostly of communist era statues gathered up in a Statue Park on the outskirts of the city.

Social scientists looking for a conference excuse to see these sights may want to consider submitting an abstract to the annual meetings of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics to be held this summer in Budapest. Abstracts are due March 1, 2005.


Saturday, February 12th, 2005

I just received the following:

Hungarian sweets

Ask any Hungarian living abroad what he or she missed the most and Túró Rudi will be on their list (pictured left). It is a candy bar that is hard to describe and a description cannot do it justice anyway. The basic ingredient is farmer’s cheese (incorrectly often referred to as cottage cheese). It is sweetened in some ways.. I’m not sure how.. and then covered in dark chocolate. It is incredibly yummy. Unfortunately, it is perishable and so even harder than most products to get abroad.

On the right are various Hungarian chocolates I love. And all this is mine to consume now!:-)

JCMC special issue on search engines

Friday, February 11th, 2005

I am editing a special issue of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication on The Social, Political, Economic and Cultural Dimensions of Search Engines. I hope to receive submissions from people in a variety of disciplines. Details below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

Google Maps

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005

Last week Gawker Media launched Lifehacker, a site I have gotten addicted to quite quickly. It’s a great resource for any geek or geek-wannabe. One of today’s finds is the most recent service launched by Google: Google Maps. They offer very nice clean maps that allow searches for more than just addresses. For example, see chocolate in evanston. Click on the red pointers and get the exact addresses. With another quick click you can add an address for directions. By clicking on “Link to this page” you get a static link you can share with others. (Note that the arrows for navigating are in the upper left hand corner not on the sides of the map as with some other services.)

The results to searches are far from exhaustive though. I’m afraid the above search misses my favorite chocolate store in town. In fact, curiously, it misses relevant stores that a regular Google search will bring up and Google Local doesn’t seem to be using Google Maps yet either. Since they’re still in beta, hopefully we’ll see some improvements. Regardless, it looks like a very nice new service worth checking out.

Hargittai & Hargittai: Candid Science V

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005

My father and brother team up to bring us the fifth in the Candid Science series published by Imperial College Press. They present conversations with famous scientists, many of them Nobel laureates.

Earlier volumes in the series:
* Magdolna Hargittai & István Hargittai: Candid Science IV, Conversations with Famous Physicists
* István Hargittai & Magdolna Hargittai: Candid Science III, Conversations with Famous Chemists
* István Hargittai & Magdolna Hargittai: Candid Science II, Conversations with Famous Biomedical Scientists
* István Hargittai & Magdolna Hargittai: Candid Science, More Conversations with Famous Chemists

Networks and tastes

Monday, February 7th, 2005

This on CT.

Retailers such as Amazon and Half use social network methods applied to people’s previous purchasing behavior and demonstrated interest to figure out what other items users may want to buy. MovieLens is an interesting example of a non-commercial service that uses information provided by the user about his or her movie preferences (ratings of movies already viewed) to suggest what additional movies may be of interest to the person based on the movie evaluations of others who exhibit similar tastes. Music Plasma suggests what artists are close to each other based on style and epoch. Unfortunately the site doesn’t tell us much about the underlying methodology.[1] Unlike MovieLens, it seems to rely on information about the position of artists in the network based on shared genre and era to make recommendations (i.e. display linkages) instead of relying on listener feedback about shared tastes. I’d be curious to hear about other similar services resembling any of these approaches. For those interested in visualizations of this type, the search engine Kartoo and the Virtual Thesaurus may also be of interest (the latter is quite restricted for non-subscribers though and I have never been able to access enough of it to be particularly impressed). For more on visualization of networks and an explanation of social network analysis basics, see

fn1. A few months ago I contacted them for more information, but got no response.

Office hours

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005

At the end of my grad seminar today one of the students said to the class: “Everyone should go see her during her office hours.” I looked at her puzzled. She looked at me and added: “Your office hours complete me.”

I thought that was funny. Maybe you had to be there.

Google through text messaging

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005

The new tech blog Lifehacker points to Google SMS. Send a text message to 46645 (in the US) with queries about addresses (e.g. of hospitals, restaurants), definitions, names/phone numbers, products and more, and receive a response text message (or two or three) with information. Standard text message costs apply (or so I’m assuming).