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UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Sci/Tech Tidbits

Sci/Tech Tidbits

Don’t Get SaltyAn obscure menace is threatening your health. It’s the equivalent of poison, a merciless silent killer, and you gobble it up like a pig, completely unaware that this evil is perfectly poised to take your life. Salt, of course, is the enemy. Studies show that if every American reduced their daily salt consumption by only half a teaspoon, there would be 54,000 fewer heart attacks and 44,000 fewer deaths every year. Reducing the amount of salt you consume can lower your chances of a stroke, heart attack, or heart disease just as much as reducing smoking, obesity, and cholesterol levels.World’s Sluttiest Bird Found in ConnecticutNew research shows that 95% of female saltmarsh sparrows, found in the marshes of Connecticut, mate with at least two males every nesting period. Statically speaking, there is only a 23% chance that sibling chicks in any given brood have the same father. Scientists believe that this unusually high rate of promiscuity (or birds) could be a result of the conditions in the salt marshes. Because floods can destroy nests periodically, the female saltmarsh sparrow doesn’t have the time to be too picky about her partner. Massachusetts birds, however, generally wait until marriage before mating.Security Infraction Exposes Naivety, IgnoranceWhen a list of 32 million passwords was hacked from the website RockYou.com and posted online briefly last month, e-crime investigators and security researchers considered it a golden goose. RockYou is a company that creates applications for social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. The unfortunate security breach offered a unique insight into the type of passwords chosen by the masses, and it wasn’t pretty. Nearly one percent of the passwords were the notorious ‘123456′. Second most popular was ‘12345′. Number three was the far more sophisticated ‘123456789′. Coming in fourth was a timeless choice, the elegant and understated ‘password’. Others in the top-twenty list include ‘princess’, ‘monkey’, ‘abc123′ and ‘qwerty’. Undoubtedly, when it comes to protecting personal information and sidestepping evils such as identity theft, the masses go for simplicity, seeing beyond the frills of the extravagant, more complex passwords.Camera Technology Unintentionally DiscriminatorySome consumers are complaining about new features in digital cameras. Nikon’s Coolpix 360 digital recognizes when someone is closing his or her eyes in a photo and offers to retake the photo if necessary. Asian consumers noticed that a message asking, “Did someone blink?” popped up on the screen even when everyone in the photo had their eyes open. The glitch doesn’t seem to occur when the camera is used to take pictures of people of non-Asian descent. Nikon, which is based in Tokyo, Japan, did not comment on the subject. A similar phenomenon was observed with face-detection technology in the built-in webcam on HP’s Pavilion laptop. Face-detection software can identify a user’s face and can be used to follow a specific person around, zooming in and out and refocusing the image appropriately. In a video titled “HP Computers are Racist”, posted on YouTube earlier this month, an African American user demonstrated that the webcam was unable to identify his face and track his movements, while when his Caucasian co-worker stepped into the frame, the camera immediately focused on her and followed as she moved around the room. HP responded to the allegations of racism claiming that the background lighting was to blame for the irregularities in the function of the camera, and that HP strives to provide a quality experience to all of its consumers.

About the Contributor
Shira Kaminsky served as the following positions for The Mass Media the following years Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2012; 2012-2013 Managing Editor: Fall 2011 Arts Editor: Fall 2010