Weekend news roundup

23 Aug 2010

A quick glance at some of the technology stories breaking in the weekend papers.

One of the hottest topics in the weekend papers was Facebook’s newest feature – its location-based service called Places. This feature allows users to check themselves and friends into different locations and events, and has yet again raised privacy concerns amongst Facebook members.

Although geo-location services like Foursquare and Gowalla are already popular, Facebook Places looks set to bring this into the mainstream.

The Wall Street Journal writes that Facebook says it is making large efforts to make users feel that their data is secure and have given privacy options and notifications to those using or being tagged in Places.

“If you have a friend that is tagging you in illicit places, you can tell them to stop, or you can de-friend that person, or block them entirely,” Ana Yang, a Facebook Places product marketing manager told the Wall Street Journal.

Facebook Places check-in is currently only available for the iPhone and is not yet avaiable in Ireland.

In a strange turn of events for whistle blowing site Wikileaks, its founder Julian Assange was the subject of discussion all over the web following an online story that he has been sought by Swedish authorities over rape charges.

The Guardian reports that the allegation had been made on Friday night and was alleged leaked to a tabloid paper by police. The Swedish Prosecution Authority made a statement that an on-call prosecutor had issued an arrest warrant that was soon after revoked by a senior prosecutor of higher rank.

Meanwhile the Telegraph on Sunday reports on new technology being developed by Intel that can create detailed ‘mind maps’ of brain activity.

These maps can be compared against the brain activity of someone using the computer in order to predict what word they might be thinking.

Right now the equipment used to scan brain activity is large and bulky like MRI machines currently used in hospitals but that the goal is to get these down to devices that can be worn as head gear.

“We are currently mapping out the activity that an average brain produces when thinking about different words. It means you’ll be able to write letters, open emails or do Google searches just by thinking,” explained Dean Pomerleau, a senior researcher at Intel Laboratories.