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This week has also seen the latest Consumer Confidence Index from GfK get released, revealing that the uncertainty of Brexit is still taking its toll.

In lighter news, it seems that Oreo is ready to play the Game of Thrones with its latest partnership, which could be the biggest partnership for the brand this year.

Our final news story of the week is all about TikTok getting fined by the FTC for reportedly collecting data from children aged 13 and under who use the app.

Read on for all of these stories in more detail in this week’s news roundup.

Buzzfeed’s report also found that anti-vaccination videos were being offered as recommended videos by the platform’s “Up Next” algorithm. Although the majority of top videos about vaccine safety are from reputable and legitimate sources, the algorithm has been effectively promoting biased anti-vax videos to those looking for information on vaccines.

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YouTube has said that it will be making changes to its algorithm in an attempt to reduce the spread of anti-vaccination videos. It is also aiming to make “more authoritative content” on the benefits of vaccinations easier to find.

This is especially important following outbreaks of measles across many parts of the US, which has led people to look at social media’s role in spreading anti-vaccination views and misinformation.

Facebook announces new premium ad program In-Stream Reserve placements In-Stream Reserve Categories Sponsorships

Advertisers will have a few different options for measuring the results of their Showcase campaigns. These include Digital Ad Ratings, Nielson Total Ad Ratings and brand lift offerings from Facebook or Nielson.

UK Consumer Confidence remains negative in face of Brexit

Consumer confidence in the UK has remained negative in February, as the outcome of Brexit has yet to be decided. While consumer confidence was steady, it is still at -13, according to GfK’s latest index.

Compared to January confidence was up by one point, however YoY, it was three points down in February. It seems that consumers are taking a “wait-and-see” approach, as the UK is still uncertain what effect Brexit may have or what the next steps are.

Out of the five measures that make up the Overall Index Score, three increased and two stayed the same, so overall results are fairly mixed.

In terms of Personal Financial Situation, the index has stayed steady at zero, which is where it stood in February 2023 also. The personal finances forecast for the 12 months also stayed the same, standing at +1. However, this four points lower than the same month last year.

The General Economic Situation increased by one point in February, however, it still stands at -38, which is far from positive. In total, this is 12 points lower than February 2023, showing that the uncertainty of Brexit is taking its toll on the country’s economic situation.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Major Purchase Index went up by three points last month, putting it five points up on the same time last year. The Savings Index all went up in February by four points, meaning it currently stands at +18 and is six points higher than the start of 2023.

These mixed results suggest that people are more likely to be saving money over the next 12 months, possibly as a result of the uncertainty around Brexit, although the chances of large purchases being made is also fairly high.

Oreo announces Partnership with Game of Thrones

According to the senior director Oreo, Justin Parnell, the Game of Thrones collaboration is set to be more than a themed cookie – although Oreo fans will be happy to hear that these will also be a thing. Instead, Mr Parnell revealed that Oreo will also being ready to “help fans pledge their loyalty to the throne.”

While he didn’t reveal exactly how a cookie will be helping to do this or how the marketing plan will look ahead of the start of the show’s last season, Mr Parnell did say that it is potentially the biggest collaboration for Oreo ever.

“What we’re doing is fully and wholeheartedly leaning into our brand purpose, which is that we believe in the power of playful spirit to bring people together,” he said. “You don’t necessarily think of Game of Thrones as being playful, at least not in the way we think about it. But what we love about this is that Game of Thrones are already a real community.”

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“For media companies who compete against Google and Facebook this is a critical issue,” said Mr Sims.

Currently, Facebook has yet to submit feedback to the inquiry, of which the primary findings were released in December, although it has suggested that the ACCC’s idea of an algorithms watchdog is not necessary. Google has submitted to the inquiry and has asked the ACCC not to judge it and Facebook in the same way, as it is not a social media platform.

TikTok app fined for children’s data breach

TikTok, the video-sharing app, has been fined $5.7 million after it was found to have violated children’s privacy. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) levied the largest fine ever from a US regulator against the app after chúng tôi the owner of TikTok, illegally gathered personal data of children under the age of 13. Data included names, addresses and emails.

According to the FTC complaint, TikTok did not obtain consent for data to be collected. The company also failed to delete personal information when requested to do so by parents of users.

As the app was aimed at children, it was required to obtain parental consent before it could gather data, as per the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

“The operators of chúng tôi – known as TikTok – knew many children were using the app but they still failed to seek parental consent before collecting names, email addresses and other personal information from users under the age of 13,” said Joe Simons, chairman of the FTC.

“This record penalty should be a reminder to all online services and websites that target children: We take enforcement of COPPA very seriously, and we will not tolerate companies that flagrantly ignore the law.”

After details of the settlement were released, some users of the app have reportedly been locked out of their accounts.

TikTok tweeted in response to complaints about not being able to access accounts, saying: We’re hearing that a few people are having trouble accessing TikTok today. If you typed the wrong birthday, head to the Report a Problem’ section of the app and provide the confirmation that you’re age 13 or older by submitting a copy of your government ID.”

This response has been criticized by some, as some children and teenagers do not have access to a government ID and so are unable to regain access to their accounts.

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The Roundup: The Boss May Be Watching

A report issued this week by the Denver-based Privacy Foundation says more than one in three online workers in the United States have their Internet or e-mail use under “continuous surveillance” by their employers.

The report says the monitoring targets 14 million employees in the U.S., meaning more than half of the estimated 27 million online workers worldwide have their usage overseen by the boss. Concerns over liability and productivity are prime motivators to implementing the software, which is becoming cheaper to install and run — now about $5.25 per employee per year.

The study, called the first attempt to estimate the extent of workplace monitoring, is based on self-reported user and revenue figures from publicly traded companies that sell e-mail and Internet monitoring software. The report covers only continuous, systematic monitoring, not random spot checks.

Websense is the most frequently used Internet monitoring product, with MIMEsweeper the most used e-mail monitoring product. Buyers of the software (according to vendors’ disclosures) include top companies and government agencies, including 20th Century Fox, Glaxo Wellcome, Nike, Duracell, Barclays, Marriott, Texaco, and American Express, as well as the Small Business Administration, the National Park Service, and the City of Boston. The Privacy Foundation reports that the U.S. Army recently purchased a 200,000-seat installation from Websense, for about $1.8 million, including hardware (about $9 per seat).

The Privacy Foundation says the report raises the question of whether employers are giving workers sufficient notice of continuous Internet and e-mail monitoring.

“Notice alone might not go far enough,” says Andrew Schulman, chief researcher for the Privacy Foundation’s Workplace Surveillance Project and the study’s author. He says employers “are basing firing and suspension decisions on the employee-monitoring reports. Yet employees are generally not told beforehand what information will be gathered and how it will be judged. Companies can use employee-monitoring logs as a kind of ‘wishing well’ to justify actions against employees, including dismissals and layoffs.”

CRM Investments: Money Well Spent

Internet research firm Jupiter Media Metrix recently reported that three out of four businesses will spend more money on customer relationship management (CRM) tools in 2001 than in 2000, as they respond to the increasing numbers of consumers seeking online customer service. Some companies will increase their CRM spending by as much as 25 to 50 percent.

Though the ailing economy is causing companies to cut costs in many areas of their business, customers still expect the same level of service, says Jupiter analyst David Daniels. “Customer satisfaction has always been a key metric for positive financial results. Businesses must not make CRM investments only to keep pace with growth — they should view their CRM spending as a strategic benefit that will bring higher levels of customer satisfaction and retention.”

The Return of Snail Mail?

Office products maker Pitney Bowes Inc. has released a survey of the most effective method for reaching customers, and the results may surprise you.

Direct mail, the offline world’s precursor to e-mail spam, is the most effective method, the company reports. (But keep this in mind: Pitney Bowes is a giant producer of postal meters, mailing equipment, and copy machines). The report is based on a collaborative study with Norwalk, Conn.-based management consultants Peppers and Rogers Group. More than 350 U.S. households with annual incomes greater than $35,000 were surveyed via telephone.

The results concluded that e-mail and the Internet are not as effective for building customer relationships as traditional direct mail. Direct mail solicitations currently account for 65 percent of the total mail received by a household, up from 56 percent in 1987.

App Server Market Soaring

According to the latest crop of statistics from IDC, the worldwide application server market bucked all trends and grew 128 percent, reaching almost $2.2 billion in 2000.

This comes on top of 1999’s worldwide revenue growth of 110 percent, to $957 million.

IDC expects this strong growth to continue through 2005.

“It’s difficult to overstate the significance of this growth rate. When a market reaches the level of maturity that the (application server software platform, or ASSP) market reached in 1999, annual growth usually slows, not accelerates,” said Steve Garone, IDC’s vice president of application development and deployment research.

BEA Systems and IBM claimed the largest chunk of this still-growing market, with revenue shares of 18 percent and 15 percent, respectively. Sun trailed in third with 8 percent.

“Survival in the ASSP market requires more than just ASSP products. Vendors need to provide an e-business platform that includes all the functions necessary to build and deploy e-business applications, leveraging the ASSP as the foundation layer,” Garone said. “BEA and IBM both understand this requirement.”

This item was first printed in ServerWatch, an chúng tôi site.

The Toolmonger Weekly Five: March 1, 2008

$8, chúng tôi As much as it might look like one, this isn’t a spark plug gap tool. It’s actually used to check the bevel angle of knives or tools that require sharpening. Just put the edge of a blade into the gaps and you can gauge how steep or shallow the blade’s shape is versus the angle you’re shooting for.

Measure twice, cut once. This week’s edition of Top Tools is all about the accuracy. There’s a micro-drill set for model makers; a bevel gauge to make sure you’ve got the right angle; and dowel tips that make centering a breeze.

New Universal Insulation Strippers From Knipex

Knipex’s new wire strippers are big, bad and pricey. But they’ll strip insulation from damn near anything, and they feature a four blade cutting system that’s also replaceable. This isn’t a throwaway tool. Think of it like the new generation of razors–more blades are better.

Ultracut Cordless Pipe Cutter

Ever want a bionic hand that can sever pipe? This cordless pipe cutter does just that. And uninstalling your old hand isn’t required—a plus in our book. The cutter can chew through copper tubing from ½” to ¾” in size and stuffs easily in a tool bag.

Commando Precision Drill Set

If you’re a model maker (or other tiny-task worker), you’ll appreciate this micro-drill set that stores into a pocket-sized aluminum case. Thankfully you’ll rarely need to spin them very quickly, because they’re totally finger-powered.

Bevel Gauge Ensures You’ve Got The Right Angle

As much as it might look like one, this isn’t a spark plug gap tool. It’s actually used to check the bevel angle of knives or tools that require sharpening. Just put the edge of a blade into the gaps and you can gauge how steep or shallow the blade’s shape is versus the angle you’re shooting for.

Dowel Joinery On The Cheap With Dowel Centers

These little nickel-plated inserts fit into a pre-drilled hole, making it dirt simple to mark the center on other same-sized dowels—perfect for assembly-line lathe work, like creating forty custom-turned pieces for a baby crib. They’re cheap, too, leaving you more cash for buying fine wood.

Boston University Ranks 39 In The 2023 U.s. News & World Report Best Colleges

University Continues Climb in U.S. News Rankings Strategic plan, investment in faculty and students, drive progress

BU’s four-way tie for 39th best college in the nation, as judged in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking, is its best-ever placement. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Boston University reached an all-time high in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges rankings, moving up 2 notches to tie for number 39 among national universities and continuing a sustained rise in reputation across the board.

“I am gratified by the recognition of the University’s progress,” says President Robert A. Brown. “A lot of ingredients have gone into the improvements we’ve made as an institution. I especially appreciate the continuing efforts of our faculty and staff, who are leaders in their fields, and who support the achievement of a great undergraduate and graduate student body.”

The University’s overall jump echoed widespread gains in graduate program rankings for several BU schools and colleges, released by U.S. News in March, credited to long-term efforts to strengthen faculty, support student success, and foster innovative research.

“Competition from our peer institutions only continues to grow stronger,” says Jean Morrison, University provost and chief academic officer. “So our ability to rise yet another 2 spots to 39 is a reflection both of the outstanding work of our faculty and students and of the rising stature and quality of BU as a truly global research institution.”

U.S. News, which this year rated more than 1,600 four-year colleges and universities, including 310 classified as national universities, considers numerous factors, such as undergraduate graduation and retention rates, outside assessment of excellence, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, and alumni giving. BU earned an overall score of 64 out of 100, up 3 points from last year.

“The higher you get on the list, the harder it is to move up,” says Melanie Madaio-O’Brien, BU assistant vice president for institutional research.

BU earned slightly higher assessment scores from both higher education peers and high school counselors, which together count for 22.5 percent of the total. “Those reputation scores are hard to move,” Madaio-O’Brien says. “That’s a big deal.”

BU has climbed 21 slots since the 2009 rankings, from 60 to 39. She credits the long-term trend to several factors, including investment in faculty under the University’s strategic plan and BU’s admission in 2012 to the Association of American Universities, an elite organization of 62 leading research universities in the United States and Canada.

“We are getting more and more recognition for our research and our faculty, and we are becoming more selective in terms of students,” says Madaio-O’Brien, noting that BU’s student selectivity rank climbed 6 spots, to 49 this year. “We’re also doing really well in graduation rate. It’s four percentage points above what it was projected to be.”

She says much of the University’s progress has been made possible by the success of the four-year-old Campaign for Boston University, which passed its original $1 billion fundraising target this year. Brown has expanded the goal to $1.5 billion by 2023.

That effort boosted alumni giving to 10 percent, and lifted BU’s alumni giving rank 12 places, to 115. As recently as 2013, BU was 168 in that category.

U.S. News also ranked BU 23rd among best colleges for veterans.

In separate U.S. News listings of undergraduate programs, based solely on peer assessments by deans and senior faculty, the Questrom School of Business landed at number 38, up one from last year.

In the graduate school rankings, released in March 2023, the School of Law clocked in at number 20 nationally, a 6-slot jump from last year, and the school’s health law program was ranked second best of its kind, up from fifth. Recent successes at LAW—in addition to the renovated Law Tower and the new Sumner M. Redstone Building—include the Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Biopharmaceutical Accelerator (CARB-X) and two new clinics created in partnership with MIT, the Entrepreneurship & Intellectual Property Clinic and the Technology & Cyberlaw Clinic.

U.S. News ranked the School of Medicine at 29 in the nation for research, up one step from last year and the school’s highest grade ever in that category. The ranking was based in part on the dollar value of grants awarded to schools by the National Institutes of Health. MED also rose to 40 for primary care education, up from 52 the previous year.

The Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences occupational therapy master’s and doctoral programs were named best in the country, up from second the last time they were ranked, three years earlier.

The School of Education, the College of Fine Arts, and the School of Social Work also made significant gains in the U.S. News March results. The School of Social Work ranked 12th among 232 programs in 2023 (a jump from 16th) placing the School in the top 5 percent of all programs nationwide.

“We will work exceptionally hard in the years ahead to set even higher benchmarks for scholarship and research,” says Morrison.

At 39th in the 2023 National University Ranking, BU was tied with Northeastern, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Tulane University, and the University of California, Irvine. Tops on the list was Princeton University, followed by Harvard at second and a third-place tie between the University of Chicago and Yale.

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The Dawn Of The Tablet Pc: Ces 2010 Roundup

If this year’s CES is any indication, 2010 is the Year of the Tablet PC. Practically every major consumer tech company is coming out with something thin, touchable, and Twitter-friendly.

The evolution of the tablet PC is similar to that of the laptop computer, the netbook, and the smartphone: Companies aren’t so much selling us a better computer as they are selling us new ways to use computers.

However, consumers want something more portable than a laptop, more powerful than a netbook, and more comfortable than a smartphone–and a new tablet PC could very well fill all of those needs, in many different ways. People who love their e-readers but want something a little more versatile would likely love the Adam by Notion Ink, for example, while fans of touchscreen smartphones should pay close attention to Dell’s concept Android tablet, which could offer similar Internet functions with a much more comfortable user experience.

(To view a slideshow summary of the tablet PCs included here see:

Tablets Steal the Show at CES )

To see what the burgeoning tablet PC market might be able to offer you in the near future, read on for a comparison of the newly announced tablets from HP, Lenovo, and Sony, as well as a look at some of the almost-announced tablets on the horizon. Most likely, none of these products will be able to replace your main PC–but one of them just might scratch an itch you didn’t realize you had.

HP Multitouch Tablet

HP’s as-yet-unnamed tablet is undoubtedly the star so far, considering that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer demoed it at the CES 2010 keynote.

Some tablet enthusiasts were disappointed because it wasn’t the rumored Microsoft “Courier” dual-screen tablet prototype that leaked in September 2009, and in Ballmer’s brief demo we didn’t see any game-changing features. At this point, though, HP’s tablet seems poised to define the standard tablet PC experience. We do know that the HP tablet runs Windows 7, supports multitouch gestures, has an accelerometer to change the display’s orientation automatically, and is due out in mid-2010 for under $500.

More info: Read our coverage of the HP tablet demo at the CES keynote, or check out one writer’s take on the HP tablet announcement.

Lenovo Ideapad U1 Hybrid Notebook/Tablet

Once detached, the base of the PC becomes a 3G wireless hub for the tablet, ensuring that you keep your Internet connection. Lenovo’s Hybrid Switch software handles the move between the main processor and the tablet processor, so users should be able to start browsing a Website in laptop mode and continue where they left off after they detach the tablet. Lenovo’s Ideapad U1 hybrid PC is due out on June 1 for less than $1000.

More info: Watch a video of the Ideapad U1 in action, or read about Lenovo’s announcement.

Sony Dash Mobile Internet Device

While HP’s unnamed tablet and Lenovo’s Ideapad U1 are headed in a general-computing direction, Sony’s Dash is taking a different tack. Sony is calling the Dash a “portable Internet device,” and the product takes more inspiration from the Chumby Internet appliance (in fact, Sony collaborated with Chumby in developing the Dash) than it does from any previous tablet PC.

With a Dash, you can stream media from Sony’s Bravia content networks or attached USB devices onto its 7-inch, 800-by-480-pixel touchscreen, and listen to it through the built-in speaker or the standard 3.5mm headphone jack. You can also access the Internet over the Dash’s Wi-Fi 802.11b/g connection using the included apps, or you can grab your own choices from among its library of over 1000 existing Chumby apps. The unit has no built-in storage space–the Dash is meant only for accessing the Internet. It supports multitasking, however, so you should be able to listen to Pandora while updating Facebook (or reading PCWorld). It will be available for $200 in April.

More info: Check out our coverage of Sony’s announcement or stop by the Sony Dash product page.

Notion Ink Adam Smartpad

The Android-based Adam, created by India-based startup Notion Ink, is a tablet PC that blurs the line between e-reader and full-fledged PC. First announced in December 2009, the Adam carries the nVidia Tegra chip, weighs 1.7 pounds, supports wireless Internet via Wi-Fi and 3G (Engadget reports that the current 3G chip is compatible with AT&T), and can charge via USB.

Of particular note is the 10.1-inch Pixel Qi display, which could potentially stretch the Adam’s battery life far beyond that of other tablet PCs, especially when combined with the power-efficient nVidia Tegra chip. No news yet on a shipping date, but the price is expected to be less than $400.

More info: Read about the original Notion Ink Adam announcement.

Archos 9 PCTablet

Despite appearing at Steve Ballmer’s CES 2010 keynote, the Archos 9 PCTablet didn’t get any love. That’s probably because it actually debuted in mid-2009, and a few preorders have already shipped, though it’s not expected to hit general retail channels until the first quarter of 2010.

Unlike the rest of the tablets at CES, the Archos 9 PCTablet is more like a 9-inch, 1024-by-600-pixel touchscreen UMPC that runs Windows 7 Starter Edition; it’s powered by a 1.1GHz Intel Atom Z510 processor. The PCTablet also packs a 60GB hard drive and 1GB of RAM, offers networking via 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and 100-mbps ethernet, and has USB 2.0, microphone, and 3.5mm audio ports, as well as a 1.3-megapixel Webcam.

Considering that the Archos 9 was first announced in June 2009, specs-wise it doesn’t seem capable of hanging with all the new CES-announced tablets when it finally ships in early 2010. Preorders cost around $750, but retail pricing is still undetermined for its release.

More info: See the Archos 9 PCtablet product page.

Not So Sweet News About Soda

Not So Sweet News About Soda Both diet and regular drinks can increase risk factors for heart disease

Vasan Ramachandran, lead investigator and senior author of the BU study on soda’s effect on risk factors for heart disease. Photo courtesy of Vasan Ramachandran

It’s no secret that drinking soda, which is loaded with sugar and empty calories, can pack on the pounds, but a new study conducted by BU doctors reveals more dire results — drinking even one can of soda a day, regular or diet, can increase your risk factors for heart disease. The study was conducted by doctors at the Framingham Heart Study, the long-running National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute epidemiological study begun in 1948 and run by BU since 1971, and the results were published in the July 31 issue of Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

“We were struck by the fact that whether it was diet or regular soda that participants consumed, the association with increased risk was present,” says Ramachandran Vasan, a professor of medicine at BU’s School of Medicine and the study’s lead investigator and senior author.

Vasan says that study participants who drank soda on a daily basis exhibited an increased risk for developing metabolic syndrome. The syndrome, which doubles a person’s risk of heart disease, is a grouping of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk factors. These factors include excess waist circumference, high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of HDL (good cholesterol), and high blood-sugar levels even on an empty stomach. According to the American Heart Association, more than 50 million Americans have metabolic syndrome.

“The findings are striking,” says Vasan. “Just one soft drink a day increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome by about 45 percent.”

The study looked at 9,000 middle-aged men and women three times over a four-year period. Compared to participants who drank less than one soda daily, those who drank more had a 31 percent greater risk of developing new-onset obesity, a 30 percent increased risk of developing increased waist circumference, a 25 percent greater risk of developing high blood triglycerides or high fasting blood glucose, measured after an eight-hour fast, and a 32 percent higher risk of having low HDL levels.

Prior studies have linked soda consumption to risk factors for heart disease, but this is the first linking the risk factors to artificially sweetened diet sodas. “We are a little bit cautious to emphasize this, but there is an association,” says Vasan. “We don’t know whether diet soda is causing it. More research needs to be done.”

This study also departs from previous research connecting soda to weight gain in children and adolescents. “In our study the mean age was 53 years old,” says Vasan.

Susan K. Neely, president and chief executive officer of the American Beverage Association, says that the study simply underscores the need for moderation, and the researchers agree that diet and exercise habits could be related to consumption of these products. “People who drink soda also tend to eat more calories, trans fats, and saturated fat and less fiber, and exercise less,” says Vasan. “So it could be that a lifestyle pattern is increasing risk.”

Other possible explanations for the association include the fact that soda is a liquid and liquids don’t fill you up like solids. “Liquids satiate you less than food like salad, so if you drink a large amount of liquids at a meal, you are more likely to eat more at the next meal,” says Vasan. The sweet taste also conditions drinkers to prefer sweeter things, such as cookies, cakes, and candy, which cause weight gain. Even cola’s color could have an effect, because caramel, which gives cola its color, has been associated with inflammation of the tissues and insulin resistance. The high-fructose corn syrup used in soda does not appear to be a factor, because the connection to metabolic syndrome occurs also in drinkers of diet soda, which does not contain the syrup.

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