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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Feed the Hungry While Practicing Your Vocabulary

It's possible at FreeRice.com, a website that's been around for just over two months now.
Here's a description of how to play from the website:

  • Click on the answer that best defines the word.
  • If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.
  • For each word you get right, we donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.
  • WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance...

There are 50 difficulty levels in all, although the website admits it's difficult to get above a 48. I played and was surprised to get up to level 42 and donated 300 grains of rice in just a few minutes of play. The rice is paid for by advertisers whose logos appear at the bottom of the game screen. The site was launched on October 7 and only 830 grains of rice were donated. On December 10 this number had grown to 7,786,631,170 grains of rice. I wonder what that translates to in pounds??? What a great way for students to build their vocabulary and feed the world at the same time! Who knows—maybe you can even have a class discussion about world hunger?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

How to Block Facebook's Beacon Reporting

This information comers from www.wikiHow.com. Check out the site for the visuals connected to the steps. While users can decline sending out the advertising, Facebook does not allow users to opt out of the data collection and behavior monitoring.[3][4] Even if you opt out, click "no thanks", and log out of Facebook, Beacon will still be surreptitiously collecting your web browsing behavior data and sending it to Facebook. [5][6]

For some users of Facebook, this sort of information sharing causes privacy concerns. To make matters worse, there's no way to block Beacon in Internet Explorer (see Tips).[7] Fortunately, an easy-to-install add-on for the Firefox browser can block Beacon from collecting any data about you. Follow these simple steps to ensure your private information remains private.

  1. Install the Firefox browser if you do not already have it.
  2. Install the BlockSite extension from the Mozilla website. You can also use the popular Adblock plus extensions.
    • Scroll down the page and click on the green Install Now button. Firefox may try to block the installation; if so you will see a yellow bar appear at top of your browser window with text "Firefox prevented this site (addons.mozilla.org) from asking you to install software on your computer." If you see this message, click on the Edit Options... button on the right side of the yellow bar and a small pop-out window will appear.


    • Click on the "Allow" button on the pop-out window to add this site to the list of sites you permit to install addons.


    • Close the pop out window by clicking on the red circle in the upper left corner.
    • Click on the green Install Now button on the Mozilla Add-ons web page a second time. Another small window will appear.
    • Click on the blue button in the new window to install the BlockSite extension.
    • Restart Firefox once this extension has been installed to complete the process and enable BlockSite.
  3. Click on the Firefox "Tools" menu and select Add-ons (the tools menu is located at the top of your screen next to the Bookmarks menu).
  4. Click on Extensions, then on Blocksite, and then on "Options" (for Windows) or Preferences (for Mac).

  5. Click on the Add button in the Options/Preferences window.


  6. Type this URL in the small box that pops up "http*://*facebook.com/beacon/*" and then click on the OK button.

    image:fb_beacon6.png
  7. Check Options/Preferences window to make sure that the beacon URL shows in the Locations window.
  8. Click OK at the bottom of the window to complete the block.

Tips

  • Be sure to enter the asterisks as shown after http, before the word "facebook" in the URL and after the /. These are wildcards that tell the extension to include different iterations of http://facebook.com/beacon/ like https://, etc.
  • Even if you do not opt to share this information on your news feed, the system still collects personal information about you unless you block it.[8]
  • If you decide to opt out, this information will not be shared with your friends. However, you will have to opt out of Beacon's notification system for each company that participates in the system.[9]
  • In Internet Explorer, there's no way to block Facebook Beacon without blocking all content from Facebook.[10]
Opera users can go to Tools > Advanced > Blocked Content and add the same URL given above to block Beacon.[11]