Shopping? Bring your face
"Facedeals may still only be in its trial period, but the … deals program that uses facial-recognition software to check you in on Facebook when you enter participating businesses is sure to incite all manner of responses when it's rolled out for the general user," says Gizmodo.com. "Relying on the preauthorization of its proprietary app via your Facebook profile, Facedeals maps the current physical appearance of your face by scanning your most recently tagged photos. When you enter a participating business, a custom-developed Facedeals camera will scan your face and automatically check you in. Then Facedeals will send personalized deals and discounts, based on your Facebook 'like' history, directly to your smartphone."
Stepping up to fitness goals
"It is a few minutes before midnight and I am pacing around my living room in circles," writes Nic Fleming in the New Scientist. "My wife appears at the top of the stairs looking concerned. Glancing at the display of a small black box attached to my belt, I tell her that I'll come to bed soon. I need to reach 15,000 paces. She is not placated. … Pedometer use is associated with lower body mass index and blood pressure. However, studies show that only people given specific targets tend to show improvements. This has been taken on board by device designers. I used a Fitbit ultra, a pedometer that set me a daily target, and gave me rewards for reaching certain milestones. This explains why I found myself pacing around in circles at home in the middle of the night: I knew I would be e-mailed a digital badge for reaching 15,000 steps."
Reruns can be therapy
"Do you chide yourself for wasting time in front of the television, watching Law and Order reruns?" asks Pacific Standard magazine. "Good news: It turns out that, without realizing it, you may have been doing something genuinely valuable. You've been replenishing your depleted self-control. That's the conclusion of a new study by psychologist Jaye Derrick of the University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addiction. She reports immersion in a 'familiar fictional world' can help us recover the all-important ability to resist temptation." The research grows out of the theory, espoused by prominent research psychologists, that impulse control is a limited resource. "While [Dr. Derrick] concedes that spending time in front of the tube may not be the optimal way to rejuvenate ourselves – physical exercise, she notes, can also lift mood – her results suggest it's unfair to think of television viewing as a waste of time."
Middle-age is looking younger
"Much has been made this year about the behemoth baby boom generation reaching retirement age," writes Alene Lawson in the Los Angeles Times. "But another significant milestone is slipping past a bit more quietly yet with noticeable impact. The first wave of Gen-Xers has rounded 40, and they are changing the face of what it means to be middle-aged. Women of this generation – think Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie – are pushing waifish teens off magazine covers, starring in movies, inspiring cosmetics and fragrances, wearing bikinis to the beach and minis to the mall. Thanks to advances in the beauty industry, more knowledge about healthy lifestyles, increased life expectancy and freer attitudes, middle-age doesn't look the way it used to."
Where crickets get attitude
"The experiences of youth can change the adult personalities of crickets, a new study has found," reports BBC News. "Scientists discovered that juvenile males that did not hear a cricket chorus while young grew into more aggressive adults. It suggests that the animals can pick up behavioural traits while young, which then become fixed in adulthood. The scientists believe that personality may play a crucial role in ecology and evolution. The findings of the team from the University of California, Davis, are published in the journal Animal Behaviour."
An addiction? Not so fast
"'Internet Addiction' may soon spread like wildfire. All the elements favouring fad generation are in place," writes Dr. Allen Frances in Psychology Today. He was the chair of the DSM-IV Task Force, a manual of mental disorders. "The whole concept of behavioural addictions is highly controversial and has never heretofore been given any official status. There is a good reason for this. It is extremely difficult to distinguish the relatively few people who are really enslaved by shopping, sex, work, golf (or the Internet) from the huge army of those who are attached to these as pleasurable recreation. … To be considered 'addicted,' you should be compulsively stuck doing something that is no longer fun, feels out of control, serves no useful purpose, and is certainly not worth the pain, costs, and harms. The unfavourable cost/benefit ratio should be pretty lopsided before mental disorder is considered."
Thought du jour
"Sometimes you have to be silent to be heard."
– Stanislaw J. Lec (1909-66), Polish writer