Thursday, 5 December 2013
Fear for house prices as 'estate resembles giant penis' when viewed from above
The row over the street comes days after it emerged that the design for Qatar's 2022 World Cup stadium can be said to resemble a vagina
People living on a UK street fear house prices could suffer after Google Earth images showed their estate resembles a giant penis.
Locals on George Road, Edward Road, and Yeoman Cottages in Hoylake, Wirral, fear potential house-hunters wouldn't want to buy a property in the phallic-shaped area.
When viewed from above, the red roofs on the homes – which have an average £200,000 price tag – make the cul-de-sac look like a penis.
Resident Carl Hodge, 45, said: "Since someone spotted this on Google Earth we have all become a laughing stock.
"You can't argue because it really does look just like a man's c*ck and balls.
"I haven't heard of anyone moving out because of it but we are definitely worried it would put of potential buyers if we ever wanted to sell.
"Who would want to live in the cul-de-sac that everyone is taking the mick out of.
"They say Google Earth is fascinating and people spend hours on it but it has been a nightmare for us.
"I think Google should remove the street from the internet. It might be funny but it's no laughing matter if you're trying to sell your house."
Another Hoylake resident who lives nearby added: "It is so funny, everyone knows it as the c*ck and balls road.
"I live close but thankfully I'm not on the road itself.
"I'd definitely move out if I lived there and everyone was laughing at me."
George Road is made up of a mixture of privately-owned semi-detached houses and ex-council owned terraced properties.
The houses were erected in the 1950s and 60s but their rude shape was only revealed when locals checked the latest Google satellite images.
The row over the street comes days after it emerged the design for Qatar's 2022 World Cup stadium can be said to resemble a vagina.
The proposed 40,000-seater Al-Wakrah stadium is meant to resemble the sails of a dhow boat which is traditionally used for pearl fishing.
However, hundreds of people took to Twitter to point out the embarrassing mistake
Monday, 2 December 2013
European Parliament Might Decriminalize File-Sharing
A number of MEPs have recently decided to urge the European Commission to update its copyright policy. It seems that they are calling for a more flexible copyright system that could benefits EU citizens and businesses. The main part of the system is the decriminalization of file-sharing for personal use.Actually, the European Copyright Directive started more than ten years ago, but at the time the worldwide web looked entirely different and this is why lawmakers understand that reforms are needed now to update the law.
Back in 2012, several MEPs sent a letter to the President of the European Commission and asked to take up this issue. However, thus far the Commission hasn’t followed this up, and the MEPs had to take more concrete action themselves. They decided to host an event in order to highlight the lack of progress and the need for change. The hostess and Pirate Party MEP explained that the current copyright law is very outdated, as it restricts users’ ability to enjoy and share culture. Indeed, the current directive has created a horrible licensing nightmare that nobody can penetrate. File-sharers, DJs, libraries, schools and others who make use of culture live in a constant state of uncertainty today.
So, decriminalization of file-sharing is one of the issues on the agenda, and it directly affects over hundred million European citizens. It is clear that it will also facilitate the development of new business models. But this is not all. The MEPs want to make information in general more readily available across countries, without complex copyright limitations and restrictions. They believe it will enable “better access to culture for libraries, online archives, research, visually impaired people and educators”.
The above mentioned event has been setup to encourage a more coordinated effort among MEPs of various parties to push for the copyright reform. Perhaps, there will be collaboration between like-minded members of Parliament who keep the interests of the European public at heart. As you know, starting 2013, the EU will have a new Parliament and a new Commission, so it’s a good idea to coordinate early how to ensure the better legal certainty. The MEPs point out that it is very important to “build common and shared platforms of cultural exchange and dialogue”. Hopefully, the number of the supporters of this idea will be more than three.
Sunday, 1 December 2013
Kennel No. 5 and Old Spike: Dogs sniff out new scents
Dog owners are increasingly splashing their pets in specialist perfumes, with names such as Duke and Old Spike
Traditionally, it has been the Christmas gift of last resort, offered by those at a loss for more imaginative ideas.
But it will not only be wives and teenage nephews with perfume and cologne wrapped up beneath the tree this year: many of the nation’s dogs will also have that fate awaiting them.
Several ranges of dog fragrances are on sale to cash in on the Christmas market, with products which – like the human versions – come complete with baffling names and promotional campaigns.
One pet accessory firm, Butch and Bess has unveiled a new range of “his and hers” “Eau de Dog”.
The “for him” grooming spray is perfumed by cedarwood, basil and vetiver essential oils. The “for her” version features jasmine, mandarin and ylang.
The “natural spritz fragrances” – which cost £10 for 250ml bottles – also include aloe vera juice, oat kernel extract and argan oil, and the company says they have a PH balance which “simply promotes a naturally healthy skin and coat”.
The “Santa Paws” fragrances are to be officially launched at a vet show at London’s Olympia next weekend, alongside five other varieties, without the overt festive theme, including: “Bess”, “The Perfect Calm”, “Maybe Bebé”, “Butch Leather” and “Stinker Belle”.
Rival products include those from the VIP (Very Important Pet) range, by fragrance firm Scent Perfique, with products such as “Foxy Lady”, and “Pet Cologne For Him”, while another, from Bonnie Dogs, features sprays called “Finishing Touch” and “Duke”.
Saturday, 30 November 2013
The Apprentice wannabe who was fleecing the VAT man
After boasting on his application form to appear on The Apprentice that he was prepared to commit VAT fraud, a student is convicted of tax offences
A student who boasted he was prepared to commit VAT fraud in an application to appear on the BBC series The Apprentice, has been convicted of tax offences.
Revenues inspectors found the form when conducting a search of Max Tappenden’s university accommodation, while they were investigating him.
The 23-year-old had written “I’d commit VAT Fraud!,” in response to the question: “Describe something you would do if you knew you would not get caught.”
He also told programme makers he would feel no regret and would use the money from the fraud as “start up” cash for his entrepreneurial plans.
Tappenden was last week convicted of illegally obtaining £11,125 pounds from HM Revenue and Customs by filing three bogus VAT claims for his IT firm. He had apparently attempted to get on the show at the same time he carried out his deception.
Canterbury Court heard that he did not even own his own PC but claimed to be trading in the development and sales of computer software.
He had registered for VAT in April 2012 as Tealbury Limited, later known as Wavedon Internet Ltd, while studying web design at the University of Kent.
However, tax officials found he had been using university computers to falsify sales figures and invoices in order to claim back VAT that he was not entitled to.
Tappenden, of Caldecote, Milton Keynes, Bucks, was sentenced to 150 hours of community service, given a three month home detention curfew, ordered to pay £1,200 in costs and banned from being a company director or running a company for the next five years.
Friday, 29 November 2013
People Don’t Care That Government Is Spying
According to researches, most people don’t worry that the authorities are collecting their personal information, even after Edward Snowden’s revelations exposed a terrifying level of the surveillance.
The observers point out that there is very little public disquiet about government surveillance. The recent poll revealed that 42% of respondents believe the security services have balanced powers to spy on ordinary people, and a further 22% said they didn’t have enough powers. When asked whether Snowden’s leaks were a good or a bad thing, 43% of respondents believed they were bad and only 35% thought they were good.
The alarming fact is how relaxed many of the professional peers seem to be about it. To them, the recent leaks only confirm what they had suspected. For some reason, the discovery that our societies have managed to achieve Orwellian levels of surveillance only makes them smile wryly or shrug. This level of passive acceptance can be found quite scary.
Even the journalists seem to have succumbed either to a weird kind of spiteful envy, or to a desire to behave as the unpaid stenographers to the security services and their political masters. This could be seen before in the visceral hatred directed towards WikiLeaks and Julian Assange by the mainstream media in Britain and the United States.
Just a few days ago a welcome sign could be seen in the US, where some people in journalism have woken up to the existential threat posed by the National Security Agency to their profession – and, by implication, to political freedom. A group of researchers from Columbia Journalism School and the MIT Center for Civic Media have recently submitted a paper on “the effects of mass surveillance on the practice of journalism”, where they
argued that what the agency was doing was incompatible with the existing law protecting the confidentiality of journalist-source communications. They also claimed that the climate of secrecy around mass surveillance was harming journalism, because their sources couldn’t know exactly when they are monitored, or how intercepted data might be used against them. The NSA should supposedly defend freedom, but it seems all the wrong way...
Thursday, 28 November 2013
Tech Giants Urge More Transparency over Industry Requests
Mainstream Internet giants, including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Twitter, argue that transparency would encourage debate over surveillance powers. This followed the UK’s GCHQ attempts to tap subsea fiber-optic cables in order to get access to vast quantities of broadband traffic.The tech giants believe that the country needs to have a full public debate about the scale of Internet surveillance in order to provide confidence that state powers aren’t being abused. The companies have called for the British government to allow transparency about requests to hand over information on their users.
The files revealed by Snowden showed that GCHQ was tapping undersea fiber-optic cables in order to get access to online traffic under its Tempora program. Meanwhile, the US NSA has been collecting information directly from the servers of some ISPs, including people’s search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats. The Internet service providers didn’t even know about it.
The tech giants recommended that requests for user data made by the British government were made as transparent as possible. The companies themselves already publish transparency reports, because transparency is very important in maintaining confidence that powers aren’t being abused.
The companies also call for more transparency about state data requests in the United States: there has been a storm of political debate about the leaks, followed by a series of investigations which even forced the Obama administration to consider reforms. As for the British authorities, they have been slower to respond and Prime Minister has condemned the Guardian newspaper for endangering national security by publishing Snowden leaks.
The joint statement from Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo! also includes a plea for the authorities not to enforce any more legislation on access to user data until the country has considered reforming international treaties covering surveillance and law enforcement. The companies remain opposed to any move to resurrect the communications data bill. It is known that the suggested laws handing greater online surveillance powers to British authorities were killed off in 2013 but MPs have warned that spies are already up to get access to this kind of information through the above mentioned Tempora program.