Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Let Me Out!!!!

Four-year-old boy gets stuck inside arcade machine

Four-year-old boy gets stuck in arcade machine as he crawls inside to retrieve toy.

A boy celebrating his fourth birthday got trapped inside an arcade machine when he crawled in to try and grab a teddy.
Aiden Moore squeezed through a ten-inch gap in the grabbing machine before he realised there was no way back.
His six-year-old brother, Coen, raised the alarm but it took staff half an hour to find the key needed to release him.
Aiden was with his parents, Darran Moore, 45, and Gemma Sherepita, 27, at Dawlish Sands Holiday Park in Devon when he spied the machine in the arcade building.
After failing to win a soft dog toy with the grabber he climbed inside the hatch.
Miss Sherepita, from Hereford, said: "Coen came running up to me and Darran laughing his socks off and told us Aiden was stuck in the grabbing machine.
"We were a bit concerned because we assumed he meant he had his arm stuck in the opening.
"But when I got round to the machine there he was, sat inside, with this big grin on his face as he held his new teddy under his arm.
"I was a little worried at first but he was perfectly fine in there, eventually a crowd of people gathered to see what was going on and Aiden was loving the attention."
Miss Sherepita said staff at the holiday park grew increasingly concerned because they couldn't find the key but her son was not scared.
"When the staff finally found the key the crowd gave Aiden a round of applause as he was lifted out," she said.
"I was just gobsmacked that he had had the cheek to climb in there to get what he wanted. I'll be watching him a bit more carefully now."
Mr Moore, an engineer, added: "I have no idea how he got himself in there, the gap was only just wider than his shoulders.
"The door flap opens outwards to let the teddies fall through so he must have had quite a job getting in, there was no space for manoeuvre.
"There isn't a scratch on him now, which is amazing."

Monday, 30 July 2012

Is Their Anyone There?

Judge Overturns Town's Fortunetelling Ban

Judge rules fortunetelling is free speech protected by the First Amendment

All signs point to good times for psychics again.
A federal judge struck down a central Louisiana ordinance banning fortunetelling, palm reading, astrology and similar activities in the city of Alexandria.
U.S. District Judge Dee Drell's ruling Wednesday concurred with a magistrate's conclusion that the ordinance is unconstitutional.
Rachel Adams is a fortune-teller who says she accepts donations but doesn't charge for her services. She sued the city after a police officer issued her a court summons in 2011 for violating the ordinance. A violation can result in daily penalties of up to $500.
The city argued the business of fortunetelling is a fraud and inherently deceptive, but U.S. Magistrate James Kirk concluded that fortunetelling is free speech protected by the First Amendment.
Adams told The Town Talk newspaper last year that she is a fifth-generation psychic.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Trading Up??

Kentucky Mom Accused of Trading Newborn Son for Truck

She sold the truck for $800 and meth, police said

A Kentucky mother traded her newborn son for a truck, according to the Laurel County Sheriff's Office, WKYT -TV reported.
Heather Kaminskey, 30, handed her baby to Jamie and Jeremy Brown in January and then sold the truck for $800 plus some meth, according to police.
Police said they discovered the scheme when Kaminskey tried sell the vehicle. They arrested the Browns and charged them with human trafficking. The baby boy appeared to be well taken care of, investigators said.
Kaminskey, police said, might be in Florida and they are hoping to obtain warrants for her arrest. She apparently called neighbors of the Browns on Thursday and told them that she’s distraught over what happened and that she wants to return to Kentucky, WKYT reported.
In other baby-for-sale news, a Philadelphia dad said to be desperate for some quick cash to buy drugs tried to sell his baby girl on Friday, police sources and neighbors told NBC Philadelphia.
A couple he approached called police and another neighbor pretended he was going to buy the 6-month old baby until police arrived to arrest the man, NBC Philadelphia reported. The baby was taken to a hospital to be checked out.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Pay Up!!!

Speeding biker has $19,000 in fines
A N.L. motorcyclist caught going 219 km/h in a 100 km/h zone also owes $19,000 in fines, police say.
The 33-year-old man was stopped for speeding Thursday night. He was charged with impaired driving, and ticketed for speeding and using an unregistered vehicle.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said the man's motorcycle was seized after he was stopped at a red light.
The man is to appear in court at a later date. Police said he is currently on a plan to pay off his outstanding fines

Friday, 27 July 2012

No….It’s Personal & Private!!

National Security Agency about Personal Privacy

The National Security Agency of the United States has chosen a Joseph Heller approach to addressing the questions about how many people it had been spying upon.

A while ago civil libertarian Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall wrote to the National Security Agency and asked how many people’s personal privacy had been violated due to new counter terrorism powers. However, the agency replied that it would really like to be able to tell the senators, but this would… violate personal privacy!

In other words, in true Joseph Heller style the National Security Agency cannot tell anyone about violations to personal privacy because it would violate the personal privacy of those whose privacy has been violated! Got it? At least, that’s what Charles McCullough said, the Inspector General of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the head of the sixteen American spy agencies. The media reports confirm McCullough claimed that a review of the cases of infringement would also infringe the privacy of American citizens.

Nevertheless, the senators didn’t ask about many details or statistics. For instance, Ron Wyden asked for a ballpark estimate of how many people had been monitored under the new counter terrorism law. After getting the negative reply, he was disappointed that the Inspectors General couldn’t provide the figure.

He explained that if no-one will estimate how many US citizens have had their communications collected under the new legislation, it will be more important that Congress shut that “backdoor searches” loophole in order to keep the government from searching for people’s phone calls and emails without a court warrant.

If you are still unaware, the changes to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in 2008 did relax the standards under which communications with people abroad that passed via the US could be gathered by the spy agency.

The National Security Agency didn’t actually need probable cause to intercept someone’s phone calls, text messages or emails in the country if one of the participants in the communications was “reasonably” believed to locate outside the United States.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Whistle Up A Storm?

Wolf whistles silenced

They have long been thought of as places best avoided for attractive women if they wanted to avoid the unwelcome attentions of red-blooded workmen - but now it seems the sound of wolf whistles emanating from building sites is becoming a thing of the past.

A new survey shows that three quarters of tradesmen, including roofers, plasterers and construction workers no longer believe it is appropriate.
The research found that 56% would not wolf whistle because they believe the practice is sexist and chauvinistic.
But the reasons for the changing attitude were not all so high-minded. The poll showed a further 19% would also avoid the cat call – but only because they were worried that they might be sued for sexual harassment.
They may have reason to fear official censure – last year two builders in Hertfordshire were suspended by their employer after a man accused them of wolfwhistling at his wife.
Jazz Gakhal, head of Direct Line for Business, which commissioned the poll, said: “The research reveals changing attitudes to acceptable behaviour in the workplace, with people labelling behaviour other generations might have tolerated as outdated and inappropriate.
"It appears the days of women being wolf whistled at as they pass building or construction sites are dying out. Attitudes regarding acceptable behaviour towards members of the opposite sex continue to evolve and it appears for many the wolf whistle represents a time long past.”
However the figures suggest that the ribald chorus has not yet been consigned entirely to history – with one in four still apparently not finding anything wrong with it.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

A Vendetta?

Iceland Warned of WikiLeaks Vendetta

The country is currently conducting a judicial review as to how its police ended up carrying out a bizarre unauthorized raid on Kim Dotcom, the cyberlocker’s owner. The officers who carried out the police raids on Dotcom’s house will have to take the stand in order to give evidence for the judicial review.

So far it is known that the warrants were issued on behalf of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which in its turn was acting as enforcer for the US entertainment industry. However, the warrants were ruled illegal last week by High Court judge. The latter also claimed that it was against the law to take the copies of Kim’s personal computer to the United States.

According to the local media, Kim Dotcom requires an independent lawyer to pass through the seized evidence and give all irrelevant content back to him. The authorities of the United States have charged Kim Dotcom and three of his colleagues in the United States with numerous copyright offences and are currently trying to extradite him. Meanwhile, Dotcom’s lawyers want an independent lawyer to be appointed by the court to go through the evidence and decide which of its part is important.

Crown lawyer John Pike, appearing for the Attorney General, agreed that sorting the mess out wasn’t simple, with part of the problem being that the Crown was working for a foreign government.

The US is worried that allowing for an independent barrister it would give him “disproportionate authority”. It means that they fear he won’t let them have evidence which they really need to make a case against the MegaUpload founder.

The important part of the problem is that this case is “breaking new ground” in extradition legislation in the country. First of all, the judicial review of the search warrants’ legality is an entirely new feature of an extradition case. Secondly, another decision by a district court judge to allow disclosure to Kim Dotcom meant that the suspects suddenly have more rights now: at least, they can hear what evidence the authorities have against them to ruin their life.

Of course, the Feds are appealing this point – they believe that such governments as New Zealand’s one must turn over any person the US names as a suspect to face a kangaroo court in the United States without presenting any evidence.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Well….Here’s A Surprise!!

Advertising Sustains Online Piracy

Search giant Google, in co-operation with PRS for Music, has carried out a study titled “The 6 Business Models For Copyright Infringement”. So, what did they find out?
The report revealed that a key source of revenues for the services “believed by the largest copyright owners to be massively facilitating copyright violation” is advertising. However, this will surely start a heated debate instead of calming things down.

The study was based on a research made by Detica and the information offered by the Premier League, FACT, UKIE and The Publishers Associations. The report classifies piracy portals into six groups: live TV gateways, embedded streaming, peer-to-peer groups, music transaction, subscription groups, and rewarded freemium.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of interesting discoveries about the music sector. One of them emphasizes the importance of advertising (funding 86% of P2P community portals). Another one reveals the importance of search engines for music transaction services, which means that their users usually find out about the portal through a search engine.

The study in question indicates that there are a lot of various business models for Internet infringement that can be tackled if the industries co-operate. The collected evidence suggests that one of the most efficient ways to do so is to follow the money, looking for those advertisers who prefer to earn money from such services and working with payment providers in order to make sure they realize how their services are used.

The head of the PRS for Music hopes the result of the study will reach the government of the United Kingdom and other countries. He says that the portals involved in copyright violation are mainly businesses with real costs and revenue sources, which receive subscription and advertising revenue. On the other hand, those services have to pay their server or hosting costs. The only problem is that they don’t pay the creators of the material on which their businesses depend.

As you can see, the business models of the copyright infringers are different, and the authorities now have the evidence to realize which policy levers they need to apply to solve the problem of piracy and deal with those strategies efficiently.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Canadian Piracy?

Anti-Piracy Outfits Call Canada to Adopt New Laws

For the last 7 years, the Canadians have struggled to keep their copyright legislation clean from the foreign influences. However, now the entertainment industry is once again trying to meddle with the local copyright legislation.

For instance, the country’s Intellectual Property lead lobby group, which represents the interests of music, film, software and pharmaceutical organizations, has published a new policy document in order to establish the legislative priorities. This move breaks our hopes that SOPA and ACTA are dead and buried. The Canadian government isn’t going to apply the exact rules established by those two bills, but is rather considering the alternative of enforcing rules similar to them. The rules include blocking online services, massive surveillance, and whatever else sounds good for the industries.

Local entertainment industry recommends the government to include the version of SOPA and implement ACTA, allow for new searches power without court permission and criminalize the Intellectual Property theft.

Despite the fact that there were massive boycotts against the above mentioned bills all over Europe and respectively the United States (which eventually managed to convince lawmakers and lobbyists to refuse from their support), the largest corporate lobbyists aren’t going to change this tactic or just consider people’s opinion. Instead, the lobbyists are still doing their best to push such laws, hoping that they will eventually be accepted.

In case all or a part of their recommendations will somehow be implemented, the country will receive one of the most aggressive and oppressive regimes throughout the globe from the file-sharing point of view.

What is the most interesting is that the industry also demands to invest into a copyright police force, while the UN envoy revealed that some citizens in the country are even unable to afford food!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Ring…Ring…It’s A Skype Ad!!

Skype is Ruined by Advertisements

It seems that the popular P2P calls are no longer free, with the services offered by Skype being plagued by huge display adverts. The company is now bringing in the feature known as “Conversation Ads”, which will pop up within the calling window when you are talking to someone. Perhaps, the Skype marketing department believes that the users will see the ads and start talking about their content to the caller.

Actually, it’s something that advertising people always believe in – that their product is so good that the consumers will want to talk about it. However, in reality the callers will be swearing at the ad.

Skype admitted that the advertisements will be targeted at the consumers based on their location, gender and age. The representatives of the company explained that on a 1:1 audio call, the callers will see material that could spark additional topics of conversation, relevant to the users, as well as “highlight unique and local brand experiences”.

Apparently, people have nothing better to do in a consumption-based capitalism other than discussing the goods randomly flashed on their screens. Meanwhile, Skype marketing department believes that the advertising is a great way for the company to create interactivity between the users’ circle of friends and family and the brands they care about.

The experts suspect that the advertisements won’t be small as well, promising the display ads to be just as big as the picture of someone you are trying to talk to. Another hint the observers have made is that the adverts will pop up during Skype-to-Skype audio calls for Windows users. Nevertheless, only those will be affected who don’t have Skype Credit or subscriptions.

The company claims that there won’t be any degradation of the call quality and that the advertisements will be silent and non-expanding. In addition, the most discontent Skype users will be allowed to opt out of personalized advertisements, though it is a bit tricky to do. If you are one of them, then go to the Privacy menu in Tools and choose Options of Skype for Windows OS. Although you will still get advertisements, those will relate only to your location rather than hit your personal information.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Enoughs, Enough!!

Comcast Got Tired of Entertainment Industry

American Internet service provider Comcast has finally said “enough” and refused to waste time helping the entertainment industry chase file-sharers anymore. The ISP is miffed that it has been given plenty BitTorrent lawsuits in the US and doesn’t want to comply with court-ordered subpoenas.

Comcast’s argument is that the industry is “shaking down” the customers by scaring them into paying settlements. Of course, the entertainment industry became furious that someone stood up to its tactics, and claimed that the broadband providers denied rights owners the opportunity to protect their works.

In the United States, the RIAA and MPAA monitor users downloading and sharing copyrighted content and then demand large sums of cash from the owners of the IP address. The industry seems to believe that it’s a much better method of dealing with online piracy than offering legitimate alternatives to the customers.

Over 250,000 alleged BitTorrent users have been sued, most of the lawsuits being filed by the porn studios, which hoped that the people they accused would be too embarrassed to fight the case. Mainstream film studios and book publishers also joined in lately.

Earlier, the ISP complied with all the subpoenas, but now gave up and told the Illinois District court that it wants them quashed. First of all, the Internet service provider claimed that the court didn’t even have jurisdiction over some of the defendants, since those didn’t reside in the district where they were being sued. In addition, the company argued that the rights owners had no grounds to join this bunch of the defendants in a single lawsuit. The claims were that the copyright holders were exploiting the court in order to force defendants into paying settlements.

The ISP’s attorneys pointed out that plaintiffs shouldn’t be allowed to profit from unfair litigation tactics where the industry uses the court rooms to gain defendants’ personal data and demand settlements from them. In other words, it’s obvious that the industry has no interest in actual litigation; they rather seek to use both the court and its subpoena powers to shake the file-sharers down.

Comcast is just a part of a movement amongst Internet service providers to fight mass-BitTorrent cases. Recently, Verizon did the same, managing to argue that it has an obligation to protect the privacy of its subscribers.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Snail Mail….Safe??

British Government Could Scan Envelopes

Along with emails, the UK government decided to control snail mail as well. The country’s Communications Data Bill, which was especially designed for electronics, might also be used to monitor the snail mail.

The suggested legislation means that Internet service providers will have to store information on all emails passing through their systems, but the matter is that this provision is worded in such a way that it could force the Royal Mail to do the same thing. If it does, this will remove the established belief that the post is sacrosanct at least without a court order.

Media reports claim the Home Office knows that the suggested legislation covers this part, but yet has no plans to force the Royal Mail to scan paper mail. However, this is still a bit worrying: the experts start to believe that if the Communications Bill gets through, it’ll be under some bogus pretext that its aim is to save the world from terrorists.

According to the Home Office, the draft bill would only maintain existing powers over postal data and only information about mail, not its contents, would be retained. It means that the Post Office would have to scan every envelope and store it for a year.

According to the Communications Bill, the Royal Mail, along with other postal services, would be asked to retain whatever written on the outside of the items sent for 12 months and provide them to the police, security services and HM Revenue and Customs upon request. The only question is how this could help in the spying market. It suggests that each letter should have data on the outside about who and where it comes from.

This could work if each letter or parcel was signed “Blofeld, C/- Volcanic Island lair, Scotland”. However, criminal capers don’t usually involve such wholesale giveaways, and a pedophile won’t mark his post with a sticker “contains snaps of kids being raped” on the envelope either. Nor the parcels containing anthrax would warn about their contents or wear the code of the terrorist who sent them.

The civil liberties groups called this bill a “snooper's charter”, while it is strangely a bankruptcy charter as well. The suggested legislation also includes provision helping postal services and other communications providers install new equipment to comply with the legislation. This “help” is estimated at £1.8 billion over the next decade.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

German Exaggeration!!

Germany Lost $660 Million in 2011 Due to Music Piracy

Another report on unauthorized downloading meant to victimize the entertainment industry and blame file-sharing claims that the German movie industry lost around $200 million in 2011, while the music industry received a real blow with almost $660 million in lost revenues.
The Berlin-Brandenburg Medienboard, known for endorsing media companies and the video game association G.A.M.E., supported the research, which was carried through by Berlin-based House of Research.

The research scrutinized different academic files with data on unauthorized download and streaming of copyrighted digital content and the impact it had on sales. The study mainly focused on the music and movie industry, while also taking a look on the games industry. However, the results were inconclusive because of the insufficient number of relevant surveys.

The results of the study say that German pirates have streamed and downloaded 185,000,000 movies illegally last year, which is 6% of the industry’s overall annual revenues. It turned out that ever since Kino.to was closed down and its operators and owners were imprisoned, film rentals increased by 29% the very next week, reaching 41% a year ago. However, in a few weeks things got back to what they used to be, because a copycat file-sharing service emerged.

Despite the fact that the House of Research does recognize the positive impact of piracy, it believes that it is too small to count. It admits that the industry now has to find reasonable solutions.

The discussions over Internet piracy and copyright legislation reached new levels in the country last year, particularly after the German Pirate Party had brought a new perspective in the political arena.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012


Western Democracies Continue their Attempts to Filter Google

Google has recently disclosed how many takedown notices the company has got from government agencies. The search engine confessed that it has received over 1,000 requests within 6 months from the governments to take down data from its search results or YouTube video.

Google slammed a so-called alarming trend by governments to try and censor the people. The company published its twice-yearly Transparency Report, saying that the above mentioned requests were aimed at having around 12,000 items overall deleted. This figure was 25% more than during the first 6 months of 2011. This means that the government agencies are getting a taste for censorship.

Google’s senior policy analyst admitted they hoped the rise earlier in 2011 had been a one off, but it appeared that it hadn’t. Plenty of the requests were aimed at silencing political speech. The most interesting part is that they came from Western governments, which are not usually associated with filtering.

Although Google didn’t list anything specific, the search engine still said that it was really surprised by the UK and the US spending most of their time trying to censor websites. The United States was said to be especially bad. The company complained that police prosecutors, courts and other agencies submitted almost 200 requests within the last 6 months of 2011, which doubles the number of the requests submitted in the first 6 months.

Meanwhile, Spain asked Google to take down 270 links to blogs and newspaper articles which criticized public figures, the list including mayors and public prosecutors. However, the search giant said no to that one. In response, a couple months ago the highest court of the country asked the European Court of Justice to find out whether the requests submitted by citizens to removed the links were lawful.

The company admits that in some countries it has no choice but to comply with these requests, because some types of political speech are against the law there. For instance, in Germany Google removed videos from YouTube with Nazi references as those were banned. Another example is Thailand videos that feature the monarch with a seat over his head – they were also removed for being insulting.

Finally, one takedown request came from Canada, where the company was asked by the authorities to remove a YouTube video featuring a citizen having a nintendo on his passport and flushing it down the loo. The search giant said no to this one as well.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Jack Daniel’s…..Welsh?

Original recipe for Jack Daniel's found in Welsh book of herbal remedies

The original recipe for legendary American whiskey Jack Daniel's has been discovered in a book of herbal remedies in Wales, it has been claimed.

Businessman Mark Evans, 54, was researching his family history when he discovered the recipe in a book of herbal remedies.
It was written in 1853 by his great-great grandmother who was called Daniels and was a local herbalist in Llanelli, South Wales.
Her brother-in-law left the Welsh town at about the same time to move to Lynchburg Tennessee where the Jack Daniel's distillery was opened three years later.
And the Jack Daniel's website states the founder of the distillery was from Wales.
Mr Evans says the ingredients in his great-great grandmother's recipe match what goes into the best selling whiskey in the world.
He said: "I'm pretty sure I've discovered the original recipe in great-great grannie's book.
"I was doing some family research, looking at photographs and things, and I wanted to look at the family bible.
"At the bottom of the bookcase was this book."
Mr Evans' grandmother Lillian Daniel's Probert, who is 97 and living in Llanelli, can recall her own grandmother using the book to make herbal remedies and ointments.
He said: "My great, great-grandmother wrote in the book in 1853, and Jack Daniel's is dated 1866, so it predates it.
"There is a link, because my grandmother's grandfather's brother - my great, great uncle - left for America and nobody ever heard from him after a couple of letters.
"That was during the time that Jack Daniel's was set up, but more important than that, he was called John 'Jack the Lad' Daniel's.
"We know he went to Lynchburg Tennessee and I'm pretty sure he used great-great grannie's recipe to start off the whiskey business."
The history of Jack Daniel's is a mystery because the distillery's early records were destroyed in a courthouse fire
A spokesman for the company said: "We know our founder was from Wales - we would love to see the book and the recipe."

Monday, 16 July 2012

All In A Name?

Programme misprint 'ruins violinist's life'

A Bengali violinist says his life has been "destroyed" after his name was replaced by a rude word in an official festival programme.
Abdul Shahid said he has been subjected to "immense ridicule" after his first name was written as "bal" which means "pubic hair" in Bengali.
More than 85,000 copies of the programme were circulated by Tower Hamlets council for the annual Baishakhi Mela Festival last year.
Mr Shahid, 43, a father-of-four, is now suing Tower Hamlets for more than £300,000 for damages, reports the London Evening Standard.
He claims he has been subject to "immense ridicule, taunting and humiliation" which rendered him unable to work.
Prior to the misprint, Mr Shadid performed across the world, including nine times in America, and was regularly broadcast on Bengali TV channels.
"My name has been destroyed, it's a disaster. Everybody in this community knows me," he said.
"When I go outside everyone who knows me and my family are like 'woo, woo, woo', making fun of me. They say 'Bal, Bal' and I am ashamed.
"I have lost my livelihood. I was a very popular player, but since this has happened, I haven't been out of the house much at all. I only feel comfortable going out at night."
A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets council said: "A claim has been issued against the council which it is in the process of defending."

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Swedish Men ?

Swedish politicians want men to pee sitting down

Politicians in Sweden have called for men to pee sitting down when using the Sörmland County Council toilets.

A motion has been put forward by the Left Party, stating that men should be banned from standing up while relieving themselves, according to The Local.

Representative Viggo Hansen hopes the toilets will become genderless as a result of this move, adding to Sveriges Television: "We want to give men the option of going into a clean toilet."

The Left Party claims that getting men to sit down will improve hygiene as there will be less stray urine splashing out of the bowl.

In addition, bladders are apparently emptied more efficiently if the person is sitting down, leading to an improved sex life and less risk of prostate problems.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

It’s Not What I Ordered!

Picky eater calls 911 to complain about his sandwich order

A fussy customer rang 911 to moan that his sandwich order was not to his satisfaction.

Rother McLennon from Connecticut, US said in the call: 'I specifically asked for little turkey, and little ham, a lot of cheese and a lot of mayonnaise and they are giving me a hard time.'
To which the dispatcher asked: 'You're calling 911 because you don't like the way that they're making your sandwich.'
McLennon agreed and the operator told him not to buy it.
Calling from the Greatful Deli in East Hartford, he went on to claim that his complaint was not just about this specific sarnie. He also feared that future sandwiches wouldn't be made to his specific request.

Friday, 13 July 2012

It’s My Turn!

Ducks take over bell ringing duties from shy swans

A pair of Muscovy ducks are posing a threat to centuries of tradition after taking over bell ringing duties from a group of shy swans.

The usurped swans have every right to be in a bit of a flap after the greedy ducks took control of ringing the Bishop’s Palace bell in Somerset. 
As an 800-year-old custom, the duty is usually taken up by the trained swans that live on the moat in order to get fed.
However the pair of ducks are more than happy to help out and grab some food for themselves.
Caretaker Paul Arblaster said: 'The new pair of swans are a rehabilitated pair that were given to us to rehome.
'We've tried to train them to ring the bell as usual but they seem very shy.
'Instead there is a pair of Muscovy ducks which are ringing the bell all the time an getting all the food.'
He added: 'The swans seem shy - they hang back and let the Muscovy ducks do the ringing.
'I think some of the tourists expect the swans to ring the bell but the ducks have learned to do it.
'I think the original idea was to feed them to stop them flying away.
'But the swans are slowly improving - hopefully they'll get there in the end.'
The centuries-old custom is believed to have been started by the daughter of a palace caretaker and has continued uninterrupted since.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Chemist To The Rescue!

Boots to the rescue of stranded couple

An Italian couple cut off by the tide during a walk on the Devon coast were saved after making a desperate phone call - to Boots.
Holidaymakers Oberdan and Patrizia Cosimi could not think what number to dial to reach the police or coastguard, reports The Guardian.
Rifling through their pockets, they found a Boots receipt with the telephone number of a store they had visited a few days before.
They called the branch in Minehead, got through to dispenser Pat Askwith, 57, and she dialled 999 to get help for the couple, who are from Pisa.
The Cosimis and their springer spaniel Nino were airlifted to safety in a Sea King helicopter.
Ms Askwith said: "They kept saying 'SOS' and telling me that they were stuck on the rocks and the tide was coming up.
"I wasn't sure if it was a hoax because of their accents and the bad line but then I realised that they really were in trouble.
"It was clear that they were really distressed. I called the coastguard and they were luckily able to track them down and help them to safety."
Mr Cosimi said: "My wife was very scared for us and Nino, who is always with us, because of the tide and the weather.
"We felt fantastic when the helicopter rescued us. It was very special to meet the person who helped us - she was a lovely lady."

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

White Out?

Parisian picnic pops up at Place des Vosges

Thousands of locals gathered in the city's Place des Vosges for an impromptu open-air dinner, dressed head to toe in white and bringing with them white tablecloths, glassware and other finery.
Participants at the "Diner en blanc" (Dinner in White) were told of the venue via social media sites and the Internet, then rushed to assemble in the heart of Paris' Marais district, in a 25-year-old tradition that still leaves passersby open-mouthed.
Last year, thousands gathered in front of Notre Dame cathedral at twilight for what organizers call a "chic picnic in a public space", waving their white napkins at the appointed time before digging in to enjoy their meals.
Other venues in Paris have included the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum's courtyard, Les Invalides, the final resting place of Napoleon, and the famed Champs-Elysees.
"It's a sort of ritual, a need for social contact. It's a chance to get together and meet new people," said Claire Verckel, a regular at the gourmet event.
Sheltered by the cloistered arcades of Paris' oldest square, diners raised glasses in toasts and savored their meals by candlelight, while in the background a white grand piano provided musical accompaniment.
"I came out of curiosity, but the atmosphere is amazing," said first-timer Arnaud Bonichon.
The pop-up event is so popular it has been picked up around the world, with Diner en Blanc events planned this year for the United States, Canada, Spain, Singapore, Mexico and even Rwanda.
In earlier years, the event was strictly word-of-mouth, but as it has grown, new rules have taken shape. Today, one must be invited by a participant from the previous year or be on the website's waiting list.
Guests must bring a table and two white chairs, a picnic basket filled with "quality menu items" and a china service, including stemware and flatware.
Only wine or champagne are allowed, as beer and hard alcohol drinks are considered no-nos.
The goal of the event is simple, organizers say: "To gather at a secret location with the sole purpose of sharing a high-quality meal with good friends at the heart of one of the city's most beautiful locations."

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Honest….I Went To A Concert!!

Classical fans find sex shop charges on bank statements
Classical music fans were not amused when purchases made at a recent Sault Symphony Orchestra fundraiser appeared on bank statements as being made at a city sex shop.
About $1,100 in purchases, including food and silent auction items won, were made during Musicfest using a debit machine that was loaned to the symphony by Amore.
The business sells adult DVDs, lingerie and sex toys. It’s owned by Betts MacKenzie, a symphony board member.
“We never had a debit machine before so were really happy to have one this time around,” said Robin Wilson, the symphony’s co-ordinator of projects, programs and grants.
“We’re too poor to be able to afford one and all the fees involved with it.”
It “never really entered our minds” that banking statements would list Amore as the purchase point, Wilson said.

“It was quite a shock to us when people seemed to be upset by this,” she said.
Wilson said the business has been receiving a lot of negative publicity and wanted to set the record straight, that MacKenzie was just trying to help the symphony at their June 10 event.

Monday, 9 July 2012

London Parking Solved?

Owner returns to car in central London to find it blown up by police

A tourist who wanted to pay a visit to Buckingham Palace got a bit of a shock when he returned to his illegally parked car near the Houses of Parliament.

Anti-terrorist police had to evacuate Parliament Square and carry out a controlled explosion on Nima Hosseini Razi's dark blue Ford Mondeo after he abandoned it just yards from the House of Commons and Westminster Abbey.
Mr Razi was forced to park the vehicle in Story's Gate, near to the Supreme Court and the Elizabeth II Conference Centre, after it broke down.
While waiting for help the tourist decided to kill some time with a stroll round Buckingham Palace.
He left the car with a note on the windscreen pleading with traffic wardens not to give him a ticket.
On returning to the destroyed vehicle he said:
"i noticed that all my windows were smashed. They [anti-terror police] explained to me that they had to use the explosives to get access to the suspicious car".
The car was eventually towed away, but not before a local traffic warden issued Mr Razi with a ticket.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Six Strikes Law!!!!

Methods to Circumvent American 6-Strikes Law

1st of July 2012 is when the largest effort of the US to fight piracy – the six-strike regime – will start. The system represents the collaboration between the largest country’s Internet service providers and the entertainment industry, represented by the MPAA and RIAA.

The list of participating ISPs includes Time Warner Cable, Comcast, AT&T, Cablevision, and Verizon. The 6-strike system mainly focuses on copyrighted content located on BitTorrent networks.

However, there’s something that raises not just morality questions, but also the legal ones. The matter is that the entertainment industry in cooperation with ISPs is planning to be the judge of all digital material without letting anyone to check on them.

In addition, they believe that the BitTorrent network is facilitating the infringement of copyrighted content, which seems to be one of the most ridiculous ideas to many. However, instead of pinning every drawback of the graduated response regime, we may offer you four convenient ways to circumvent it.

1. VPN services. When the entertainment industry is scanning open P2P networks, your IP address is both vulnerable and easy to track. You can mask your IP address by subscribing to a VPN (Virtual Private Network) – this will hide your real IP from all public view. Moreover, VPNs don’t keep logs, so there won’t be any trail to track.
2. Proxy services. They are quite similar to VPNs, but they do not re-route online traffic through a number of remote servers, which simply hide specific programs and protocols.
3. Seedbox services. In case you want to be 100% secure, check out a seedbox, which provides anonymity by downloading torrent files to some remote machine not attached to your IP address. When the download is ready, the content will be transferred to the user’s PC without BitTorrent’s involvement. Such seedboxes offer fast connection speeds.
4. Private networks. As it was said above, the entertainment industry will scan open P2P networks, including servicers like The Pirate Bay. However, aside from open networks, you can also find private trackers staying under the radar and keeping you safe.

Other alternatives include obsolete utilities like the Internet relay chat (IRC), Usenet, Freenet Project, and digital storage lockers.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Pirate Bay!

The Pirate Bay Responded to RIAA Search Censorship

The world’s largest BitTorrent tracker The Pirate Bay has graciously welcomed the recommendation of the Recording Industry Association of America that search engines ban websites like TPB. The tracker claimed that instead of deterring people, it would attract more traffic to the site.

Recently RIAA’s head Cary Sherman told the Congress that they need to do more to stop Internet piracy. Sherman took to the stage at the Future of Audio hearing and recommended that all search engines, including Google, took responsibility in curbing Internet piracy by censoring services like the Pirate Bay and IsoHunt, while offering legal music services to the users.

The Pirate Bay is of course against censorship, and reacted by releasing the statement saying that the RIAA was trying to ensure that the competing search engines have to stop linking back to the TPB, which is just wonderful. The Pirate Bay also pointed out that about 10% of its traffic comes from competing search engines.

In other words, after implementation of that ban, the TPB’s traffic numbers probably will increase, because users would go directly to The Pirate Bay and use its search instead. This will provide the service a chance to grow even more massive – although it’s undoubtedly hard to compete with Google, if they aren’t able to index media search engines like the TPB, the latter will become the dominant player in the end.

Nevertheless, users in the United Kingdom might be out of luck, depending on their Internet service provider, and some already have to adhere to orders from the British courts to block direct access to The Pirate Bay. The first ISP to do so was Virgin Media, whose users now face a page saying that the ISP has received an order to prevent access to The Pirate Bay in order to protect copyright.

Another ISP, Be Broadband (an O2 subsidiary), was also reported to block the website, but The Pirate Bay proved to be still accessible. Like other major ISPs, Be admitted it will have to bow down to pressure from the court and comply with the demand to block access to TPB. The broadband provider claimed that its hands were tied and it had no other choice but to comply. Meanwhile, despite the best efforts of the entertainment industry, mirror services and proxies are still available everywhere and easy enough to find.

Friday, 6 July 2012


Facebook Advertising Proved Useless

According to the recent poll, 80% of Facebook users have never bought anything advertised on the social network. In fact, the survey states the obvious: people aren’t using Facebook to buy something or get informed, they are rather killing time. There’s also another phenomenon revealed: Facebook fatigue. Around 34% of Facebook users admitted to spending, or wasting less time on Facebook than 6 months ago.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s controversial IPO didn’t go down well with its users either, because 44% claimed it made them less favorable toward the social network, says Reuters. So, all of this doesn’t bode well for the network, because it tries to find out how to translate its huge user base into actual profits. The fact is that people aren’t spending on Facebook, and don’t care about advertisements or comments, which means that Facebook has yet to develop a revenue generating model in the mobile space.

Moreover, the growth is slowing down and it has to, like mobile phone penetration in the developed world a decade ago. There are just not enough people to target with advertising, because more and more of them are now from the 3rd world. Meanwhile, the social network refused to comment on the poll results, but pointed to previous reports saying that Facebook advertising campaigns were successful earlier.

After the IPO, the company’s business model came under even more scrutiny, though it would have been a right way to scrutinize the model before small investors pour their retirement savings in Facebook stock, hoping that they are investing in the next Google or Apple. In the meantime, the notion that Facebook would eventually cash in on what actually amounts to the biggest information mining operation worldwide seems to be wearing off.

Although targeted ads may sound like a good idea, they can also backfire, because Internet users aren’t that keen to see personalized advertisements on their page, in some cases with awkward or downright embarrassing material. Instead, it can be regarded as a tricky balancing act between delivering proper targeted advertising and bad taste. Thus far, the largest social network in the world doesn’t seem to be making this work. So, Zuckerberg has something to consider…

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Woof, Woof!!

Snout and about

Terrified residents nearly shih tzu-ed themselves when they thought this lost mutt was an escaped genetically modified pig on the run from nearby medical labs.
The bizarre looking stray - actually a rare pedigree Chinese crested hairless dog - was spotted wandering the streets in Xinxiang, Henan province, central China, close to several scientific research centres and a local medical school.
One witness said: "The pink skin makes it look just like pig gone wrong in some sort of genetic experiment."
But police say the roly-poly pooch is more likely to be a pampered pet that gave its owner the slip.
"It is definitely a dog, and quite an expensive one at that," said a spokesman.
The bizarre breed with just tufts of hair on its head and tail and a bare, spotted body regularly features as a contender in the World's Ugliest Dog contest.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

There’s Always One!!

Boy stuck in a fridge for over an hour keeps his cool

Little James Hunt was stuck in a drinks chiller for more than an hour after a game of hide and seek went wrong before being rescued.

The seven-year-old climbed into the can-shaped fridge but got his knees stuck and he couldn’t move.
His younger brother was quick to raise the alarm, telling his shocked mother Lynsey what had happened.
She turned the problematic fridge on its side, pushed and pulled him and even tried warm soapy water to no avail.
Miss Hunt told the Manchester Evening News: 'Charlie came in to get me and said James was stuck in the fridge.
'I couldn’t stop laughing at first because I thought he was joking. Then I went outside and realised he really couldn’t get out of it.
'James had got in the fridge with his legs crossed and then his knees were locked against the side.
'After about an hour I decided the only thing I could do was ring the fire brigade.'
It took six firemen to free him but luckily the machine was off. James, from Failsworth, Greater Manchester, promised never to do it again.
The youngster added: 'I want to say thank you to the firemen for rescuing me.'

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A Level Playing Field?

EU Will Get Net Neutrality Legislation

Neelie Kroes, the Europe’s digital agenda commissioner, is set to back recommendations to the European Union on preserving net neutrality.
These recommendations were done in a report written by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (also known as BEREC). The report call for plans to ensure Internet service providers don’t unfairly restrict their subscribers from accessing any service or application they want.

According to her statement, the outfit had today provided the information Neelie Kroes wanted. She said that for most citizens, their Internet access works fine, but some findings reveal the need for more regulatory certainty, proving that there’re enough problems to warrant strong and targeted action to protect Internet users.

The findings in question emphasize a problem of effective consumer choice and the outfit wants to generate more real choices and ensure the net neutrality laws in Europe. The promises were done that the recommendations will be made for EC this year. Thus far, Neelie Kroes has already told EU member states to hold off from implementing their own net neutrality legislation, because legislating on an ad-hoc country-by-country basis would only arm the creation of a Single Digital Market. Instead, Kroes wanted them to wait for the report that had been commissioned more than a year ago.

The report concludes that 20 to 50% of the EU citizens are tied into broadband or mobile broadband contracts, which allow their operators to limit access to such services as VoIP or file-sharing.

For instance, in the United Kingdom, most of the major broadband providers, including Virgin Media and BT, are noticed to use throttling on some of their packages. They say they do it to manage traffic volumes.

Over 20% of fixed-service broadband operators also have restrictions to some of their services, like P2P use, at peak times. Indeed, today many mobile and fixed providers offer plans allowing for unrestricted access, so consumers have the choice of avoiding traffic management, but all this depends on whether the ISP explains its options clearly. That’s’ why Kroes wants more detailed explanations of the “real-life” services that subscribers sign up for before they are locked into an agreement.

Internet service providers are expected to provide detailed estimates of average speed at peak times and out of hours. In addition, they are required to make it clear exactly which services consumers are able to use and at what times those can be limited.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Hot Stuff!!

Man catches fire after applying sunscreen
Sunscreen can protect the skin from sunburns, but watch out for barbecue burns.
Sunscreen maker Banana Boat is conducting an investigation into its product after reports a Massachusetts man went up in flames after spraying himself with sunscreen while barbecuing.
Brett Sigworth told CBS Boston affiliate WBZ-TV it all happened very quickly.
"I sprayed on the spray-on sunscreen, and then rubbed it on for a few seconds. I walked over to my grill, took one of the holders to move some of the charcoal briquettes around and all of a sudden it went up my arm," the Stow, Mass., man told the station.
"I went into complete panic mode and screamed ... I've never experienced pain like that in my life."
Sigworth suffered second-degree burns on his chest, ear and back. Photos provided to the TV station show the lines where he sprayed the sunscreen that caught fire.

The sunscreen label warns the contents are flamable, and not to use it near heat, but Sigworth said he didn't expect it to catch fire once it was applied to skin.
Banana Boat responded in a statement that it will look into the how this happened.
"We take these matters very seriously and will begin a prompt investigation as we continue to strive to deliver products of the highest quality to our consumers," the company's statement reads.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Good For Her!!

Great-Grandmother Joan Lloyd Her Boob Job & Toyboy

Great-grandmother Joan Lloyd, 66, has found love with a toyboy 38 years her junior - to fulfil her dead husband's last wishes.
The pensioner, from Abergele, north Wales, moved 28-year-old Phil Absolom into the home she used to share with her late husband David.
After David died in 2010, the former model spent £4,250 of her savings on new boobs taking her from an A to an F cup - at David's request.
She was later tracked down by unemployed Phil on Facebook after he saw pictures of Joan's new assets on the internet.
And after weeks of messages and phone calls, Joan finally agreed to spend a night in a hotel with the former photographer.
Now the mother of four, who has 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, says Phil has given her a new lease of life.
Joan told Barcroft Media: "Before he died in 2010 David told me to get a boob job and a toyboy after his death.
"He said 'get your boobs sorted out, they're not as good as they used to be, and get yourself a toyboy'. I know he would be proud of me now."
Joan says it took her four children a while to accept her new relationship, but now she and Phil are planning a holiday in Cuba with her daughter Anne, 45, and her partner.