Friday 31 August 2012
Vibrator giveaway in NYC back on after premature withdrawal
A condom company's free vibrator giveaway is back on after it had to prematurely withdraw the promotion in New York City.
Hundreds of women - and some men - came out to get the free Trojan sex toys, 10,000 of which were being distributed from "pleasure carts" at hot spots around the city.
But a city official showed up at one of the giveaway locations and pulled the plug because the size of the crowd had swelled to the point it was impeding pedestrian and street traffic, according to the New York Post.
The mayor's office said in a statement to the paper that the event was stopped because it didn't have a permit.
Thousands were left empty-handed when Trojan announced on its Facebook page around 5 p.m. the giveaways had been "postponed."
But the company will get to finish what it started.
Trojan posted an update , saying it had "official NYC permits in hand" and had reloaded the pleasure carts.
"(Wednesday) was just the foreplay...our toe-curling, record breaking Trojan Vibes giveaway will climax today at 5 p.m," the post said, with an invitation to pick up a complimentary vibrator while supplies last: "First come, first served."
Thursday 30 August 2012
Metal paper fasteners banned by Health and SafetyMetal paper fasteners have been banned by Health and Safety officials.
NHS Trust officials in Manchester have excluded the stationary because many members of their staff have cut their fingers while using them.
An email was sent out to workers that stated: "Due to recent incidents, NHS Manchester has decided to immediately withdraw the use of metal paper fasteners.
"Please ensure any that remain in use be replaced by similar plastic fasteners. The use of metal fasteners is prohibited and must be carefully disposed of immediately. Thank you for your cooperation."
Some of the staff have branded the new rule as nannying. One worker said: "It is ridiculous. They're vaguely sharp, like drawing pins and fountain pens.
"I can only assume that the top brass think that they've employed idiots who need nannying through the working day."
A spokesman for NHS Manchester said the rule had been created after one member of staff cut their finger but took it no further.
This rule comes in a long line of others put into place for Health and Safety reasons in Manchester workplaces.
Tuesday 28 August 2012
Man had hand bitten off by alligator … got charged with feeding itWhen a man from Florida had his hand bitten off at the wrist by a hungry alligator, he probably thought it couldn't get much worse, then he was charged unlawful feeding of an alligator.
Airboat captain Wallace Weatherholt had been giving a family a tour of the Everglades when the accident happened shortly after spotting the 9-foot alligator.
It's been reported that Weatherholt held a fish over the side of the boat in a bid to provoke it, which is when he lost his hand at the wrist.
Authorities later tracked an killed the gator, and retrieved the hand from its stomach, but doctors were not able to reattach it.
Feeding an alligator is a second-degree misdemeanor, which can be punished with a fine of up to $500 and possible jail time.
Monday 27 August 2012
Controversial 'Don't drive like a...' road safety campaign causes stir in Oz
A controversial road safety campaign featuring 'offensive' signs has sparked a war of words between Australian MPs, with one calling for their removal.
Three giant billboards used in the campaign have caused particular offence, with one informing Australian motorists 'not to drive like a knob'.
The signs, placed prominently on a motorway running between South Australia and Victoria, have attracted a host of complaints from residents.
It prompted independent MP Bob Such to write a letter to road safety minister Jennifer Rankine, on behalf of his constituency, calling for their removal.
Sunday 26 August 2012
Microsoft Dumped HotmailMicrosoft has decided to retire a brand which has been with it for the last 15 years – free Internet-based email service Hotmail. The company took a decision to fold it in under the familiar name of Outlook.
Indeed, Hotmail was one of the first popular Internet mail services, but later had to face the competition from Yahoo, AOL, and Google’s Gmail. This move looks like an attempt to consolidate the company’s consumer and workplace brands: although Hotmail used to be an all powerful force on the Internet, and there are still a lot of active users, Redmond is about the simplistic approach in Windows 8 and decided to bring two brands in under a single and well-known name.
Press reports confirm that Microsoft wants to bring in a product refresh for a brand which has not seen changes for many years. Redmond is going to tie it in closer to other Microsoft services, like the Google and Apple models, thus introducing a central point for contacts, email, and non-Microsoft related services, such as Facebook and Twitter.
In the meantime, the Outlook.com update shows an address book which brings in contacts from the 3rd party services like Gmail, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Like Google, Microsoft is going to include a cloud storage service tied in with Outlook.com. The industry experts point out that the software giant seems to take a direct shot at Google, promising that it wouldn’t show advertisements that fit with email considered “creepy” by the company. It is clear that Microsoft is riding the coattails of the privacy concerns surrounding Google and other Internet services, claiming they believe that “privacy matters”.
As for Hotmail, it will continue working for now, but all of its users will be offered the option to transfer to Outlook.com, while keeping their current usernames. In the meantime, emails sent to Hotmail accounts will be automatically forwarded to Outlook.com. Gradually, the software giant is going to move all Hotmail users to another service.
The experts are agree that the entire move looks like an effort to push a unified, simplified feel for Microsoft’s new oncoming Windows 8 and the Metro interface. The press also adds that this move is going along with the consumerisation of IT trend. It’s up to the users whether to move to Outlook now or wait a bit, but everybody will end up there, after all.
Saturday 25 August 2012
Demonoid Operators Will Face Mexican CourtAfter being closed down by the police of Ukraine, Demonoid (one of the largest BitTorrent trackers in the world) is not yet off the hook, with the people heading the service now being under criminal investigation and prosecution in Mexico.
Ukraine has confirmed that Demonoid wasn’t just subject to DDoS attacks – the website has also been raided by the police. A week ago the government authorities came to ColoCall (the Toller) – the firm hosting Demonoid – in order to close the service down. The representatives of the company confirmed in the interview to the local media that investigators have copied all the data from the Demonoid servers and sealed them. Apparently, Ukraine had promised the US that it would do its best to improve its efforts towards enforcing copyright and so presented Demonoid on a platter. An anonymous source in the Ukraine’s Interior Ministry confirmed that this action was scheduled to coincide with Deputy Prime Minister’s trip to the US.
Peter Vlasenko, Commercial Director at ColoCall, claimed that his company did warn Demonoid a few times about the complaints filed against the BitTorrent tracker. In addition, Vlasenko warned that this could force the website’s Internet service provider to cut any relations with it, which actually took place last week.
Sergei Burlakov, the spokesperson for the Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, explained that the Division of Economic Crimes has got an international request from Interpol to send a request to the hosting company. After sending this request to ColoCall, the broadband provider decided to stop working with the BitTorrent tracker.
In the meantime, a criminal investigation was started against the operators of the tracker: Burlakov revealed that Mexico had initiated a criminal case against the Demonoid operators. The BitTorrent tracker is being charged with intellectual property rights infringement.
Last year, Mexican authorities raided Monterrey, the capital of the north-eastern Mexican state of Nuevo León, in order to apprehend one of the operators of the notorious P2P service. In result of that raid, access to Demonoid in Mexico was completely shut down.
At the moment the spokespeople can’t say whether the investigation is being carried out against the same person who was arrested last year in Mexico or a different one.
Thanks to TorrentFreak for the source of the article
Friday 24 August 2012
Apple Started Censoring Books Mentioning RivalsThe software giant decided that the best way to address the rivalry is to censor all books mentioning its competitors. That’s a weird decision, but the company has already enforced the policy based on it. Now, for instance, if you want an ebook to be used in the iTunes store, you can’t mention anything related to Amazon.
According to author Holly Lisle, she found this out the hard way. Holly Lisle has been writing a series of Internet writing guides, and was very surprised when her “How To Think Sideways Lesson 6: How To Discover (Or Create) Your Story's Market” wasn’t accepted by Apple's iBooks store.
Surprisingly enough, the work wasn’t rejected due to the wrong title – Apple rather spiked it because it had “live links” to Amazon. Holly Lisle removed the links and then resubmitted her book, but even then Apple again rejected it, claiming that they don’t want to sell her book because it mentions Amazon.
Of course, Lisle was miffed. She made an official announcement that she didn’t think this could be seen as professional behaviour on a professional market. Perhaps, if Harry Potter had been looking for the Horcruxes on Amazon instead of running around in caves full of dead people, Apple would have been deleted this book too.
Actually, the company basically wanted Holly Lisle to write a writing course which included information on publishing and self-publishing without mentioning Amazon. In fact, it’s just the place where writers were going to make most of their cash. Holly Lisle announced she was pulling all of her books from the iBookstore.
As for Amazon, it remains calm about the competition and continues selling a lot of Apple stuff.
Thursday 23 August 2012
Italian Hitler wine bottles 'offensive'
Wine bottles featuring Adolf Hitler on the label have been called "offensive" after complaints from US tourists in the Italian city of Garda.Michael Hirsch, a lawyer from Philadelphia, complained to local media after he found a supermarket near his hotel was stocking wine bottles with Hitler in various poses and another bottle featuring an image of Pope John Paul II.
"It is very shocking and startling to us," Mr Hirsch told The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday. "We would think of it as neo-Nazism It makes you wonder about the sympathies of the local people."
One bottle features Hitler with his arm raised in the Nazi, another is labelled 'Mein Kampf" and another was labelled "Ein volk, ein Reich, ein Fuhrer" (one people, one empire, one Fuhrer), Mr Hirsch said.
Local prosecutors said they have opened an inquiry into the sale of the wine bottles.
"I want to reassure our American friends who visit our country that our Constitution and our culture rejects racism, anti-Semitism and Nazi fascism," said Andrea Riccardi, the Italian integration minister. "This offends the memory of millions of people and risks compromising the image of Italy abroad."
Mr Hirsch and his wife Cindy are travelling through northern Italy on holiday and arrived in Garda on Monday.
He said he noticed the bottles when he was purchasing items at a supermarket and complained to a store employee.
"He told me 'It's just history, like Mussolini like Che Guevara.' I put the bottle down on the counter and left the store."
The father of Mr Hirsch's wife Cindy was born in Czechoslovakia and is an Auschwitz survivor. Her aunt, grandparents, and other family members died there.
"I was shocked," Mrs Hirsch said. "It is not only an affront to Jews, even if my husband and I are Jewish. It is an affront to humanity as a whole".
Prosecutor Mario Giulio Schinaia told news agency ANSA that inquiries were under way.
"The only crime that could be currently attributable to this is that of apologising for fascism," prosecutor Mario Giulio Schinaia told Ansa. "At this point though it would be opportune to invent the crime of human stupidity".
Italy made apologising for fascism a crime in 1952.
Wednesday 22 August 2012
Man Drove Drunk With Kids Strapped To Car
Aaron Stefanski pleads guilty to four offences after driving with four kids strapped to his vehicle in Indiana.A man has been sentenced to 18 months in home detention for driving drunk with his three young children and another girl strapped to the bonnet of his car.
Aaron Stefanski, 29, told a judge that he regretted putting his three children, aged four to six, and a neighbour's seven-year-old daughter on the bonnet of the car.
Police in Indiana, US, arrested Stefanski and the neighbour after an off-licence manager called emergency services when he saw the drunk man use a tow strap to secure the four children and drive away.
Stefanski pleaded guilty last month to three counts of neglect of a dependent and one count of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
In return for his guilty plea, prosecutors dropped other charges including criminal recklessness.
The Journal Gazette reported that Stefanski told Judge Wendy Davis that he regretted his actions every minute of every day since his arrest on May 7.
"I let alcohol make the decision for me," he said.
Tuesday 21 August 2012
'Banana' in the bathroom turned out to be boa constrictor
A mother was shocked to discover a "banana" she found in her bathroom was actually a four-foot-long boa constrictor.A woman was left shocked when she discovered that what she thought was a banana in her bathroom was actually a 4ft long boa constrictor.
Stacey Way, 28, was cleaning the bathroom floor when she noticed a yellow object next to the water pipe.
She assumed it was a banana her toddler had shoved down the side, and went to fetch her gloves to pick it up, but forgot about it.
A few days later she was bathing her two daughters and wiped the floor again when she suddenly saw the object move.
On closer inspection, she realised that the 'banana' actually had a mouth - and that it was a snake.
Horrified, she took the children, aged two and four, out of the bath, and called a friend who arrived with a box.
The pair went to a nearby reptile centre to ask for help but they were forced to call the RSPCA, who told them the floorboards would need to be removed to rescue the beast.
But as the property was rented, the officer advised her to leave a tub full of water on the bathroom floor to entice the snake out.
When Stacey checked a few hours later the creature had fully emerged and the reptile centre were able to collect it from her home in Parkstone, Dorset.
Stacey Way, 28, said: "I was wiping the bathroom floor when I noticed what I thought was a mouldy banana my toddler had shoved down the side of the water pipe.
"I know it sounds ridiculous, but I thought 'I'll get that in a minute with my gloves on' and then just forget all about it.
"Three days later I was bathing my two little ones and wiped around the floor again when I saw that this thing was sticking out more than before but as I got closer it went back in.
"I was so shocked, I couldn't believe it.
"I looked closer and realised that the banana, or now snake, had a mouth.
"We went round to the reptile centre near us, but then had to call the RSPCA who told us we would have to get a builder to remove the floorboards to get it.
"It's a rented property so we couldn't do that, and in the end the officer said to put a box with some water in it, as snakes like water for some reason, and leave it there.
"When I looked in the bathroom a few hours later he was sticking right out the hole so I called the shop and they came and got him.
"It was about three-to-four feet long, I couldn't believe it.
"Now I think I'm seeing snakes everywhere even though we've filled up all the holes.
"I don't mind snakes from a distance, but not in my bathroom."
Boa constrictors originate from Central and South America and can grow up to 13 ft long, but the largest ever found measured a staggering 18 ft.
They eat almost anything they can catch and stretch their jaws to swallow large prey whole.
Monday 20 August 2012
Polish MP wants Spain to repay 400-year-old debtAs if Spain didn't have enough debt woes, now a Polish legislator is calling in a 235 million zloty (57.4 million euros, $66 million) debt dating back to the 16th century.
At issue is a 430,000 gold ducat loan taken by King Philip II of Spain (1527-98) from Poland's Italian-born Queen Bona Sforza (1494-1557) to finance the war between Spain and France for control of the Kingdom of Naples, most of which has never been paid off.
Marek Poznanski, a 28-year-old member of parliament with the renegade left Palikot Movement parliamentary caucus has launched a request for repayment which Poland's foreign ministry is currently examining.
"I'm well aware my request might seem odd, but I'd like it to make politicians really think about the consequences of lending money to other countries," Poznanski said on his Facebook page about his unusual initiative.
According to him, during the period in question one gold ducat weighed 3.5 grammes. Using current gold prices, the value of the debt would amount to 57.4 million euros, this not including 400 years' worth of interest.
Poland worked for centuries to recover the debt but by the 18th century it had managed to recover just 10 percent of the total sum.
Some historians even believe that Queen Bona, who died in exile in Bari, Italy, was poisoned on King Philip II's orders so he could wiggle his way out of repaying the money.
In archaic Polish, the term "Neapolitan sums" was used to describe bad debts.
Legal experts quoted in the Polish media are sceptical about the possibility of recovering the ancient debt due to the sheer amount of time that had passed.
Poznanski however notes that Spain recently recovered a treasure of 500,000 gold and silver pieces weighing 17 tonnes.
The treasure discovered on a Spanish naval vessel sunk in 1804 by the US-based Odyssey Marine Exploration firm was returned to Spain after a five-year legal battle in which Odyssey claimed "finders, keepers".
Sunday 19 August 2012
Watch thieves prey on French Riviera richPolice on the French Riviera are on the hunt for a gang who have made off with more than a million euros' worth of luxury watches, all ripped from the wrists of their wealthy owners.
The thieves have been operating on the southern French coast since mid-July.
Among their victims has been a Russian who was robbed of his 550,000-euro (673,000-dollar) "Richard Mille" timepiece as he returned to his Cannes weekend residence in a Bentley, and a Ferrari owner who was deprived of a watch valued at 70,000 euros.
The gang's modus operandi involves identifying the owners of valuable watches and then following them to their cars.
As they prepare to drive off, one of the gang whizzes past on a scooter and deliberately clips the car's wing mirror.
When the driver reaches out to put it back in place, a second scooter arrives and its passenger wrestles the watch from the unsuspecting victim's wrist.
Police believe the robberies are the work of Italian criminals.
"We are faced with an operation that is structured and organised," said Jean-Michel Cailliau, the chief public prosecutor in the area.
"We will be putting significant resources into the cross-border investigation."
Police came close to apprehending some of the robbers at the weekend. The men escaped but abandoned their scooters and a car, from which forensics experts have been able to extract DNA samples which may ultimately help to secure convictions.
Friday 17 August 2012
It looks like the perfect spot for high tea - at a new restaurant more than 10,000ft up a mountain in the Austrian Alps.The eatery - perched on top of the Pitztal glacier - will be linked to a new ski lift to get holidaymakers up the Wildspitze mountain.
The £20million project is due to be open in time for this winter's ski-ing season.
But marketing manager Stefan Richter - who's promised to keep the restaurant's prices more down to earth - explained: "It's going to be breathtaking with amazing views. It will be called '3440' because it is located 3440 metres up the glacier."
Thursday 16 August 2012
American ISP Got Sued For Asking QuestionsUS Internet service provider decided to speak freely for its subscribers and was sued by the DOJ for questioning a National Security Letter.
The anonymous US broadband provider scrutinized, in a legal manner, a NSL request sent by the authorities. Of course, the Department of Justice was unhappy about it, and instead of investigating the legitimacy of the NSL, it sued the company.
Unfortunately, this is the type of behaviour which pushes the US farther from what the country used to be – the Land of the Free. According to media reports, in 2011, when the ISP received an ultra-secret demand letter from the governmental authorities seeking data about its subscribers, the company took an extraordinary step – the ISP challenged both the underlying authority of the National Security Letter and the legitimacy of the gag order coming with it.
In fact, both challenges are allowed under a federal law which governs National Security Letters, a power greatly expanded under the Patriot Act which lets the authorities to receive detailed data on the US finances and communications without oversight from a court. It turned out that the feds have issued hundreds of thousands of NSLs and were reprimanded for abusing them, despite the fact that almost none of the requests have been challenged by their recipients.
When the ISP challenged its National Security Letters in 2011, the DOJ responded with taking its own extraordinary measure: they sued the telecom company, arguing in court documents that the ISP was violating the legislation by challenging its authority. The Electronic Frontier Foundation claims that it’s a pretty intense charge – its attorney is currently representing the anonymous telecom. The consumer outfit pointed out that it is a huge deal to say the ISP is in violation of federal law having to do with a national security investigation. They strongly believe that it’s extraordinarily aggressive to say the ISP is violating the law by challenging the authority.
This is not the first case that makes attorneys raise their eyebrows. This time the abuse of power came in the form of National Security Letters, and it can make one wonder whether the DoJ is actually embracing/applying justice or it is just a puppet for the interests of the entertainment industry…
Wednesday 15 August 2012
America Realized Pentagon Didn’t Invent the InternetThe United States finally admit that its glorious government didn’t actually invent the web.
For years the United States has trotted out what amounts to an urban legend that it was Pentagon who created the net in order to keep its communications lines up even in a case if nuclear strike. This legend was used to explain why America should control the global domain system, not some international world body.
The legend in question was recently spouted by the President, who used it as proof that the government really was important to the development of technology. Barak Obama said that the web did not get invented on its own – it was government research that created the net in order to allow all companies to profit from it.
Nevertheless, media reports revealed that some in the United States have conceded it was much more complex than what is told in the legend. By the 1960s all technologists were making attempts to connect separate physical communications networks into a single global network. Although the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network was also working in this direction, it wasn’t close to maintaining communications in the event of a nuclear attack, and it did not create the Internet.
Robert Taylor, the person who ran the ARPA program 5 decades ago, sent an email to technologists in the 21st century, saying that what Arpanet had wasn’t an Internet. The latter is a connection between 2 or more computer networks, but Arpanet was nothing like that.
Robert Taylor explained that the full credit should go to Xerox PARC labs, where he was working in the 1970s – the Ethernet was first developed there to connected different computer networks. Meanwhile, Xerox PARC researchers realized that waiting for the authorities to connect networks was hopeless because ARPA was too slow and bureaucratic.
At the same time, Xerox, although having invented the Internet, managed to miss a major trick – in fact, the company was only interested in selling photocopiers, so its interest in the web was to share a printer. And it was Ethernet technology that connected networks together.
Finally, the real Internet appeared when Vinton Cerf created the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet’s backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee developed hyperlinks.
Tuesday 14 August 2012
Largest Internet Providers Refused to Accept Net NeutralityIt seems that a new voluntary code of conduct on net neutrality, which was expected to be unveiled soon, might be a waste of time, because top 3 ISPs aren’t signing up.
Net neutrality code lays down a set of principles in support of the open web. The signers will have to promise to provide users access to all legitimate material and not to discriminate against content providers within a commercial rivalry. The voluntary code was drafted between Communications Minister Ed Vaizey and Internet service providers.
The code has been signed by BT, BSkyB, O2, TalkTalk and Three. However, Virgin Media, Vodafone and the two Everything Everywhere networks – T-Mobile and Orange – aren’t signing.
According to Virgin Media, it had refused to sign because it was too pro-neutrality and it found the agreement not tough enough. The ISP admitted it wasn’t going to sign as it stands, pointing out that it had no intention of discriminating or treating information differently on the basis of who owns or publishes it.
Virgin Media is looking for something clearer for industry and what can give consumers improved transparency. However, the agreement is worded in such a way that it’s open to misinterpretation and potential exploitation.
The industry experts admit that Virgin does have a point. Net neutrality assumes that Internet service providers and mobile networks wouldn’t use the term “Internet access” to describe any package that blocks some classes of material, apps or services. In other words, the ISPs are able to apply whatever restrictions they want if they don’t use this term. Moreover, the ISPs would be allowed to slow some types of traffic, like peer-to-peer services, in order to manage network congestion. In case they do so, they should inform their customers. However, Virgin is big on telling its subscribers exactly what it’s doing – in fact, the advertising watchdog once claimed that the small print in some of its ads was too small.
As for Everything Everywhere, it said that it was too early to understand how an agreement of this type would affect clients’ online experience. The ISP explained it did support the principle of the open web and believe that transparency really is the way to achieve this. It even signed up to the BSG’s code of practice on traffic management to make its policies clear to the subscribers.
Finally, Vodafone hasn’t explained why it refused to sign the code.
Monday 13 August 2012
A crushing blow
Our semi-religious fervour over recycling needs to be curbed or there could be an increase in fly-tippingAt the end of the last century, the term White Van Man was popular shorthand for a young, aggressive, often tattooed driver of a commercial vehicle who would happily shunt a Reliant Robin-driving granny into a ditch if it meant beating the next red light. Ben Forrer might loosely be described as a White Van Man, though of an altogether more benign, 21st-century kind. The Warwickshire fireman used his Citroen Relay to take a friend’s cooker for recycling, but the van was mistaken for the white goods waiting to be crushed. No good deed goes unpunished and the next time an appliance dies Mr Forrer, a man of commendable patience, could be forgiven if he chooses fly-tipping. A semi-religious fervour surrounds recycling these days, but things have come to a pretty pass when three minutes away from a van is taken for abandoning it to a grisly death.
Sunday 12 August 2012
America Will Launch Online Trolling ProgramThe government of the United States has suddenly decided that the best weapon against terrorists would be trolls. The local media reported that after testing out their commandos and deadly flying robots, the State Department of the United States of America has unleashed its trolls.
The program, known as Viral Peace, represents a new initiative meant to annoy, frustrate and humiliate denizens of the extremist forums in the Internet. It seems that its planners still haven’t found out what its initial strategy is yet. In other words, the program in question appears to be running on a shoe string. The main target of the program is to discourage impressionable youth from turning into terrorists in an idiom they understand.
Meanwhile, Viral Peace was developed and implemented by Shahed Amanullah, a senior technology adviser to the State Department. His idea was to use logic, humor, satire, and religious arguments instead of simply confronting extremists – this is supposed to undermine and demoralize them. The strategy was dubbed “strategic trolling”. Its creator insists that it wasn’t necessary to deface the forums if you are able to troll them to the point where their most malign influences can be neutralized.
Shahed Amanullah says that Internet extremists have certain energy and vitality which usually attract people, appealing to macho and rebellious natures, as well as to people who feel downtrodden. Indeed, creating a comparable passion on the other side is quite tricky, but not entirely impossible.
In case Viral Peace works as intended, trainees will take control of the program, so the creator and the State Department will have almost no control over how it actually trolls the terrorists.
Saturday 11 August 2012
French “Three-Strikes” Appeared Too Expensive and IneffectiveAfter the country’s “three-strikes” regime, better known in France as HADOPI, was praised by both President Sarkozy and local movie company Gaumont, the Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti suddenly made a shocking announcement. She claimed that HADOPI was not just costing France too much money, but also failed to improve the availability of legitimate content.
As you might remember, HADOPI was suggested by President Nicolas Sarkozy in order to tackle piracy and discourage file-sharing. After the law came in force, Sarkozy was very happy with the results, claiming that 95% of users who got the first notification stopped infringing copyright, according to a report covering the year 2011.
However, it turned out that the country’s new Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti didn’t agree and promised not to support the “three-strikes”. In the interview, the new minister said that the law is actually costing France too much money, particularly with the economic crisis happening around. Aurélie Filippetti pointed out that in financial terms, 12,000,000 euros annually and 60 officers is a very expensive way to send a million e-mails. She promised to ask that funding of HADOPI is greatly reduced as part of budgetary efforts. However, it is unclear how much her “reduced” means. Anyway, that is expected to be established sometime in September 2012.
The French “three-strikes” keeps working: according to HADOPI’s statistics for this past June, 340 unique Internet accounts are already on their 3rd strike and are to be closed under the law. Aurélie Filippetti doesn’t agree with the established kind of punishment and says that the suspension of broadband connection is a disproportionate sanction against the end goal. In addition, the Minister is disappointed with the copyright law failing to promote and create legitimate services in order to reduce the number of infringements.
The Culture Minister has no idea what will become of this institution, but she says that one thing is known for sure: the law hasn’t fulfilled its mission to create alternative legal offers. In the meantime, the experts are looking forward to a meeting to discuss the future of HADOPI, led by former Canal+ director Pierre Lescure, sometime in the following months.
UK Handed British Sovereignty to Entertainment IndustryBritish Home Secretary seems to be sacrificing the life of a young British guy who committed no crime other than hacking off the content industry.
To be fair to the Home Secretary, she would send anyone abroad to face a kangaroo court if the authorities asked her. However, the case of Sheffield Hallam student Richard O’Dwyer is now widely known as a particularly unpleasant one. Under pressure from the entertainment industry, the United States has started criminalizing cases of piracy and using its legal system as a private police force for the Big Content. Unfortunately, this also involves enforcing content industry’s view about what can be referred to as a crime.
Now a sensible Home Secretary would look at the charges its citizen faces and question what he had done. The matter is that O’Dwyer, when he was 19, started an online service called TVshack.net. The website linked to places to watch TV shows and movies online. In the United Kingdom, by the way, this wasn’t a crime – the film companies complained and the CPS said it wasn’t worth pursuing. So the entertainment industry leaned on its tamed American cops to get an extradition on the British guy so he could face the full wrath of the American law.
In the United States O’Dwyer can go to jail for ten years for doing something that is legal in the United Kingdom. Of course, this created a bit of stink with the citizens who feel that the Home Secretary is ruining a guy’s life in order to keep the American government happy.
Worse still, an American citizen who carried out a crime in the United Kingdom wouldn’t be extradited back to face the music, which means that the United States is better at protecting its own citizens than the UK.
Meanwhile, the local media confirmed that Theresa May has told the House of Commons she wouldn’t revisit plans to extradite to the United States on copyright charges, because her mind was already made up.
Perhaps, the Home Secretary hopes that such approach will push her tough Margaret Thatcher style image, but in fact she just looks like a heartless careerist ready to sell her own grandmother if she thought she could look good on the cover of the Daily Mail.
So, Richard O’Dwyer’s only hope now is a court appeal. At the same time, Theresa May might find herself facing public support for O’Dwyer, because Wikipedia heads Jimmy Wales is already arranging an army of celebrities to take her on.
Friday 10 August 2012
The parent filter of the Internet service provider Claranet seems to be built upon the advice of religious groups. Local media confirm that the broadband provider wanted to develop a filter which would keep kids safe, so instead of simply using common sense to determine what should be in a filter, the ISP turned to religious groups to decide.
Besides, it also allows schools and kids safety experts to help. The only problem is that it is for some reason consulting people who fight for a worldviews claiming “the world was created 6,000 years ago” and “women should be dressed like Satan’s pillar box”.
Worse still, the ISP is going to use volunteer guardians in order to decide the filters, which means that it won’t even be recognizing people from churches or religious groups – only those who want to have a go at filtering.
Meanwhile, in religious groups, the kind of people who volunteer for such things are usually a special breed that largely believe that their own religious leaders have got it wrong. In other words, they think that Jesus tells them to filter all references to ankles, and that other religions are run by demons.
The ISP announced that it was recruiting volunteer guardians from various outfits, although it won’t identify them. Claranet issued a statement saying that it had an “Islamic advisor”, and kids safety campaigner Sara Payne was among them. The ISP’s guardians will be asked whether they believe 140 categories of online content are appropriate for the modern children. The volunteers will be able to add or remove certain online services from the blacklists created by a 3rd-party company whose name is currently kept in secret.
In other words, any guardian may decide that Bebo has been blessed by God, or Jeff, or Xenu in the category of social networking, but at the same time decide to block Facebook as its users are the spawn of Satan and will burn in hell, Hades or Slough for all eternity.
Hopefully, the subscribers will be allowed to choose to set up and customize their own filters, or accept a pre-selected list from one of the volunteers and edit it themselves if they want.
Apparently, most people who opt for a religious filter are those who want to be told about sex or relationships by someone who has sworn not to have done either.
Thursday 9 August 2012
US Copyright Term Will be Restored Back to 28 YearsUnder the US copyright law, the term for your right over your work is indefinite as long as you are alive. Meanwhile, an online petition is going to change that.
The petition in question is already available on White House’s official site, and aims to gather 25.000 signatures in order to restore the term of copyright back to 28 years. Thus far, the petition managed to gather over 2.000 signatures in just 24 hours.
The petition says that an initial copyright duration was initially established as 28 years, but then was repeatedly extended to up to 120 years. This was done to favor such corporations as Disney and Sony along with authors’ descendants at the expense of the public. However, such durations ignore the Constitution’s requirement saying that copyrights should be for limited times and encourage progress in science and arts. In reality, they are doing the opposite thing, inhibiting scientific progress by restricting the free flow of data and preventing global digital libraries. In other words, the durations are withholding data that future generations need to freely exchange and build upon. At the same time, the original copyright duration would provide ample incentive for the entities and authors to create, so the creators of the petition asked the President to urge Congress to pass a bill which would restore copyrights to 28 years.
Lawrence Lessing, an American academic and political activist, has written a book on this issue, providing a comprehensive analysis on how creativity relies on the past. He explains that the creations of the past should be used as “bricks” for future projects. By the way, many supported his point of view: indeed, past’s influence in the artistic sector is undeniable.
Nevertheless, the American copyright legislation isn’t at all encouraging creativity, but instead considers everything as being original. Industry experts agree that it is time copyright laws actually reflected the modern era. The only entities to have such long copyright terms (in the United States, for instance, it is life + 70 years) are large multi-national corporations. However, it clearly doesn’t benefit society, choking off whatever little creativity is left in the world. Everyone who shares this point of view is free to sign the petition online.
Wednesday 8 August 2012
PayPal Enforce Stricter Regulations for File-SharersFollowing the separation from WikiLeaks two years ago, PayPal payment system is currently setting harsh conditions for different file-sharing services.
Recent media reports informed that PayPal has recently changed its Terms of Service, making it harder for file-sharing services to survive. One of the most popular payment services, owned by eBay, is currently demanding that the merchants must prohibit consumers from uploading files containing unauthorized content and promise that people involved in such file transfers will be permanently banned from their service. Moreover, PayPal also requires that merchants must provide the payment portal with free access to their service so its Acceptable Use Policy department could monitor the material.
Thus, a number of cyberlockers already became concerned with the changes, while others, such as the Palo Alto-based MediaFire, claimed that there is little impact of PayPal changes in its Terms of Service. For instance, Putlocker, a British file-sharing website, complained that it was a complete invasion of privacy on PayPal’s part, because it was none of their business what files the consumers want to keep in their accounts. The service says that it has a solid abuse handling policy already, and it does not feel a third party company has any business snooping on its users.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that PayPal might be considered as one of the largest Internet paying services, there are many alternatives in the web, including MoneyBookers and BitCoin. So, if the cyberlockers don’t like the new terms of cooperation with PayPal, they always have a place to move.
Tuesday 7 August 2012
Microsoft finds 'big boobs' in source code, removes itMicrosoft has removed a chunk of code labelled "big boobs" from a piece of its software.
The hexadecimal string '0xB16B00B5' was found hidden in a code that runs every time a Microsoft programme starts a virtual version of Linux.
The BBC reports that it came to light on a mailing list for Linux developers, where hacker Paolo Bonzini said of the string: "Somone (sic) was trying to be funny, I guess."
Microsoft was made aware of the discovery and quickly issued an apologetic statement, saying: "We thank the community for reporting this issue and apologise for the offensive string."
The software giant then issued a patch that corrected the string.
Not all software developers were satisfied with the apology, however, with Dr Matthew Garret arguing that "puerile sniggering at breasts contributes to the continuing impression that software development is a boys' club where girls aren't welcome".
Garrett also suggested that the patch may not be the definitive fix-all that Microsoft thinks it is, noting on his blog: "It's especially irritating in this case because Azure [Microsoft's cloud service] may depend on this constant, so changing it will break things."
Monday 6 August 2012
Man shoots himself trying to kill a mouse
A Goulais River, Ont., man accidentally shot himself in the forehead trying to kill a mouse.
The man was using the butt of a rifle to kill the rodent when the weapon went off Wednesday at a camp on Anjigami Lake, about 40 kilometres southeast of Wawa, provincial police said.
A bullet grazed his forehead, said Const. Amanda Huff.
The man didn't know the weapon was loaded.
"He was very lucky," said Huff.
The man was treated in hospital and released.
Dale Whitmell, 40, was charged with careless use of a firearm and will appear in court Sept. 17.
Sunday 5 August 2012
Prince Charles, Princess Diana wedding day toast sells for £230A leftover piece of toast from Prince Charles's breakfast the morning of his wedding to Princess Diana has sold at auction for £230.
Seller Rosemarie Smith had kept the slice of bread in a cup on her shelf for 31 years, Metro reports.
"At the time my daughter was a maid at the palace and one of her duties was to collect Prince Charles's breakfast tray from outside his room," Smith said.
"I was with her in the corridor and saw that Prince Charles had left some toast on the tray.
"I had been thinking about a keepsake from the wedding and saw the toast and thought to myself, 'Why not?'."
Two people engaged in a bidding war over the phone for the foodstuff, with a British buyer winning out.
"There was a round of applause when the gavel dropped then it was like, 'Oh crumbs... it's sold!'," said a spokeswoman for the auction house.
Saturday 4 August 2012
Man Accused of Assaulting Girlfriend Over Broken Bong
Girlfriend became “enraged” after she broke his bong, police sayA Florida man was arrested after allegedly assaulting his girlfriend for breaking his bong.
Police said Brandon Chviek, 20, was arguing with his girlfriend and became “enraged” after she broke his bong, The Gainesville Sun reported. Chviek allegedly pulled out a gun, hit he until she fell to the ground and choked her, Gainesville Police Department spokesman Officer Ben Tobias told the paper.
The girlfriend managed to escape the apartment and showed up at the local Sheriff’s office with some bruises and scratches on her body, according to police.
Chviek, who police said had scratch marks on his face and neck, at first denied fighting with his girlfriend, according to police. Police said a search of his apartment turned up bullets and drug paraphernalia, but no gun.
Chviek was charged with domestic battery and strangulation, aggravated assault and possession of drug paraphernalia, the Gainesville Sun reported.
Friday 3 August 2012
Turn culled pigeons into pigeon pie, says councillor
Hundreds of pigeons set to be culled in a town could be used to make pies, a veteran Tory town councillor has claimed.Cllr F John Smith, 80, said the dead birds could provide a good source of food.
He spoke out as Royston Town Council in Hertfordshire voted to ask business partnership Royston First to kill the pests and crack down on people feeding them.
Cllr Smith, who quit as a district councillor in 2010 after 50 years, said: "When you use the word 'cull' it has a very negative effect on people but there is an advantage to this method.
"I'm being perfectly serious that pigeon pie is not eaten as often as it used to be - in other words shot pigeons give us a food source.
Up to 600 pigeons roost in Royston and councillors have branded the massive mess left by the birds a serious menace for residents.
Town mayor Cllr Lindsay Davidson said pedestrians find pavements "risky" because "they are covered in muck".
Officials have previously considered avian contraceptives and drafting in killer hawks.
Fire gel that would fool birds into thinking roosting spots were ablaze was also looked at.
Leader of the council, Bob Smith, said: "The problem with fire gel is that it would only repel them from wherever we put the gel and we can't smother the entire town in gel.
"I'm sure a cull is the best option to get the flock down to a manageable size"
Thursday 2 August 2012
Father holds Microsoft accountable for son's £1,150 Xbox Live billA father discovered that his son had accumulated £1,150 ($1,800) in charges on Xbox Live and is now holding Microsoft to blame.
The Daily Mail reports that the 12-year-old boy thought he was using in-game currency earned from killing enemies in a Call of Duty title and scoring goals in a FIFA football game.
Instead, the purchases were made using his father's credit card, which was stored on the system when the family paid for an Xbox Live subscription so that the boy could play games online with his friends from school.
The father, Sam Ghera, only discovered the charges on his credit card when he went to the bank and found that his account had been overdrawn.
"When I went through my statement I saw that they were charges for Xbox Live," he said.
"I didn't even know that it was storing my information, and even if that thought had entered my head I would have thought there would be something in place so it wasn't so easy to spend money."
No password is required to make purchases over Xbox Live using credit card information stored on the system.
It should be noted though that the system does offer parental controls which can block child and teen accounts from making purchases over Xbox Live.
Making a purchase on Xbox Live always brings up a pop-up window asking the user to confirm that they are making a purchase with their credit card. However, this is often confusing to users since they are technically buying Microsoft points, a virtual currency that can then be used to obtain downloadable content, rather than the items themselves.
It is unclear exactly what was purchased with the Microsoft points charged to the account. The Daily Mail reports that it was spent on additional weapons for Call of Duty and player enhancements in FIFA, however those are not items offered to purchase over Xbox Live.
There are several multiplayer map packs for the various Call of Duty titles and downloadable expansions available for the FIFA football games, however all downloadable in-game content combined across all titles in those franchises totals less than £300.
It is advised that parents take advantage of the parental control settings included on video game consoles.
Wednesday 1 August 2012
It’s something for puffin at seaside townYOUNG puffins have invaded a seaside town, with one bird found waddling along a corridor at a hotel and another turning up at a car showroom.
The fledgling puffins or “pufflings” are normally resident this time of year on islands in the Firth of Forth such as the iconic Bass Rock, but experts say the birds are being attracted by the bright lights of nearby North Berwick.
The coastal East Lothian resort is the base of the Scottish Seabird Centre, where staff have been advising residents on how to deal with the visitors. Recently, a puffling, since named “Buddy” by the team at the centre, was found wandering the Macdonald Marine Hotel & Spa.