Tuesday 31 December 2013

Not Christmas PC!!

Ho No No! Offensive Christmas light display angers neighbours

Most Christmas messages are about happiness and joy, but not for one Louisiana woman.

Denham Springs resident Sarah Childs has directed an offensive light display at her neighbours for the second year running, putting up a Christmas light arrangement on her roof displaying two very festive extended middle-fingers.

The controversial display propelled Ms Childs into the media spotlight last year after the police threatened to arrest her, causing her to team up with the American Civil Liberties
Union of Louisiana to fight for her right to show the display.

She successfully sued the city and won the right to be able to continue with her festive message.

Now, much to the dismay of her angry neighbours, she has done it again. Ms Childs was inundated with furious calls from neighbours soon after she put up the display on Monday.

Shortly after, someone cut down the lights from her roof.

Ms Childs, who suspects it was a neighbour, told local media: ‘They went on my roof, cut them all up, cut everything up. They did the firing shot. It’s on.’

The middle-finger message is the result of a long-standing dispute between Ms Childs and a neighbour named Kayla Weldon.

Monday 30 December 2013

Don’t Publish??


US Writers and Journalists Censor Themselves

US spooks seem to be now self-censoring their copy in order to avoid upsetting the government. It turned out that the NSA programs are actually supported by half of Americans, even though many understand that their own personal data have been monitored.
Another research revealed that almost 25% of American writers have self-censored for fear of government surveillance. US hacks were curbing their research, declining certain assignments, even not discussing certain topics via the phone or e-mail, afraid of being targeted. Today it’s hard to find an American reporter willing to write about the Middle East, the military and terrorism.

Perhaps, they fear to end up on a no-fly list or be subjected to strip searches at airports. The researchers point out that Americans have long protested the persecution and constraints on journalists and writers working under repressive regimes abroad, but many seem to be ready to accept the new encroachments on their freedom in the USA.

When it happened so that the details have been released, journalists and intelligence specialists have argued that the evidence collected through surveillance could have been obtained in other ways, or just was not so crucial.

Nevertheless, American journalists who have always been a bit soft compared to the rest of the world, seem to have caved in completely. Remember New York Times writing about Apple while ignoring important news stories because Apple really needed its press release published?

Sunday 29 December 2013

French Farts


Student makes fortune selling fresh air

A French student has made thousands of pounds - from selling cans of fresh air.
Antoine Deblay decided to offer 250ml tins of air from his hometown of Montcuq in south-western France.
The 22-year-old first posted the idea on French crowdfunding website KissKissBankBank and was surprised to raise more than £670 investment in a few weeks.
After setting up a website and offering the "100% bio" product for sale at £4 plus £4.60 postage, the orders soon came rolling in and he received 1,000 orders in three weeks.
But non-French speakers may not quite get the humourous reason why the product is so popular.
In France, Montcuq is often mispronounced as "mon cul," which translates to English as "my backside".
This means that the product name of Air de Montcuq can be translated as "the air of my backside" making it a popular novelty gift.
M Deblay says: "Fresh air of Montcuq is 100% organic, it immerses you in the depths of the city to refresh your ideas. Ideal when you are in need of creative inspiration."
Anyone wanting to buy some Montcuq air should hurry as he is promising to sell only 10 litres a week - so as not to use up the local supply.

Saturday 28 December 2013

Caught In The Act!!


Husky gets caught stealing bones and treats from store

A crafty canine has been causing a bit of stir in one town after it is alleged to have gone on a shoplifting spree for treats.
Cato the husky casually strolled up the Dollar General store in Clinton, South Carolina, and entered the doors with other customers.
But little did the store owners know that the stealthy pooch had actually come to make off with pig ears, beef bones, dog food and treats.

Noticing that some goods were missing, store manager Anastasia Polson had a look over the CCTV and was surprised to see that the perpetrator was slightly more hirsute than she’d expected.
He was in and out – and then back in and out again – within a five-minute thieving period, and buried his treasures nearby.
‘We had to lock the door to keep him from coming back in,’ she told Fox Carolina.
Cato’s owner Holly Darden said police admitted it was their best arrest ever, while also denying that the dog is not fed.
‘Look at him, he’s fat. Yes! I feed him. There’s food in there. There’s treats in there,’ she said.
Police filed a mock report and the dog is now back at home. The store did not want to press charges.

Friday 27 December 2013

It Was No Helicopter!!


Man ‘swinging manhood in rotary helicopter motion at women’

A man who reportedly swung his penis about in a ‘rotary helicopter motion’ at two women has been arrested.
Shawn Harvell was detained in Indianapolis in the US after he apparently approached the women with a gun and his private parts exposed.
After allegedly grabbing one of the females from behind he is then said to have spun around his manhood and demanded she go with him.
The alleged victims managed to flag down a police car and the officer inside then proceeded to chase Harvell, who scarpered once he saw the authorities.
The officer eventually caught up with the 34-year-old and arrested him.
He now faces several charges, including public indecency and resisting law enforcement.
When asked what he was doing, Harvell said he was trying to solve a ‘financial dispute’ with one of the women but she denied they had ever met him.

Thursday 26 December 2013

Ebay = Censorship!!!


‘Homophobic’ eBay ad for car removed after bid of £500,000

An eBay listing for a 13-year-old Ford Fiesta that had been widely shared due to its colourful and controversial description has been removed from the auction site.
An anti-homophobia charity called it ‘offensive’ because the seller had used ‘homophobic’ terms within it.
Despite having 103,000 miles on the clock, the second-hand vehicle had rung up a price tag of at least half a million pounds – despite the listing having six days left.
In the advert, 21-year-old Jamie Rogers, from Chelmsford, Essex, said: ‘You can’t become a man until you’ve owned a proper lads car, so if you don’t buy this Zetec S you will always be spotty, your voice will never break properly and you will never beat your addiction to masturbation.’
He added: ‘If you’re a parent looking for a car on behalf of your son, this is the car for you. If you’re 35 years old still living at home and yet to be touched intimately by a woman, then this car is not for you, f****t.

Tuesday 24 December 2013

I’m Off!!


Reindeer escapes from Santa at Colorado mall
A runaway reindeer broke free from Santa Claus at a Colorado mall Thursday while the Big Man was inside visiting with children.
KYSL in Summit County reports ( http://bit.ly/19n7NKn ) that the reindeer escape happened outside the La Riva Mall in Dillon.
While Santa was inside listening to children's Christmas wish lists, the reindeer jumped over its enclosure, leading police officers on a healthy jog through town.
The reindeer was located on the other side of a nearby reservoir. The Summit County sheriff's office brought in another reindeer to lure the runaway and get it back into a trailer.

Monday 23 December 2013

Oh Shit!!


Council Snatched Pet Dogs As Owner Sat On The Toilet

“I WAS running and thought `oh my goodness’ I really need the toilet’,”said Patricia Abel, a 28-year-old out for a job on the Darwin foreshore. “I’ve been unwell and had a funny tummy, probably because of changing water, so I was quite desperate to get to a toilet and it could not wait until I got home. I’d jogged past the last public park toilet and it was a few hundred metres back, so rather than take Pepper all the way back with me I tied her to a bollard thinking she would be fine for a few minutes. I just thought I wouldn’t be able to make it in time if I had to drag Pepper all the way back to the toilet with me. By the time I got back she was gone.’
“I was in a panic. At first I thought I’d tied her on a different bollard, but after running up and down a few times I could not find her.”
Pepper had been taken by the Darwin Council dog catcher. It cost her $330 to get her dog out of the pound. She adds: ”I spoke to the dog catcher and she was a little apologetic when I explained my situation, but at the same time she said I should have taken Pepper into the toilet with me. I just thought `really, is that really the right thing to do? Obviously the dog is very well looked after, she is registered and microchipped, so I would have thought that their first course of action would have been to wait for a little while until the owner showed up. But instead they took her.”
Council general manager Community and Cultural Services John Banks said: “After waiting in excess of 15 minutes with the unaccompanied dog, our ranger acted in accordance with the City of Darwin By-laws. In this incidence Council has taken the extenuating circumstances into consideration and will not be pursuing the fine.”

Sunday 22 December 2013

A Real Bummer!

Man rings 999 after getting toilet roll holder stuck up his bottom

A man was forced to call the emergency services after a toilet roll holder got stuck up his bottom at his house in Newport, South Wales.

The unidentified man was reportedly unable to move and decided to dial 999 from his mobile phone.

Firemen then removed the object, with paramedics providing medical attention at the scene.

The Fire Brigades Union in Wales is quoted by the Mirror as saying: ”We do have to deal with wacky things.

‘Sometimes someone will tell you a story and you just think: “I can’t top that”.

‘To be honest, if I managed to get myself into one of these sorts of scrapes, the last thing I would want would be a whole crew of firefighters coming to see me.’

Saturday 21 December 2013

More Web Censorship??

UK Planning Another Censorship Attempt

James Brokenshire, the UK Crime and Security Minister, has announced his determination to save the United Kingdom from websites which aren’t “British” by censoring the web. Minister claimed the end of the free Internet in the United Kingdom by revealing his plans to order Internet service providers to block websites believed to be too dangerous for the people.

Minister explained he will also create a special department to identify and report material considered too dangerous for publication on the Internet. Brokenshire announced that the unit in question will be responsible for censoring a so-called “extremist content”, which perhaps follows the success off the model to crack on Internet child abuse. You have probably heard of the Internet Watch Foundation, partly industry-funded, which investigates reports of unauthorized child abuse pictures in the web. The outfit can ask ISPs to block or take down websites containing such images. As a result, there’s no child porn in the UK Internet now thanks to this measure.

Minister pointed out that Prime Minister, David Cameron, wanted to see a similar model for terrorist material. Despite numerous “freedom of speech issues”, the government believes it can have a process in place to test what is against the law.

In the meantime, ISPs’ good appeal process might overcome some of the public’s concerns. Apparently, if the government decides to block Welsh or Scottish Nationalist websites, it will have to explain to a judge why they are deemed “extremist”. This might make sense. However, less clear would be websites organizing such things as student protests.

Friday 20 December 2013

He’s Behind You!!

Curtain falls on traditional panto - oh yes it does!

Experts warn that many features of the traditional pantomime are in decline

It is one of the most cherished of Christmas rituals – with much of the pleasure of a trip to the pantomime derived from knowing exactly what you are going to get.

But for some of the most familiar elements of the traditional festive shows, it seems that their days could literally be behind them.

An analysis of this year’s productions suggests that the curtain is falling on many of the long-established features which have characterised the genre, with many abandoning the practice of casting an actress in the leading “male” role, and - perhaps worst of all - even doing away with the dame.

Many of the vanishing traditions are identified in new history of the genre, while others are indicated by an analysis of the National Database of Panto Performance, established this winter by enthusiasts.

The database shows only around a tenth of the 251 professional shows listed for the current panto season have female “principal boys” – known as the “breeches part” – a far lower proportion than in previous years.

It also suggests a growth in dame-less pantos this year, as producers opt for storylines, such as Snow White – the fourth most popular this year, 24 productions – which do not feature one.

Experts have suggested that the trend may be because younger audiences who have grown up with an acceptance of gay relationships do not understand the comic element of cross-dressing.

Maureen Hughes, a performing arts teacher and musical director, who wrote the new history of pantomime, said: “I think it is quite sad. There is also a lot of political correctness now that you didn’t have in the old days. Having fewer women dressed as men might be a reflection of that. You go to the panto knowing what you are going to get. But some traditions are slipping a bit.”

She also warns that some pantos themselves – in particular Mother Goose, first performed in 1806, and Puss in Boots, first performed in 1817 – are becoming increasingly rare.

She believes the two are no longer considered sufficiently “glamorous” to be staged, while Mother Goose is often thought “too difficult”. The play is known as the “Hamlet of panto”, for the challenging nature of the central character – not least the demands of the heavy, feathered costume.

Instead, a number of newer stage plays, such as Peter Pan and combinations of Robin Hood, and Babes in the Wood – which are not considered traditional pantos by aficionados – are taking their place.

The database adds weight to the decline. There are only two productions of Puss in Boots, in Hackney and Greenwich, and only one of Mother Goose, which has runs in Clitheroe and Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire. By contrast, there are 15 of Peter Pan and eight of Robin Hood or Babes in the Wood, as well as 13 of Beauty and the Beast.

The tradition of a woman playing the part of the “principal boy” dates back to the early nineteenth century with Eliza Povey played the title role in the first Jack and the Beanstalk, at Drury

Lane in 1819. By the 1880s, the hero role was always played by a woman, although there were later periods where men – among them Cliff Richard and Norman Wisdom – played the parts.

The more recent trend away from women in the male roles has been put down to political correctness, as well as greater knowledge among children about homosexual relationships.

It has been suggested this makes them less inclined to accept the romantic relationship between the leading lady and the principal boy, if the latter is also a woman, because they may mistakenly think the couple are meant to be gay.

The dame emerged during the same period, built on a longer standing tradition of men playing female characters, which dated back to a time when it was considered in appropriate to appear on stage. Other changes have seen a decline in the “song sheet”, which is dropped onto the stage from the rafters, in favour of electronic versions. Some productions have even ended the practice of bringing children on stage for a sing-song.

Aerial displays, which are considered less spectacular for modern audiences raised on special effects, and specialist “skin parts” – where actors perform as animals – are also a thing of the past.

The practice of ending the performance with a series of rhyming couplets – traditionally spoken for the first time on opening night – is also decreasing.

The new book, A History of Pantomime, chronicles the genre from its roots in a form of slapstick theatre developed by travelling Italian actors, which arrived in Britain, via France, in the seventeenth century.

Over the course of the next two centuries, it gradually evolved in the format with which we are still familiar, and by the middle of the nineteenth century it had become associated with Christmas.

By then, too, most of the canon had been established. Aladdin – still considered, like Shakespeare’s Macbeth, to be an “unlucky play” for performers – was the earliest recorded, with a version in 1788, although the first full panto format was not until 1861, at the Strand Theatre. Others then emerged in the early nineteenth century: Cinderella (1804, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Sleeping Beauty (1806, Drury Lane), Mother Goose (1806), Dick Whittington (1814), Puss in Boots (1817, in Covent Garden), and Jack and the Beanstalk (1819 at Drury Lane).

The exception is Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which only appeared as panto after the release of Walt Disney’s 1934 film version. Because the company still have copyright on some aspects, the dwarves in panto versions go by different names.

Simon Sladen, a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum and pantomime editor for The British Theatre Guide, who has set up the new database, said: “There has never been a set format for panto and the traditions are always changing and will continue to do so.”

Thursday 19 December 2013

Norwich = Party Poopers!!

Norwich drinkers face breath tests

Pub doormen in Norwich are to conduct breath tests on punters before deciding whether to let them in.

Thirty bars and clubs in the city are taking part in a month's trial to help revellers gain "better knowledge" about their boozing.

Police have told Norwich's licence holders they are "expected to be responsible" about who they let in, but no actual alcohol limit has been introduced.

Venues taking part will bear the slogan: "Are you trollied? #DeepBreath".

Insp Ed Brown of Norfolk Police said: "These kits will allow door staff to better gauge how much alcohol someone has had and in turn help them refuse entry to someone who is too drunk.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

A French Solution??

Raging tenant armed with a sledgehammer destroys apartment after landlord refused to give back his $2,500 security deposit

One irate Frenchman who was furious that his deposit was being withheld decided to take a sledgehammer to his apartment in order to express his fury.

Raging at his $2,500 security being kept, the unidentified tenant smashes his bathroom mirror, toilet, shower cubicle and door.

Explaining his actions to a helpful friend who recorded the entire incident, presumably for his landlords benefit, the angry man proceeds to batter the living daylights out of his soon to be vacate apartment.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

A Good Imagination?

Cereal fan snaps ghostly face in bowl of Cheerios

A cereal fan didn’t need a coffee to wake her up in the morning after she spotted a ghostly figure in her bowl of Cheerios.

The breakfast eater was tucking into her daily dose of corn, oats and rice when she saw the blank-faced cheerio looking back at her.

Clearly not something she was used to seeing everyday, the Cheerios fan decided to take a picture of her amusing discovery to share with the world online.

‘The day my breakfast tried to eat my soul,’ she explained. ‘I ate it out of fear that if I didn’t it may rise up and destroy the earth.’

After numerous stories detailing the distress of people who find weird objects in their supermarket meals, before posing unhappily next to them, it’s refreshing to see a funnier side to snapping food.

Monday 16 December 2013

Crazy Pussies?

Cats suffering from 'Tom and Jerry' syndrome

Vets warn of a new phenomenon whereby cats suffer seizures triggered by everyday sounds around the house, like the clicking of a computer mouse or the tapping of a boiled egg

If you ever irritated by the sound of your spouse crinkling a packet of crisps, or rustling with a newspaper, then spare a thought for your cat.

Vets are investigating an apparently new phenomenon whereby pet cats are suffering seizures triggered by everyday sounds around the house.

As well as the sounds of newspapers and crisps packets, the animals have also been observed having the reaction to the clicking of a computer mouse, the tapping of a boiled egg and even the sound of a tin of cat food being opened.

The bizarre phenomenon - likened to the cartoon Tom and Jerry - has also been triggered by the popping of pills from blister packs, the dropping of metal items on tiled floors or ceramic bowls and the hammering of nails, as well as the sounds of owners slapping their foreheads or clicking their tongues.

The new research began after International Cat Care (ICC), a feline charity, began receiving reports from owners across the country reporting the strange behaviour in their pets.

The seizures in cats do not appear to be related to volume, because many of the “trigger sounds” are relatively quiet. The noises do not appear to be particularly unexpected, either, as most are relatively familiar, such as the noise of food being opened.

Mark Lowrie, from Davies Veterinary Specialists, said: “We want to see if other vets and owners are aware of the problem. It could be they haven’t even associated these fits with noise. I’m sure that a pattern will emerge. It doesn’t seem to be occurring at times of stress. It is often when the cats are being fed – which is probably one of their happier times of the day.”

The reactions suffered by the animals are described as being similar to a fit, with the cats displaying a jerking motion. Others have less severe reactions, from being jumpy to freezing suddenly. They all recover, once the noise has stopped and the seizure ceased.

One owner reported their cat, Moochi, had seizures caused by repetitious clicking or tapping sounds, which caused him to convulse and lose control of his balance.

Another animal, Jeffrey, has fits of around a minute in length, caused by mouse clicks and the tapping of boiled eggs. Gracie suffered a similar reaction to the sound of a newspaper, which caused her to run in circles and collide with furniture. After that, she convulses.

Claire Bessant, chief executive of International Cat Care, said: “It is hard not to smile, because it does all sound rather Tom and Jerry, but it would be very nice to get to the bottom of it. People seem to be getting around it, by making sure they tip toe around their animals and try to avoid making the noise.”

Sunday 15 December 2013

We’re Watching You!

LG Smart TVs Collect Your Personal Info

It recently turned out that LG Smart TV was displaying adverts on the Smart landing screen. LG even has some corporate video to advertise their information collection practices to potential advertisers. The company explains that LG Smart Ad can analyze what people like watching, what they do online, and collect search keywords and other data that can help offer relevant adverts to target audiences. In addition, the company offered ad performance reports to demonstrate actual advertising effectiveness.

So, how do they do this? There appeared to be an option in the system settings named “Collection of watching info”, which is turned on by default. To find it, the users have to scroll down. Moreover, this setting, unlike others, has no “balloon help” to explain what it is for.

If you do some traffic analysis to find out what was being sent from your TV, you will learn that viewing data is being sent regardless of whether the setting is turned on or off. Apparently, the system transmits a channel name and a unique device ID. This data is sent back unencrypted and in the clear to the company each time you change channel – even if you switched the setting “Collection of watching info” off.

This is not all. You can find that within the packet data dumps there are filenames being posted to LG’s servers – the ones stored on your external USB hard drive. It is easy to check – once you create a mock file with unique filename and copy it to your USB stick, you’ll see it transmitted. It is unclear how the system filters the data – sometimes the names of the contents of an entire folder are posted, other times nothing is sent.

By the way, the URL that the information is being sent to doesn’t even exist, as the destination brings the HTTP 404 response from LG’s server. However, this collection URL could as well be implemented by the company on its server tomorrow, and allow to transparently collect detailed data on what content you have stored. The aim is clear – this feature would allow to infer the presence of adult material or files downloaded from file-sharing networks.

When contacted, LG claimed that since its customers accepted the Terms and Conditions on their devices, their concerns would be best directed to the retailer, while LG is unable to pass comment on their actions. So, the company can’t help, but you should prevent this from happening, as you own your router and have absolute jurisdiction of any traffic you allow to pass. The only way to do this is to block the list of Internet domains to stop spying and advertising on TVs. So far the list is the following:

ibis.lgappstv.com

ad.lgappstv.com

smartclip.net

smartclip.com

yumenetworks.com

smartshare.lgtvsdp.com

This move can help you stop seeing adverts plastered on your screen and having your viewing behavior monitored. The most important part is that you will still be able to update firmware.

Saturday 14 December 2013

Vatican = Pirates??

Vatican Faced Problem with Pirates

It recently became known that Vatican, one of the few theocratic states ever created by a fascist regime, faced a pirate problem. Back in 2012, the release of the videogame Football Manager had code inside which would let the Sega developers track the IP of everyone who pirated a copy of the game.

So, the experiment showed that over 10 million copies were distributed illegally. As usual, the most pirated areas were China, Turkey and Portugal. In addition, the developers managed to trace one pirated copy inside the Vatican. In other words, the state with a population of 839 is statistically likely to have at least one pirate in its ranks. In comparison, the game was pirated by 540,000 Italians, with Italy having a population of 61.321 million – as you can see, one pirate in the Vatican isn’t that much higher on the ratio scale.

However, the consequences differ. While in Italy the worst that a pirate can expect is for the entertainment industry to sue them, in the Vatican they can expect excommunication and eternal damnation. The industry experts point out that this is just another proof that stiff sentences for piracy don’t work in real life.

This case had some pabulum for reflection: conspiracy theorists pointed out that the videogame was downloaded in the same year that Pope Benedict suddenly cleared out his desk and moved to Castle Gandolfo to spend time “in seclusion and prayer”.

In the meantime, Football Manager boss Miles Jacobson claimed that one pirated copy didn’t equal one sale lost – instead, he believes it added up to 176,000 lost sales ($3.7 million lost revenue).

Thursday 12 December 2013

Woodworm??

Man makes VW Beetle - out of wood

A retired Volkswagen worker has carved himself a unique VW Beetle - out of wood.

Momir Bojic made everything from the bonnet to the gearstick in his garden workshop - with help from understanding wife Nada.

The couple created wooden pedals, wheel caps, bumpers, signal lamps, tail-lights, wipers, door mirrors, steering wheel, parcel shelf, dashboard, clock and even the radio aerial.

The bodywork features thousands of thumbnail-sized, finely sliced sections of oak designed to replicate the wooden-tiled roofs of Mr Bojic's homeland of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Each tile involved a process involving no less than 23 separate procedures, including cutting, chamfering, bevelling, drilling and smoothing, before they could be applied to the vehicle.

Mr Bojic, who worked at a Volkswagen Transporter manufacturing plant in Hanover, spotted the 1975 Beetle for sale at a fair and got a metalwork company to take off the roof, doors and strip the chassis.

He said: "I told my wife Nada that I was none too sure exactly what I was going to do with this addition to the household, but whatever decision I came to it would be something original and worthwhile."

The painstaking task to transform the VW took 18 months, with the determined couple working morning, noon and night in order to get it finished.

Mr Bojic, who is in his 60s, said: "I was intending to undertake the task by myself, but after my wife saw the amount of effort involved she felt I was crazy to try and do it all on my own."

And he is already planning his next project, adding: "I've an idea in mind; something along the lines of a sporty looking car with dual rocket-style pods and, of course, trimmed throughout with thousands of pieces of wood

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Whoops!!

Giant plane gets stuck at tiny airport

One of the world's biggest cargo planes is stuck after accidentally landing at a tiny airport with a runway too short for it to take off again.

The Boeing 747 Dreamlifter was heading for McConnell air force base in Wichita but instead touched down at nearby Colonel James Jabara airport.

Local media reported that the jet may be too large to take off from Jabara's 1,860m (6,100ft) runway.

The Dreamlifter normally requires a runway of 2,780m (9,119ft) to take off at maximum weight, reports the BBC.

Boeing sent a tug to the airport to turn the plane around but it broke down en route and it is not clear how the plane will leave Jabara airport.

The Dreamlifter is a modified 747-400 passenger aeroplane which can carry more cargo by volume than any aeroplane in the world.

Boeing uses them to transport large assembled aeroplane components from suppliers around the world to the final assembly location.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Cute!!

Meet Remi, the world’s saddest dog

When your dog looks this bummed about you going out, it’s got to be pretty hard to ever leave the house.

The pup has a look that suggests his high school football team just lost the big game, he has just learnt magic isn’t real and that there are a bunch of cats frolicking nearby woefully un-chased all in one.

Nothing’s wrong with the little guy, he’s just sad about his owner nipping out, shunning his toys and even the crumbs of his biscuits as he gives the most mournful yet cute expression.

If Remi is the world’s saddest dog, a dog that popped up on YouTube earlier this week has got to be the most polite.

The pooch is seen carefully wiping his feet before entering the house in a video, showing a rather charming respect for his owner’s carpets

Monday 9 December 2013

Seconded Time Lucky??

Student auctions off her virginity – again

A Brazilian student who last year sold her virginity in an online auction is to try to sell it again.

Catarina Migliorini was offered more than £200,000 for her virginity by a Japanese millionaire in a controversial online auction.

But she says that deal was never consummated, and is now attempting to do it again through her own website, VirginsWanted2.com.

On the website, which describes her as the "most famous virgin of the 21st century", she says the original deal fell through after she took legal advice.

"Well, I am still a virgin in every way and all the evidence, so, I never have had any sexual involvement and no one in this whole world can claim otherwise," she said.

"So I decided to make my own website to auction off my virginity and that time will be for real, so men or women who are interested can make their bids."

Miss Migliorini says she will not sell her virginity for less than the equivalent of £60,000 in the auction, which ends on 12 December, and her goal is around £1million.

Her original auction was part of a proposed documentary called Virgins Wanted being made by Australian filmmaker Justin Sisely.

The controversial 'sale' had scores of crtiics but made Miss Migliorini a celebrity and Playboy cover girl in her native country.

Sunday 8 December 2013

Milkman??

Cows fall through roof into artist’s workshop

An artist in Cornwall had some unexpected guests drop in when two cows fell through the roof of her workshop.

Sue Marshall, 77, said she heard an ‘almighty crash’ while vacuuming her converted barn property in Lamorna, near Penzance.

The shocked professional weaver went to investigate and found a cow stood in the middle of the room surrounded by a flattened table and chairs.

Minutes later, another cow joined the party after the pair had climbed on to the sloped roof from a neighbouring farmer’s field.

‘I assumed that a tree had come down,’ explained Ms Marshall.

‘I was astonished to find that a cow had fallen through the roof of the workshop, narrowly missing my loom and leaving a huge hole in the roof.

‘No sooner had I let the startled animal out than another one fell through another part of the roof.

‘Both cows narrowly missed the loom, which was incredibly fortunate, and neither was injured. I was in absolute shock.’

The two cows caused thousands of pounds worth of damage, which Ms Marshall was able to claim against the farmer’s insurance.

Alan Goddard, managing director of insurers Cornish Mutual, said: ‘This very unusual case really does highlight the importance of keeping boundary fences in good condition.

‘Fortunately no one was physically harmed and neither of the cows suffered any injuries.’

Saturday 7 December 2013

A Good Excuse??

11 Pounds of Marijuana Mistakenly Delivered to Florida Keys Couple

A Key Largo couple was mistakenly shipped 11 pounds of marijuana at a rental home in Louisiana, but the two didn't realize what was in the package until they arrived back home in the Florida Keys, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office said.

The husband told Monroe deputies the box was first shipped to their home in Louisiana back in July, but he instructed his cleaning lady to return it to UPS, authorities said. The package was sent back to the rental home once more, and this time the cleaning lady put it inside while the couple was away.

The couple then took a trip to check on several rental properties and found the box was still at the home in Louisiana, officials said. When they opened it, they found two locked blue suitcases. Thinking it was lost luggage, they put the suitcases in the back of the truck and decided to deal with it when they got back to the Keys, authorities said.

When they got home, they cut the locks off the suitcases and found two sealed bags full of marijuana inside that weighed a total of 11 pounds, deputies said.

The couple called the Sheriff's Office and turned in the marijuana, which will be destroyed.

Deputies said the couple could have been arrested if their truck had been pulled over while transporting the marijuana.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Dickhead!!

Fear for house prices as 'estate resembles giant penis' when viewed from above

The row over the street comes days after it emerged that the design for Qatar's 2022 World Cup stadium can be said to resemble a vagina

People living on a UK street fear house prices could suffer after Google Earth images showed their estate resembles a giant penis.

Locals on George Road, Edward Road, and Yeoman Cottages in Hoylake, Wirral, fear potential house-hunters wouldn't want to buy a property in the phallic-shaped area.

When viewed from above, the red roofs on the homes – which have an average £200,000 price tag – make the cul-de-sac look like a penis.

Resident Carl Hodge, 45, said: "Since someone spotted this on Google Earth we have all become a laughing stock.

"You can't argue because it really does look just like a man's c*ck and balls.

"I haven't heard of anyone moving out because of it but we are definitely worried it would put of potential buyers if we ever wanted to sell.

"Who would want to live in the cul-de-sac that everyone is taking the mick out of.

"They say Google Earth is fascinating and people spend hours on it but it has been a nightmare for us.

"I think Google should remove the street from the internet. It might be funny but it's no laughing matter if you're trying to sell your house."

Another Hoylake resident who lives nearby added: "It is so funny, everyone knows it as the c*ck and balls road.

"I live close but thankfully I'm not on the road itself.

"I'd definitely move out if I lived there and everyone was laughing at me."

George Road is made up of a mixture of privately-owned semi-detached houses and ex-council owned terraced properties.

The houses were erected in the 1950s and 60s but their rude shape was only revealed when locals checked the latest Google satellite images.

The row over the street comes days after it emerged the design for Qatar's 2022 World Cup stadium can be said to resemble a vagina.

The proposed 40,000-seater Al-Wakrah stadium is meant to resemble the sails of a dhow boat which is traditionally used for pearl fishing.

However, hundreds of people took to Twitter to point out the embarrassing mistake

Monday 2 December 2013

Now Here’s A Thought?

European Parliament Might Decriminalize File-Sharing

A number of MEPs have recently decided to urge the European Commission to update its copyright policy. It seems that they are calling for a more flexible copyright system that could benefits EU citizens and businesses. The main part of the system is the decriminalization of file-sharing for personal use.

Actually, the European Copyright Directive started more than ten years ago, but at the time the worldwide web looked entirely different and this is why lawmakers understand that reforms are needed now to update the law.

Back in 2012, several MEPs sent a letter to the President of the European Commission and asked to take up this issue. However, thus far the Commission hasn’t followed this up, and the MEPs had to take more concrete action themselves. They decided to host an event in order to highlight the lack of progress and the need for change. The hostess and Pirate Party MEP explained that the current copyright law is very outdated, as it restricts users’ ability to enjoy and share culture. Indeed, the current directive has created a horrible licensing nightmare that nobody can penetrate. File-sharers, DJs, libraries, schools and others who make use of culture live in a constant state of uncertainty today.

So, decriminalization of file-sharing is one of the issues on the agenda, and it directly affects over hundred million European citizens. It is clear that it will also facilitate the development of new business models. But this is not all. The MEPs want to make information in general more readily available across countries, without complex copyright limitations and restrictions. They believe it will enable “better access to culture for libraries, online archives, research, visually impaired people and educators”.

The above mentioned event has been setup to encourage a more coordinated effort among MEPs of various parties to push for the copyright reform. Perhaps, there will be collaboration between like-minded members of Parliament who keep the interests of the European public at heart. As you know, starting 2013, the EU will have a new Parliament and a new Commission, so it’s a good idea to coordinate early how to ensure the better legal certainty. The MEPs point out that it is very important to “build common and shared platforms of cultural exchange and dialogue”. Hopefully, the number of the supporters of this idea will be more than three.

Sunday 1 December 2013

What A Pong!!

Kennel No. 5 and Old Spike: Dogs sniff out new scents

Dog owners are increasingly splashing their pets in specialist perfumes, with names such as Duke and Old Spike

Traditionally, it has been the Christmas gift of last resort, offered by those at a loss for more imaginative ideas.

But it will not only be wives and teenage nephews with perfume and cologne wrapped up beneath the tree this year: many of the nation’s dogs will also have that fate awaiting them.

Several ranges of dog fragrances are on sale to cash in on the Christmas market, with products which – like the human versions – come complete with baffling names and promotional campaigns.

One pet accessory firm, Butch and Bess has unveiled a new range of “his and hers” “Eau de Dog”.

The “for him” grooming spray is perfumed by cedarwood, basil and vetiver essential oils. The “for her” version features jasmine, mandarin and ylang.

The “natural spritz fragrances” – which cost £10 for 250ml bottles – also include aloe vera juice, oat kernel extract and argan oil, and the company says they have a PH balance which “simply promotes a naturally healthy skin and coat”.

The “Santa Paws” fragrances are to be officially launched at a vet show at London’s Olympia next weekend, alongside five other varieties, without the overt festive theme, including: “Bess”, “The Perfect Calm”, “Maybe Bebé”, “Butch Leather” and “Stinker Belle”.

Rival products include those from the VIP (Very Important Pet) range, by fragrance firm Scent Perfique, with products such as “Foxy Lady”, and “Pet Cologne For Him”, while another, from Bonnie Dogs, features sprays called “Finishing Touch” and “Duke”.

Saturday 30 November 2013

Starting Off Right??

The Apprentice wannabe who was fleecing the VAT man

After boasting on his application form to appear on The Apprentice that he was prepared to commit VAT fraud, a student is convicted of tax offences

A student who boasted he was prepared to commit VAT fraud in an application to appear on the BBC series The Apprentice, has been convicted of tax offences.

Revenues inspectors found the form when conducting a search of Max Tappenden’s university accommodation, while they were investigating him.

The 23-year-old had written “I’d commit VAT Fraud!,” in response to the question: “Describe something you would do if you knew you would not get caught.”

He also told programme makers he would feel no regret and would use the money from the fraud as “start up” cash for his entrepreneurial plans.

Tappenden was last week convicted of illegally obtaining £11,125 pounds from HM Revenue and Customs by filing three bogus VAT claims for his IT firm. He had apparently attempted to get on the show at the same time he carried out his deception.

Canterbury Court heard that he did not even own his own PC but claimed to be trading in the development and sales of computer software.

He had registered for VAT in April 2012 as Tealbury Limited, later known as Wavedon Internet Ltd, while studying web design at the University of Kent.

However, tax officials found he had been using university computers to falsify sales figures and invoices in order to claim back VAT that he was not entitled to.

Tappenden, of Caldecote, Milton Keynes, Bucks, was sentenced to 150 hours of community service, given a three month home detention curfew, ordered to pay £1,200 in costs and banned from being a company director or running a company for the next five years.

Friday 29 November 2013

Public Complacency??

People Don’t Care That Government Is Spying

According to researches, most people don’t worry that the authorities are collecting their personal information, even after Edward Snowden’s revelations exposed a terrifying level of the surveillance.

The observers point out that there is very little public disquiet about government surveillance. The recent poll revealed that 42% of respondents believe the security services have balanced powers to spy on ordinary people, and a further 22% said they didn’t have enough powers. When asked whether Snowden’s leaks were a good or a bad thing, 43% of respondents believed they were bad and only 35% thought they were good.

Perhaps, the level of public complacency about the shocking leaks was a reflection simply of ignorance. After all, most Internet users have no idea about how the web works and so may be very naive about the implications of the authorities being able to read everyone’s email metadata and call logs.

The alarming fact is how relaxed many of the professional peers seem to be about it. To them, the recent leaks only confirm what they had suspected. For some reason, the discovery that our societies have managed to achieve Orwellian levels of surveillance only makes them smile wryly or shrug. This level of passive acceptance can be found quite scary.

Even the journalists seem to have succumbed either to a weird kind of spiteful envy, or to a desire to behave as the unpaid stenographers to the security services and their political masters. This could be seen before in the visceral hatred directed towards WikiLeaks and Julian Assange by the mainstream media in Britain and the United States.

Just a few days ago a welcome sign could be seen in the US, where some people in journalism have woken up to the existential threat posed by the National Security Agency to their profession – and, by implication, to political freedom. A group of researchers from Columbia Journalism School and the MIT Center for Civic Media have recently submitted a paper on “the effects of mass surveillance on the practice of journalism”, where they
argued that what the agency was doing was incompatible with the existing law protecting the confidentiality of journalist-source communications. They also claimed that the climate of secrecy around mass surveillance was harming journalism, because their sources couldn’t know exactly when they are monitored, or how intercepted data might be used against them. The NSA should supposedly defend freedom, but it seems all the wrong way...

Thursday 28 November 2013

More Transparency?

Tech Giants Urge More Transparency over Industry Requests

Mainstream Internet giants, including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo! and Twitter, argue that transparency would encourage debate over surveillance powers. This followed the UK’s GCHQ attempts to tap subsea fiber-optic cables in order to get access to vast quantities of broadband traffic.

The tech giants believe that the country needs to have a full public debate about the scale of Internet surveillance in order to provide confidence that state powers aren’t being abused. The companies have called for the British government to allow transparency about requests to hand over information on their users.

The files revealed by Snowden showed that GCHQ was tapping undersea fiber-optic cables in order to get access to online traffic under its Tempora program. Meanwhile, the US NSA has been collecting information directly from the servers of some ISPs, including people’s search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats. The Internet service providers didn’t even know about it.

The tech giants recommended that requests for user data made by the British government were made as transparent as possible. The companies themselves already publish transparency reports, because transparency is very important in maintaining confidence that powers aren’t being abused.

The companies also call for more transparency about state data requests in the United States: there has been a storm of political debate about the leaks, followed by a series of investigations which even forced the Obama administration to consider reforms. As for the British authorities, they have been slower to respond and Prime Minister has condemned the Guardian newspaper for endangering national security by publishing Snowden leaks.

The joint statement from Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo! also includes a plea for the authorities not to enforce any more legislation on access to user data until the country has considered reforming international treaties covering surveillance and law enforcement. The companies remain opposed to any move to resurrect the communications data bill. It is known that the suggested laws handing greater online surveillance powers to British authorities were killed off in 2013 but MPs have warned that spies are already up to get access to this kind of information through the above mentioned Tempora program.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Pirate Films?

People Pirate Films Which Hollywood Can’t Sell

It seems that Hollywood has only itself to blame for pirated films. It turned out that the top 10 pirated films are mostly those which the entertainment industry, for unknown reasons, has refused to release legally and are not available at the theatres anymore. A new service, called PiracyData.org, tracks the most pirated films and shows whether file-sharers could have purchased the movie legally.

According to its data, 40% of most pirated movies cannot be bought legally online. Then, out of the remaining 60%, 30% are available for full-priced purchase, but not for rent. Moreover, none of the top 10 movies can be watched via such subscription streaming services as Netflix.

In means that the viewers have nothing left but to turn towards piracy when they fail to buy or at least rent the films they want to watch. In the meantime, each movie on the list of top 10 was released in 2013, but is no longer showing in major theaters. With the exception of 3 movies, most of them are now in an awkward stage – people can buy them on DVD, but can’t rent them online. The problem is that nobody wants to buy DVDs today – people are used to pressing a button and streaming a film instantly.

It means that the Hollywood’s idea of withholding new films from digital rental just to inflate DVD sales is just lossmaking. Especially for such movies that people can watch one time and instantly delete them from their brain in order to make way for more interesting stuff. Actually, a number of the films on the list are legally available and very popular on the pirate websites. The matter is that many of them certainly wouldn’t exist if Hollywood became a little more modern.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Mega O.K. For White Collars!

Mega Attracts White-Collar Professionals, Not Pirates

Mega’s CEO Vikram Kumar claims that Dotcom’s cloud storage service is appealing less to pirates and more to white-collar professionals: accountants, lawyers, financial advisers, architects. In other words, Mega’s users are people who are concerned that their confidential client data may get compromised, and therefore are willing to pay for online security and privacy.

Kim Dotcom started Mega in January, exactly a year after his previous company MegaUpload was closed by police, and recruited telecoms exec Kumar as CEO of the new company. Vikram Kumar was keen to emphasize Mega’s credentials as a law-abiding service. Its simplest explanation is that it is a secure and faster Dropbox. At the moment, it is a cloud storage company, but it is planning to turn into more of a cloud collaboration and communication company.

Mega, which accounts for 5 million customers at the moment, is currently attracting few copyright takedown notices from copyright owners. The service has about 2-3 million files uploaded every day, while getting only 100 takedown notices for alleged copyright violation. In comparison, YouTube receives 15 million takedown requests per month. As you can see, Mega isn’t being used for wide-scale copyright violation.

One of the main advantages of the service is its end-to-end encryption technology. Mega promises users that since their files are encrypted on their devices before being uploaded, the company can never see the decrypted versions – and nobody can, until the user provides their decryption key. Perhaps, this is the real reason the service receives so few takedown requests: rightsholders simply cannot see infringing files being shared on the service without the keys.

In response, Vikram Kumar suggested that if the main concern of the copyright owners is their music or video being shared, they are still be able to spot this violation, because it requires decryption keys to be shared publicly. In the meantime, Mega is going to crack down on external search engines claiming to index files stored on the service.

Finally, Mega’s CEO criticized copyright owners for their approach to copyright takedowns with other companies, saying that the automated nature of both sending takedown notices and acting on them leaves the process open to false positives. The examples are numerous.

Sunday 24 November 2013

What A Surprise?

Microsoft Former Employee Doesn’t Trust the Company

An ex employee has warned that people should be very careful about trusting the software giant anywhere near their personal data. Microsoft ex privacy analyst, who left the company two years ago, claimed that he doesn’t trust Microsoft after Edward Snowden leaks about Internet government surveillance.

Analyst said that earlier he had some difficulty making anyone else in the European Union understand his concerns. He approached many of the EU authorities with his concerns, but they just shrugged. However, after the Snowden leaks proving him right, an ex employee suddenly found itself in demand as a pundit.

Microsoft and other tech giants are fighting a public backlash after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden proved they were handing over user information to an American surveillance program called PRISM.

Microsoft has denied allegations that the National Security Agency could directly access its servers, but its ex privacy analyst has stopped using Microsoft products and switched to open source software. He also hasn’t owned a mobile phone for a couple years now. The matter is that he didn’t even know about PRISM when he was working at Microsoft, though questions of privacy should have crossed his desk anyway. This is why he doesn’t trust Microsoft now.

An expert has called for the creation of a cloud in Europe and said that users should be warned when they log on to services based in the United States that they may be under surveillance.

Saturday 23 November 2013

The Stepford Wives = Facebook??

Facebook Will Build Its Kingdom

The social network is considering building its own town so its employees never have to leave work. The campus in Menlo Park will include a $120 million, 394-unit housing community within walking distance of its offices. Dubbed Anton Menlo, the 630,000 square-foot rental property is supposed to include a sports bar and a day care for pet dogs.

Media reports admit that the move towards a 24-hour work lifestyle is new, even for Silicon Valley. The social network insists that employee retention is not a major factor in the plan. Instead, it is a great idea to have more housing options closer to campus. Facebook believes that people will want to live there because they believe in the company’s mission.

The sources revealed that there will be many amenities on the site, including cafes, a store, a sports pub, bike repair shop with onsite storage, pool, spas, and gyms. This move may fix some of the company’s accommodation problems for workers. Indeed, a housing shortage is reported in Menlo Park and some employees couldn’t find places to stay near the corporate campus.

In the meantime, the industry experts point out that in many ways the move is turning the clock back. America had its “company towns” at the turn of the 20th century – the US factory workers were living in communities owned by their employer and provided housing, health care, law enforcement, church and just about every other service necessary. But the drawback is that your life becomes the company, and this is why the 20th century company towns died out.

This move means that employees will always be working. Only 10% of Facebook’s employees will be housed on-site. Apparently, there will not be too many families. The housing will go for market rates, with some being set aside for low-income staff.

Friday 22 November 2013

Jump For Joy??

Tor Attack!!

Security Agencies Target Tor Network

The NSA has repeatedly tried to attack people using Tor, a popular tool protecting their Internet anonymity. This is despite the fact the software is primarily funded and promoted by the government of the United States itself.

According to secret NSA files, disclosed by Edward Snowden, the agency successfully identified Tor users and then attacked vulnerable software on their machines. One NSA technique targeted the Firefox Internet browser used with Tor and gave the agency full control over targets’ computers, including access to files, all keystrokes and all Internet activity. However, the files suggest that the fundamental security of the anonymity service remains intact.

Tor (The Onion Router) is an open-source public project which redirects its users’ traffic via other PCs, called “relays” or “nodes”, in order to keep it anonymous and avoid filtering tools. Journalists, activists and campaigners in America, Europe, China, Iran and Syria rely on Tor network to maintain the privacy of their communications and avoid reprisals from the authorities. The network currently receives around 60% of its funding from the American government, primarily the State Department and the Department of Defense.

Despite the importance of the network to dissidents and human rights groups, the National Security Agency and its British counterpart GCHQ have devoted their efforts to attacking Tor. They claim that the service is also used by people engaged in terrorism, trade of child abuse images, and virtual drug dealing.

While it seems that the agency hasn’t compromised the core security of the Tor software or network, the leaked files detail proof-of-concept attacks, including some relying on the large-scale Internet surveillance systems used by the NSA and GCHQ via Internet cable taps.

Foremost among the concerns is whether the agency has acted against users in the United States when attacking the network. The matter is that one of the functions of the anonymity service is to hide the country of all of its users, which means that any attack could be hitting members of Tor’s American user base.

A less complex attack against the network was also disclosed in July 2013, with its details leading to speculation that it had been built by the FBI or another American agency. While at the time the FBI refused to admit it was behind the attack, it subsequently claimed in a hearing in an Irish court that the agency did operate malware to target an alleged host of pictures of child abuse, with the attack also hitting Tor network.

Thursday 21 November 2013

Web Freedom?

Web Freedom Doomed

A recent report, carried out by the advocacy group Freedom House, has taken a look at Internet trends in 60 countries. The results were that despite a pushback from activists which successfully blocked some repressive laws, web freedom still plummeted in 2012.

In 35 of those 60 countries, governments had grown their legal and technical spying powers through the web. A global decline in web freedom in 2012 was determined by broad surveillance, new legislation controlling Internet content and growing arrests of social media users. For instance, Iceland has the most web freedom. On the contrary, China, Cuba and Iran had the least.

In the meantime, declines in Internet freedom were led by 3 democracies - Brazil, India and the US. Apparently, revelations by Edward Snowden demonstrated that changes in online freedom of the United States were eroding extremely fast. Anyway, the United States still made it to 4th in Freedom House’s list.

A number of the governments have acted against the worldwide web because social media was exploited to arrange national protests. Since 2012, two dozen countries have adopted some kind of legislation restricting web freedom. For instance, Bangladesh imposed a 14-year prison sentence on a group of bloggers who wrote posts critical of Islam. Bahrain has also arrested ten people for “insulting the king on Twitter”, while Morocco jailed a teenager for 18 months for “attacking the nation’s sacred values” via a Facebook post which also ridiculed the king. Finally, a woman in India was arrested for just “liking” a friend’s Facebook status.

According to Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House, banning and filtering are still the favorite methods of censorship in lots of countries, though the governments are increasingly looking at who is saying what on the Internet and finding ways to punish them. According to the report, law restricting Internet freedom are still sometimes blocked with a combination of pressure from advocates, lawyers, businesses, politicians and the international community. However, this is the 3rd consecutive year web freedom has declined.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

The Local Cafe.

Internet Cafés Disappear

Internet cafes, once being the communication hub in developing countries, are fast disappearing from our life. The reason is obvious – the rise in smartphones is making the need to go into a café largely redundant.

For example, in Rwanda one Internet café went from 200 daily customers to just 10. India is suffering as well – for instance, some businesses in the southern city of Mysore have opted to sell stationery or sweets instead of Internet access. In the meantime, Internet café owners have to diversify their offerings in order to include flight bookings, mobile phone top-up cards, and accessories for different gadgets. Even cafés in Myanmar, where mobile penetration is very low, are facing the same trend there.

However, more developed countries had seen cafés survive to cater for immersive Internet gaming. At the same time, the number of such cafes in South Korea dropped to 15,800 in 2012 from 19,000 in 2010. As for China, the number of online cafes there dropped 7% to 136,000 in 2012 from 2011.

The above mentioned statistics flies in the face of a 5-year study released by the University of Washington in July, which discovered that Internet users in developing countries still rely on such public venues as cafes and libraries for Internet access even when smartphones are available. The research insisted that one technology won’t replace the other and smartphones are not responsible for the current trend.

Pirates = Profits??

Samsung Is a Top Advertiser with Ukrainian Pirates

The Korean tech giant has been outed as one of the major advertisers on the Ukraine’s largest file-sharing websites. The entertainment industry has launched an initiative dubbed “Clear Sky” in Ukraine, which is focused on naming and shaming the advertising antics of such giants as Samsung, Nokia, Canon, Carlsberg and even Coca Cola.

The initiative sees funding of peer-to-peer websites by the major international brands as a core problem. After the Ukraine has been labeled by the United States as one of the top piracy havens worldwide, the anti-piracy groups decided to “counter this image” and established Clear Sky.

Apparently, the task of the coalition is to find ways to fight Internet piracy. First of all, it is going to name and shame global companies who advertise with pirates. A couple of largest local portals, Ex.ua and FS.ua, accounts for millions of visitors weekly and generates a healthy revenue stream via adverts, which are partly paid by multinational corporations.

Indeed, it turned out that almost 10% of all advertisements on those file-sharing services are financed by famous international brands, and almost half of all those adverts belong to Samsung. The report revealed that a big chunk of the company’s advertising budget in Ukraine goes to those file-sharing services. In the meantime, the industry observers found out that both services are rather short on adverts.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Oil Trolls??

British Petroleum Uses Online Trolls

BP is accused of hiring Internet trolls to attack and threaten people who are discontent with the way the company has handled the spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. It turned out that after the single largest environmental disaster in American history, the oil giant hired PR company Ogilvy & Mather to run a BP US Facebook page.

The Facebook page was supposed to encourage interaction with the oil giant, but after people posted anti-BP comments there, they were attacked, bullied, and even directly threatened. One of the anonymous posters named “Marie” has recently produced boxes of documents and research data that prove the people harassing BP’s critics online were hired by BP or Ogilvy.

The poster has passed the collected evidence on to the body investigating the disaster – GAP. Their investigators admitted that the documentation of more serious threats made on the BP page was clear enough to start an investigation of its own. Although all of the threats started on the Facebook page, they later escalated offline. They included identifying where somebody lived, an online troll referring to having a shotgun and making use of it.

The poster provided the investigating body with files of complaint letters, computer screenshots of the abuse, and a list of FB profiles used by the people who harassed them. It was said that the attacks were racist, sexist, and threatened people with legal action and violence. They have insinuated that some of the commenters were “child molesters”. Their aim was to get people posting negative comments to quit the social network.

One of the trolls used the nickname “Griffin” and made several allusions to gun violence. For example, he threatened to shoot an environmentalist with his .50 caliber gun. Another troll, known as “Ken Smith”, edited a photo of the company’s critic’s pet bird into the crosshairs of a gunsight.

You’re Banned!!

Microsoft Will Ban You from Xbox One if You Swear

The software giant will ban those who use bad words while playing games and upload recordings of their gameplay via the “Share” function. A number of customers have already complained that they couldn’t use Skype and other apps reliant on Xbox Live on their new consoles.

The tech giant confirmed that while they don’t monitor P2P communications like Skype, videos uploaded through the Xbox One’s “Upload Studio” feature are monitored, and the company treats “excessive swearing” as the breach of terms of service.

Microsoft claims to take Code of Conduct moderation through Upload Studio very seriously. The company wants a clean, safe and fun environment for everyone, and excessive profanity and other violations will be enforced upon. Microsoft claimed that such behavior may even result in suspension of some or all privileges on Xbox Live. The company didn’t specify whether the monitoring was conducted through automated means or not, or whether the suspensions could escalate with repeated offenses.

Everyone knows that Internet gaming is notorious for its foul language with gamers experiencing abuse at the hands of other gamers across in-game communication services. Those have even led to a reporting mechanism where victims could flag abusers to warn or ban them.

Nevertheless, the decision to ban gamers for swearing in some games that themselves employ profanity as part of their mechanic brings in double standards. The users of the official Xbox online forum believe that it is quite strange that Microsoft allows people to record any game footage when there are games having really bad foul language.

Even The Irish Want Their Share!!

Apparently, Irish Finance Minister is committed to a crackdown on multinational corporations’ big business tax avoidance. As a result, Apple and Google will be affected first.

At the moment, the Irish government remains under pressure to do something about its low corporation tax rate. The matter is that its tax strategy made the country very popular with tech giants like Apple, Facebook and Google. Finance Minister has promised that the 12.5% tax rate wouldn’t be touched, and revealed a new plan which is supposed to prevent big businesses from being “stateless” for tax purposes. The government confirmed that they have a statement on international tax strategy in Budget 2014, which would set out the country’s objectives and commitments on global tax and avoidance issues. Finance Minister announced they are going to include a reform to make sure that no Irish registered entity can be stateless for tax purposes.

Apparently, the country has been under a fair bit of pressure for a while. For example, Germany claimed they would have to bail out the Irish economy when it is ignoring pots of gold from the likes of Google and Apple. Of course, the people are also unhappy that they are expected to be austere and lose government services while tech giants are making millions. However, the new rules for “stateless” entities will only apply from January 2015, so tech giants will have plenty of time to find a new tax haven.

Sunday 17 November 2013

We’re Watching All Of You!!


National Security Agency Maps Social Connections

According to the latest Snowden leak, for the last three years, the National Security Agency has been creating sophisticated graphs of the US citizens’ social connections.
Investigating the shedloads of information the agency has collected, NSA is now able to tell who your friends are, your locations at certain times, your travel companions and other personal data.

One of the slides from a leaked NSA presentation reveals the way it uses e-mail and phone information in order to analyze the relationships of foreign intelligence targets. Another file revealed that the NSA was told to carry out large-scale graph analysis on communications metadata “without having to check foreignness of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier”.

The NSA was mix and matching communications information with public, commercial and other sources. The list included bank codes, insurance data, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls, GPS location data, and even property records and unspecified tax information.

It seems that the agency may also know more about foreign citizens than their own government does. The Americans may also have been caught up in the effort. Actually, lots of foreigners might know the US citizens and sometimes send them emails.

Saturday 16 November 2013

Tablets Are Go!


Electronic Gadgets Will Be Allowed During Flight Takeoff & Landing

Media reports confirm that a federal advisory committee has prepared a report for American Federal Aviation Administration, saying that flights can handle switched-on gadgets at all times, including takeoff and landing. This is true about the devices not connected to the web.
In case the suggestion is approved, the passengers will be able to enjoy their ebooks, music players and other devices during takeoff and landings. The above mentioned report, commissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration, recommends testing transmission tolerance on older aircraft. As for the newer aircraft types, they will be considered safe for electronic transmissions.

According to the industry officials, the suggestions could be approved as early as the end of 2013. The aircraft types able to tolerate electronic transmissions are already in use, some of them fitted out with picocells for in flight phone calls. In case a plane already has a picocell, it means that it has already been evaluated to have electronic devices for all phases of flight. Such aircrafts are Airbus 330 300s and Boeing 747 400s, for example.

However, the report still doesn’t recommend using mobile or Wi-Fi connections below 10,000 feet. While tablets and e-readers can be allowed for use during takeoffs and landings, larger laptops are expected to be stowed away. Amazon, which has one employee on the committee, claimed that the report was a “big win for customers”.

Delta Airlines recently announced that its pilots will be given Windows Surface 2 tablets for their electronic flight bags. The kit will be given to pilots of Boeing 757 and 767, with more to come in 2014.

Friday 15 November 2013

What A Surprise??


Google Pays Corporation Tax in the US instead of the UK

Google paid only £11 million in British corporation tax in 2012, despite revenues of £500 million. Indeed, the company made global profits of £6 billion last year, but says that it pays bulk of its tax where business originated – the United States. Its representatives argued that the company made a significant contribution to the United Kingdom through investment and jobs.
Back in 2011, Google paid £6 million while showing a £24 million loss on a £400 million turnover. The US company has been repeatedly accused of failing to pay its fair share of tax in the United Kingdom. In addition, the tech giant has been criticized for designating Ireland, and not the United Kingdom, as Google’s official European sales base in order to benefit from lower company tax rates.

Google’s former employee, who turned to be a whistle blower, handed over documents to HM Revenue and Customs to show how the company’s London sales staff would negotiate and sign contracts with UK customers, with cash paid into a British bank account. However, the deals were allegedly booked through Google’s Dublin office in order to minimize its liabilities.

According to the recent Companies House filings, the tech giant also set aside £24 million for taxes associated with shares awarded to staff between 2005 and 2011, in order to comply with new rules from HMRC. In response, Google claimed it was right that the majority of its tax should be paid in the United States. The company’s representatives argued the company made a huge contribution to Britain via investment and jobs.

Google explained that like most multinationals it pays the bulk of its £1.2 billion corporate tax bill where its business originated – the United States. This is a rate of almost 20%, roughly what a Britain-based entity would pay. Google also considers itself a significant contributor to the British economy having created more than 2,000 jobs. The company has invested over £300 million in property in 2013, with tax related to British operations totaled £150 million.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Dead & Forgotten?….No!

Social media users warned to prepare for digital afterlife

Millions of Facebook and Twitter users are being urged to leave instructions to manage their social media accounts from beyond the grave

A new Digital Legacy Guide from SagaLegal.co.uk has been made available, containing advice on how people can ensure their online accounts expire when they do.

The guide covers everything from social media accounts to online logins for sites such as Amazon, Google, professional directories, supermarket voucher schemes and music and film sites.

People with a significant online presence could find friends and family receiving sombre and unnecessary reminders of a recent death, for example, via poorly-timed social media birthday notifications.

More importantly, unplanned digital legacies could pose potentially harmful security issues. Any digital legacy should contain a financial element, as direct debits will continue to leave a bank account until it is frozen by the provision of a death certificate.

Silver surfers are increasingly adopting the internet with nearly one in five people aged 65 to 74 using social network sites, according to the Office for National Statistics. In addition, more than half of Facebook users are over the age of 35.

And as well as social media profiles, many people store a wealth of sensitive personal information on websites and email accounts which could go unchecked on someone's death.

Emma Myers, Head of Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning at SagaLegal.co.uk, said it was important people consider what will happen to their digital existence when they pass away.

"Being a relatively new invention, there are not yet any substantial legal procedures in place to protect your online presence and even less still when you die," she said.

"In the same way you would not want your loved ones falling out or being inconvenienced over a missing will when you die, it's also imperative to plan ahead for the great internet cafe in the sky."

The guide also advises the public to compile a secure "online directory", detailing all active internet accounts along with requests for how each should be dealt with.

Ms Myers continued: "Given how new an invention the internet is, it's perhaps not surprising that many people are not yet familiar with the idea of a digital legacy.

"Yet as we continue to live more and more of our lives online, it's become increasingly important to start planning for our virtual afterlife when we pass away.

"Accounts registered with everything from social media pages, email providers, online retailers and online banking contain sensitive information that should be removed. This is especially true where banking information is involved."

"With the internet still being somewhat of a legal grey area, we understand the importance of consumers being aware of the risks - emotional, practical and financial - of not properly setting your online affairs in order."

Sunday 10 November 2013

Cyber Wars??


UK to Form a Cyber Army

Britain is going to recruit hundreds of computer experts to create a cyber-army. The unit is supposed to defend vital networks against virtual attacks and launch high-tech assaults of its own. The Ministry of Defense announced that the country is spending increasing amounts on defending the people from the threats they are unlikely to ever face.
Despite the fact that the United Kingdom is broke, it still has the 4th largest defense budget in the world. A large part of this cash is not being spent on cyber intelligence and surveillance. Back in 2012, cyber defenses blocked about 400,000 advanced malicious cyber threats against the government’s secure Internet alone. This shows that the threat is real.

However, the Ministry of Defense points out that building cyber defense is not sufficient, because the United Kingdom also has to deter attacks. The country said that it is going to build a dedicated capability to counterattack in cyberspace and, in case of necessity, to strike. The representatives of the Ministry added that clinical “cyber strikes” could disable enemy communications, nuclear and chemical weapons, planes, ships and other hardware.

It was announced that the British government would recruit a new Joint Cyber Reserve. The “reservists” are supposed to work alongside existing experts in numerous government agencies, including the Ministry of Defense and the extremely unpopular GCHQ surveillance agency.