Thursday 10 July 2014

Watch It!…We Donkeys Are Hard!!!

Braying donkey foils attempted burglary

Jaffa the donkey woke his owner up in the early hours of the morning with his 'very loud' braying, seeing off an intruder who ran off

A foster donkey foiled an attempted burglary with his loud braying which raised the alarm.

Jaffa who lives in Preston, Lancashire, woke his owner Mary Beetham in the early hours of the morning as he was “shouting his head off” after an intruder approached her home.

Ms Beetham, 73, said Jaffa seemed in such distress, she left her bed immediately to tend to him during the incident on Wednesday, June 18.

The retired P.E. teacher said: “I was woken up at 1.30am in the morning by the loud bray, he was obviously shouting his head off. He went on and on. It must have gone on for more than 10 minutes.”

She added that when she got up to tend to Jaffa, she “saw someone run down the drive”.

But she did not fear for her safety and said she was concerned for Jaffa, who she had fostered only three months earlier.

“The sound was an incredibly stressed sort of noise. They can die from this sort of incident and Jaffa needed calming down. I stayed with him for 30 minutes and calmed him down.”

“I didn’t consider it [her safety] until afterwards, I only thought ‘what was the matter with my donkey?’ It was later that I thought, ‘what am I doing here in my pyjamas?’”

Ms Beetham called the police in the early morning and said the officers told her they would record the incident and keep an eye on it.

She said the intruder had not taken anything.

The next day, Ms Beetham said, “Jaffa was very quiet and sleepy, he was shaken up. But he’s fine now. He just shouts at the postman now.”

The foster carer has been taking care of donkeys for 17 years and said Jaffa had been badly treated before being rescued in Ireland but “brought back to life” by The Donkey Sanctuary, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of donkeys.

Ms Beetham also is carer to Jacko, who she has fostered for the last four years. She praised the charity's work and said she decided to foster donkeys because of her mother: “When my mum was alive, she wanted a donkey. I thought, if I don’t get one, I never will. It was the best thing I ever did.”

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Watch Out …We’re After You.

UK Changed Attitude to Pirates

It seems that the advisors of UK Prime Minister are already unhappy with forcing Internet service providers to send their customers notifications when they pirate films, music and TV shows.

A few days ago, the Prime Minister’s IP advisor claimed that it’s time to realize that the currently employed scheme might fail and the government needs to turn to something more enforceable – for example, disconnections, fines, and even jail sentences.

The industry experts confirm that the UK Digital Economy Act has been running for 4 years on and is seen as pointless in overwhelming majority of cases. The idea was to educate the casual file-sharer about legitimate alternatives in the hope the user would change their behavior.

But this plan failed, as serious file-sharers could ignore the rules by using foreign proxy websites which were untraceable. Ordinary users were receiving 4 notifications and then nothing was happening. The advisor believes that four years is enough for the government to understand that they need to start thinking what to do if these warnings are ignored by infringers.

He says that notifications and fines are first steps, but blocking access to the web and custodial sentencing for damaging infringers should not be ruled out either. Of course, jail won’t be immediately on the cards for infringers. Education has to come first, with a special attention paid to informing consumers that illegal file-sharing is not in their best long-term interests and is not socially acceptable. In the meantime, the industry will be forced to get their product right and attractive to consumers.

But once the authorities had won the hearts and minds of content consumers and offered suitable product, keeps the option of enforcement of copyright legislation on the table when all else has been exhausted. David Cameron replied that he would closely consider his advisor’s report.

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Let’s Block It All???

Online Filters Block 20% of Popular Sites

About 20% of the most popular websites on the Internet are being blocked by the porn filters employed on local broadband and mobile networks. For example, it was noticed that a Porsche car dealership, a couple of feminist websites, a blog on the Syrian War and a political website suffered from the filters recently installed in the United Kingdom.

The Open Rights Group has recently surveyed the 100,000 most popular websites to discover that 19,000 of them were blocked by a fixed line or mobile ISP – and sometimes even by more than one provider.

In the United Kingdom, for example, 4 mobile networks have used filters for a while now, following a push by David Cameron. Broadband companies have caught up, introducing porn blocks that allow parents to screen out potentially harmful content. Every subscriber will be asked whether he or she wishes to apply a broadband filter by 2015. Adult content filters screen out pornography, along with suicide and self-harm related content, weapons and violence, gambling, drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Moreover, people can also decide to block dating, music and movie piracy, games and social networking.

The Open Rights Group explained that such filters can stop customers accessing your website, block political commentary or harm your education. In other words, the government pushes people into filtering lots of content that they simply don't need to.

The examples are numerous. An American who moved to the UK wanted to read an article about recovering from childbirth on her mobile phone, but it was blocked by her mobile network, Three, who for some reason imposes a filter as default for all pay as you go customers.

A Porsche brokerage has recently found their website blocked by O2’s filter. Emails and calls brought no results in having the ban lifted, until the company began tweeting about the problem. All O2 responded with was “mistakes can happen”.

Syrian War commentator’s blog was screened out by EE, O2, Sky and Vodafone., writing about sexual health, violence against women and lesbian and gay rights, was blocked by TalkTalk a few months ago. The worst thing is that the ban boils down to advertising revenue.

Finally, The Guido Fawkes website is also blocked for subscribers who have selected to screen out all social media. This includes Facebook, Twitter, blogs and chat forums.

Monday 30 June 2014

We’re Watching You…So There!!

Social Media Mass Surveillance is Allowed in UK

The officials have officially confirmed the true extent of the government’s interception of social networks, including private messages between citizens. It was confirmed that searches on Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and exchange of emails abroad can be monitored by the local security services.

British government has finally admitted that communication of its citizens in private channels like Twitter direct messages are considered as legitimate targets that can be intercepted without a warrant.

The document representing defence of mass monitoring developed a legal interpretation,
provoking calls for the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to be overhauled urgently and the allegations that the authorities are exploiting loopholes in the law of which parliament was unaware.

The paper was released in response to a case brought by civil rights groups before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which deals with complaints against the intelligence services. The case was launched in the wake of revelations from Edward Snowden about the monitoring program dubbed Tempora operated by the British monitoring agency GCHQ. This program taps into the network of fiber-optic cables that carry the phone calls and online traffic worldwide, recording up to 600 million phone events daily.

According to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, traditional interception of internal communications within the country requires an individual warrant. The authorities argue that in a technologically-fast moving world, identifying individual targets before monitoring is too difficult. The external one, in the meantime, can be monitored without an individual warrant. The document explains that searches on social networks involve communicating with a web-based platform abroad, and are therefore external communications, not internal. Emails sent or received from abroad could also be intercepted in such a way.

The statement also points out that the issue was raised during the passage of the law a decade ago, implying that parliament knew about the difficulty of distinguishing between internal and external communications when it passed the bill.

Indeed, the Section 8 of the law reads that the internal communications between UK residents within the UK may only be monitored pursuant to a specific warrant, and if there’s a reason to suspect the individual in unlawful activity. But external communications may be monitored indiscriminately under a general warrant.

Friday 27 June 2014

Speeding? A Good Excuse!

Baby born during 100mph motorway chase

Man helps his daughter deliver baby girl on side of road after seven police cars chased his car at speeds of 100mph along the M275 in Portsmouth

A group of police officers who pulled over a speeding car were confronted by a newborn baby instead of a criminal after a grandfather helped to deliver his granddaughter at the side of the road.

Lola Mia Rose was born just as seven officers in four unmarked cars, who had chased her grandfather Colin Ellmore at speeds of 100pmh along the M275 in Portsmouth, surrounded the car.

Her mother Tiffany, who has three other children, described the experience as ''quite scary'' and said she was ''very proud'' of her dad for delivering baby Lola.

After suffering some ''niggling pains'' throughout the day the 26-year-old, from Fareham, said she realised at around 9.55pm that she needed to get to the hospital.

Accompanied by her partner Steven Read, their seven-year-old son Ralphy, and her parents Colin and Elaine, the family made their way towards the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

'My dad came to pick us up and before I got into the car I said to him 'I need to push','' said Tiffany, who was 38 weeks pregnant when the birth happened on Friday night.

''As the car was moving my waters went, then the police pulled us over and my dad came round and opened the door. I knew she (Lola) wasn't going to wait and then suddenly her head started to appear.

''The whole thing was quite scary.''

Lola, who weighed 6lb 4oz, and her mother were transferred to the hospital by ambulance soon after and discharged on Saturday.

Despite her dramatic entrance into the world, Ms Ellmore said her fourth child is doing well.

''She's doing great,'' she said. ''She's been very good.''

Sergeant Simon Goss, of the road policing unit pro-active team, said they thought the car might have been stolen because it was being driven so fast.

''We initially thought it was a stolen vehicle so put our lights on to flash it down. But it kept going at the high speeds,'' Mr Goss said.

''We boxed it in, forcing it to stop, and when it did the driver got out and we thought he was running off.

''But he ran around the car to the passenger side and shouted something about a baby. When we got to the car, we saw the baby in the man's hands. I have never experienced anything like it before.''

Police said no action would be taken over the incident.

Thursday 26 June 2014

A Long Pee??

Man trapped in plane toilet during 15 hour flight

Fire brigade frees American man's finger from lavatory rubbish bin after it became stuck during long flight

A 15-hour flight to Hong Kong proved a particular ordeal for one US passenger who accidentally trapped his middle finger in a lavatory rubbish bin early Wednesday, police said.

Police said in a statement the 32-year-old suffered the accident on a Cathay Pacific flight.

The passenger on the flight from Newark became trapped more than one hour before landing when he threw away some garbage, the South China Morning Post reported.

He had to stand alone in the washroom during the landing after flying for over 14 hours, it said.

Police said the man was able to free his hand with the help of firefighters after the plane landed and did not need hospital treatment.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Read All About It!!

Digital News in UK Are Read on Mobiles

UK citizens seem to be abandoning PCs as their main method to access news, switching to updates on various mobile devices. According to the research carried out by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute, the proportion of readers who mostly rely on a desktop PC to get news on the Internet has fallen by 23 percentage points over the year and totaled to 57%.

Now smartphones are used to access digital news for 24% (which is up 11 percentage points over the same period), and tablets for 16%, which is also up 11 percentage points. The authors of the report admit that such shift in hardware is part of a broader change, which may have potentially profound effects for society.

The results of the research point out that there was a so-called “echo chamber” effect, because mobile consumers tend to rely on increasingly narrow sources to make sense of the explosion of choice on the Internet. According to Dr David Levy, director of the Reuters Institute, in some countries, including the United Kingdom, the established news brands have retained their loyalty in the more competitive web environment. However, the rapid growth of social media may be the way to discover and consume news content, which would have a range of possible ramifications.

The research points out that while choice proliferates, news consumption may narrow. The matter is that reliance on recommendations from like-minded friends could result in people being less exposed to a broad news agenda.

According to the report, some UK readers are increasingly committed to news providers amid the rapid change. Of those consumers who buy digital news, 63% do so via a recurring subscription – this figure was only 42% last year. In most cases, a selling point is the reputations of individual reporters and commentators.

Friday 20 June 2014


Vet Shot Zoo Worker Pretending To Be An Escaped Gorilla

IN preparation for the event of a gorilla escaping from Tenerife’s Loro Parque Zoo, a man pretended to be an escaped primate. He was spotted by a vet who shot the man in the furry suit with a tranquilliser dart containing enough medicine to down a 450lb gorilla.

The shot man, a 35-year-old zoo worker, was taken to the University Hospital of the Canary Islands.

Says Loro Parque Zoo:

“Last Monday, Loro Parque simulated the escape of an animal from its enclosure in the gorilla park. As part of the simulation, which took place in the security zone of the area and was attended only by authorised personnel, they set off the emergency alarm. Once they had carried out the various procedures, one keeper in the wild mammals team was accidentally struck by the medical tranquilliser that vets use in these instances. As a result, emergency services were called and he was taken to Hospital Universitari de Canarias, where he was treated. He recovered and is now in good health… Loro Parque, like all zoos and animal parks, regularly carries out this kind of emergency drill. The measure is designed to improve security, emergency procedures, and to train staff who work in these enclosures.”

That’s the trained staff who think a man in a monkey suit is a real gorilla..? The staff you give guns to..?

Unless all the zoo’s animals are just people dressed up..?

Thursday 19 June 2014

Well….It Works??

Man Who Bought Penis Enlargement Machine Received A Magnifying Glass

TO Malaysia, where Ong from Seri Kembangan is opening his new penis enlarger. The device has set him back RM450 (£83, $140).
Malaysian Chinese Association Public Service and Complaint Bureau chairman Datuk Seri Michael Chong explains what happened next:
“When he received the package, he was shocked to find a magnifying glass inside. The instructions that came with the package merely read ‘Do not use in sunlight’.”
Lawyer Alex Kok says it’s hard to get satisfaction:

“It is especially hard if there is no proof of purchase, such as receipts. We wouldn’t know who to sue or where and how to sue them.”
File under: well and tuly shafted.

Monday 16 June 2014

For The Wine Buffs??

‘Great with roadkill’: Prankster replaces wine labels with hilarious alternatives

A prankster has decided to make wine a bit more interesting in his local shop.

Because the drink is pretty boring these days, isn’t it? We’re no longer swishing glugs about our tongue like mouthwash, pondering the aromas of a playful little Chenin, or spending anything more than a fiver on a bottle.

Regions of choice like the Loire valley, Provence, and Burgundy, have been replaced by Costcutter, the 2-4-1 section, and Strongbow. And if your bottle is determined by more than colour or price then you certainly aren’t buying it in Tesco.

The self-made labels were inserted under various bottles at a Tesco in Brixton, south London, and they do a good job of poking fun at those strange people who don’t just buy wine because it’s the cheapest.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Ice Cream Problem??

Woman dials 999 in row over ice cream sprinkles

The woman called West Midlands Police saying it was a 'bit of an emergency' as she only had sprinkles on one side of her ice cream

Police have released a recording of a woman who dialled 999 to request help in a row over the number of sprinkles on an ice cream.

The caller, who was not named by West Midlands Police, contacted emergency operators yesterday while arguing with the owner of an ice cream van.

During a minute-long call, the indignant woman told the operator: ''It doesn't seem like much of an emergency but it is a little bit because I've ordered an ice cream and he's put bits on one side and none of the other.

''He's refusing to give me my money back and saying that I've got to take it like that.''

Urging the public not to misuse the 999 system, Chief Superintendent Jim Andronov said: ''If someone is trying to get through to report a genuine life or death emergency, then a minute is a very long time to wait.

''I cannot stress enough that the 999 number is for emergencies only.''

Police forces often shame callers who clog up the emergency number with ridiculous calls.

In April, Police Scotland revealed a list of strange 999 calls, including a man who wanted two seagulls charged with a breach of the peace, a woman who was scared of foxes and a Christmas cook who wanted to know how long his turkey would take.

Last year, West Midlands Police ran a 24-hour tweetathon to highlight abuse of the emergency line which revealed that they had been called by a man who was having trouble being served at McDonald's, while another called for advice about retrieving a laptop password.

Friday 13 June 2014

Strip Off!!

Woman scares off stalker by stripping

A woman being followed by a man on a motorbike in China discovered a unique way to get rid of her stalker - by stripping off her clothes.

People who witnessed the incident were initially baffled by her motives, but it did the trick as the unwanted visitor was embarrassed away before the police turned up in Dongguan city, Guangdong province.

Wang Chen-Lai, an eyewitness, said: "The woman appeared to be agitated by a man following her on a motorbike. There is a stage in a square where concerts and plays are held. She went on the stage and took off her clothes to lie down naked, and then the man left.

"It seems she tried to shock her pursuer into leaving her alone. She said 'Is this what you wanted to see? Have a good look'. It certainly worked."

When police arrived she calmed down and told them: "This is not a protest or an act of exhibitionism. A guy was following me around and I didn't know what else to do. I thought if I could shock him he would back off. That is the only reason I did this."

A police spokesman said: "Normally an act of this kind would be punishable with a fine but on this case, as she got dressed when officers arrived, we took no further action."

Thursday 12 June 2014

Wot Yr Sa??

Watching too much porn shrinks men’s brains and makes them stupid – apparently

Heavy use of pornographic material can make men stupid, apparently.

New research suggests that men’s brains shrink as a result of watching too much adult material.

German researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development found that men who watch a lot of porn tend to have smaller striatum.

The stratum is a region of the brain concerned with ‘rewards and motivation’ so the researchers believe watching porn damages their brain and makes them lazy.

There is a chicken and egg debate regarding these findings as to which came first, the smaller brains or the heavy usage of porn.

One conclusion is that less intelligent men love pornography.

Last year, a survey by the University of East London reported that 97% of boys and 80% of girls between the ages of 16 and 20 have watched porn.

Wednesday 11 June 2014

Who Says Fairies Aren't Real??

‘The Weed Fairy’ is handing out free marijuana in Seattle

Recreational Marijuana is legal in the state of Washington, and one woman is taking advantage of this in the most altruistic way possible.

Probably because stoned people can only communicate with other stoned people, Yeni Sleidi, aka ‘The Weed Fairy,’ is intent on helping her fellow citizens get on her level – by giving them free marijuana

The trailblazer pins nuggets of the good stuff to lamp posts around the city, encouraging the people of Seattle to swap neurons for Netflix, friends for Family Guy, and rationale for a passing knowledge of Rastafarianism

Tuesday 10 June 2014

Piss Off??

The case of the urine splasher: Tokyo police hunt bizarre serial offender

Tokyo police are hunting a motorcyclist who has splashed urine over at least six young women.

The serial splasher’s modus operandi is to speed by young women in their teens of 20s on his motorbike and throwing liquid in their faces or over their heads before speeding away.

The first case of the splasher happened in April in the north of the capital when a man threw a cupful of urine over a woman in the street before racing off, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

Police knew it was urine from the colour and other features, the paper reported.

Five similar incidents have occurred within a mile of the first splash and police believe it is highly unlikely they were not carried out by the same man.

Saturday 7 June 2014

Data Removal..Good Or Bad??

Dark Side of New “Right to Be Forgotten”

Some industry experts argue that the recent EU judgment was a dangerous step in the wrong direction. The judgment in question was delivered by the European Court of Justice and allowed anyone to demand that a search engine remove unwanted data from its index, even if the data remains legitimate and publicly available online.

Once this ruling was made, people started to send their individual takedown requests to Google. Among them there were an ex-politician who seeks re-election, a pedophile, and a doctor who seeks to remove negative reviews from his patients. No-one denies that privacy is a universal right that must be protected at all levels, but this judgment may just aid the powerful to rewrite history, rather than afford individuals more influence over their online identities.

The EU ruling in a case brought by a Spanish individual, who wanted links to the auctioning of his home to disappear from search results, allows everyone to petition search engine operators, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yandex, and others. Moreover, the ruling puts companies in a close to impossible position of deciding what data can be deemed irrelevant enough to take it down from search results.

However, the suspicion is that people that have motivation and resources to pursue complaints will largely appear political and business elites who wish to hide their past. As a result, the search engines will face pressure to delete what they want or face the legal costs of challenging illegitimate requests.

The most serious implication of the court ruling is its impact on political speech and processes. Observers predict a wave of potential candidates for public office trying to curate their own bespoke search results to make sure that only flattering data remains readily available. In the meantime, the EU judgment exempts data processed “solely for journalistic purposes”, but this term lacks definition and therefore will fail to protect the practice of journalism.

Worse still, the industry experts point out that the ruling in question will have global implications, because European action is normally borrowed as a model by other countries across the world. According to Google’s content removal transparency report, there have already been some government officials seeking to remove search results and other information which could threaten their position.

Friday 6 June 2014

Email In Secret?

Encrypted Services Developed by US Universities to Protect against NSA

After the American spooks effectively closed Lavabit email service back in 2013, a really secure email system, unhackable by the surveillance agencies, has remained a holy grail for many. Now fresh experts from Harvard and MIT have created a new system dubbed ProtonMail. They claim that their new email service will be even more secure than Lavabit and 100% unhackable by the National Security Agency or other spy agencies.

Lavabit became popular after being promoted by Edward Snowden, who used to leak all the secrets in the world via Lavabit mailbox. However, soon the US authorities put an undue burden on the company and were forcing its founder, Ladar Levison, to hand over the SSL encryption keys. Unlike all other companies who did pass their users’ identities under the government’s request, Levison preferred to refuse and shut down his service. Litigation is still ongoing, where lavabit founder complains that the authorities violate a Fourth Amendment right which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.

New service, ProtonMail, is based around using special codes or keys. In fact, such system is known as PGP and has been around for almost twenty years. The problem was that it was too complicated to gain widespread adoption. As for ProtonMail, not only does it offer end-to-end encryption, but is also based in Switzerland. The latter means that the service will not have to comply with US courts’ request to hand over user information. Even if a Swiss court ordered information to be revealed, the email service could only hand over piles of encrypted information because it doesn’t have an encryption key and never sees the user’s password.

ProtonMail launched as a public beta a week ago. Before, it was online for two weeks as an invitation-only private beta. Now anyone is offered to use ProtonMail to a limited extent for free. Harvard and MIT students also add that “power users” will be charged $5 per month to use the service.

According to Jason Stockman, a co-developer of ProtonMail, the service aims to be as user-friendly as the major commercial services, but will differ by its extra security. He explained that multiple users from China, Iran, Russia, and other countries worldwide have already shown in the past months that ProtonMail became an important tool for their freedom of speech. The team of developers is therefore happy to finally be able to provide their services to the whole world.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Trolls Are At It Again!!

Streaming App Users Sued by Copyright Trolls

Earlier in 2014, the Popcorn Time app brought easy downloading to the masses, though its sleek interface hid away the way it works. Nevertheless, its presentation made some users believe that it offered legitimate streaming technology – an illusion that recently shattered, with users starting to receive warning letters from copyright trolls.

Popcorn Time is known to many as an app massively simplifying the viewing of videos online through a Netflix-style interface. At the moment, the software exists in various forms, and one of the more successful ones is Spanish version called Cuevana. Now a few German users faced issues arising from its use.

A few days ago, German law firm GGR Law reported that it has three clients who had received demands for cash settlements based on allegations of copyright violation. All of the recipients insisted they had never installed any BitTorrent app on their devices but used only streaming services.

Industry experts confirm that the use of illegal streaming websites came to the forefront in the country last year, when RedTube users began receiving cash settlement demands from a law firm. As a result, a government had to announce that viewing pirated streams is not illegal. This makes some wonder whether the latest settlement demands over use of Popcorn Time is each just another effort of copyright trolls.

The problem is that the approached Popcorn Time users believe the content in question had been accessed through streaming rather than BitTorrent, which is not exactly true. Although the app interface gives the impression of server-to-client streaming, it in fact uses BitTorrent. In other words, while streaming video to the inbuilt player, the file is also being uploaded to other users. This explains why the warnings received from the plaintiffs accuse app users of uploading the file via BitTorrent without mentioning any streaming. Apparently, the law firms do not even know that the download was made over the streaming app.

As you can see, it is very important that you have at least a cursory understanding of how software you use operates. The rules are simple: streaming video server-to-client or server-to-browser is either legitimate or non-detectable in most Western countries, while uploading video to others without permission is normally against the law.

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Sing Along On Train

Please Release Me??

People Want Their Details Wiped from Search Index

Google has received hundreds of requests from people seeking their details be wiped from the search index following a recent landmark ruling in the EU. The list includes an ex-politician who wants to re-elect, a pedophile and a doctor.

The recent decision by EU highest court stated that the right to privacy of individuals can outweigh the freedom of search engines to link to information about them. In other words, the information may remain online, but the search results should not show it.

Since then, Google was hit with a huge number of applications to remove links to outdated or irrelevant information: for example, one of them is a former British politician who is now seeking office and wants Google to remove information about their behavior while in office. The next applicant is an individual convicted of possessing child abuse images, who demands links to pages about his conviction be taken out of the search index. Finally, one of the doctors didn’t like negative reviews from his patients and wants them be not searchable either.

Google admitted that the court decision would have significant implications for the way they handle takedown requests. The company is already busy enough with removing millions of links every month from its indexes under requests from copyright holders over infringing content. At least, this kind of work is largely automated. But when people demand removal, the company has to consider each request individually.

The European court claimed that search engines must remove links to “irrelevant or outdated” data, while the original information itself can remain. The problem is that it can cause tensions between the search engines and news organizations, which may argue that links should not be removed. In result, the search engines face a risk of being sued by both the complainant and the original source of the information.

Apparently, all search engines that have operations in Europe, including Bing and Yahoo, will have to devise procedures to accept requests for link removal from people. As for Google, the company may consider offloading the task of taking decision on such requests to the local data protection commissioners – this would add significantly to the commissioners’ caseload.

Monday 2 June 2014

What….No Chips??

Eight-foot shark caught off north Devon coast

A shark weighing 450lb (204kg) and stretching to eight feet (2.4m) in length was reeled in by a stunned fisherman less than a mile out to sea

An angler fishing for pollock was stunned when he instead hooked a 450lb shark less than a mile off from a popular beach.

Graeme Pullen was plundering a large shoal of the small white fish off the north Devon coast when the eight-foot porbeagle shark took his bait.

As his rod bent over, he shouted to friend Wayne Combe for help, telling him: “Never mind the pollocks”.

Mr Pullen then embarked on a half-hour battle to reel in the monster fish which was so heavy it sent his 17-ft fibre-glass boat spinning in circles.

The shark left a bit mark on the side of the vessel after opening its jaws right in front of Mr Pullen exposing its razor sharp teeth.

Sunday 1 June 2014

Italy Against Pirates?

Italy Started Torrent Tracker Blackout without Trials

A few months ago, the country introduced new regulations enabling a telecoms administrative body to decide whether websites should remain accessible. Before, a number of “notorious” websites like The Pirate Bay were blocked by court order, and now the local regulator ordered to block its first 4 torrent websites, without legal wrangling.

An Italian breakthrough occurred under intense and sustained pressure of the United States to change its attitudes to online piracy. Italy was put on the USTR’s Watch List in 2013, but was notably absent from this year edition.

Industry experts had to admit that the removal of the country from the Special 301 List indicated significant steps the local authorities have taken to tackle the piracy problem. Indeed, Italy did something extraordinary. Instead of introducing laws to make a piracy crackdown easier, the authorities simply granted the local regulatory the power to deal with copyright infringement.

This means no need for costly legal cases and court-ordered injunctions. Since April, 2014, the Italian regulator can order to remove violating material or block the allegedly infringing domains. Everything is done under regulations, not legislation.

Now the regulator focused on the framework’s primary targets – torrent trackers and websites. According to the first 4 decisions of the authority, torrent websites LimeTorrents,,, and were labeled infringing and will be blocked by the Italian Internet service providers. The decisions reveal when the complaints were made and by whom.

For instance, the LimeTorrents was reported to the regulator by anti-piracy group that represents Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music – all those labels provided links to torrents which linked to their content without their consent, and the body had to agree the complaints were genuine. LimeTorrents’ operators were disallowed from involvement in the process. Finally, in the beginning of May the Italian broadband providers were given only 2 days to block subscriber access to LimeTorrents.

The other sites saw similar procedure after being complained about by anti-piracy groups working on behalf of the studios. All of those sites will also be blocked by ISPs.

Thursday 29 May 2014


Blu-Ray Becomes Less and Less Popular

Once regarded as the savior of the entertainment industry, Blu-Ray is now being pushed out of the market by video-on-demand and downloads. Sony, for example, has officially warned of heavy losses primarily connected with its exit from the PC business. Another reason for the decline is the fact that demand for physical media is contracting faster than the company expected.

One of the recent reports showed that revenue from DVD and Blu-ray sales would likely decrease by 38% over the next 4 years. Meanwhile, online movie revenue will grow 260% from $3.5 billion in 2014 to $12.7 billion in 2018.

The researchers believe that people are now used to the instant availability of online media, and the idea of purchasing a physical is weird for people under 25. Finally, it was pointed out that the High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) video compression standard might finally kill off Blu-Ray, as the former doubles the amount of data available for streaming in HD format. For instance, the standard allows to stream 8K Ultra-High Definition content with resolutions up to 8192x4320.

It should be noted that Blu-Ray never did as well as DVD. The latter dominated the home entertainment world 10 years ago with almost $22 billion in sales representing an overwhelming 96% of home entertainment spendings. Today DVDs still have respectable sales figures, with many people believing that DVD is good enough. In addition, optical media might survive as a way to back-up personal data, as it can prove more reliable than cloud storage.

Blu-Ray was officially introduced 8 years ago, backed by Sony and other tech giants, but the format had a slow take up, and its success was largely determined by its integration with Sony’s PlayStation 3. Back in 2013, around 124 million of Blu-Ray discs were sold in the United States, which is a 4.2% increase over 2012. But even taking this increase in consideration, the reduced pricing for the format negatively influenced the revenue, which only increased 2.6%. As for DVD sales, they have been plummeting for many years now, and dropped 13.6% in 2013.

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Book Worms??

Indie Booksellers against Amazon

UK independent booksellers face reinforcements in the battle against the online retailer with a website that would support the high street traders, backed by the largest publisher in the globe.

A social network for book lovers called “My Independent Bookshop” was officially launched as an online space where any member can review their favorite books. The most important part is that readers are also able to purchase books from the website, and a small proportion of takings will proceed to support scores of local independent book stores.

About seventy shops are already connected to the network, and several hundred will hopefully add up soon. As for the proceeds, the reader’s nominated home store receives 5% of the revenues from every paper book they buy and 8% from every ebook. The service is a tie-up with the e-commerce website Hive. The latter has been offering similar services to local shops for the last three years.

Many book writers, including Terry Pratchett, Lisa Jewell, Alastair Campbell, Irvine Welsh and Tony Parsons, have appreciated the website and registered there during a testing phase.

The digital publisher at the service explained that national chains, like Waterstones or Foyles, hadn’t been included in order to support non-chain bookshops. The publishing giant wouldn’t make money from the website, but can see other benefits. They admit that the information is very valuable, and on the website it can be seen what is trending, what books are popular and how people are interacting.

In recent times, publishers found out that they are competing with an ever increasing range of entertainment choices on various mobile devices, with high street bookshops closing their doors in the face of competition from Amazon and other giants. Thus far, fewer than 1,000 independent bookshops remain in the United Kingdom, and the future of the industry is dim.

Tuesday 20 May 2014

Spaced Out Fuel Station??

York petrol station hoping to trade in space prepares by ‘employing’ Transformer, Storm Trooper, Daleks and Cyberman

A petrol station owner in York is hoping to trade in space one day and has even fitted his shop with characters from sci-fi films in preparation.

Inner Space Service Station owner Graham Kennedy has installed models of Transformers and Storm Troopers inside, plus Daleks and even a Cyberman on the roof, as he counts down the days until lift off (whenever that is).

‘The idea behind Inner Space Stations is that the company would eventually operate and retail in space,’ he said.

‘We are a 24hr life support company. We are not in space yet… but one day we will be.’


The sci-fi fan recently travelled to Cambodia to buy a nine-foot Bumblebee Transformer replica he hoped would give him the edge in an ongoing price war with local supermarkets.

‘It is the only one in the UK,’ he told the York Press. ‘It is a massive amount of work. You could not get it done in this country.’

‘He is going to be my secret weapon in my price war with the supermarkets.’

Monday 19 May 2014

Open For Business!!

Online Drugs Marketplace Rebranded as OpenBazaar

DarkMarket, a portal which is going to create a decentralized alternative to infamous online drugs marketplace Silk Road, has renamed as "OpenBazaar" in order to improve its image. The new system exists as little more than a proof of concept: its plan was drafted by a group of hackers in Toronto a month ago, where they won the $20,000 first prize for their idea.

OpenBazaar allows any user of the software to connect with other users and open a deal. A 3rd OpenBazaar user is brought in an arbiter, having the power to release the buyer’s funds (paid in Bitcoins, naturally) to the seller after the deal is completed. The users can also leave feedback as a cryptographically signed comment distributed across the network. The users’ identities in the system are tied to their Bitcoin keys, which prevents anyone from impersonating another user.

The idea of the system is obviously aimed at replacing the infamous Silk Road – online marketplace used to buy and sell drugs – which was shut down by the FBI seven months ago. Considering that it lacks centralized headquarters, the authorities would have to track down every single user of the system individually, and there’s no way to shut down the network entirely.

DarkMarket was developed by Amir Taaki, Damian Cutillo and William Swanson. The first is a veteran of the Bitcoin community currently developing a wallet application that will allow users to spend the cryptocurrency completely anonymously, while the other two are building a Bitcoin startup called Airbitz. The system now known as OpenBazaar was initially released as open-source software after the hackathon was finished. However, none of the three creators want to continue working on it, because they all focused on their own projects. This is why it is left to the community to continue the coding, and the community decided to rename it from DarkMarket to OpenBazaar at the first place.

Earlier, Redditors had started a petition to change the name from Dark Market to “Free Market”, which would sound better in the news that were to say, for example, that the authorities are “looking into banning the free market”. But the system creators’ initial response was to refuse, claiming that people need to stop being afraid and reclaim the words of power used to control them. Now the name was changed anyway.

Sunday 18 May 2014

Watch Out Google!!

The jury deciding the patent infringement lawsuit between the two tech giants seems to be focused on Steve Jobs’ comments, being concerned about what the Apple founder meant when he decided to sue Samsung and whether he also wanted to pursue Google.

The jury apparently wants to know what Steve Jobs said when he decided to prosecute a case against Samsung – in particular, whether Google was mentioned or included in that directive. It is known that Google is responsible for much of the Android software code being fought over, but for some reason the company wasn’t named by Apple in its lawsuit. This is what Samsung had used in its defense, claiming that it was Google who developed the software in question.

In addition, the jury also asked how Apple chose the 5 patents to pursue against Samsung, how Samsung chose the 2 patents to launch its counter case, and what Samsung’s top executive think of the case launched by Apple. However, the jurors discovered that the answers to such questions fell outside of the information the parties can provide.

Samsung’s attorneys wanted the jurors to refer to a Steve Jobs 2010 memo where he called for a “holy war” against Android, while Apple attorneys argued that the document couldn’t answer the question of what Jobs said at the time the decision was made to sue Samsung.

The US District Court Judge agreed and answered all of the questions asked with the same answer: “You have all the evidence available to you and you need to make your decision based on what you have at the moment”. In other words, the jury seems to be thinking that Samsung might have been caught in an anti-competitive proxy fight between the other two giants. This is no good news for Apple, as the company hoped to put the fear of Jobs into Google’s suppliers to make them too frightened to use Android, or force them to pay a lot of money to Apple to use it.

Thursday 15 May 2014

The EU At It Again!!

EU lays down the law on coffee making

European Union issues new rules requiring filter coffee machines to turn off automatically in order to help save energy

Filter coffee machines will have to turn off automatically to help save energy, under new European Union rules.

All of the devices on sale for domestic use from next year will be required to go into “standby mode” after brewing the drink, the Sun reported.

The European Commission said the changes would save money on electricity bills and were “supported by consumer and industry organisations” as well as member states including the UK.

However campaigners claimed the rules would leave many people with “cold coffee”.

Under the new regulation domestic drip filter machines which store coffee in an insulated jug will have to go on “standby” within five minutes of brewing the drink - meaning that the heated plate or element will switch off.

Those machines with non-insulated jugs will have to go on standby after no more than 40 minutes. Espresso makers will be given a half hour limit.

All new machines will be required to have the “eco mode” as their default setting, although manufacturers will be able to create an option for people to disable the limits.

Alan Murad from the Get Britain Out campaign group described the regulation as “ludicrous”.

"Not content with the £55 million they take from Britain every day, our European masters have now come after our hot coffee," he said.

“More than one in five Britons own a coffee machine and could be affected by this latest diktat from Brussels.

“The sooner the Great British Public are given a referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU, the sooner we can say goodbye to ludicrous laws like this.”

The European Commission said the rules would not affect commercial machines or those which people already have in their homes.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Nosey Parker!!!!

Dog rescued after wedging head in a concrete wall

A curious golden retriever in Nottingham was helped by firefighters after getting her head stuck in a decorative concrete garden wall

Fire crews were called to rescue a hapless dog after she managed to get her head stuck in a concrete wall.

Sunny, a nine-year-old Golden Retriever, became wedged in a garden wall gap as she tried to greet a neighbour’s new puppy.

Her owner Shelley Jones, 22, found her in the garden of her home in Gedling, Nottingham, with her head through the block at around 11am.

Sunny was so firmly stuck in the six inch gap that even with Shelley, her brother Ivan Bishop, 28, and neighbour Gemma Beck, 30, pushing they were unable to free her.

Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service then attended the scene where they spent 20 minutes cutting the dog free.

Shelley, a beauty consultant, said: "I couldn't believe it. I was out in the garden and my neighbour was there. We were just chatting.

"But next door's new beagle puppy was out for the first time and I thought Sunny might want to jump up but not put her head through the wall.

"The dog was more calm than I was, but was completely stuck.

"I called my brother as he is a builder so I thought he would have some tools to help.

"But we decided to call the fire brigade though as we didn't know how to set her free and I was worried she would hurt herself.

"The fire fighters were amazing though. They put a sheet over Sunny's head to stop the debris going over her and then one of them sat with her while they cut her out.

"It took about 20 minutes in total and the wall had to be completely taken down. There is just a board up at the moment.

"It was definitely a bit of a shock but Shelley seems to be fine. She was a bit quiet after and had a rest but we have taken her for a nice walk since.

"It is not what I imagined I'd be doing on a Sunday morning either.

"I am just glad it ended okay."

A fire crew from Carlton Fire Station, near Nottingham arrived at the property just before 11am and had to use hammers and chisels to remove part of the wall to release Sunny.

Station manager Andy Shepherd said: "It is not an everyday occurrence I must admit, but we do love a story with a happy ending."

Sunday 11 May 2014

What A Surprise!!

Gmail Officially Scans Your Emails

Google has recently clarified its email scanning practices by updating its Gmail terms of service to inform users that all emails are analyzed by automated software. In other words, the company explicitly states that Google’s system scans the content of emails stored on its servers or sent and received by any Google email account. Of course, this practice has seen Google face criticism from privacy action outfits and lawsuits from the education sector.

Google announced that it wants its policies to be simple and easy for everyone to grasp, and the recent changes are supposed to give people even greater clarity and were based on feedback received over the last several months. You should know that Google’s automated systems scan the content of emails for spam and malware detection, as well as part of the company’s “priority inbox” service and tailored advertising.

Of course, people are concerned about it and believe they should be able to completely switch it off if they want to. The company’s ads use data gleaned from your email combined with data from your Google profile (including search results, map requests and YouTube views). In result, the system displays what it considers is relevant in the hope that you are more likely to click on them and generate more advertising revenue.

The email scanning practices of the search giant stretch across Gmail displaying adverts to support the service, while its products for business and education have the turn-it-off option.

The privacy groups argue that such scanning and indexing of emails could be in violation of an American law known as Ferpa (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), the main law guarding student educational records. By the way, this particular law was used to launch a lawsuit against Google in California.

Aside from email scanning, the Open Rights Group considers other aspects of the company’s practices most troubling. They say that Google does more dangerous things like information held in Analytics, cookies in advertising and the profiling on individual accounts. The outfit explains that it is the amount of data held on people which should be concerning us, because it’s attractive to government and can leak out in various ways.

Saturday 10 May 2014

Taking The Piss!!

38 million gallon reservoir drained after teenager caught urinating

Mount Tabor Reservoir in Portland, Oregon, had to be drained after the water was contaminated

Mount Tabor Reservoir in Portland, Oregon, was drained by water chiefs after CCTV footage captured a teenager urinating into the water supply.

The 38 million gallon reservoir provides water to the city's population of 600,000.

The refill is estimated to have cost the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars. It is not the first time the reservoir has been drained - over the past five years it has happened several times, most recently in October following an almost identical incident.

Portland Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff defended the decision, saying the reservoir could not distribute "deliberately contaminated" water.

''The reality is that our customers don't anticipate drinking water that's been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir.'

Friday 9 May 2014

Beauty Blow??

Beauty contest turns into brawl over row about winner

Miss Scarborough beauty pageant descends into a brawl after the favourite is eliminated and supporters claim the wrong woman is given the crown

A beauty pageant descended into a "brawl" when angry supporters claimed the wrong woman had won.

After the favourite for Miss Scarborough was eliminated from the contest, security staff were reportedly punched and kicked, as well as attacked with handbags, by angry spectators. Pensioners were also caught up in the row and thrown to the floor.

The winner of the competition, Jess Gale, 18, was greeted with boos and hisses as she was crowned the winner and walked on stage to collect her tiara.

Other beauty queens were reported to be in tears during the brawl at a hall at the Scarborough Fair Collection - a museum - sited on a holiday park in Lebberston in north Yorkshire.

Diane Yalezo, organiser of the competition, said the group had “completely ruined” the event for Miss Gale.

She told the Yorkshire Post: “I had picked One Moment in Time to be the winner's song this year, and Jess should have been able to walk onto that stage and have that one moment but it was totally ruined.”

Ms Yalezo said they wanted to continue running the competition so Scarborough could enter the Miss England pageant in June.

She said they would hold the north Yorkshire competition in a hotel in future, and replace alcohol with cream teas.

Thursday 8 May 2014

What A Surprise!!

Over 1/3 of Film Industry Professionals are Pirates

A recent survey among movie industry professionals revealed that about 40% of them have downloaded films and TV shows illegally. There have been lots of surveys covering piracy-related issues in recent years. However, they usually fail to mention that many people who obtain files for free also cheerfully pay for content as well. Now some studies have revealed that the entertainment industry’s best customers are also engaged in illegal downloads.

In fact, some of those pirates appeared to be the very people who help to create films and TV shows. The recent research of 1,235 movie industry professionals, where the respondents were people from one of the 3 major films markets, included a few new questions.

The first set of questions focused on whether the movie experts felt that piracy had affected their business. Surprisingly enough, 53% of all respondents said that piracy had either no effect or a positive effect on their business. The respondents belonged to all sectors of the industry, including development, production, sales and distribution. The respondents in sales and distribution admitted they were most worried by piracy.

There also was an anonymous additional statement “I have illegally downloaded a TV show or feature film”, and 39% of people agreed with that additional statement. People working on lower budgets were more likely to have illegally downloaded content than respondents working on big budgets. Only 2% of people working on movies over $10 million admitted to illegally downloading a movie or TV show, on the contrary to 65% of respondents working on movies under $1 million.

The percentage of people who admitted illegal downloading also fluctuated according to industry sector: for example, 55% of respondents in marketing said they have infringed content versus 0% percent in exhibition (movie theaters). Professionals from sales and distribution, who said they had been most affected by piracy, saw the lowest piracy “confession” rate of 28%. These people are mediators behind the scenes of the industry who negotiate the rights between producers and cinemas or retailers, and they have the largest vested interest in stopping piracy, because they don’t have many other reasons for doing what they do and no other source of income.

Thursday 1 May 2014

The Real Pole Dancers??

Yorkshire community to resurrect maypole dancing

A group of girls from Carleton-in-Craven are learning the traditional dances of the Maypole, which has fallen out of fashion

A group of youngsters are determined to revive Maypole dancing - 25 years since the tradition has been taught in their community.

The 12 girls from Carleton-in-Craven, North Yorkshire, are being taught May Day songs and dances amid fears the tradition could be lost forever if it is not passed on.

Sarah Churcher, 34, is leading the initiative and part of a team of women passing on the skills to a new generation.

Mum-of-two Sarah said: "I think the excitement of going around the village and showing the villagers what we had done was a real treat.

"It felt like a really special thing to be involved in.

"The fun of it is what stands out to me."

Solicitor-by-day Sarah became involved after answering the rallying cry of her community to revive the tradition - before it's too late.

So far, 12 girls have begun learning the songs and dances in advance of this year's May Day performance.

Sarah said: "I really felt it was something I wanted to do because I so enjoyed it and I have a real feeling that if our generation do not get involved in things like this then they will completely die away."

But the revival is going further than just the classes - with a local joiner offering to make the maypole and the village pantomime group stepping forward to make the costumes.

Although much has changed since some of the women involved were younger the fundamental elements have remained the same, drawing on traditional folk songs for music.

"They are a little unusual for the children to sing but they sing them so well and they are so lovely and they have really entered into the spirit of doing it in the traditional way," said Sarah.

As a child, Sarah was taught the songs and dances of the Maypole after school alongside her female classmates by the ladies of the village ahead of an annual performance.

She said: "We used to go from one end of the village to the other and stop and dance and sing.

"People would come out of their houses and watch and then we would move on. It took a couple of hours during the morning.

"I think it probably felt like it was something quite out of the ordinary to us when we were that age.

"It was very popular around the village. People came out to support children of the village.

"That's something that goes on now. All the villagers are supportive of our community activities."

The invitation was open to boys but only girls are taking part - something the group hopes will change next year.

Unlike the travelling Maypoles of years gone by, this year's will remain in one place.

The Maypole dance will take place outside the Swan Inn in Carleton, at 3pm on May 5.

Wednesday 30 April 2014

Riding High??

The world's TALLEST ferris wheel opens in Las Vegas

Tourists queued for more than six hours as the High Roller opened to the public on Las Vegas's world-renowned Strip.

The ride which comes in at a whopping 550ft (168 metres) at its highest point beats the Singapore Flyer at nearly 541ft.

While the London Eye is a mere trifle at 443ft.

The wheel's title however will be short-lived as ferris wheels are planned in both New York and Dubai to overshadow the Las Vegas ride.

However for the time being fans were full of admiration over the High Roller - which features 28 cabins each able to carry 40 people.

Van Kim, an airline call centre employee from Phoenix, waited for more than six hours to get on the ride.

He exclaimed: "It was unanimously awesome. It's probably the best view of the Strip."

Comparing it to the Stratosphere tower, just two miles away, he added: "The view was better. We didn't feel the wind at all."

The Las Vegas wheel is part of a $550million restaurant, bar, retail and bar development programme to revive a run-down area of the city between the Flamingo and the renamed Quad Casino.

At night the wheel lights up the evening sky with hues of red, blue, green and purple.

Monday 28 April 2014

A Free Holiday??

Chance to stay on an island - for free

A Swedish philanthropist is giving people the chance to stay on a beautiful island for free - so they can think properly.

Frederik Haren is giving people the chance to holiday on one of the three islands he owns so they can unleash their creativity.

He and his wife own two islands off Sweden and another one in the Philippines, reports Metro.

People can apply for a short holiday on one of them and just need to convince Mr Haren why they need the time and space to come up with new ideas.

A charitable donation of about £600 is encouraged but it is not compulsory and the stay itself is completely free.

All applicants need to do is explain why spending a week cut off from civilisation would help the project they're working on, or hoping to develop.

Previous guests include art collective The Barefoot Basterds, entrepreneur Benjamin Joffe, artist Gustavo Malucelli and organic food expert Trudy Fawcett.

Palawan island in the Philippines is currently closed, due to typhoon damage, but Vifarnaholme and Svanholmen, both off Stockholm, are open from 1 June to 30 September.

People interested - and who wouldn't be - can apply via the Ideas Island website.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Satan In Legoland??

‘Lego leads children to the dark side’: Priest warns parents toys are the ‘tools of Satan’

It’s a toy that brings hours of enjoyment to millions of children all over the world.

But according to one priest, Lego is the work of the devil.

Parents in Poland have received a stark warning about the dangers of letting their children play with the plastic bricks.

Father Slawomir Kostrzewa has revealed Lego is, in fact, a tool of Satan that can lead children to the dark side and destroy their souls.

Yes, it came as a shock to us too. Who knew the building blocks could be so menacing?

Although we’re somewhat relieved to note that Fr Kostrzewa’s warnings currently only extend to Lego’s series of Monster Fighters and Zombie mini-figures.

He went on to claim the Danish toy company’s figures ‘were about darkness and the world of death’ from which children needed protecting, the Telegraph reports.

In a presentation, Fr Kostrzewa added: ‘Friendly fellows have been replaced by dark monsters. These toys can have a negative effect on children. They can destroy their souls and lead them to the dark side.’

He also referenced some research undertaken by a New Zealand university which found that Lego figures’ facial expressions had become angrier over the years (sounds like money well-spent) which made them look more evil.

Lego is not the only toy to be criticised by the priest - he has also previously hit out at Hello Kitty and My Little Pony.

Given his preoccupation with the ‘dark side’ one wonders what Fr Kostrzewa makes of Lego’s Star Wars range?

Friday 18 April 2014

Abandoned & Forgotten By Microsoft!

Microsoft is Criticized for Abandoning XP

AV software maker, Avast, has waded into the software giant for pulling the plug on Windows XP. Avast claimed that abandoning the popular OS was a big mistake, especially as Microsoft hasn’t provided an attractive possibility for people to upgrade.

Avast explained that security products can only do so much to keep XP users safe after the company stops patching the future vulnerabilities of the OS. In addition, abandoning Windows XP won’t only affect XP users, but will also create a huge security problem for the entire ecosystem. You can just imagine tens of millions of computers running XP connected to the Internet – unpatched and without security updates. Of course, all of them will be just waiting to be exploited. The vulnerable operating system will become an easy target for hackers. Besides, it will be regarded as a gateway to infect other non-XP operating systems. Avast also pointed out that many essential devices, including ATMs, are running Windows XP, and all of them will also be left exposed.

Nevertheless, one has to be fair to Microsoft – the company has given all users a very long time to say goodbye to their XP addiction. One would have thought that there would be a market for a security product staying ahead of the hackers – maybe Avast should consider this idea instead of complaining.

Thursday 17 April 2014

The Word??

Microsoft Word Vulnerable to Hack

Microsoft has recently issued a warning of a remote code execution vulnerability used in targeted attacks directed at Microsoft Word 2010. The software giant explained that the vulnerability allows remote code execution when you open a specially created RTF file in an affected version of Microsoft Word, or preview or open an RTF email message in Microsoft Outlook while using Word as the email viewer.

This means that if you see an incoming RTF file – just don’t open it. Actually, no one sends RFT files nowadays, so it may be a safe bet that you should not open it. In case of the successful exploit, a hacker could gain the same user rights as the current user – or that’s what Microsoft claims.

Security experts admit that Internet users whose accounts are configured in such a way that they have fewer user rights on the system would be less impacted than those with administrative privileges. However, home users would be very easy victims. Microsoft says that people are better to disable opening RTF content in Word, as this will surely prevent the exploitation of this issue through Microsoft Word.

The tech giant explained that in a web-based attack scenario, a hacker could host a site containing a webpage with a specially crafted RTF file used to try and exploit the vulnerability in question. Compromised sites and the ones accepting or hosting user-provided material or adverts might contain specially crafted material which could exploit this vulnerability.

Microsoft says that an attacker would have no way to force people to visit those sites, but rather would have to convince them to visit the site, normally by getting users to click a link in an email message or Instant Messenger message taking them to the attacker’s site. The experts point out that the vulnerability could be exploited via Microsoft Outlook only when using Microsoft Word as the email viewer. In fact, Word is the default email reader in Microsoft Outlook 2007, Microsoft Outlook 2010, and Microsoft Outlook 2013.

In form of an initial workaround until the flaw is eliminated, the company is providing a Fix-it automated instrument. The latter uses Office’s file block feature and adds some registry keys to prevent opening of RTF files in all Word versions.