Friday 31 January 2014

Winter Warmer?

Handwarming ToastyMUG offers ‘more satisfying cuppa’

Winter is here and most of us are freezing, so it is no surprise that someone, somewhere in the world, has created a new way keep us warm – this time in the form of a mug.

Italian designer Sabrina Fossi has developed an insulated mug that features a handle that wraps around half the vessel, allowing your hands and fingers to be surrounded by warmth (provided you’re drinking a hot beverage, of course).

The ceramic ToastyMUG is handmade in Montelupo, Italy, and it will set you back a pretty penny – they currently retail at €44 (£36) each.

Despite a normal non-insulated mug being able to keep hands warm when holding it, the ToastyMUG claims to offer a ‘more satisfying’ cuppa.

The production description says: ‘The ergonomic, enveloping form of the handle keeps the heat in so both your drink and your hands are kept toasty.

‘Now, tea, coffee and hot chocolate are all that much more satisfying! ToastyMUG also looks beautiful on the table.’

Thursday 30 January 2014

Beam Me Aboard?

Councilman lives long in history with Klingon resignation letter but doesn’t prosper with colleagues

A politician boldly went where no other had gone before by writing his letter of resignation in Klingon.

David Waddell decided to use the language from the Star Trek franchise to announce his departure from a town council in North Carolina.

But not everyone was pleased with the politician’s decision, with mayor Michael Alvarez calling it ‘unprofessional’.

But that didn’t deter Mr Waddell, who said the use of the Klingon script was an inside joke.

The councilman will leave his job at the end of the month, nearly two years before his term was meant to end in December 2015.

Mr Waddell, from the Constitution Party, said he wanted to dedicate his time to fighting US senator Kay Hagan using a write-in campaign.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Google Shaking In It’s Boots??

Erasable Web Could Harm Google

This year, a small application Snapchat managed to put the fear into Google and even government spooks. The app quickly became popular amongst teenagers and college students as it sent messages, pictures and captions which disappear a few seconds after being opened.

The fears were that such self-destructing made all sorts of things possible, including the end of the power of Google. Although it will probably die out like most teen fads, the enormous success shows that there’s a demand for a type of message which, when opened, can never be seen again.

Snapchat messages can’t be searched, intercepted, stored or found by anyone, and the suggestions are that in 2014 we’ll start to see the rise of the erasable web. Apparently, it would effectively be a more private network, without the fear of every ill-considered photo turning up to haunt your job interviews. Although it might be less useful and impractical as a method to store old pictures or data, other less legally friendly and secure application will emerge.

Today the industry is spouting about how important mass storage on the cloud is, but at the same time it might appear that there’s a new market in getting data off the Internet. How can this harm Google? Today the search engine depends on snuffling as much information as it can on users to serve them up adverts. Once people start sending messages through systems that cannot be monitored and indexed, Google loses a lot of its magic ability. Although the tech giant still will be able to search traditional Internet pages, its personal edge of knowing everything about users will be lost.

With the pressure towards no-tracking and other privacy moves the tech giant is on a back foot fighting a trend away from information collection and into data privacy. Some industry observers predict that 2014 will be the beginning of a war between big data and secret data, and Google may lose this fight.

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Bookworms Bite Back??

Books Plagued with Advertising Spyware

Your favorite books now get advertising spyware. A week ago, Smashwords concluded a deal to put 225,000 books on Scribd – a digital library which unveiled a reading subscription service a few months ago. Experts see it as a way to exploit reading data. For instance, Amazon and Barnes&Noble already gather vast amounts of data from their readers, but don’t use it anywhere.

The justification is that the information can help authors and publishers produce better books, but in fact the truth is more sinister. Not only will it mean that e-readers of books on makeup will see makeup adverts everywhere, but reader habits will also be closely monitored by the publishing companies. For instance, it will be noticed if you ever finished a book and lead to an obvious conclusion that some of the e-books sell better than others, or are simply more engaging. Apparently, this will force publishers to want the sorts of books that they believe people are more likely to finish. This same mentality has also plagued the ratings obsessed television industry and caused the cancellation of such great shows as Firefly and Alphas.

For instance, Scribd’s early efforts showed that the longer a mystery novel is the more likely people are to jump to the end to see who did it. You can make a conclusion that if you want to write a murder mystery you just have to keep it short. Also readers are more likely to finish biographies than business titles, and will only manage to digest one chapter of a yoga book. Religious titles are read slower than romances, while erotica goes really quickly.

The researchers found out that the top book at Oyster was the one titled “What Women Want”, and appeared to be promoted as a work that “brings you inside a woman’s head so you can learn how to blow her mind”. 100% of those who start it finish it. At the same time, Arthur Schlesinger’s “The Cycles of American History” is only finished by 1% of people who start reading it. It is clear that the publisher won’t invest much in something that only a tiny percentage of readers are going to get to the end of. The same research demonstrates that books with shorter chapters do better because consumers are reading in short sessions during the day on their smartphones.

Monday 27 January 2014

Now…That’s a “Take-Away”!!

Thief carries 250-pound safe out of Mass. eatery

Massachusetts police are searching for a strong-armed thief who carried a 250-pound safe out of a restaurant.

Kevin Hynes says a man walked out of his Stockholders Restaurant in Weymouth on Sunday night lugging the vault.

Surveillance tape shows the man entering a side door at the rear of the restaurant, heading down the stairs and coming back up carrying a large object wrapped in a trash bag.

No arrests have been made.

Hynes isn't saying how much money was in the safe, but he's offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the man's arrest.

He says he's since bought an even heavier safe and bolted it to the concrete floor.

Sunday 26 January 2014

An F-Coffee Please!!

Brewery responds to Starbucks letter with $6 check

A small Missouri brewery has responded to a cease and desist letter from Starbucks by sending the coffee chain a check to cover what it calls the profit from use of the word "Frappicino" - a check for $6.

Exit 6 Pub and Brewery in the St. Louis suburb of Cottleville named one of its brews the Frappicino, with one c instead of the two that Starbucks uses for its blended beverages. That prompted an attorney for Starbucks Coffee Co. to send Exit 6 a letter on Dec. 9.

The letter from attorney Anessa Owen Kramer noted that the Seattle-based company "is the owner of a number of world-famous trademarks, including the well-known FRAPPUCCINO trademark." It said that the words are "phonetically identical" and that Exit 6's use of Frappicino "is likely to cause confusion, mistake."

In his sarcastic response letter, Exit 6 owner Jeff Britton also wrote that the brewery "never thought that our beer drinking customers would have thought that the alcoholic beverage coming out of the tap would have actually been coffee from one of the many, many, many stores located a few blocks away."

Exit 6 posted the letter on its Facebook site and responded with a letter to "Mr. Bucks." The letter said Exit 6 would no longer use the term "Frappicino" and would instead refer to its beer as the "F Word."

Britton said in a telephone interview Tuesday that he brewed up a new batch of "The F Word" last Friday. By then, the dispute was already drawing attention on social media, and the beer sold out in three hours. He's contemplating making more, based on the calls, emails and Facebook messages of support he said he's received from around the world.

"It's been unbelievable," Britton said. "People are just saying, `Hey, read the story, good job.' I'm getting emails and Facebook messages from Germany, China, England. People are just clamoring for it."

Starbucks spokeswoman Laurel Harper said the company was glad the brewery agreed to stop using the name.

"This was a respectful request asking Exit 6 to refrain from using the term `Frappicino,' which differs by only one letter from our `Frappucino' product," she said by telephone.

"We always prefer to resolve trademark disputes informally and amicably, and we appreciate them respecting our request to avoid confusion among customers."

Saturday 25 January 2014

Oh Shit…..Help!!

Woman gets stuck between toilet and wall

A woman who became jammed between a toilet and wall in a nightclub was rescued by firemen after they were forced to dismantle the lavatory.

It was one of 1,132 toilet rescues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2013, a Freedom of Information request revealed.

Fireman Mick Flanagan, 52, who helped rescue the woman from Cardiff, told the Mirror: "We had a lady who had fallen between a toilet and a wall and we had to dismantle the toilet.

"It was a bit comic at the time because she was a but tipsy and laughing.

"We just unbolted the toilet which gave her and us space to help her up. Thankfully she wasn't injured."

Friday 24 January 2014

Sod It….We’re Off!!!!!

3 Wolves Briefly Escape Indiana Zoo Exhibit

Three endangered Mexican gray wolves briefly escaped from their exhibit area at the zoo in Evansville, Ind., roaming the property before staffers rounded them up.

Mesker Park Zoo marketing director Abigail Adler said the one adult male and two nearly eight-month-old pups dug out of the enclosure Wednesday afternoon but never got off the zoo's property.

Adler told the Evansville Courier & Press that staffers knew where the wolves were at all times but that zoo visitors were moved into nearby buildings.

She says the pups were coaxed back into their barn with food, while the adult took about an hour to capture.

Adler says recent storms might have loosened up the ground inside the exhibit, allowing the animals to dig out.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Goble Goble…It’s Our Turn Now!!

Delivery driver terrorised by turkey

Turkeys have it tough over the festive period, but one feisty feathered bird decided to get its own back...

In hilarious footage uploaded to YouTube, a delivery man in Minnesota was prevented from doing his rounds by a turkey who had him scrambling to get back to the safety of his truck.

With only a bag to defend himself with, the slapstick scene was captured by hysterical hospital staff in a building up above.

The traumatised driver finally made it back to his van before the turkey was chased away by a fellow courier.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Buzz Off!!

Thieves create buzz by stealing beehive

There's beehive bedlam in Norfolk after a hive containing thousands of bees hibernating over the winter was stolen, according to the Daily Mirror.

Hives are typically home to between 20,000 and 60,000 of the insects, which can live in vast colonies, but would have been none the wiser that they have now become part of a potential sting operation.

The hive was taken from a community garden in Norwich, between December 13 and 22, say Norfolk police.

A Norfolk Police spokesman said: "It would have taken two people to move the structure.

"Police are keen to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident or has information concerning the whereabouts of the stolen hive."

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Whoops…We Need All We Can Get!

Drunk priest runs over parishioner

A drunken priest is facing 12 years in prison after running over a parishioner in his car as she walked home from his church service.

Katarzyna Pawlak, 41, from Lowicza, Poland, was taken to hospital with concussion after being hit after attending Mass.

A spokesman for the priest's diocese said: "With great regret and deep sorrow we received the news about the accident in which the victim was a woman hit by a car being driven by a priest after drinking alcohol.

"This situation deserves condemnation and never should have happened. Priests have to follow the same laws as everyone else. He should not drive a a car after drinking."

The 66-year-old priest was charged with drink driving and had his licence confiscated.

Police spokesman Urszula Szymczak said: "He wasn't detained as we didn't think it necessary. He was fully compliant and handed over all his documents for officers to inspect."

A hospital spokesperson said: "The woman has been lucky. She is being kept in hospital for observation but will make a full recovery."

Monday 20 January 2014


Couple rescued after bogus internet advice

A couple from London who merrily set off to climb Snowdonia having read on the internet that it was "an easy walk" had to be rescued.

The pair, both in their 20s, got stuck along the 3,000ft North Ridge of Tryfan, having brought with them only light walking boots, mobile phones and a bottle of water each.

Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue were called at 3pm on Saturday and lowered the couple using ropes and a harness.

Rescuers confirmed the walkers had set off without any equipment and had no rucksacks, maps, spare clothing or torches.

When the pair realised the route was in fact highly challenging and that their internet advice was bogus, they turned back, but got lost and ended up in a rock-climbing area known as Milestone Buttress.

Rescuers used the Sarloc smartphone system, which pinpoints the exact location of phones, to find them.

Ogwen Valley Mountain Rescue Team spokesman Chris Lloyd said he'd be interested to see the offending website, and added to The Daily Post: "At base they realised the error of their ways."

Sunday 19 January 2014

Ouch!…That’s Got To Hurt.

Wife stabs husband with ceramic squirrel after he comes home without beer

A woman was allegedly so incensed that her husband came home without beer on Christmas Eve that she stabbed him with an ornamental squirrel.

Helen Ann Williams, 44, from South Carolina, was arrested and charged with domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature.

A police report says that Williams’s 41-year-old partner went out on Tuesday night to buy groceries but because the shops were closed he came back empty-handed, NBC reported.

She is then alleged to have grabbed a ceramic squirrel, struck him over the head with it before stabbing him in the chest with the item.

The husband made a call to the emergency services using a neighbour’s phone, after which police arrived finding blood across his clothes and body, as well as on the hands of Ms Williams.

She is being held on a $10,000 (£6,000) bond and will face the charges at Charleston County Circuit Court in April.

Saturday 18 January 2014

There’s Money In Sheep Shit??

Taxpayer-funded Tate Modern splashes out on £16k sheep droppings 'art installation'

THE taxpayer-funded Tate Modern spent more than £200,000 last year on work from a Mexican artist whose “installations” included one made of Scottish sheep droppings.

The Tate bought 18 pieces by Abraham Cruzvillegas, including one called **** Models, which cost £16,000. It appears to be made from an old bird table on top of which there are upright metal rods with lumps of sheep excrement.

The gallery described it as “sheep excrement, dung, plaster, cardboard, steel and wood”. The artist admitted he used items he found on the street or in fields when he was in Scotland.

The installation was revealed in a document showing all the artworks bought by the Tate in the past year. Cruzvillegas’s work was bought with funds given to the Tate by wealthy benefactors. A further £229,000 was spent on a piece by Cuban Felix Gonzalez-Torres which featured two light bulbs, light sockets and cable.

The Tate is run by Sir Nicolas Serota, who also spent £2,100 from a Government grant to buy a work from artist Ed Herring which included an old plastic card-index file.

Charles Thomson, of Stuckists, which promotes traditional art, said: “If this stuff was auctioned on eBay it would sell for a fiver. The Tate’s meant to be the national collection of modern art. It’s more like the national junk shop.”

The Tate said: “We are pleased to acquire works by these artists using funds raised by Tate.”

Thursday 16 January 2014

Back Seat Driver?

Learner driver caught by police accompanied only by parrot

Car seized after learner found on motorway with only a parrot to supervise her driving

A learner driver's car has been seized after police who stopped her on a motorway realised the only supervisor in the vehicle was her pet parrot.

The woman, in her 50s, was pulled over on suspicion of speeding near junction 22 of the M62 in West Yorkshire on Sunday morning but officers discovered she only had a provisional licence.

Provisional licence holders are banned from driving on motorways and are only allowed to drive at all when accompanied by a qualified driver.

Apart from the driver herself, the only passenger found by police when they stopped the 4x4 around 8.45am on Sunday morning was a grey parrot.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said the vehicle had been confiscated and the driver is expected to be charged with motor offences including speeding at a later date.

The force published a picture of the parrot on Twitter to warn other learners that they must always be accompanied in the car by a full licence holder.

"Say hello to my little friend," the message read. "Unfortunately his owner has a provisional licence, and since parrots are not authorised to supervise learner drivers, her vehicle has been seized by us on the M62."

Chief Inspector Mark Bownass, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "The rules of the road exist for a very good reason and it is important to remember that, if this lady had been in a crash or incident, she would not have been covered by insurance as she was not licensed for the journey.

"Learner drivers should not be on the motorway at all and anyone who takes to other roads as a learner must be accompanied by a qualified driver, have a good understanding of the Highway Code and also make sure they are covered by the qualified drivers insurance policy."

They're At It Again??

Mysterious Crop Circle Spotted in Calif.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

We Will Block You!!!!!

UK Filters Tech Websites

It didn’t become a surprise for anyone that David Cameron’s wonderful “save the kids” censorship turned out to be just another attempt to prevent people from finding out information. The first victim of Cameron’s filter was tech writer Peter Hansteen from Norway – for some reason his site was declared out of bounds.

The only suggestion he could come up with was that once he published a story which referred to a picture of “a blonde chick with a cute pussy”. In reality the picture was of baby poultry and cats. Hansteen’s website is mainly tech content, and its resources include the hourly updated list of greytrapped spam senders.

Another victim is the national Norwegian Unix Users’ group website, which is also blocked in the UK now. Apparently, David Cameron just doesn’t want people to find out about open source.

The main site for USENIX, the US-based but in fact quite international Unix user group, is also blocked in the parental control regime. Looks like Prime Minister finds Unix and Linux immoral and something kids should not see.

Unsurprisingly enough, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is blocked in the country, as well as The latter is dumb enough to censor, because it disagreed with Teresa May’s decisions on extradition.

The British can’t reach,,, ArsTechnica,,, and even “Free downloading” mention maybe a reason?..

Some believe that all these bodies and groups can launch a lawsuit against the UK government. In fact, this online filter is interfering with free trade for absolutely no reason. While children of today are already ignorant and self-absorbed, UK Prime Minister seems determined to keep them that way.

Tuesday 14 January 2014

Tech Buses = NO!!

Google and Apple Buses Targeted in San Francisco

It seems that Apple and Google aren’t very popular with San Francisco residents. A few days ago protesters blocked buses operated by Google and Apple in San Francisco and Oakland in a backlash against the expanding tech industry’s impact.

Recently the protesters surrounded a corporate bus in the Mission district when it was picking up Apple employees in the morning and wouldn’t allow it leave for 30 minutes. Then a couple of Google buses in Oakland were also targeted.

The demonstrators explained that the protest was all about how the ruling class (the one becoming the tech class) fails to listen to the voices of people that are being displaced. They unfurled a banner saying “Eviction Free San Francisco” and were distributing flyers titled “San Francisco: A tale of two cities”.

Apparently, the buses have become visible symbols of so-called “technology-driven gentrification” of San Francisco, where young, well-paid tech experts keep forcing out poorer people. It is believed that city policies are too generous to the tech industry – in case a tech company threatens to leave San Francisco, it can get a nice tax cut. This is what Twitter has done one day.

The corporate bus idea was to ease traffic on the city’s clogged highways, and they also have nicer seats with Wi-Fi. But the protesters complain that the buses crowd municipal bus stops and remove potential customers from cash-strapped public transportation systems like local rail services.

They also point out that there has been no trickledown effect from the tech companies’ success either. Actually, rents in San Francisco have even surged, with the median rent on a 2-bedroom apartment increasing 10% over 2013 – up to $3,250. At the same time, evictions increased 25% to 1,716 in 2013.

Monday 13 January 2014

We Play For You….Thanks.

Iron Maiden Gives Concerts for Pirates

Piracy is a hot topic in the music industry, with major labels trying to eliminate the problem by taking infringers to court. At the same time Iron Maiden has taken a different approach to piracy – instead of suing their fans, the band is using file-sharing data to plan their tour locations.

Lots of researches have shown that file-sharers usually spend more on legitimate purchases, especially tickets to live performances and merchandise. The matter is that “pirates” are more engaged than people who don’t share, and they complement their legal purchases with illegal downloads.

Apparently, the file-sharers are the artists’ best customers, and it is clear that instead of suing them, it may be more rewarding to give them concerts. This is what Iron Maiden has been doing – they use the services of music analytics company Musicmetric to see where their albums are most pirated. When musicians understand what drives engagement, they are able to maximize the value of the fan base. Instead of launching lawsuits against illegal file-sharers, Iron Maiden used the information as input for its tours. For example, the band is most popular among Brazilian pirates and in Chile. Their recent tour had a heavy focus on South America, because the band also has lots of Twitter followers there. When the band played in Paraguay for the first time, the gigs were sold out throughout the region.

According to the music analytics company, the file-sharing information helped the band turn pirates into paying customers simply by heading over there and playing for them. Everyone understands that it’s impossible to download the true experience of a live performance, so the pirates will turn up. If artists engage with fans, there’s always a chance to turn a percentage into paying customers. This can be seen through different bands using the BitTorrent network in a legitimate and official way to share content. It is also pleasant to see that instead of hunting down file-sharers for lawsuits, the information can be used by musicians to plan their tours. It is also a more positive way to treat your fans – play for them instead of trying to bankrupt them in court.

Sunday 12 January 2014

We’re Watching You Watch For Cash!!

UK Theater Workers Caught Dozen Movie Cammers

Since April, over a dozen alleged cammers of the most popular films have been apprehended in the United Kingdom thanks to the vigilance of theater staff. But despite their rapid response, only 5 pirates were arrested and none of them have been prosecuted.

Camcording of movies in theaters is regarded by the entertainment industry as the most damaging form of piracy, which has been going on for over 30 years. In the United Kingdom, the movies are normally released a little later than in the United States, and cinema workers are promised cash incentives to watch out for the camcorders. For example, theatre staff can earn up to £500 each if they manage to stop a potential pirate.

Strict rules exist in the UK to govern whether an individual is awarded money for stopping movie piracy. One of the most interesting ones is calling the police, because simply recording a movie is not against the law in the country. According to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, a suspected cammer can be charged only if there is proof that the recording was part of a commercial operation or that there was intent to later upload it.

However, the police have still attended a dozen suspected camming instances in the country on such movies as Gravity, Rush, One Direction: This Is Us, Captain Phillips, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa and Monsters University. 15 employees will get rewards of up to £500 each as a result. The cinema employees remain the frontline in protecting movies from being pirated. The strategy of anti-piracy outfit Federation Against Copyright Theft is funded by the movie distributors in order to seek to prevent the initial recording which seeds piracy worldwide. Apparently, the group wants to stop recording in theaters by any means and will therefore they like the results of this year, but there are obvious weak points in the law that won’t change anytime soon.

Of a total dozen incidents, which must have involved at least twelve people and maybe even more, the police arrested only 5 and issued another 9 with cautions. At the moment, only 2 are on police bail. In the meantime, there’s no mention of a single prosecution or conviction of the camcorders.

Despite the fact that the UK legislation favors the potential pirates, the anti-piracy group can still get the police to take camcording seriously, particularly when the allegations go beyond simple recording and into distribution.

Saturday 11 January 2014

We Control You!!

UK Starts Online Filtering

UK Prime Minster has started censoring the worldwide web for the entire country, and now millions of BT customers are Internet censored from all those things that David Cameron doesn’t like. The Internet service provider confirmed that the filter is on and working

New BT customers will have to choose on whether they want to activate the parental controls. They will also have to explain to BT why they refuse and in this case there’s a chance that their IP address will be flagged to be closely watched by GCHQ. As for existing BT customers, those will be contacted by the company during the next year and asked if they want to activate the controls and allow the government to decide what they can access.

Customers who want to turn the parental controls on will choose between 3 set filter levels – strict, moderate and light. All of them ban porn, obscene and tasteless material, along with hate and self-harm, drugs, alcohol and tobacco and dating websites. In addition, moderate and strict filters will also block websites featuring nudity, weapons and violence, as well as gambling and social networking. Strict filter also blocks fashion and beauty websites, file-sharing, games and media streaming.

You can always add or remove other websites from the list manually. Moreover, the filter can be turned off at specific times, for instance if you want it to act as a “watershed”, and it can also be set to another level during “homework time”, when kids are busy with their homework. According to BT representatives, the company takes the question of online kids protection very seriously and is glad to launch the whole home filter to help parents keep their families safe on the Internet.

In the meantime, a recent report by Ofcom showed that less than 50% of parents with children aged 5 to 15 have any filters in place on the family computer, with 13% admitting they either don’t know how to install controls or had no idea it was possible. Perhaps, David Cameron knows better how to look after children, as he famously abandoned his kid in a pub when he went out to dinner with his missus. Some people wish there was a way of outsourcing that responsibility too. Maybe Prime Minister simply doesn’t want to put taxpayer money into a public education system.

Friday 10 January 2014

Increase Sales??

Want to increase sales? Remove DRM!

A recent study has revealed that removing DRM from albums would boost revenue rather than losing it to pirates. It turned out that music revenue rise 10% on general content and 30% on other content.

It means that the customers don’t like when the rights owners place restrictions on content and prefer to buy something else instead. Digital rights management has been a complete disaster, because pirates found it easy to bypass, but the system had a nasty habit of bricking machines it couldn’t cope with. As a result, people using pirated versions were getting better quality because the DRM wasn’t making their lives a misery and actually discouraged them to buy legitimate product.

The research was based on a survey of over 5,800 albums from 634 artists and compared the sales figures before and after the labels decided to drop DRM. It works if the entertainment industry tries to bring in DRM-like controls using such things as album release dates, music genre and regular sales variations over time.

For example, older albums selling less than 25,000 copies saw their sales grow by 41% and overall lower-selling albums got a 30% sales increase. So, DRM only seemed to work for top selling work.

The researchers point out that the 30% sales increase for lower-selling albums can be due to DRM-free music making it easier for customers to share files and discover new music. Indeed, the finding that removing DRM from top-selling works has almost no effect or negative effect on sales really makes sense, because the discovery element is less important for well-promoted artists.

Thursday 9 January 2014

Get Out More!!

The ultimate bouncy toy? Man spends 32 years building rubber band ball

We can think of better ways to spend your spare time over 32 years: writing a novel, bringing up a child or two – or, maybe, creating a cure for disease.

However, this man’s hobby has a little more bounce – creating a giant rubber band ball.

Reddit user Zack Hample, a 35-year-old sports writer, posted a picture of his masterpiece (alongside a laptop and two bunches of bananas for scale) with the caption: ’32 years in the making. Started with just one and, yes, it would bounce if I could lift it.’

According to Zack, the ball weighs the same as two, slightly smaller than average, people – around 114kg (253lbs) – and he’s spent around $1,500 (£920) building it.

We’re sorry to say Zack’s is not the world’s largest rubber band ball. That title was claimed by Joel Waul in 2008, according to Guinness World Records.

Mr Waul’s ball weighs more than 9,000lbs, is seven feet tall and is made up of 700,000 rubber bands. It is now owned by Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Phone Home…..No!

37,000 UK Customers Left without Broadband and Phone

Tens of thousands of households across London were left without phone and broadband services for 3 days. The suspected thieves looking for copper left people cut from the outside world by cutting crucial fibre-optic trunk cables.

This was one of the biggest outages in BT’s network ever, with the services going down since Tuesday to Friday last week. This left around 37,000 Sky customers without phone or broadband. TalkTalk was also affected, and some of its clients lost their phone connections, though many calls were rerouted.

BT blamed a malicious attack for the outage. It turned out that cables accessed via a manhole were sliced open by intruders at night who were thought to have been looking for copper wire. The latter has a high resale value on the black market. However, the thieves found only fiber-optic cables – those can carry huge amounts of data, but have no value on the black market. BT announced that several engineers were sent on site to work round the clock to reconnect people: according to media reports, a team of ten engineers from BT’s Openreach network division were working to splice the cables back together in a crucial part of the company’s core London network.

Although some areas were soon back online, the disruption has come during a peak period for online Christmas shopping, and people failed to make purchases in time to meet the postal delivery deadlines. The company officially apologized to all affected customers.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

You’ve Been Warned!!

Europe Warned Nokia about Trolling

The European Union warned Nokia that if it tries to use its patents illegally in the future, it would end badly for the company. Of course, there are fears that after Microsoft acquired Nokia it could be used to patent troll others.

So, it wasn’t a great surprise for many when the vice president of the European Commission’s Competition Unit made a warning to Nokia that there could be great trouble if the company turned into a “patent troll”. The EC announced that in case Nokia were ever to take illegal advantage of its patents, an antitrust case would be opened immediately. The Commission had dismissed the possibility that the company would be tempted to behave as a patent troll while clearing the way for the tech giant to acquire Nokia’s devices division.

At the moment, the European Commission is pressuring Google to stop punishing businesses which don’t pay to use its specialized search services like Shopping in its organic search results. The Commission claims that Google creates a link between getting the right to use content from other websites on its specialized search services and the appearance that those websites have on Google’s general search results. This practice allows Google to benefit from investments made by other companies. The EC has asked the tech giant to sever this link to restore competitive incentives. Let’s see what it will do to Nokia.

Monday 6 January 2014

Parking Problems??

Builders cement car to pavement after driver refuses to move it

A disagreement got slightly out of hand when builders cemented a car to the pavement.

The argument came about when the car dealer refused to move a parked VW Caddy from the pavement in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

Mark Drummond, who is not the owner but was responsible for selling the car on, said the pavement had been used to display vehicles for more than 20 years.

Local media reports it is not technically illegal to park here as it is a public space, but construction workers were unable to complete maintenance on the pavement because of the parked car.

They asked Mr Drummond to remove it but he refused, so then they cemented it to the pavement.

Celso Antonio de Faria, the owner of the cement company said: ‘He said I could not lay a finger on the car.’

The Brazilian transport department sent a towing company to remove the car following a number of complaints from locals but found the car fixed to the ground.

Saturday 4 January 2014

Case Closed??

Wet, cold and naked man spends night in guitar case

A man was discovered half-naked and dazed having just spent hours in a guitar case to keep warm – after he fell through an icy pond while getting lost on a walk.

Zackery Aders, 31, set off on a mammoth 26-mile trek between Gore and Checotah in Oklahoma when he lost his way.

Walking on an icy pond, the surface suddenly gave way and Aders realised that he would have to take off his now-soaking wet clothes.

Farm owners nearby were checking on their cattle when they found him in only his boxer shorts and ‘unable to speak’, Muskogee County sheriff Charles Pearson said.

He’d climbed into his guitar case to keep warm, as the temperature plunged, and left clothes piled up in a heap next to it.

‘They had to walk back in there to find him,’ the Muskogee Phoenix reports Mr Pearson as saying. ‘He was so cold he couldn’t even talk.’

Mr Aders was treated at a local hospital before being released with non-life-threatening injuries.

Friday 3 January 2014

No Sex Here Please!!

Google Filters Sex Words from Android

Apparently, the tech giant is very upset with people discussing sex on its Android OS. You can notice in the latest version of Android that the predictive text will fail to recognize a number of words, including “sex”, “intercourse” or “screwing”.
The experts have found an “obsessive” and “baffling” list of 1,400 words banned by Google. The list includes such words as “coitus” and other medical and anatomical terms. It seems that Google shows a surprising discomfort with sexuality, reproductive health and undergarments.

For some reason, the list also contains words “geek” and “Chromebook”, though the experts would have thought that the company would have liked the former and would want to promote the later.

The users are able to type any of these words manually, but they can’t use predictive text – so they just have to write every letter, from start to finish. The company will have a good go at trying to censor the word “condom”, for “condition” if you let it – this move would have the backing of the conservative elements of the Roman Catholic church, which is against that sort of thing. So, if you want to be able to ask your girlfriend to buy a pack of condoms whenever she gets a chance, you better go into the app’s settings menu and disable the word-blocking filter.

It is unclear why Google is up to this bizarre Victorian censorship. They won’t be able to protect kids from seeing such words – instead, they will make them type from start to finish in the first place. If the company is just trying to censor in order to make religious wing nuts in the United States happy, it will find that it is starting an ever-increasing filtering spiral that can result in it being as oppressive and autocratic as China.

Thursday 2 January 2014

We’re Watching…All The Time!!

FBI Can Secretly Activate Your PC Camera

Media reports claim that the FBI can turn on your computer camera so that the green light doesn’t come on. Apparently, the agency has had the ability to secretly activate a PC camera without triggering the light that lets you know it is recording for years now.
The FBI agents admitted that the spy laptop recording was mainly used in terrorism cases or the most serious of criminal investigations. So, they can do it. The story was about how the Federal Bureau of Investigation tracked a guy called Mo who made a series of threats to detonate bombs at universities and airports across the country in 2012.

It turned out that the FBI’s hacker team developed a piece of malicious software that had to be delivered secretly when the guy signed on to his Yahoo e-mail account. The malware had to collect details of the Internet websites he had visited and indicators of the location of his41 PC.

Ironically enough, although the FBI was able to get a search technology into Mo’s machine, it is still yet to be able to arrest him, as he is in Iran at the moment. If Mo ever comes back, it wouldn’t be surprising that the court receives many evidential snaps of him looking dazed into his laptop first thing in the morning.