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.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

UK At Trying Again!!

UK Wants Even More Online Censorship

The UK government seems to be planning to increase censorship of the worldwide web after its initial attempt failed. Instead of simply giving up on the idea of filtering the Internet, David Cameron wants to censor more and not just delete illegal material but also anything that might offend him.

Now James Brokenshire, the Minister for Immigration and Security of the United Kingdom, pushes the idea of increased online filtering, as David Cameron has finally realized his initial attempt failed.Brokenshire has called for the government to do more to deal with "unsavory" content on the Internet. God knows what he means.

Again Brokenshire had to use the excuse of terrorist propaganda as a reason for online filtering. He said that terrorist propaganda on the Internet would have a direct impact on the radicalization of UK citizens and it is therefore very important to remove terrorist-related content hosted in the United Kingdom or overseas.

According to Jaani Riordan, a barrister specializing in technology litigation, the UK government is bringing in censorship, which would breach the European Convention of Human Rights in the terms of freedom of expression. This is why the government prefers to put pressure on private businesses to self-censor. Indeed,the Minister says that the government was considering a kind of a "code of conduct" for ISPs and businesses, along with a potential system whereby search engines and social media platforms actually alter their algorithms to make "unsavory" material appear less often.

Well, so far there was neither clear indication what a new online filter list pushed on ISPs would look like,nor how it will be designed to work.The suggestions were that the government would simply tell the industry what exactly it considers offensive and they will voluntarily have to agree to filter it. In the meantime, the Home Office insists that this suggestion is part of a new effort meant to take down "terrorist" material overseas, where much of it is hosted.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Aussie Government Having a Larf??

Australia Asked Users to Decrypt Their Encryptions

Aussie Attorney General Department seems to be cross that citizens are encrypting their traffic and the spooks can’t read it. May be that’s why it is drawing up new laws in order to force Internet users and providers of encrypted online communications services to decode any information intercepted by authorities. They claim it can save time and effort of the spooks in decrypting terrorists’ emails.

However, this proposal was buried in a submission by the department to a Senate inquiry on revision of the Telecommunications Interception Act. In the meantime, the Attorney General claims that the increasing rise of encryption use by businesses made it difficult to guarantee that intercepted communications will be in a readable format. The authorities point out that sophisticated criminals and terrorists are using encryption and related counter-interception measures in order to frustrate law enforcement and various security investigations – the terrorists can do so by using default-encrypted communications services or by adopting advanced encryption solutions.

Industry experts confirm that such tech giants as Yahoo!, Google and Microsoft already enable encryption by default for their email services. You may also remember that BlackBerry's messaging encryption has also previously been raised as a law enforcement issue.

Now the Australia’s Attorney General Department has developed a plan, under which law enforcement, anti-corruption and national security agencies could apply to an independent issuing authority for a warrant to authorize the issue of 'intelligibility assistance notices' to third parties like service providers and others.

The human rights activists point out that forcing individual suspects to decrypt encrypted messages would be a new power for Australian authorities.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

I’m Going To Tell!!

Game of Thrones spoiler threat silences disruptive class

A maths teacher successfully silenced his disruptive class when he threatened to write the names of those killed off in the third season of the drama on the board

Forget litter picking and mopping dining hall floors, how about threatening a spoiler to deal with a disruptive class?

On being faced with a noisy classroom, a maths teacher in a school in Belgium, threatened to reveal the deaths that take place in the third season of Game of Thrones.

Asking his students which of them watched the fantasy drama, the majority raised their hands, to which the teacher responded: “Well, I’ve read all the books. If there is too much noise, I will write the names of the dead on the board.

Reported in the Belgian newspaper, the teacher continued: “They [the dead] are enough to fill the whole year and I can even describe how they die.”

Although taking this initial statement as an empty threat, the pupils quickly got back to work in silence when the teacher began writing the names of those killed off in the third season on the board.

The story, which spread via social media, prompted one student to write “my maths teacher is a genius” – and with season four due to start in just over a week, the teacher will have plenty of ammo to continue this threat.

Considering the popularity of the drama, the punishment could - maybe - make a welcome addition to UK classrooms.

In December, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s chief inspector, warned of a “culture” of teachers tolerating misbehaviour and inattention in schools.

Last month, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, set out a list of government-approved punishments, including “community service” sanctions, such as weeding school grounds and cleaning up graffiti.

This new guidance from the Department for Education is intended to ensure that more teachers take a “tough" line with disruptive pupils, and also includes writing lines, or loss of a prized responsibility.

Following a recent survey that found that almost one third of secondary school teachers do not feel confident using the powers they have to discipline children who behave badly, maybe the threat of a spoiler would be an effective method of dealing with class disruption.

Although unlikely to get on the government’s list of approved punishments, it could be worth a try.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Tax …..What’s That?



America Rewarded Corporations for Hiding Money

The American government seems to be rewarding tech giants, including Microsoft and Apple, who are known for avoiding paying tax by funnelling cash viatax havens like Ireland.The British Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) revealed that 4 of the biggest American technology groups collectively hold about $124 billion in US Treasury debt (much of it offshore), earning them tax-free interest.

In other words, Google,Microsoft, Apple, and Cisco Systems hold a large proportion of the $255 billion held in their foreign subsidiaries in US Treasuries. The tech giants can’t bring cash home and use it to help the government pay its debts – because this money would trigger a tax bill. As a result, the corporations prefer to keep it offshore.

American companies say that a "territorial" type of tax system could avoid double taxation and make sure all businesses compete on equal terms. Undoubtedly, this would also encourage companies to shift their revenues overseas. However, the status quo looks equally strange in that the government of the United States appears to reward tech giants for their tax avoidance.

According to a senior international tax policymaker, the American taxpayers paying interest to digital giants investing in American bonds was clearly “a bizarre situation”. Today there’s growing concern that the huge cash mountains held by the largest businesses worldwide may threaten global financial stability.

More than a thousand of the largest US non-financial companies hold $1.48 trillion in cash, according to Moody's, the credit rating agency. In the meantime, more than 20% of the US corporate cash pile is held by Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Cisco.