Russian authorities in the city of St. Petersburg recently came under fire after it was discovered that they had used digital editing software like Adobe Photoshop to fake the cleanup of a local lamp post.Last week, a resident of St. Petersburg submitted a request on the local government official website asking that a lamp post covered with obscene advertising stickers be cleaned. This Tuesday, an employ of the St. Petersburg administration responded to the complaint, letting the person know that the job had been done, even posting a photo of the cleaned up lamp post as proof. It had apparently been scrubbed of advertising materials, but after taking a closer look, a number of users noticed that the infrastructure element depicted in the photo didn’t look quite right.Zooming into the picture, it was revealed that the lamp post in question had been given the “spray can” treatment to create a two-tone speckled grey effect over the stickers. And as if the shoddy digital cleanup wasn’t obvious enough, someone even noticed a bizarre “blob” of white digital spray paint suspended in mid air by the right of the infrastructure element.
Daily Archives: November 17, 2016
Facebook has had to apologise for removing a photograph of a former firefighter with severe burn scars.The social media site twice took down a picture of Lasse Gustavson after his friend Bjorn Lindeblad posted the photograph on Sunday to celebrate his 60th birthday. The company only restored the image when more than 10,000 people shared a third post by Mr Lindeblad, criticising their “disgusting policy”.The post now has more than 30,000 shares.
What’s that song? On your cellphone, the popular app Shazam is able to answer that question by listening for just a few seconds, as if it were magic. On Apple’s computers, Shazam never turns the microphone off, even if you tell it to.When a user of Shazam’s Mac app turns the app “OFF,” the app actually keeps the microphone on in the background. For the security researcher who discovered that the mic is always on, it’s a bug that users should know about. For Shazam, it’s just a feature that makes the app work better.Read more:
There is no privacy issue since the audio is not processed unless the user actively turns the app ‘ON.’” James Pearson, the VP of global communications for Shazam, said in an emailed statement. ”If the mic wasn’t left on, it would take the app longer to both initialize the mic and then start buffering audio, and this is more likely to result in a poor user experience where users ‘miss out’ on a song they were trying to identify.”
While several world leaders were preoccupied with climate change, Canada was debating a far more important issue: whether “fart” is an appropriate word to use in parliament. While giving what she called “an impassioned speech” about unemployment and tax increases in Alberta in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel said the government treated the province “like a fart in the room that nobody wants to talk about or acknowledge,” per Mashable. At that point, all discussion of Alberta ended. Cut in Green Party leader Elizabeth May, “I hate to interrupt my friend in her speech, but I heard her say a word that I know is distinctly unparliamentary, and I think she may want to withdraw it.”May then chose to spell out the word rather than repeat it. Rempel, in apparent bemusement, refused to withdraw “fart” from the record and instead asked if May was “actually serious.” After a few other MPs cut in—others had laughed at Rempel’s speech, per the Huffington Post—May complained she was being “heckled” and said she would “not forgive” use of a word like “fart.” After about five minutes, the assistant deputy speaker calmed everyone down, promising to revisit the “borderline” language, and talk returned to Alberta. Twitter users, however, remained consumed by the “fart.” “We’ve smelled worse on Parliament Hill,” one user quipped. “I don’t understand why @ElizabethMay raised such a stink,” said another. (A Canadian MP once discussed his underwear.)
It’s Time to Stop Spending Taxpayer Dollars on Elon Musk and Cronyism … The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have launched a probe into tax incentives paid to solar companies, according to The Wall Street Journal. The committee probes, led by their respective Republican chairmen, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, have found an appropriate and disturbing target to begin this work. SolarCity, a solar installation company set to be purchased by Tesla Motors Inc., is one of the seven companies named in the initial investigation. –Daily Signal/Heritage FoundationElon Musk is being investigated, but not for the money he’s borrowed to build Tesla – instead it’s over the strange deal he engineered for a company called SolarCity. We’ve written about Musk here, here and here.We didn’t understand the deal but thanks to this article, we think we do. Apparently – or so we are informed – Musk engineered it to avoid the foundering of the company. It was headed downhill, so Musk simply decided to buy it to hide its failure.
A code artefact in a number of popular firewalls means they can be crashed by a mere crafted ping.The low-rate “Ping of death” attack, dubbed BlackNurse, affects firewalls from Cisco, SonicWall, Zyxel, and possibly Palo Alto.Since we don’t imagine Switchzilla has started giving away the version of IOS running in its ASA firewalls, Vulture South suspects it arises from a popular open source library. Which means other vulnerable devices could be out there.Unlike the old-fashioned ping-flood, the attack in question uses ICMP “Type 3, Code 3” (destination unreachable, port unreachable) packets.In the normal course of events, a host would receive that packet in response to a message it had initiated – but of course, it’s trivial to craft that packet and send it to a target.In devices susceptible to BlackNurse, the operating system gets indigestion trying to process even a relatively low rate of these messages – in the original report from Denmark’s TF-CSIRT, gigabit-capable routers could be borked by just 18 Mbps of BlackNurse traffic on their WAN interfaces.
In response to a lawsuit accusing the US Navy of pirating more than 558,000 copies of virtual reality software, the Navy conceded Monday that it had installed the software on “hundreds of thousands of computers within its network” without paying the German software maker for it. But the Navy says it did so with the consent of the software producer.Bitmanagement Software, in a federal lawsuit, claims the government pilfered its 3D virtual reality software on a “massive scale” beginning in 2013. The company says it agreed to license BS Contact Geo on just 38 machines “for the purposes of testing, trial runs, and integration into Navy systems.” The suit, in which Bitmanagement conceded that it removed the “control mechanism that tracked and limited the use of the software,” seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.Those damages could grow into billions. The US Copyright Act allows up to $150,000 in damages per infringement.According to the government’s response (PDF) Monday to the July lawsuit by Bitmanagement Software:
Canadians Lorne Michaels as well as Frank Gehry will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Barack Obama announced this past Tuesday – the awards will be given out at the end of the month.The honour recognizes exceptional meritorious service, and was put into effect in 1945 by President Truman.Michaels, who is credited with creating and producing the insanely popular Saturday Night Live as well as The Tonight Show and Late Night, is a member of the Order of Canada and he also has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame. He has won 13 Emmys as well.And Gehry is a world-renowned architect, and his buildings are regarded as some of the most innovative and forward-thinking structures in the world.Other 2016 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom include NBA’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan, philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates, two-time Oscar winner Robert DeNiro, rock legend Bruce Springsteen, talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, and music icon Diana Ross (The Canadian Press).
Short Bytes: The Facebook account of a person who has passed away can be memorialized after a request submitted by a verified person. However, Facebook also provides you with an option to auto-delete your Facebook account after getting notified about your death.Death is inevitable but all the living beings seem reluctant to face this hard truth of life. It is more painful for the close connections of a deceased person because it is hard to fill that vacant space in their lives. Nowadays, many people spend a large part of their lives on the internet, especially, on social platforms. The situation worsens when people comes across the social media profiles of their loved ones or receive birthday notifications.Facebook is probably the most popular of all such platforms. It has appropriate options which allow a deceased person’s Facebook profile to be memorialized – the ones with Remembering written – after getting a request from a verified person.
They called it Project X. It was an unusually audacious, highly sensitive assignment: to build a massive skyscraper, capable of withstanding an atomic blast, in the middle of New York City. It would have no windows, 29 floors with three basement levels, and enough food to last 1,500 people two weeks in the event of a catastrophe.But the building’s primary purpose would not be to protect humans from toxic radiation amid nuclear war. Rather, the fortified skyscraper would safeguard powerful computers, cables, and switchboards. It would house one of the most important telecommunications hubs in the United States — the world’s largest center for processing long-distance phone calls, operated by the New York Telephone Company, a subsidiary of AT&T.The building was designed by the architectural firm John Carl Warnecke & Associates, whose grand vision was to create a communication nerve center like a “20th century fortress, with spears and arrows replaced by protons and neutrons laying quiet siege to an army of machines within.”
Less than a week after India’s surprise move to scrap its highest denomination cash notes, another front in the War on Cash has intensified down under in Australia.Yesterday, banking giant UBS proposed that eliminating Australia’s $100 and $50 bills would be “good for the economy and good for the banks.”(How convenient that a bank would propose something that’s good for banks!)This isn’t the first time that the financial establishment has pushed for a cashless society in Australia (or anywhere else).In September 2015, Australian bank Westpac published its “Cash Free Report”, suggesting that the country would become cashless by 2022.In July 2016, Australian payments firm Tyro published an enormously self-serving blog post touting the benefits of a cashless society and saying, “it’s only a matter of time.”Most notably, two days ago, Citibank (yes, THAT Citibank) announced that it was going cashless at some of its Australian branches.The media and political establishments have chimed in as well.In February of this year, the Sydney Morning Herald released a series of articles, some of which were written by officials from Australia’s Department of the Treasury, suggesting that eliminating cash will “save billions”, and that “moving to a cashless society is the next step for the Australian dollar”.This is how it works.The government, media, banks, and even academia have formed a single, unified chorus to push this idea out to consumers that “cashless” is good for everyone.And it’s happening across the planet, from Australia to India to Europe to North America.They’re partially right.Going cashless probably will save a lot of money; paper currency is costly to transport in large quantities due to the need for security.It’s also accurate to suggest that going cashless will be “good for the banks.”As UBS pointed out yesterday, “de-monetizing” Australia’s $50 and $100 bills would force anyone holding those notes to deposit them back in the banking system.Bank deposits would rise as a result, and consequently, so would bank profits.Governments would benefit from a cashless society because all savings would be in the banking system, and they have full regulatory control over the banks.This means that your politicians would have more control over your savings and fewer obstacles to impose capital controls or engage in Civil Asset Forfeiture.Even policy wonk academics would have a rare opportunity to take their lousy theories and PhD dissertations for a test drive.Everyone benefits from a cashless society… except for you.
Opera is one of the most underrated browsers out there. Even though it usually pops up in the most-popular browser lists, only a fraction of total users use it (W3schools puts the figure at around 1% for 2016). Still the numbers add up to about 60 mil users on desktop and twice that on Opera Mini for Android.Despite its lower usage numbers, many of the awesome features you use in your favorite non-Opera browser are either introduced by Opera or turned mainstream by it. The speed dial, private/incognito window, pop-up blocker, tabbed browsing, ability to turn off images and browser sessions are some of the features that originated from Opera.