Independent news, views, opinions and reviews on the latest gadgets, games, science, technology and research from Apple and more. It’s about the technologies that change the way we live, work, love and behave.
FACEBOOK has a new button. Press it and you can “sympathise” with another Facebooker you don’t know well enough to call on the phone or speak to directly.
THE National Security Agency have sent their grotty little tentacles into every corner of the globe, spying on us all in a bid to reassure us all that they’re fighting off terrorists. Even though most of us aren’t terrorists. And by a huge margin too.
Anyway, the tech world have teamed up and said ‘ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! THE ONLY PEOPLE ALLOWED TO INVADE THE PRIVACY OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC IS US!’
THIS is a fun little story. Candy Crush Saga is the all conquering barnstorming game of the moment and it’s made its maker, King, worth something like $5 billion. But it’s exactly that mega-success of the game that means that the maker cannot cash out by floating it on the stock market. Imagine that, being to successful to be able to sell yourself.
King, the mobile games maker behind Candy Crush Saga, has delayed its initial public offering until next year amid fears that the flagship game has been “too successful”.
The British company, which is gearing up for a potential $5bn (£3bn) flotation on the Nasdaq stock exchange, had considered listing by the end of this year. However, it has decided to wait to give it time to demonstrate that it has other hits in the pipeline and is not a “one hit wonder”.
WHEN Peter Clatworthy saw a photo of anXBox One console on eBay, he wanted it. He handed over £450 plug £8 packaging. The 19-year-old student, of Bilborough, Nottingham, wanted the device for his four-year-old son, McKenzie. But he got exactly what he clicked on: a picture of an XBox One.
— M/S Expedition (@g_msexpedition) December 2, 2013
Mic Right’s Remotely Furious: Sam Wollaston and Charlie Brooker
SAM Wollaston is my favourite TV critic of the modern age. While Clive James continued in his dotage to be pure genius, Wollaston is a performance artist, the Andy Kaufmann of sitting around gawping at other people’s work then witlessly hammering out some half-thought out bibble for The Guardian. Nice work if you can get it.
THIS is a nice little piece of research showing the variation in price of the iPhone all over the world. You can set it to tell you the absolute price in any country and see the impact of taxes etc on an iPhone 5s. Or you can mix and match it with how rich the country is and so see what percentage of the average salary it is.
THIS isn’t something I’ve ever really thought about: how do you go about training yourself to stick your finger up a man’s bum? No, no, not as part of the festivities on Hampstead Heath but rather, how does a doctor get trained to do prostate exams?
THE FriXion Revolution is here! Never again will BBC DJs and rock stars need to actually touch their fans and run the risk of an underage furore. With FriXion, you can rub and grope through your computer.
On the next generation haptic social network innovative and affordable haptic peripherals empower FriXion users to come together and touch each other in tangible, stimulating ways; from holding hands and kissing up to and including full penetrative sex whether your partner is across the room or across an ocean.
A samples was taken. Further probes. Further investigations. The thing was feasting off the gamma radiation. Gamma radiation 500 times the normal background radiation levels. It sounds terrifying. But, then, what if nature is eating the radiation? Could this fungus clean up radioactive sites?
EVER wonder how a lock works?
THINKING of transporting a Christmas Tree on your car roof?
THE car crashed into a wall in Bad Kreuznach, Rhineland Palatinate, Germany, attracted police attention. What they failed to noticed that the car’s owner was in the boot – the 30-year-old had curled up to sleep off the demon drink and drugs.
She had placed within reach water and food.
WHEN Zou Bin’s phone was stolen by a man with whom he’d shared a taxi ride in China’s Hunan province, he sent a text to the ”I can assure you that I will find you. Send me back the phone to the address below if you are sensible.”
Mr Bin wanted his phone and, more importantly, the contacts on it. He sent another message: ”Look through the contact numbers in my mobile and you will know what trade I am in.”
HOW much do your balls mean to you? Or indeed, do you sleep with a ball-having partner and have grown rather fond of them? Well, thank the stars you’re not seeing the car lover who is selling one of his testicles for £22,000 so he can buy a Nissan 370.
That’s right. A Nissan.
THE Automated Cat Petting Machine is a real thing. No. It’s not RoboSpinster. It’s John Reed’s work for his senior thesis film at Tyler in 1987. As he says, “The Cat Petter turned out to be far more interesting than the film”. Our tip would be to rename it the BBC DJ Recruiter and call the cops on the old stroker:
KSI is a big hit on YouTube. But Eurogamer has severed links with the blogger also known as JJ or Olajide. He appeared in this horrible video, doing a passable impression of a 1970s BBC DJ as he used the microphone to belittle women. The language is NSFW.
REASONS to love dogs: No. 342c – they can wash your clothes.
IS you new LG Smart TV spying on you? Dr Beet, aka Hull-based Jason Huntley, found that his telly was displaying ads on the Smart landing screen. He investigated and found a corporate video advertising their data collection practices to potential advertisers. LG boasts:
LG Smart Ad analyses users favourite programs, online behaviour, search keywords and other information to offer relevant ads to target audiences. For example, LG Smart Ad can feature sharp suits to men, or alluring cosmetics and fragrances to women.Furthermore, LG Smart Ad offers useful and various advertising performance reports. That live broadcasting ads cannot. To accurately identify actual advertising effectiveness.
The telly features a “Collection of watching info”. Unless you disable it this is active.
He went further, looking at what was being harvested:
GB.smartshare.lgtvsdp.com POST /ibs/v2.2/service/watchInformation.xml HTTP/1.1
X-Authentication:YMu3V1dv8m8JD0ghrsmEToxONDI= cookie:JSESSIONID=3BB87277C55EED9489B6E6B2DEA7C9FD.node_sdpibis10; Path=/
This information appears to be sent back unencrypted and in the clear to LG every time you change channel, even if you have gone to the trouble of changing the setting above to switch collection of viewing information off.
It was at this point, I made an even more disturbing find within the packet data dumps. I noticed filenames were being posted to LG’s servers and that these filenames were ones stored on my external USB hard drive. To demonstrate this, I created a mock avi file and copied it to a USB stick.This file didn’t really contain “midget porn” at all, I renamed it to make sure it had a unique filename that I could spot easily in the data and one that was unlikely to come from a broadcast source.
And sure enough, there is was…
I think it’s important to point out that the URL that the data is being POSTed to doesn’t in fact exist, you can see this from the HTTP 404 response in the next response from LG’s server after the ACK.
However, despite being missing at the moment, this collection URL could be implemented by LG on their server tomorrow, enabling them to start transparently collecting detailed information on what media files you have stored.
It would easily be possible to infer the presence of adult content or files that had been downloaded from file sharing sites. My wife was shocked to see our children’s names being transmitted in the name of a Christmas video file that we had watched from USB.
So what does LG have to say about this? I approached them and asked them to comment on data collection, profiling of their customers, collection of usage information and mandatory embedded advertising on products that their customers had paid for. Their response to this was as follows:Good MorningThank you for your e-mail.Further to our previous email to yourself, we have escalated the issues you reported to LG’s UK Head Office.The advice we have been given is that unfortunately as you accepted the Terms and Conditions on your TV, your concerns would be best directed to the retailer. We understand you feel you should have been made aware of these T’s and C’s at the point of sale, and for obvious reasons LG are unable to pass comment on their actions.We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause you. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact us again.Kind RegardsTomLG Electronics UK Helpdesk
Mr Huntley tells the BBC:
“That’s a terrible implementation of the idea. It still sends the traffic but labels it saying I didn’t want it to be sent. It’s actually worse, I think, than if they’d not offered the optout in the first place since it allows the user to believe nothing is being sent.”
That TV isn’t smart. It’s a smart arse…
The team behind the wonder material graphene – developed at the University of Manchester in 2004 – has just got a big new commission: making condoms.
Graphene is strong, light, nearly transparent, and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, qualities that have got it dubbed a supermaterial and tipped for use in airplane wings, internet cables and foldable computers. Chancellor George Osborne is a vocal fan, putting £50m into the department making it in 2011 and trumpeting the superthin layers of carbon as a bright new hope for British industry.
But that’s not all graphene is good for … some of the team working on it at Manchester have just landed a deal to make condoms out of it.
Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
THE new Mini has been launched. The latest BMW version of Sir Alec Issigonis’ classic is bigger than ever before. The original car built by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and its successors from 1959 until 2000 were manufactured at the Longbridge and Cowley plants in England.
Let’s compare then and now:
The car is built at the BMW factory in Oxford.
The production line at the BMW Mini plant in Oxford.
A view of the mini assembly lines in the new factory of Austin works in Longbridge, Birmingham. Date: 25/08/1959
Sir Leonard Lord, Chairman of the British Motor Corporation, at the Longbridge works in Birmingham as he gets into the driving seat of the BMC’s revolutionary new small car, announced today, as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor. Date: 25/08/1959
Sir Leonard Lord, chairman of the British Motor Corporation, inspects an exhibition of the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor at Longbridge in Birmingham. Date: 25/08/1959
At its height the Longbridge plant closed in 1985.
Workers spray the body of a car on the assembly line at the British Motor Corporation’s Longbridge site in Birmingham, where the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minors are being produced. Date: 25/08/1959
The Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minors are driven off the production line at the British Motor Corporation’s Longbridge site in Birmingham. Date: 25/08/1959
A promotional event for the Austin Seven and Morris Mini Minor. Five adults, one baby, two dogs and luggage were loaded into the small car at the British Motor Corporation’s Longbridge site in Birmingham. Date: 25/08/1959
HOW’S David Cameron getting along on Twitter. Well, you dip your toe in the effluent and it comes up yellow…
JACK Vale has a Social Media Experiment. You might have seen it on the end of pier with the fortune teller or at the psychic’s show:
HMM, given the way that I eff and blind on Twitter this isn’t going to be good news for me next time I go out to look for a job:
Employers could use new personality profiling software on jobseekers’ tweets to see if they are right for a role.
IBM developers believe they can successfully assess a person’s psychological traits by analysing the 140 characters they use on Twitter.
The software scans the most recent tweets, be it hundreds or thousands, to develop a personality profile.