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.
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.
FLASHBACK to March 18, 1975:
Dr. Harb Hayre, a professor of electric engineering at the University of Houston on March 18, 1975, checks the write out of his tattletale machine. The device can analyze the voice and tell more about a person than words alone. Properly applied, says the professor, the machine could: detect a drunk driver; tell who is lying and who is telling the truth; determine if a pilot is to tired to fly; tell the precise condition of a mental patient; or, determine if a person is under the influence of drugs. (AP Photo/EFK)
TO Denver, Colorado, where the city’s police Nasal Ranger is investigating the smell of marijuana. The Denver Post reports:
“Ben Siller looked ridiculous on a recent afternoon, standing on a downtown Denver street corner with a giant device clamped to his face sniffing the air for odorous evidence of marijuana.”
Yep. He does. But one day, when marijuana is legal everywhere, Mr Siller could be a ‘nose’, just like those wine buffs who can identify a blend of grapes with a sniff, a swirl, a gurgle and a spit. One sniff, and Mr Siller will be able to tell consumers just what’s in the blend. WAft a sample under Nasal Ranger et voila!, you need never buy oregano and henna again.
Amber Frost has facts about Colorado smells:
In a city of around 634,000 people, there were 98 smell complaints in 2010, seven involved weed. In 2012, there were 288 complaints, with sixteen having to do with marihuana. While that’s an increase overall, complaints about pot actually decreasedby about 1.5%, and this was all prior to the legalization of pot for recreational use. In 2013 (up until September 20th), they recorded 85 complaints, eleven of which were attributed to marijuana, a slight increase since 2010, but the city isn’t exactly being hot-boxed.
How does Nasal Ranger work? Because any weed hounds needs one to find the good stuff:
LEANDER Kahney is talking about the world’s most famous designer, Essex-boy and graduate of Newcastle Polytechnic done very good, Johny Ive. British writer Kahney has profiled the Apple legend in Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products. Here are a few extracts:
Phil Gray, who was his first boss after he graduated from design school, met him at the Olympics in London. “When I asked Sir Jony what was it like being a knight of the realm, he replied, ‘You know what? Out in San Francisco it means absolutely nothing. But back in Britain it is a burden.’”
At 25, he was headhunted by Apple.
“I remember very clearly Steve announcing that our goal is not just to make money but to make great products,” Ive later recalled. “The decisions you make based on that philosophy are fundamentally different from the ones we had been making at Apple… We were on the same wavelength. I suddenly understood why I loved the company.”
In the design studio:
Ive has the only private office. The front wall and door are made of glass, with stainless steel fittings, just like the ones in Apple’s shops. Except for a small shelf system, the office is bare with plain white walls, featuring no pictures of his family or design awards; just a desk, chair and lamp.
Ive is Apple’s soul:
Just before he died on October 5, 2011, Jobs revealed the degree to which he had empowered Ive inside the company. “He has more operational power than anyone else at Apple except me,” Jobs said. “There’s no one who can tell him what to do, or to butt out. That’s the way I set it up.”
“Our goal isn’t to make money. Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it’s the truth. Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful, people will like them, and if we are operationally competent, we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal.”
Well, I bought an Ive original. Then I bought another. And another…
Lead Photo: In this file photo taken March 19, 1999, Jonathan Ive, left, Apple’s vice president of design, and Jon Rubinstein, Apple’s senior vice president of engineering, pose behind five iMac personal computers, at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Apple CEO Steve Jobs may be the company’s most recognizable personality, but much of its cachet comes from its clean, friendly-looking designs, the product of its head designer, Jonathan Ive.
BAN this sick filth:
“I COUDN’T believe it when I saw what was inside the box. Maddie was devastated,” says Colin Marsh, who paid £470 for at Tesco in Whitstable, Kent. “I took it back to Tesco, but they said they couldn’t give me a refund and would need to carry out an investigation. Two days later, I got a call at about 8pm from the police asking if I could come down to the station to answer some questions. I just thought they wanted to know what had happened, but the next thing I know I’m being bundled into a cell. I was in there for three hours. It was then they told me the iPad had been activated in my name. I just thought ‘how can that possibly be?’ It didn’t make any sense.
That’s how it began. And then it got weird.
GREAT Ads: Jean-Claude Van Damme for Volvo:
THE Twitter account for @KelloggsUK has message from a tame feline who want vulnerable kids to eat lots of sugar and salt for breakfast. All it takes is a retweet:
SO. Here’s an interesting little question. We’ve had several waves of social media sites already and none of them has really lasted more than a few years. Friends Get Divorced did ferociously well until it was passed by MySpace, which itself was rather pushed out of the way by Bebo which was then in turn flattened by Facebook. And we could think that Facebook will now rule the roost forever because it’s just so darn big: or we might think that we’re just waiting for the cool kids to find somewhere else to go.
Over at The Guardian they’ve found just the one line which makes it possible that it will be the latter:
Facebook made a startling admission in its earnings announcement this month: it was seeing a “decrease in daily users, specifically among teens”. In other words, teenagers are still on Facebook; they’re just not using it as much as they did. It was a landmark statement, since teens are the demographic who often point the rest of us towards the next big thing.
FLASHBACK: African schoolteacher Sanderson Chirambo is with his man-powered aircraft Limba IV on the road at Glenara Estates African School, 10 miles from Salisbury, Rhodesia on March 15, 1967, before his attempt to become the first man to fly successfully a man-powered aircraft. His machine - a bicycle fitted with a 12 foot aluminium wing and tailplane – failed to leave the ground. After the attempt Sanderson shook his head sadly and said: “It’s the same problem I’ve faced all along. It’s much to heavy.”
ON August 21 1957, visitors to the Radio and Television Fair watched the effect of their words on a TV telephone set up in Frankfurt, West Germany. Phones used for calls were linked to four TV sets and two cameras so each person can see a picture of himself and the person he is talking to. The AP reported: “There is no telling what effect the TV telephone will have on what people say and how they do it when they call.”
MEANWHILE in Belarus… dash cams are recording the unusual: