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A Humorous Look At News Events And Life Around The World

Archive for July, 2012

Ring…Ring…It’s A Skype Ad!!

Posted by Boghound on July 21, 2012

Skype is Ruined by Advertisements


It seems that the popular P2P calls are no longer free, with the services offered by Skype being plagued by huge display adverts. The company is now bringing in the feature known as “Conversation Ads”, which will pop up within the calling window when you are talking to someone. Perhaps, the Skype marketing department believes that the users will see the ads and start talking about their content to the caller.

Actually, it’s something that advertising people always believe in – that their product is so good that the consumers will want to talk about it. However, in reality the callers will be swearing at the ad.

Skype admitted that the advertisements will be targeted at the consumers based on their location, gender and age. The representatives of the company explained that on a 1:1 audio call, the callers will see material that could spark additional topics of conversation, relevant to the users, as well as “highlight unique and local brand experiences”.

Apparently, people have nothing better to do in a consumption-based capitalism other than discussing the goods randomly flashed on their screens. Meanwhile, Skype marketing department believes that the advertising is a great way for the company to create interactivity between the users’ circle of friends and family and the brands they care about.

The experts suspect that the advertisements won’t be small as well, promising the display ads to be just as big as the picture of someone you are trying to talk to. Another hint the observers have made is that the adverts will pop up during Skype-to-Skype audio calls for Windows users. Nevertheless, only those will be affected who don’t have Skype Credit or subscriptions.

The company claims that there won’t be any degradation of the call quality and that the advertisements will be silent and non-expanding. In addition, the most discontent Skype users will be allowed to opt out of personalized advertisements, though it is a bit tricky to do. If you are one of them, then go to the Privacy menu in Tools and choose Options of Skype for Windows OS. Although you will still get advertisements, those will relate only to your location rather than hit your personal information.


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Enoughs, Enough!!

Posted by Boghound on July 20, 2012

Comcast Got Tired of Entertainment Industry

American Internet service provider Comcast has finally said “enough” and refused to waste time helping the entertainment industry chase file-sharers anymore. The ISP is miffed that it has been given plenty BitTorrent lawsuits in the US and doesn’t want to comply with court-ordered subpoenas.

Comcast’s argument is that the industry is “shaking down” the customers by scaring them into paying settlements. Of course, the entertainment industry became furious that someone stood up to its tactics, and claimed that the broadband providers denied rights owners the opportunity to protect their works.

In the United States, the RIAA and MPAA monitor users downloading and sharing copyrighted content and then demand large sums of cash from the owners of the IP address. The industry seems to believe that it’s a much better method of dealing with online piracy than offering legitimate alternatives to the customers.

Over 250,000 alleged BitTorrent users have been sued, most of the lawsuits being filed by the porn studios, which hoped that the people they accused would be too embarrassed to fight the case. Mainstream film studios and book publishers also joined in lately.

Earlier, the ISP complied with all the subpoenas, but now gave up and told the Illinois District court that it wants them quashed. First of all, the Internet service provider claimed that the court didn’t even have jurisdiction over some of the defendants, since those didn’t reside in the district where they were being sued. In addition, the company argued that the rights owners had no grounds to join this bunch of the defendants in a single lawsuit. The claims were that the copyright holders were exploiting the court in order to force defendants into paying settlements.

The ISP’s attorneys pointed out that plaintiffs shouldn’t be allowed to profit from unfair litigation tactics where the industry uses the court rooms to gain defendants’ personal data and demand settlements from them. In other words, it’s obvious that the industry has no interest in actual litigation; they rather seek to use both the court and its subpoena powers to shake the file-sharers down.

Comcast is just a part of a movement amongst Internet service providers to fight mass-BitTorrent cases. Recently, Verizon did the same, managing to argue that it has an obligation to protect the privacy of its subscribers.

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USA Invent Everything??

Posted by Boghound on July 19, 2012

America Realized Pentagon Didn’t Invent the Internet

The United States finally admit that its glorious government didn’t actually invent the web.

For years the United States has trotted out what amounts to an urban legend that it was Pentagon who created the net in order to keep its communications lines up even in a case if nuclear strike. This legend was used to explain why America should control the global domain system, not some international world body.

The legend in question was recently spouted by the President, who used it as proof that the government really was important to the development of technology. Barak Obama said that the web did not get invented on its own – it was government research that created the net in order to allow all companies to profit from it.

Nevertheless, media reports revealed that some in the United States have conceded it was much more complex than what is told in the legend. By the 1960s all technologists were making attempts to connect separate physical communications networks into a single global network. Although the Pentagon’s Advanced Research Projects Agency Network was also working in this direction, it wasn’t close to maintaining communications in the event of a nuclear attack, and it did not create the Internet.

Robert Taylor, the person who ran the ARPA program 5 decades ago, sent an email to technologists in the 21st century, saying that what Arpanet had wasn’t an Internet. The latter is a connection between 2 or more computer networks, but Arpanet was nothing like that.

Robert Taylor explained that the full credit should go to Xerox PARC labs, where he was working in the 1970s – the Ethernet was first developed there to connected different computer networks. Meanwhile, Xerox PARC researchers realized that waiting for the authorities to connect networks was hopeless because ARPA was too slow and bureaucratic.

At the same time, Xerox, although having invented the Internet, managed to miss a major trick – in fact, the company was only interested in selling photocopiers, so its interest in the web was to share a printer. And it was Ethernet technology that connected networks together.

Finally, the real Internet appeared when Vinton Cerf created the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet’s backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee developed hyperlinks.

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Snail Mail….Safe??

Posted by Boghound on July 19, 2012

British Government Could Scan Envelopes

Along with emails, the UK government decided to control snail mail as well. The country’s Communications Data Bill, which was especially designed for electronics, might also be used to monitor the snail mail.

The suggested legislation means that Internet service providers will have to store information on all emails passing through their systems, but the matter is that this provision is worded in such a way that it could force the Royal Mail to do the same thing. If it does, this will remove the established belief that the post is sacrosanct at least without a court order.

Media reports claim the Home Office knows that the suggested legislation covers this part, but yet has no plans to force the Royal Mail to scan paper mail. However, this is still a bit worrying: the experts start to believe that if the Communications Bill gets through, it’ll be under some bogus pretext that its aim is to save the world from terrorists.

According to the Home Office, the draft bill would only maintain existing powers over postal data and only information about mail, not its contents, would be retained. It means that the Post Office would have to scan every envelope and store it for a year.

According to the Communications Bill, the Royal Mail, along with other postal services, would be asked to retain whatever written on the outside of the items sent for 12 months and provide them to the police, security services and HM Revenue and Customs upon request. The only question is how this could help in the spying market. It suggests that each letter should have data on the outside about who and where it comes from.

This could work if each letter or parcel was signed “Blofeld, C/- Volcanic Island lair, Scotland”. However, criminal capers don’t usually involve such wholesale giveaways, and a pedophile won’t mark his post with a sticker “contains snaps of kids being raped” on the envelope either. Nor the parcels containing anthrax would warn about their contents or wear the code of the terrorist who sent them.

The civil liberties groups called this bill a “snooper’s charter”, while it is strangely a bankruptcy charter as well. The suggested legislation also includes provision helping postal services and other communications providers install new equipment to comply with the legislation. This “help” is estimated at £1.8 billion over the next decade.

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German Exaggeration!!

Posted by Boghound on July 18, 2012


Germany Lost $660 Million in 2011 Due to Music Piracy

Another report on unauthorized downloading meant to victimize the entertainment industry and blame file-sharing claims that the German movie industry lost around $200 million in 2011, while the music industry received a real blow with almost $660 million in lost revenues.

The Berlin-Brandenburg Medienboard, known for endorsing media companies and the video game association G.A.M.E., supported the research, which was carried through by Berlin-based House of Research.

The research scrutinized different academic files with data on unauthorized download and streaming of copyrighted digital content and the impact it had on sales. The study mainly focused on the music and movie industry, while also taking a look on the games industry. However, the results were inconclusive because of the insufficient number of relevant surveys.

The results of the study say that German pirates have streamed and downloaded 185,000,000 movies illegally last year, which is 6% of the industry’s overall annual revenues. It turned out that ever since was closed down and its operators and owners were imprisoned, film rentals increased by 29% the very next week, reaching 41% a year ago. However, in a few weeks things got back to what they used to be, because a copycat file-sharing service emerged.

Despite the fact that the House of Research does recognize the positive impact of piracy, it believes that it is too small to count. It admits that the industry now has to find reasonable solutions.

The discussions over Internet piracy and copyright legislation reached new levels in the country last year, particularly after the German Pirate Party had brought a new perspective in the political arena.

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Posted by Boghound on July 17, 2012

Western Democracies Continue their Attempts to Filter Google

Google has recently disclosed how many takedown notices the company has got from government agencies. The search engine confessed that it has received over 1,000 requests within 6 months from the governments to take down data from its search results or YouTube video.

Google slammed a so-called alarming trend by governments to try and censor the people. The company published its twice-yearly Transparency Report, saying that the above mentioned requests were aimed at having around 12,000 items overall deleted. This figure was 25% more than during the first 6 months of 2011. This means that the government agencies are getting a taste for censorship.

Google’s senior policy analyst admitted they hoped the rise earlier in 2011 had been a one off, but it appeared that it hadn’t. Plenty of the requests were aimed at silencing political speech. The most interesting part is that they came from Western governments, which are not usually associated with filtering.

Although Google didn’t list anything specific, the search engine still said that it was really surprised by the UK and the US spending most of their time trying to censor websites. The United States was said to be especially bad. The company complained that police prosecutors, courts and other agencies submitted almost 200 requests within the last 6 months of 2011, which doubles the number of the requests submitted in the first 6 months.

Meanwhile, Spain asked Google to take down 270 links to blogs and newspaper articles which criticized public figures, the list including mayors and public prosecutors. However, the search giant said no to that one. In response, a couple months ago the highest court of the country asked the European Court of Justice to find out whether the requests submitted by citizens to removed the links were lawful.

The company admits that in some countries it has no choice but to comply with these requests, because some types of political speech are against the law there. For instance, in Germany Google removed videos from YouTube with Nazi references as those were banned. Another example is Thailand videos that feature the monarch with a seat over his head – they were also removed for being insulting.

Finally, one takedown request came from Canada, where the company was asked by the authorities to remove a YouTube video featuring a citizen having a nintendo on his passport and flushing it down the loo. The search giant said no to this one as well.

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Jack Daniel’s…..Welsh?

Posted by Boghound on July 16, 2012

Original recipe for Jack Daniel’s found in Welsh book of herbal remedies

The original recipe for legendary American whiskey Jack Daniel’s has been discovered in a book of herbal remedies in Wales, it has been claimed.

Businessman Mark Evans, 54, was researching his family history when he discovered the recipe in a book of herbal remedies.

It was written in 1853 by his great-great grandmother who was called Daniels and was a local herbalist in Llanelli, South Wales.

Her brother-in-law left the Welsh town at about the same time to move to Lynchburg Tennessee where the Jack Daniel’s distillery was opened three years later.

And the Jack Daniel’s website states the founder of the distillery was from Wales.

Mr Evans says the ingredients in his great-great grandmother’s recipe match what goes into the best selling whiskey in the world.

He said: "I’m pretty sure I’ve discovered the original recipe in great-great grannie’s book.

"I was doing some family research, looking at photographs and things, and I wanted to look at the family bible.

"At the bottom of the bookcase was this book."

Mr Evans’ grandmother Lillian Daniel’s Probert, who is 97 and living in Llanelli, can recall her own grandmother using the book to make herbal remedies and ointments.

He said: "My great, great-grandmother wrote in the book in 1853, and Jack Daniel’s is dated 1866, so it predates it.

"There is a link, because my grandmother’s grandfather’s brother – my great, great uncle – left for America and nobody ever heard from him after a couple of letters.

"That was during the time that Jack Daniel’s was set up, but more important than that, he was called John ‘Jack the Lad’ Daniel’s.

"We know he went to Lynchburg Tennessee and I’m pretty sure he used great-great grannie’s recipe to start off the whiskey business."

The history of Jack Daniel’s is a mystery because the distillery’s early records were destroyed in a courthouse fire

A spokesman for the company said: "We know our founder was from Wales – we would love to see the book and the recipe."

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All In A Name?

Posted by Boghound on July 15, 2012

Programme misprint ‘ruins violinist’s life’

A Bengali violinist says his life has been "destroyed" after his name was replaced by a rude word in an official festival programme.

Abdul Shahid said he has been subjected to "immense ridicule" after his first name was written as "bal" which means "pubic hair" in Bengali.

More than 85,000 copies of the programme were circulated by Tower Hamlets council for the annual Baishakhi Mela Festival last year.

Mr Shahid, 43, a father-of-four, is now suing Tower Hamlets for more than £300,000 for damages, reports the London Evening Standard.

He claims he has been subject to "immense ridicule, taunting and humiliation" which rendered him unable to work.

Prior to the misprint, Mr Shadid performed across the world, including nine times in America, and was regularly broadcast on Bengali TV channels.

"My name has been destroyed, it’s a disaster. Everybody in this community knows me," he said.

"When I go outside everyone who knows me and my family are like ‘woo, woo, woo’, making fun of me. They say ‘Bal, Bal’ and I am ashamed.

"I have lost my livelihood. I was a very popular player, but since this has happened, I haven’t been out of the house much at all. I only feel comfortable going out at night."

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets council said: "A claim has been issued against the council which it is in the process of defending."

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The Swedish Men ?

Posted by Boghound on July 14, 2012

Swedish politicians want men to pee sitting down

Politicians in Sweden have called for men to pee sitting down when using the Sörmland County Council toilets.

A motion has been put forward by the Left Party, stating that men should be banned from standing up while relieving themselves, according to The Local.

Representative Viggo Hansen hopes the toilets will become genderless as a result of this move, adding to Sveriges Television: "We want to give men the option of going into a clean toilet."

The Left Party claims that getting men to sit down will improve hygiene as there will be less stray urine splashing out of the bowl.

In addition, bladders are apparently emptied more efficiently if the person is sitting down, leading to an improved sex life and less risk of prostate problems.

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It’s Not What I Ordered!

Posted by Boghound on July 13, 2012

Picky eater calls 911 to complain about his sandwich order

A fussy customer rang 911 to moan that his sandwich order was not to his satisfaction.

Rother McLennon from Connecticut, US said in the call: ‘I specifically asked for little turkey, and little ham, a lot of cheese and a lot of mayonnaise and they are giving me a hard time.’

To which the dispatcher asked: ‘You’re calling 911 because you don’t like the way that they’re making your sandwich.’

McLennon agreed and the operator told him not to buy it.

Calling from the Greatful Deli in East Hartford, he went on to claim that his complaint was not just about this specific sarnie. He also feared that future sandwiches wouldn’t be made to his specific request.

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