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Archive for January, 2013

Greenpeace = Pratts

Posted by Boghound on January 31, 2013

Greenpeace protestors fined and polar bear outfits confiscated

GREENPEACE protesters who donned polar bear costumes before shutting down an Edinburgh petrol station have been fined £1500 for their 12-hour occupation – and had their outfits confiscated.

Seven campaigners had laid siege to the Dalry Road Shell garage in July by chaining themselves to petrol pumps, clambering on to the roof and switching off fuel supplies.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard yesterday how the protest – masterminded by Simon Hackin, 47, of Niddry Street – was in response to Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic, which Greenpeace said would be an environmental disaster.

The seven protesters pleaded guilty to malicious mischief and were each fined £200, as well as being forced to surrender their polar bear garb.

Along with Hackin, the protesters were John Wright, 57, of Belfast, Paul Hutchinson, 63, of York, Amy Rutland, 22, of Liverpool, Dominic Joyce, 22, of Southwell, Steven Smith, 39, of London, and Rowan Burrough, 43, of Abergwyngregyn, Wales.

Sheriff Isabella McColl also ordered Hackin to pay Shell £300 compensation.

Prosecuting, Malcolm Stewart told the court that the protest, which began at 6.45am on July 16, was one of three Scottish garages targeted by Greenpeace alongside 50 across the greater London area.

He said: “The member of staff working in the garage shop noticed that there was a man within the shop who was wearing a Greenpeace jacket.

“The man told the member of staff that they were here to close the petrol station down.

“Members of a Greenpeace group then prevented motorists from entering the forecourt. Some of the group used ladders to climb up on to the top of the garage roof. Once they reached the top of the roof, they engaged the fireman’s switch and turned off the petrol supply. They then erected a small tent.

“Meanwhile, protesters wearing polar bear costumes used bicycle locks to attach themselves to petrol pumps.”

He added: “The forecourt was then cordoned off by means of a banner which read ‘Save the Arctic’. Another banner read ‘Greenpeace’.”

Defence solicitor Jim Brady asked Sheriff McColl to treat his clients leniently.

He said that the protesters wanted to highlight Shell’s plans to the general public.

He added: “It is quite an effective means of bringing the matter to the public’s attention. It is their view that the public need to know more about these plans. There is a real danger that Shell’s scheme could cause an environmental disaster.

“If there was a spill in the region during winter, Shell would be unable to do anything for at least six months.

“During that time, the oil could travel thousands of miles and create unprecedented problems for our environment.

“Mr Smith works in the health service. He informs me that he could lose his job as a consequence of this conviction, but he says the fear of losing his job pales into insignificance in comparison to what would happen to society if there were an oil leak in this region.”

Passing sentence, Sheriff McColl added: “I recognise that this was a political protest, but you broke the law and caused a great deal of inconvenience to people.”

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Speedy 1st Class??

Posted by Boghound on January 30, 2013

Postman reported for working too fast

A postman in Germany was reported by a colleague for working too fast.

He had worked out a more efficient route between the depots, making him quicker than other delivery staff, The Local quotes from the Münchner Merkur newspaper.

However his quick working led to the false accusation that he was throwing away mail instead of delivering it to its intended recipients.

"I admit that some of them are possibly logical," the postman’s manager told the court of the 53-year-old’s different routes.

She added that his methods were not allowed under the rules but had been informally tolerated.

Judge Isabella Hubert was also told that the postman was an efficient worker.

The man from Rosenheim near Munich escaped criminal charges following the investigation, though was given a reprimand for ignoring official procedures.

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Barbeque = Clothes Dryer = Death

Posted by Boghound on January 29, 2013

Children poisoned by fumes after barbecue used to dry clothes

Six people, including four young children, have been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after their grandmother brought a barbecue indoors to dry her washing.

The woman, who has not been named, lit the barbecue in the family kitchen before leaving the house in east London.

Her three-year-old granddaughter collapsed when she was overcome by the deadly gas later that afternoon and was treated in hospital with five of her relatives.

They included two boys aged two and 10 months, a four-year-old girl and the woman’s two daughters-in-law, aged 26 and 29.

Firefighters were called to the house in East Ham, east London, on Wednesday afternoon, soon after the grandmother set up her makeshift launderette.

A spokesman for London Fire Brigade said the elderly woman carried the barbecue in from her garden at around 3pm and placed it near the back door to speed up the drying of clothes which she hung out around the kitchen.

She then walked out, leaving her daughters-in-law in the house with her grandchildren, two of whom were asleep upstairs.

One adult began to feel unwell before the little girl collapsed.

All six have now been discharged from hospital.

Fire chiefs branded the grandmother’s behaviour dangerous and campaigners warned of the hazards of bringing barbecues indoors.

Dave Brown, of London Fire Brigade, said: "In my 28-year career I have never heard of anybody using a barbecue to dry clothes let alone using one indoors.

"Never, ever bring a lit or smouldering barbecue indoors. Not only is it a serious fire risk but it also emits carbon monoxide (CO) which is a poisonous gas that can kill or seriously injure."

Christine McGourty, of the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign, said: "Using a barbecue indoors is always dangerous, but carbon monoxide poisoning is usually caused by faulty or poorly maintained fuel appliances, such as boilers, ovens and fires. We’d urge everyone to get an alarm and make sure their family is safe."

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It’s All In The Bumps?

Posted by Boghound on January 28, 2013

Goosebumps, the lie detector for emotions

They are a common reaction to the cold but goosebumps could prove when someone is lying, a study suggests.

Researchers found that most people were unable to control the reaction, which provided a “strong indication of true feelings”. They suggest that the body’s natural defence mechanism against the cold could function as a type of “lie detector” for emotional reactions.

Goosebumps frequently come after an “emotional climax” provoked by a “powerful” event or the “remarkable” actions of someone, the scientists found. The way a person’s skin stood on end provided an insight into their fear, surprise, awe or admiration.

The research, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, concluded that while a person could lie about what they were feeling or thinking, goosebumps were not easily faked.

“Certainly, people could lie about their feeling goose bumps to create a false impression," Prof Richard Smith, from the University of Kentucky, told The Daily Telegraph.

"But often, they can use the fact of their, natural, un-faked feeling of goose bumps in reaction to someone as a way of communication a special reaction."

“People don’t usually control the reaction in themselves so it suggests strongly that one has had an uncontrolled, positive and special reaction."

Prof Smith, who led a team from several other universities, added: "We tend to think of goose bumps as usually resulting from cold or fear. But we suggest that goose bumps may often be a blend of fear, surprise and submission in reaction to a remarkable action performed by another person.

"The emotion of awe may be closest emotion label for this kind of experience."

In their study, the team asked volunteers from American colleges to keep a journal over a month, where they wrote down each description of when they experienced goose bumps.

While “almost everyone” reported at least one experience the average was about two or three a week, they found.

A reaction to the cold was the “dominant cause”. The next most frequent cause was awe, often in response to “something special” such as an outstanding performance.

Other reactions came come from an "aesthetic" reaction such as listening to music or “witnessing an extraordinary object, often created by another person”.

Prof Smith, from the university’s psychology department, said the study had some surprising conclusions including that there were “very few cases of goose bumps coming from one’s own actions”.

"We rarely seem in awe of ourselves," he said.

"This makes sense, since goose bumps producing experiences require the extraordinary, and, most of our own actions are actually quite ordinary.

“Once the trivial cases of cold were removed, goose bumps seems quite social in nature, either directly, through talent or performances, or indirectly, such as hearing music produced by someone."

He added: “Goose bumps seem quite social in nature, either directly, for example talent or performances, or indirectly, such as hearing music produced by someone.

"If someone’s outstanding performance gives your goose bumps, what better, more authentic way to convey your appreciation that to tell the person this.

"It is unambiguous, authentic praise, straight from the gut. A side benefit is that reflects well on you too. Your natural, unfaked emotions flow from something praiseworthy."

He said that goose bumps "may even be a kind of emotion lie detector". It backs previous research from Ryan Schurtz, of Stevenson University in Baltimore.

He added: “Goose bumps seemed such an interesting reaction much beyond just the mundane experience of getting into a cold shower.”

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Warner’s Hacked Off??

Posted by Boghound on January 27, 2013

Tech Giants Sued over HDCP Hack

Intel’s Digital Content Protection has cooperated with Warner in a bid to take down a firm making goods helping to bypass HDCP copy protection.

The products in question used the cracked HDCP master key which could convert digital to analogue signals and therefore were really useful for those who wanted to connect digital devices to analogue displays. However, these devices could also be used by pirates in order to copy pay-per-view, on-demand, and other premium content, so Intel and Warner were a little miffed.

Actually, the HDCP key was cracked 2 years ago. This opened a so-called “analogue hole” which allowed everybody to copy digital video, including pay-per-view streams. The tech company promised to crack down on abusers of the key. Intel claimed that if anyone created a circumvention device, they should regret about that. However, this never happened: the first devices of such kind were released soon after the key was made public, but neither Intel nor the Hollywood studios did anything to prevent that.

Only now Warner and Intel have filed a joint lawsuit at a federal court in Ohio against the company named Freedom USA and its chief executive officer Alex Sonis. The plaintiffs accuse the Ohio firm of copyright violation, claiming that the company breached the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions.

Media reports revealed that the tech company, also known as AVADirect and AntaresPro, produces various devices that allow people to convert HDCP-encrypted digital signals to analogue signals.

In the lawsuit, Warner explained that the company required the use of HDCP in many of its distribution licenses for pay-per-view, video-on-demand and other premium digital content delivery services. They also pointed out that bypassing of HDCP causes more pirated copies being made available. This, in turn, decreases the demand for legitimate content.

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4G Bids….Woopie??

Posted by Boghound on January 26, 2013

Ofcom Disclosed 4G Spectrum Bidders

UK communications watchdog has recently revealed the names of the 7 companies which have been allowed to bid for 4G spectrum. The outfit confirmed that the operators selected to start the auction process include Everything Everywhere, Vodafone, MLL Telecom, Telefónica (owns O2), HKT (subsidiary of PCCW), Hutchison 3G (operator of the Three network), and Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited (subsidiary of BT Group).

The operators will start the bidding process next month, and the winners will be tasked with boosting the spectrum available to subscribers by 75%. The bidders will be informed whether they have been awarded contracts to provide the high speed mobile broadband in February 2013, before rolling out services next summer.

7 companies will join the auction for spectrum at 800 MHz range. The latter will be used for widespread coverage having been freed up by the switch-off of analogue TV signals. Another range is 2.6 GHz, and this one will provide high speed connections, especially for urban areas.

According to Ofcom, the 4G auction will be a competitive process which will define the shape of the British mobile phone market for the next 10 years and beyond. New 4G services ware expected to stimulate investment, growth and innovation in the United Kingdom and provide considerable benefits to consumers in terms of more reliable mobile broadband connections.

Ofcom expects that the sale of spectrum will amount to £3.5 billion – this is a figure mentioned by Chancellor George Osborne in his latest budget report. But the communications watchdog set a reserve price of £1.3 billion.

Last week it was also revealed that the Ministry of Defence is going to start selling of parts of its spectrum below the 3.5 GHz range in 2013, which makes it possible to get another £1 billion.

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Don’t Take Offense

Posted by Boghound on January 25, 2013

How to Recognize Offensive Posts

The guidelines were revealed to define middle ground between a threat and a joke. According to them, people posting offensive messages on various social networking services could face less criminal charges.

The guidelines were set out by Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC. They resulted from the prosecutions over offensive posts which had a “chilling effect on free speech”, while the QC claimed that loads of people on both Twitter and Facebook were accused of criminal activity every day.

The guidelines specify that some users might avoid trial if they are sorry for criminal comments made while drunk. The rules in question come after a number of controversial cases. The most famous was the May 2010 conviction of Paul Chambers. This guy was wise enough to joke on Twitter about blowing up Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire.

Chambers’ conviction for posting a “menacing” tweet caused global outrage and was eventually quashed on appeal in the High Court. Keir Starmer explained that the Crown Prosecution Service had now dealt with over 50 cases relating to potentially criminal comments published on the Internet. But he also pointed out that there was so far very little case law set by senior judges that could guide whicht trials should go ahead.

Starmer has now set out new interim CPS guidelines which are supposed to strike the right balance between freedom of expression online and upholding criminal law. They also aim at raising the threshold against which people should be prosecuted: for instance, the social media messages carrying credible threats of violence, a targeted campaign of harassment, or those which breach court orders will be prosecuted.

To be prosecuted, a post must now be considered more offensive, shocking or disturbing, rather than just a joke or rudeness, according to the guidelines. In addition, if a message is promptly deleted, blocked by ISPs or site operators, or written by a minor, then prosecution is less likely to take place.

The guidelines in question take effect immediately and are currently subject to a consultation process. But they are only guidelines, not a strict law.

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Microsoft Knows Best??

Posted by Boghound on January 24, 2013

Windows RT is Too Confusing for Users


Microsoft CEO was told by the head of Dell’s PC business that he should reconsider the name “Windows RT” for the ARM version of Windows 8. The latter explained that since the OS didn’t run traditional Windows software, this name would be too confusing for users. He warned Microsoft not to use the Windows brand name on RT, because it was designed to run on ARM-based tablets: Windows RT runs only Windows Store, or Metro, applications.

However, Microsoft just shrugged and claimed that the Windows brand was too important not to be used in the new OS name. Indeed, Microsoft has created Windows, which couldn’t be seen as making something else. Nevertheless, the warning turned out to be right. There have already been some users who’ve picked up the Surface RT tablet and were confused.

Actually, Microsoft has even had to change its return policies for consumers who bought Surface RT only to figure out that they can’t run standard Windows software on it. Local media agrees that if Microsoft had listened to Dell, they could have avoided one of the major criticisms of its new OS: that Windows RT looks so much like Windows 8 that it is incredibly easy for an ordinary user to mistakenly purchase a Windows RT device without realizing that it isn’t a regular Windows device.

Worse still, Windows 8 differs a lot from Windows 7, and users might think that RT simply doesn’t run their old software due to that rather than because of running a different chip. In response, Microsoft blames its customers for their lack of desire to be “educated” about the gadgets they purchase. The company also complains that the consumers aren’t going to read any instruction manual – they would just buy something else instead!

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Must Protect Hollwood “Stars” No Matter What!!

Posted by Boghound on January 23, 2013

Hollywood Hacker Jailed for 10 Years

An American judge has jailed a computer hacker for a decade for breaking into the email accounts of Hollywood stars, including managing to take one topless shot of Scarlett Johansson. The judge also ordered 36-year-old Christopher Chaney to pay $76,000 to Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera and Renee Olstead.

Christopher wasn’t an advanced hacker and he pleaded guilty after a deal with prosecutors. In fact, if he hadn’t made that deal, he could have been jailed for over 120 years on all 26 indictments.

The judge claimed that Chaney’s conduct showed a “callous disregard to the victims”. According to US Attorney, Christopher has gained access to every email sent to almost 50 victims which allowed him to view their private data. Chaney posted dozens of illegally obtained, private pictures online. Although it’s difficult to be sympathetic to the person like Chaney, it seems that he wasn’t found guilty due to his stalking of non-celebrities.

Chaney’s arrest by FBI agents resulted from an 11-month investigation into the hacking of over fifty entertainment industry names. Since the hack and “wire-tapping” allegation was concerned, it turned out that Christopher used open-source, public data to try to guess a celebrity’s email password, and then would breach the account. In other words, it wasn’t so much hacking as guessing and not so much wiretapping as going to victims’ Yahoo or Hotmail page.

After obtaining complete access to the hacked account, the “hacker” then used the contact list to find new targets. This means that once inside one hacked account Chaney looked for other celebrity emails to do the same with them.

The FBI claimed that Chaney’s actions were tantamount to breaking and entering of their private homes by a thief. The only mistake he made was to be targeting Hollywood celebrities who could afford to fight back.

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The “Old West” Mentality?

Posted by Boghound on January 22, 2013

Japan Lost Patience, Put Bounty on Hackers

The country’s government has recently started putting bounties on the heads of hackers which they most want to talk to. The local National Police Agency has been advertising for any information on a hacker who is able to code in C# and uses a “Syberian Post Office” in order to leave anonymous posts on the Internet, along with having the knowledge about how to surf the Internet without leaving any digital tracks.

The media reports claim that the police are ready to write a cheque for up to $36,000 for any information which will help them arrest the hacker. As you can understand, it’s good money even for Japan. This means that the authorities have lost patience with hacking. For instance, earlier in 2012, 4 people were wrongly arrested after their computers were hacked and used to publish messages on public bulletin boards. Those messages included warnings of plans for mass killings at a Japanese school.

According to the interview with police spokesperson, until now such type of reward was reserved for serious cases like murder and arson, but now it seems that hacking is as dangerous as the above mentioned crimes.

You can find a reward poster on the Internet, which features detailed technical descriptions of the wanted intruder’s skills. For example, the victim had to be able to know C# well enough to be able to write a virus called “iesys.exe” and use an anonymous posting method known as a “Syberian Post Office” in order to leave messages to the popular local bulletin board 2channel.

The police representatives think that the hacker used a cross-site request forgery to create online postings through innocent users. While Japan’s National Police Agency might remind someone of the FBI, its role is more focused on cooperating with and organizing local police forces, rather than tending to arrest people.

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