What a stupid, silly idea. I love it.
Government Accountability Office employees posing as sketchy buyers tried and failed in 72 attempts to purchase firearms on the internet, part of a failed investigation called for by a trio of Congressional Democrats.
While the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) insisted in its most recent strategic plan, as cited by the GAO, that "the privacy of the Internet makes it an ideal means for gang members, violent criminals, terrorists, and juveniles to traffic and obtain illegal firearms," the new report released by the (GAO) could not corroborate any of it.
The GAO did not fare much better on the so-called "Dark Web." Agents made 7 attempts and were successful just twice, purchasing an AR-15 and an Uzi.
There's not much in the report for Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) and Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) from which to demand stricter internet gun laws, but it may not stop Democrats from trying to impose new laws anyway.
It's unclear what kind of internet-specific gun laws there could be other than a blanket ban (LOL trying to enforce that) or enhanced sentencing (a dubious legal tool to say the least).
In all, 56 sellers refused to complete the requested transactions; 29 said they wouldn't ship the requested firearms and 27 refused after the agents disclosed they were prohibited from purchasing firearms. One five separate occasions, the GAO trolls were also banned from the websites where they were inquiring about murky purchases.
"The results of our testing are for illustrative purposes only and are not generalizable," the GAO wrote in a letter to the three Congressional Democrats about the results of the report.
The GAO was also asked to assess how ATF was enforcing firearms laws on the internet, since Cummings, Schatz, and Warren say they worry there are no specific laws about firearm sales on the internet. (As the GAO report notes, a bevy of laws on the book apply to firearm sales that happen to be made on the internet)
Nevertheless, the GAO found that ATF does coordinate investigative work on internet sales through an Internet Investigations Center to "ensure they have the necessary training to operate online in an undercover capacity."
According to the GAO, the ATF center, founded in 2012, uses free open-source software "to analyze online content for investigations," claiming that this allowed "analysts to glean information from public websites without violating users' privacy rights."
In any case, the technology that makes all kinds of commerce easier, including firearms-related commerce, isn't going anywhere. So-called e-commerce continues to grow while other technology, like 3D printing, promises to make government attempts to control all kinds of products, including firearms, even harder.
It's a bright future.
Kid Icarus is an IP that doesn't get a whole lot of love from Nintendo. Since the first game released for the NES in 1986, only two subsequent games have been released, the last of which was a 2012 3DS title, Kid Icarus: Uprising.
While Nintendo sleeps on Pit's adventures some dedicated fans have made a partial remake of the original NES title.
Cracking up at the thought of someone pooping may seem a bit juvenile to most, but the image of a dragon crapping a brick of gold is just plain funny no matter your age or maturity level.
Seeing a centaur poop on a human toilet is similarly hilarious, especially when they struggle to wipe, but a merman sitting on a toilet is anticlimactic because they don't have a butt.
However, put all of these mythical poopers together and you've got the making of one fantastic commercial for the Squatty Potty!
-Via Geeks Are Sexy
If your package didn't arrive today as it should have, the reasons why may be stranger than you can imagine. Home security cameras in Oklahoma City caught a mishap between a postal carrier and his truck on Thursday. He manages to fall out of the truck, which possibly runs over him. He doesn't appear injured, though, because he's up quickly trying to catch the truck. The truck, however, keeps on going until the forces of inertia show up in the form of a brick house.
It seems that the stresses of the holiday season had gotten to this driver. -via Geekologie
Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Employment seekers may have a hard time finding a job if they only look on Craigslist or job sites like Monster or Indeed, but if you're serious about getting a job you should do your homework and see who hires the most people in your state.
And in 22 states that means going to work for Walmart, who is America's largest employer according to this map created by Visual Capitalist of the largest employers by state.
In states like California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Wisconsin and New York you should head to the universities to look for work, otherwise your best bet is to get into health services or medicine if you're looking for a gig in a non-Walmart state.
But let's be realistic- when all else fails there's a Walmart in all 50 states, and they're always hiring!
-Via Mental Floss
Ballet is usually all about grace, elegance and beauty, and the audience is usually just as classy and refined as the dance, so you'd never expect to see a fight at the ballet.
Which is why the audience was astounded when Russian ballet dancer Oleg Chernasov of the Igor Moiseyev Ballet came out wearing a crazy costume and did a strange dance that looked like two kids fighting on stage.
-Via Laughing Squid
Brian was tired of his older relatives calling for help with the simple task of turning on the TV, so he made a flow chart to guide them. If the text is too small to read, you can enlarge the chart here. The relevant box you are trying to get to is this one.
I've been through this problem as both the younger tech whiz and the older person who can't see so well, and I can tell you that the main problem with modern TVs is too many options and too many buttons. Someone pushes the wrong button and an unfamiliar menu comes up. Pushing more buttons doesn't help, and can change settings you didn't want to change, and you don't know how to get out of it, much less fix what you screwed up. In my house, you have the added headache of a college student who comes in for the weekend, hooks up a laptop or a game console or a video player to the TV, and then leaves without putting things back the way they were. I solved that problem by watching TV in my office.
And don't get me started on the letterbox/no letterbox disagreement between spouses.
The simple explanation for this video is that Swede Mason (previously at Neatorama) has Paul McCartney doing a rap song about modern music. That doesn't quite do it justice, however. The tight editing, fast rhythm, and masterful rhyming make it a quirky masterpiece.
Someone asked swedemason how he made videos like this.
Alot of grinding. I don't use transcribed audio. I think it sounds shit when things are kinda just stuck together with the correct words. I look for the right intonation of sounds and syllables, sometimes chop up words to make the words i need. Writing this down makes it sound like a total ballache, and thats cos it is a total ballache.
And there ensued a discussion on the proper pronunciation and meaning of ballache, because it looks like a French musical term. He meant ball ache. -via reddit
While you might be wise enough to delete or flag emails promising great wealth in far-flung countries, not everyone is so savvy to these scams.
To ensure these scammers have less time to prey on real people, New Zealand online safety organisation Netsafe has developed a tool called Re:scam.
It's an artificially intelligent email bot which engages with scammers in mindless, never-ending conversation, full of unrelated questions that waste their time — it's a pretty similar strategy adopted by Mashable's scam crusader Scamalot. Read more...More about Tech, Email, New Zealand, Bots, and Scams
A group of school children crossing the road in Norway learned an important lesson in pedestrian safety recently.
A vehicle equipped with a dashcam was following a bus. At one point the bus pulls over and a few kids get off, and head to the rear of the bus. Instead of waiting for the bus to leave to get a clear view of oncoming traffic, a few of the kids decide to cross blindly.
As the kids enter the roadway a semi-truck can be seen barreling down the road. The driver with the dashcam tries to warn everyone by laying on their horn, but it's too late for one kid, who commits to crossing the street. Read more...More about Culture, Culture, and Kids
Who needs lawyers when you can have severe intestinal distress?
24 year old Sean Sykes Jr. temporarily paused a police investigation in Kansas City this week with a little bit of gastrointestinal creativity. When asked for his address, Sykes Jr. allegedly let one rip, forcing the interview to end abruptly.
The detective reported that the suspect "leaned to one side of his chair and released a loud fart before answering."
It didn't stop there. As the interview progressed, the suspect allegedly continued to cut the cheese multiple times. The detective ended the interview prematurely. Read more...More about Watercooler, Wtf, Flatulence, Culture, and Web Culture
This Tuesday, in a report by Canadian broadband management company Sandvine, it was revealed that IPTV traffic has grown to massive proportions.
Sandvine found that 6.5% of households in North American are now communicating with known TV piracy services. This translates to seven million subscribers and many more potential viewers. There’s little doubt that IPTV and all its variants, Kodi streaming included, are definitely here to stay.
The topic was raised again Wednesday during a panel discussion hosted by the Copyright Alliance in conjunction with the Creative Rights Caucus. Titled “Copyright Pirates’ New Strategies”, the discussion’s promotional graphic indicates some of the industry heavyweights in attendance.
The Copyright Alliance tweeted points from the discussion throughout the day and soon the conversation turned to the streaming phenomenon that has transformed piracy in recent times.
Previously dubbed Piracy 3.0 by the MPAA, Senior Vice President, Government and Regulatory Affairs Neil Fried was present to describe streaming devices and apps as the latest development in TV and movie piracy.
Like many before him, Fried explained that the Kodi platform in its basic form is legal. However, he noted that many of the add-ons for the media player provide access to pirated content, a point proven in a big screen demo.Kodi demo by the MPAA via Copyright Alliance
According to the Copyright Alliance, Fried then delivered some interesting stats. The MPAA believes that there are around 38 million users of Kodi in the world, which sounds like a reasonable figure given that the system has been around for 15 years in various guises, including during its XBMC branding.
However, he also claimed that of those 38 million, a substantial 26 million users have piracy addons installed. That suggests around 68.5% or seven out of ten of all Kodi users are pirates of movies, TV shows, and other media. Taking the MPAA statement to its conclusion, only 12 million Kodi users are operating the software legitimately.
TorrentFreak contacted XBMC Foundation President Nathan Betzen for his stance on the figures but he couldn’t shine much light on usage.
“Unfortunately I do not have an up to date number on users, and because we don’t watch what our users are doing, we have no way of knowing how many do what with regards to streaming. [The MPAA’s] numbers could be completely correct or totally made up. We have no real way to know,” Betzen said.
That being said, the team does have the capability to monitor overall Kodi usage, even if they don’t publish the stats. This was revealed back in June 2011 when Kodi was still called XBMC.
“The addon system gives us the opportunity to measure the popularity of addons, measure user base, estimate the frequency that people update their systems, and even, ultimately, help users find the more popular addons,” the team wrote.
“Most interestingly, for the purposes of this post, is that we can get a pretty good picture of how many active XBMC installs there are without having to track what each individual user does.”
Using this system, the team concluded there were roughly 435,000 active XBMC instances around the globe in April 2011, but that figure was to swell dramatically. Just three months later, 789,000 XBMC installations had been active in the previous six weeks.
What’s staggering is that in 2017, the MPAA claims that there are now 38 million users of Kodi, of which 26 million are pirates. In the absence of any figures from the Kodi team, TF asked Kodi addon repository TVAddons what they thought of the MPAA’s stats.
“We’ve always banned the use of analytics within Kodi addons, so it’s really impossible to make such an estimate. It seems like the MPAA is throwing around numbers without much statistical evidence while mislabelling Kodi users as ‘pirate’ in the same way that they have mislabelled legitimate services like CloudFlare,” a spokesperson said.
“As far as general addon use goes, before our repository server (which contained hundreds of legitimate addons) was unlawfully seized, it had about 39 million active users per month, but even we don’t know how many users downloaded which addons. We never allowed for addon statistics for users because they are invasive to privacy and breed unhealthy competition.”
So, it seems that while there is some dispute over the number of potential pirates, there does at least appear to be some consensus on the number of users overall. The big question, however, is how groups like the MPAA will deal with this kind of unauthorized infringement in future.
At the moment the big push is to paint pirate platforms as dangerous places to be. Indeed, during the discussion this week, Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid claimed that users of pirate services are “28 times more likely” to be infected with malware.
Whether that strategy will pay off remains unclear but it’s obvious that at least for now, Piracy 3.0 is a massive deal, one that few people saw coming half a decade ago but is destined to keep growing.