Shared posts

04 Mar 10:12

Why Reporting Sexual Abuse In The Military Is 'Inherently Unfair'

Some progress has been made, but the chain of command creates big problems.
04 Mar 17:37

Ben Carson: Being gay is a choice — just look at prison - Yahoo News

by gguillotte
'A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight, and when they come out, they're gay,' possible 2016 GOP candidate says
04 Mar 15:56

Hillary Clinton ran her own email servers as Secretary of State

by Chris Welch

ha ha, wow

The personal email address that Hillary Clinton used exclusively during her time as Secretary of State wasn't your typical Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo account. Instead, Clinton operated her own email server traced to an internet service registered to the Clinton residence in Chappequa, New York, according to the Associated Press. The report does not say where the server itself was based. Clinton did not use an email address issued by the State Department while in office, which would have made it far simpler for the federal government to retain copies of her messages as is required under the Federal Records Act.

Not your typical Gmail or Yahoo account

Nor did Clinton use a personal Gmail or Microsoft account to conduct official state business, a move that's occasionally landed other US lawmakers in hot water. But even in those instances, politicians rarely use private accounts exclusively. With Clinton, everything went through her own private internet service, which in itself is sure to raise questions about how secure the email system was. How did encryption and other security mechanisms compare to what's offered by Google, Microsoft, or the federal government?

In 2012, Clinton's email was reconfigured to use Google as a back end if the self-managed email system went down, the AP reported. (Just one year prior, Google publicly accused China of trying to hack into personal Gmail accounts belonging to senior members of US government, journalists, and other users.) Google was later replaced by MX Logic, an email provider that's now under McAfee.

Clinton exclusively used the email address — — through the four years she served as state secretary under President Obama. During her tenure, "aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers," The New York Times said Monday. But two months ago, Clinton's team gave 55,000 pages worth of emails to the State Department. It is unclear how advisors curated her inbox to decide which emails would be forwarded to the National Archives and which would not. A Clinton spokesperson said that because she so often corresponded with other federal officials through their government-provided accounts, Clinton had "every expectation they would be retained" for future reference.

Clinton's predecessor, Colin Powell, used a personal email account in his communications with top officials both in the US and internationally. At that time, regulations around email preservation were much looser. Current Secretary of State John Kerry uses a government email address, ensuring his messages will be kept permanently. Clinton has not yet publicly discussed the issue or explained why a top-level cabinet member should be permitted to go it alone with a private email address. The State Department hasn't indicated that it's missing any emails from Clinton's tenure, but if not all of them have been handed over, requests to recover them in the future could run into Clinton's lawyers.

04 Mar 18:27

Russian Man Feeds Meat to a Hungry Bear Through a Window

by Rebecca Escamilla

A Russian man feeds meat to a bear through a window in a video posted by FAV News. While the bear’s entire body can’t be seen through the window, it shows its true size when it thumps its massive paw and long claws on the windowsill, nearly scratching the man.

Perhaps the bear can get some tips on where to find drive-through dessert from a bear we featured last year.

via Imgur

04 Mar 18:00

Newswire: Jenji Kohan’s witch trial show conjures up Eddie Izzard and a new name

by B.G. Henne

Jenji Kohan recently summoned Gus Van Sant to direct the pilot for her HBO dramatic series about the Salem witch trials, and now Deadline announces that New World has transmogrified into The Devil You Know. In addition, a satanic cabal has conjured the physical manifestation of Eddie Izzard. Izzard, who was last seen dining with Hannibal Lecter, will play Thomas Putnam, a leader in the community who finds himself beset with threats and challenges to his status.

But Izzard will not be alone; perhaps by snatching a lock of hair and a drop of spittle, these crones have called upon Nadia Alexander (Boardwalk Empire, The Following) to play Putnam’s daughter. Ann Putnam, Jr., claimed to be possessed and helped convict the 19 people who were hanged.

It is well known that when it comes to the devil’s majicks, things happen in three; and so today’s black sacrament ...

04 Mar 10:38




03 Mar 18:51

Mount Everest, Toilet

by Adam Chandler

via Russian Sledges


Sir Edmund Hillary, Mount Everest's iconic conqueror, once said "It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves." Increasingly though, since Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay first reached the summit in 1953, the world's tallest mountain has become ourselves.

A new scourge facing Mount Everest, according to Ang Tshering, the head of Nepal’s mountaineering association, is human waste. “Climbers usually dig holes in the snow for their toilet use and leave the human waste there,” the AP reported on Tuesday. If there is too much waste in a single hole, the material cannot decompose properly.

Tshering also noted that hundreds of foreign climbers visit the site each year and that there is no plumbing above base camp. In addition to making the mountain less pristine, officials say the dumping, if you will, also poses a health hazard.

The association has a detailed guide for the handling of human waste, dedicating as many lines of instruction to the endeavor as the disposal of garbage. Nepal requires climbers to bring down everything they take up or lose a $4,000 deposit, but there is no such penalty for improperly disposing of organic material. Wildlife can be drawn to the unfamiliar scent and vegetation can be disturbed, according to the association. The group is drawing attention to the hazard because the climbing season begins this week and as more adventurers chase the peak, camps are being spoiled with human waste.

Writing in The Atlantic, Kaid Benfield detailed an annual voyage by locals called the Eco Everest Expedition, which in 2011, sought to "bring down 8,800 pounds (4,000 kilograms) of garbage from the lower part of the mountain and another 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms) from near the 29,035-foot (8,850-meter) summit. As he writes, that detritus includes "empty oxygen bottles, ropes, tents, and other garbage."

Then, there are the human deaths on the mountain which, as Svati Kirsten Narula pointed out last year, total nearly 900 from 1950 until today. Some 16 climbers died in one deadly ice release last year, which some blamed on another man-made phenomenon: global warming.

04 Mar 18:06

Pop-up furniture

04 Mar 15:32

Historical Map: Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Metro, Russia, 1973A...

Historical Map: Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Metro, Russia, 1973

A curvaceous, minimalist diagram. Notably mainly for the strangely muted colour scheme (yellow, brown and purple?) and the interesting interchange station symbols, which make things very clear by showing two arrows pointing in opposite directions. Visually, I like the way that the diagram makes use of overprinting where the route lines overlap.

Our rating: Simple but effective! There’s a pleasing organic feel to the route lines that I can’t help but like. Three stars.

Source: map archive

04 Mar 15:12

Bombshell looks and sounds like a Duke Nukem game starring a bionic woman

by Chris Plante

"[Bombshell] didn't get bad press because of her lack of clothes," says Frederik Schreiber. "It got bad press because it was really bad."

2014 was a rough year for Schreiber, the CEO of 3D Realms. After being sued by game developer Gearbox over an ill-fated Duke Nukem project, the company rushed an announcement of its new IP, Bombshell. In the three-and-a-half-minute trailer, the camera lingers over a bionic woman before she hops on a motorcycle and fires her weapon at the viewer. It looks cheap, forced, and lascivious.

"Let's be honest," says one of Schreiber's 3D Realms colleagues. "It was Duke [Nukem] replaced with [the character] Bombshell." That's quite literally what the company had done. The heroine, a former explosives expert named Shelley Harrison, was to play a supporting role in the original Duke Nuke game; when the lawsuit stymied development, the team cut Duke and bumped Bombshell into the lead role.



But a week after the disastrous trailer, 3D Realms started over from scratch. With the help of Scott Miller, an original founder of 3D Realms, the team composed a new universe and backstory around Bombshell, something that they hope will support an expansive intellectual property.

In this universe, Harrison was a teenage bomb savant, who lost her arm and beloved squad in the mysteriously dubbed "Washington Incident" back in the 1990s. In present day, with the help of the bionic appendage named Knuckles — an advanced technological weapon based on the dangerous research of her longtime nemesis — Harrison must save the galaxy.

2014 was a rough year for 3D Realms

3D Realm's Duke Nukem project may be on legal hiatus, but the influence remains. An introductory skirmish involves aliens, intergalactic portals, heavy weaponry, and cheeky 1990s dialogue. The game is played from the third person, but has an aiming reticule that jets across the screen, calling to mind the shooting popularized by early shooters like Duke Nukem 3D.

Bombshell has all the trappings of a throwback action game with a few bits of roleplaying stitched on. The character can dash, punch, and find safety in an translucent orb. Her weapon can be upgraded through branching options that feature over 40 different abilities. New moves unlock throughout the adventure, allowing Bombshell to reach additional corners of each stage. And Knuckles, the arm, can detach, providing support or helping open new pathways.

"It got bad press because it was really bad."

Like Duke Nukem games, eventually the game leaves Earth for bigger, gorier, and gooier pursuits. The first boss battle is a Lovecraftian creature, a giant centipede replete with tentacles, eyeballs, and teeth. And also like Duke Nukem, the weapons have names that you'd find scribbled on the wall of a public bathroom, like the Motherfakker — its bullets ricochet.

Despite what Schreiber says, the most immediately obvious change though to Bombshell between 2014 and 2015 is the character's wardrobe. Here's a screencap of the trailer, as the shot lingers on Bombshell's exposed legs and torso. This isn't cropped; it's the entirety of the shot.



And below is art for the new version of Bombshell, who wears baggy camo pants and body armor. The updated heroine is in her mid-30s, and intentional or not, her flat voice over has the cool indifference of someone who wishes their parents weren't planning their birthday party at this age.



3D Realms, Schreiber explains, is the publisher of the game, but it's being developed by Interceptor, the studio that recently made the reboot of Rise of the Triad, another classic by the original 3D Realms, then called Apogee. Today, Apogee is split into two different companies: 3D Realms has been sold to Interceptor, and Gearbox, best known for Borderlands, claims ownership of Duke Nukem. There's plenty of identity anxiety going on.

It's clear Interceptor wanted to make a Duke Nukem game, but perhaps the best thing about Bombshell is that Duke Nukem isn't in it. The most interesting thing about Bombshell may just be Bombshell.

04 Mar 18:00

Instagram will now let you upload photo sets, but only if you're a brand

by Casey Newton

Since it launched, Instagram has been a way of telling a story with a single, square-shaped image. The Facebook-owned company may have expanded to video and time lapses, but its heart remains in those singular, postcard-style pictures. That changes today with the introduction of (gulp) "carousel ads" — photo sets of up to four pictures that you swipe through, Tinder-style, while thumbing down your feed. Instagram says the move comes in response to advertiser requests for ways to tell sequenced stories. Have you ever seen McDonald's post a hamburger and wondered what happens to it?* You are going to love carousel ads.

When you see a sponsored post on Instagram these days, you'll see a series of dots below it indicating it is a carousel. Swipe left to see the additional ads. (Or don't!) The carousels also let advertisers insert a "learn more" button that takes you to their website, creating more opportunities for direct-response ads that will likely be quite lucrative. The format is still in flux; Instagram says it will try a variety of styles in coming weeks before settling on one.

Photo sets would be a hit with real users

It's a shame this feature is rolling out first to brands, because photo sets like these would likely be a hit with average users. They're hugely popular on Tumblr, generated automatically by Facebook's News Feed, and have more recently been adopted by Twitter. And users are already hacking photo sets onto Instagram using third-party apps that group multiple photos into a single image.

They could also help address my least favorite use of Instagram: that friend who posts seven or eight pictures in a row, whether it be of their beach vacation, their baby, or their ski trip. Photo sets would help organize these flurries of excitement into neat little containers, and let people tell real stories (not brand stories!) without feeling like they were spamming their friends.

An Instagram spokesman told me brands were getting the first crack at photo sets because it is essentially an experiment. "Once we iterate and see how people engage with the content, [we] may explore the possibility of bringing it to other types of users on Instagram," the spokesman said. Here's hoping.

*It gives the person who ate it congestive heart failure.

04 Mar 18:00

I wore the Vive VR headset and didn't want to take it off

by Vlad Savov

If the point of virtual reality headsets is to transport their wearer into another world, then HTC's Vive VR is already a success. I strapped myself in for one of HTC's demos at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, and I did indeed feel like I had stepped into the 3D worlds rendered around me. But that standard has already been met by the excellent Oculus Rift, the headset that got the world excited about VR all over again. Where the Vive VR looks to set itself apart is by expanding the scope and scale of motions that I can perform while inside its simulated realms.

Oh, and it has some pretty outrageous controllers, too.

Co-developed by HTC and feted game developer / distributor Valve, the Vive VR is designed to deliver a "full room-scale" experience. It's comprised of a big headset that plugs into a PC — a powerful graphics card seems like it'll be a must here — and two wireless, wand-like controllers. The controllers have clickable touchpads that rest under the thumb, trigger buttons for the forefingers, and a third input that's activated by squeezing the grip. It's certainly an odd and unfamiliar system, but I found myself growing accustomed to it after just a few minutes — it will be up to software designers to make good use of the technology and the unconventional inputs. One of the early demos, Tilt Brush by Skillman & Hackett, does a beautiful job of this and has me thoroughly excited for the Vive VR's potential.

The wireless controllers are accurate and full of potential

Before diving into the fun stuff, though, I have to note a couple of significant limitations to the present Vive VR experience. Firstly, whether you're getting a demo at MWC in Europe or at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, everything will be wired rather than wireless. The controllers are light, and the headset is more comfortable than its large size would suggest, but I could never truly feel immersed in the experience with all the wires and cabling I had to avoid while exploring the Vive. I even had to wear a harness around my waist to make sure I didn't walk too far off in any given direction.

Without motion tracking, VR headsets have a natural ceiling to what they can do. The Vive VR lifts that by using a laser-based motion tracking system — all the weird little glass plates scattered across the front of the headset are laser receptors — to know the exact position and orientation of my head at all times. Valve's Steam VR software platform makes sense of that data, in combination with information about what I'm doing with the controllers, to generate a highly precise picture of what I'm doing and where I'm doing it in three-dimensional space. The next step is to simply (simply!) generate a 3D environment that reacts appropriately to my gestures and movements. This is where the second downside I spotted comes in: the displays inside the Vive headset didn't impress me at all. Though they have a very reasonable 1200 x 1080 resolution each, I could detect the red, green, and blue subpixels when looking at a supposedly gray screen, which takes away from the immersion.

As with any developer edition, the hardware is not yet fully refined

Still, this is supposed to be a developer edition and not the final commercial product that will be coming by the end of the year. I'm confident that both HTC and Valve will do much to improve the user experience between now and the eventual release.

Once I got into the series of demos, the imperfect image quality wasn't much of a distraction. First up was TheBlu from Wemo Lab. A version of this already exists for Samsung's Gear VR, but I hadn't previously experienced it, and the Vive recreation was really quite impressive. I stood on the deck of a sunken ship, observing fish swimming around me. I could interact with the tiny ones nearby by waving my controller at them, though thankfully the gigantic whale's arrival was a non-interactive affair. There's a subtlety to the Vive's appeal here that's hard to spot because it's so natural. I could squat down for a lower view, pivot and "look" behind me, and even walk around for a few steps in any direction. A wireframe cube border shows up if I go more than three steps from center, highlighting the boundaries of my real-world environment.

In a later demo, where toy soldiers were sieging a fortress with guns and cannons and tanks and, yes, even a dirigible, I was able to kneel down and actually see below the simulated game table they were fighting on. It was like peeking behind the curtain of 3D games.

Valve has also put together what I'd describe as a mildly interactive Portal short movie. It's called Aperture. I was tasked with repairing a malfunctioning drone, and my inevitable failure drew the always-sarcastic disapproval of GLaDOS. As much as I love Portal, I found that to be the weakest part of the Vive VR demo; I was just following highly specific orders and wasn't given any freedom to experiment and interact with things that weren't designed to be manipulated by my virtual hands.

I started painting in 2D, then I turned my square into a cube and the whole world changed

The Job Simulator by Owlchemy is the converse of Valve's Aperture: its graphics are much more crude and basic, but it allowed me to interact with everything inside a 3D kitchen. I microwaved a tomato, served up a beef steak, and cracked many eggs. This was actually the perfect demo for VR: the rudimentary and clumsy actions I was performing reminded me of those of a young child that's first getting to know the world around it. That's the stage at which virtual reality experiences are today. Their makers and their users are still figuring out what works, what doesn't, and how all the pieces fit together.

My killer app for any VR headset with 3D motion tracking is the aforementioned Tilt Brush. It's basically like living in my very own music video. Everything gets darkened around me, I'm handed a color palette in my left hand and a paintbrush in my right, and then I can go crazy doing vibrant, beautiful light drawings in the space around me. Everyone apparently starts off by painting in 2D, and so did I, but I quickly realized that the square I'd made could be turned into a cube. It quite literally added an extra dimension of fun and exploration and is exactly the sort of unique experience that only virtual (or perhaps augmented) reality gear can deliver.

As early as this first try with the Vive VR may be, I'm excited by it. Hand and head tracking is done without any noticeable inaccuracies or latency, and if developers continue creating rich VR experiences like the ones I made my way through this week, there'll be plenty of reason to want one for your home.

04 Mar 17:38

Yankees fire employee who harassed Curt Schilling and his daughter | Big League Stew - Yahoo Sports

by gguillotte
MacDonald, who recently graduated, was a former vice president of the Theta Xi fraternity at Montclair State University. The fraternity posted on social media that they were aware of the "inappropriate and offensive tweets that were posted by an alumnus of Theta Xi Fraternity. We agree wholeheartedly that cyber-bullying is unacceptable and should not be tolerated."
04 Mar 17:39

Latest gay marriage ruling creates confusion in Alabama - Yahoo News

by gguillotte
The probate court in Mobile, which Granade previously ordered to issue same-sex licenses, posted a notice on its website Wednesday saying it would quit issuing marriage licenses while reviewing the decision. Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen, who had refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples, applauded the justices' decision. In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Enslen said gay marriage could never be equal to straight marriage because of simple human anatomy.
04 Mar 00:41

Vince Vaughn And The Stars Of 'Unfinished Business' Are Here For All Your Stock Photo Needs



Twentieth Century Fox has teamed up with iStock by Getty Images to create a set of stock photos featuring Vaugh along with co-stars Tom Wilkinson, Dave Franco and others.
04 Mar 14:18

A Drone Mounted With a Nerf Disc Gun Dogfights Inside of an Empty Warehouse

by Brian Heater

sorry: it's Vice

what a coincidence that this comes out the same week as the TIE Interceptor drone build

Motherboard has reconvened with a team of New York City quadcopter racers, this time meeting up in an empty warehouse in Brooklyn where they’ve begun doing battle with their drones courtesy of mounted Nerf Disc guns. Using first-person, real-time video, Blast quadcopter fliers can hunt down and fire on their fellow drones.

The brilliant thing about a Nerf disc is that it’s light weight, and it shoots very straight, so it’s bullet in that sense.

04 Mar 15:41

Jeff Goldblum Officially Returns In Independence Day Sequel, Liam Hemsworth, Jessie Usher Also Join Cast - That sound you hear is Sam Maggs gleefully shrieking.

by Victoria McNally

'Independence Day 2: Literally Who Cares About The Plot Now It Doesn’t Matter Because Goldblum Is In It'


Start placing bets on what Roland Emmerich gonna blow up this time. Personally, my money’s on the Great Wall of China. Has he done that one yet? It’s so hard to keep track.

Director Emmerich has been pretty open about wanting Jeff Goldblum back for his TWO (!!) anticipated Independence Day sequels, but now it’s officially official, says the Hollywood Reporter.

Goldblum will also be joined in giving viruses to aliens by The Hunger Games‘s Liam Hemsworth and newcomer Jessie Usher as Will Smith’s character’s stepson. Usher, in addition to not being Jaden Smith (thank God), recently starred in the LeBron James-produced Survivor’s Remorse on Starz.

But what will this new film be about? Let’s refresh your memory:

Explained Emmerich to, the films will take place about 20-25 years (in human time) after ID4—but that’s only a few weeks for the aliens, who received a distress call from their defeated brethren and high-tailed it through a worm hole (thus the time discrepancy) to get to us and wreak some havoc.

In the intervening years, says Emmerich, humans “have harnessed all this alien technology. We don’t know how to duplicate it because it’s organically-grown technology, but we know how to take an antigravity device and put it in a human airplane.” But while humanity has leveled up, so have the aliens, who “also do different things.”

Do different things like download Norton’s Antivirus, we hope?


The film is set for a June 24, 2016, almost 20 years after the first one was released on July 3rd, 1996. No word on whether Bill Pullman is on board yet, but Emmerich is on record as saying that Smith will not return because he’s too big a name and too expensive to cast. Aww. 

Anyway, last we heard it already had a title, Independence Day Forever (obviously we’re all going to shorten that To ID4ever, right?), but we came up with our own just in case they want to switch gears:

Independence Day 2: We Just Have a BBQ, We Beat the Aliens, Remember?

— Jill Pantozzi (@JillPantozzi) March 4, 2015

ID4 2 – The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything

— Dan Van Winkle (@Dan_Van_Winkle) March 4, 2015

Independence Day 2: Literally Who Cares About The Plot Now It Doesn’t Matter Because Goldblum Is In It

— Sam Maggs (@SamMaggs) March 4, 2015

2 Fast 2 Independence

— Victoria McNally (@vqnerdballs) March 4, 2015

(via THR)

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04 Mar 16:36

Level, A Platform Designed to Create Subtle Movement While Working at a Standing Desk

by Brian Heater

our dystopian present

Level is a working platform designed by Santa Barbara-based startup FluidStance that is designed to provide subtle instability to ensure that a user moves continually to help work muscles, increase heart rate, and avoid the fatigue of standing still. The project is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo.





images via The Level

submitted via Laughing Squid Tips

04 Mar 16:55

‘Sesame Street’ Parodies Unboxing Videos by Having Cookie Monster Unbox His Lunchbox

by Glen Tickle

in case you ever wanted to hear Cookie Monster say "croque monsieur" and "schmear"

A recent clip from Sesame Street parodies the popular online trend of unboxing videos by having Cookie Monster unbox his lunch and describe the process in detail.

04 Mar 16:49

Mike Epps and Nia Long Will Star in ABC’s Uncle Buck TV Pilot - The return of the '80s continues.

by Dan Van Winkle


If there’s one way to make the ’80s remake machine a lot easier to get behind, it’s diversity.

Mike Epps will take up the role of the titular Uncle Buck Russell, who was played by none other than John flippin’ Candy in the original 1989 movie. For those of you somehow unfamiliar with classic John Candy films, Buck is your average man-child who must learn how to be an adult by babysitting his brother’s three children when the family needs a bit of extra help—sort of the ’80s version of Big Daddy if you’re more of a ’90s kid.

Meanwhile, Nia Long will appear as Buck’s sister-in-law, Alexis Russell (Cindy in the original), who’s “the founder of her own nonprofit that mentors at-risk girls” in the TV reboot, according to THR. That’s likely to come into play with the oldest daughter, who was a bit rebellious in the original and matched wits with Buck.

So the new, racially updated Uncle Buck TV reboot will go ahead and get a pilot despite what John Hughes’ or John Candy’s familes think about it or what historically dubious connotations the title may have. At least if we know one thing for certain, it’s that—just like with the all-female Ghostbusters—this will probably bring out a bunch more anti-diversity crybabies for us to delight in their pain.


(via ABC, images via Visit El Paso and Wikipedia)

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04 Mar 17:14

Awesome Handmade ‘Adventure Time’ Necklaces Based on Characters From the Popular Animated Television Show

by Justin Page

Cake and Fionna Necklace

Laura Li (a.k.a. “Doppledew“) has created an awesome collection of handmade necklaces based on characters from the popular animated television show Adventure Time. The Jake, Lady Rainicorn, Cake and Fionna, and Lord Monochromicorn necklaces are available to purchase online from her Etsy store.

Made with:

– shrink film
– permanent acrylic inks
– brass rings
– gold chain and clasp

Jake and Lady Rainicorn Necklace

Lady Rainicorn Necklace

Lord Monochromicorn Necklace

Jake Adventure Time Necklace

images via Doppledew

via Fashionably Geek

04 Mar 17:38

Kidpost, A New Service That Lets Parents Share Photos of Their Children Online With Loved Ones Not on Social Media

by Glen Tickle

our dystopian present


Kidpost is a new service that lets parents share photos and other online content of their children with loved ones not on social media. The service works by allowing parents to label content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Flickr (with more services in the future) with the hashtag #kidpost, and the service will then pull that content and compile it in a daily email sent to loved ones.

The recipients of the daily email do not have to sign up for any other accounts or services, making it a useful option for sharing content with less tech-savvy loved ones.



images via Kidpost

04 Mar 17:35

Sony’s Amy Pascal Can’t Move Into Her New Office Because It Smells Like Seth Rogen’s Pot - Not making this up.

by Victoria McNally


Jesus, Amy Pascal must hate Seth Rogen so much right now. First he makes a stupid North Korea-baiting movie that results in all of her work emails and even her salary getting released to the public, and now she can’t get the stench of marijuana out of her new digs because of him. How’s a lady supposed to catch a break?

As part of her transition from Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair to on-the-lot producer, Pascal is supposed to be moving into a new office in the Irving Thalberg building, so that the space she currently uses can be given to new motion picture head Tom Rothman. The problem is, the Thalberg suite in question was previously occupied by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who wrote The Interview together—and, you’ll remember, spent at least $241 of that film’s budget on a “table of weed, coke, pills and panties” according to the information leaked by hackers in retaliation.

So yeah, of course they were gonna smoke pot in there—and now, says The Hollywood Reporter, it’s too much for Pascal to handle:

A source downplayed the marijuana issue, saying Rogen and Goldberg hadn’t been in the offices — also in the Thalberg — long enough to cause permanent damage. Furthermore, the repaint job has more to do with the fact that Pascal wants to put her own decorative stamp on the offices. But a source says the smell is so bad that it has seeped into the flooring.

[...] Rogen and Goldberg’s neighbors had long complained of the smell emanating from their first-floor offices. One frequent visitor says the fumes could be smelled on the third floor of the building.

The office once belonged to famous producer John Calley, who was Pascal’s boss before he died in 2011, and she has reportedly insisted for years that she wanted the office if she were ever to switch to a producer role. Now that she’s done just that, she’s willing to wait in her temporary lodgings for the room to be properly fumigated before she makes her mark on the place—though she should probably have the place checked for stray panties as well, just in case.

(via THR, image via Westfest TV)

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04 Mar 16:51

Apple shirks responsibility for fraud happening on Apple Pay

by Alice Truong
apple pay

To convince consumers to make purchases with their phones, Apple has touted the state-of-the-art security features of its mobile payment system Apple Pay. Those include tokenization (which provides merchants with one-time use tokens instead of credit card numbers), storage of sensitive information on the device’s secure element, fingerprint verification, and encrypted data transfer.

But it appears Apple didn’t account for one major vulnerability: social engineering, a term for the tactics hackers use to gain access to personal accounts by posing as the people whose identities they’ve stolen. This was the very weakness that led to last fall’s high-profile iCloud breach, when hackers leaked nude photos of celebrities online. The company insisted then there wasn’t “any breach in any of Apple’s systems.” While technically that may have been true—hackers gained access to accounts not through Apple’s infrastructure but likely by using widely known details about celebrities to answer security questions—customers  felt stung from the experience. (Apple turned on two-factor authentication, an additional security measure, for iCloud after the attack.)

As for Apple Pay, Cherian Abraham—a mobile payments advisor to banking and retail clients as well as Apple Pay competitor SimplyTapp—wrote in a blog post that he has noticed fraud happening at the earliest stages of getting set up on Apple Pay, when users add credit cards to the app.

The process to verify new credit cards varies from bank to bank and sometimes requires customers to phone call centers to answer additional security questions, which a hacker armed with stolen information can likely answer.

“Fraud rings are sophisticated and organized,” Abraham tells Quartz. “On the flip side, [call centers] are expensive, labor intensive, hard to scale, and staffed by individuals that need to be incentivized and trained continually as fraud patterns shift. So it’s no surprise that Apple, among other Silicon Valley firms has this as a blind spot.”

In a statement provided to Quartz, the Cupertino, California-based company emphasized that Apple Pay is “extremely secure,” and that the responsibility of verification lies with the banks themselves. “During setup Apple Pay requires banks to verify each and every card and the bank then determines and approves whether a card can be added to Apple Pay. Banks are always reviewing and improving their approval process, which varies by bank.”

David Robertson, publisher of the research publication the Nilson Report, says these instances of Apple Pay fraud are indistinguishable from traditional credit card fraud. Criminals are putting stolen credit card data on Apple phones, and it’s banks—not Apple—that are alerted to potential red flags. “It has nothing to do with the breach of the Apple system,” he insists.

Abraham has said in a previous blog post that such issues aren’t unique to Apple Pay and that “much of it translates to any other competitor—irrespective of origin, scale, intent, or patron saint.” That said, he clearly thinks Apple can do more to protect consumers.

“Why do we think it’s acceptable for Apple to display disparity in the care it designs its products from the lack of such care displayed in securing the provisioning process?” Abraham asks. “If Apple can mandate [that] banks pay 15 basis points to Apple for every transaction, couldn’t they mandate a better provisioning process by banks?”

04 Mar 17:49

Seattle’s smart take on how to help the poor: subsidize their transit

by Emily Badger

via Matthew Connor: "Seattle is sounding better and better to me every day."

Seattle's "one regional card for all" transit card. Courtesy of Flickr user Oran Viriyincy under a Creative Commons license.

Seattle's "one regional card for all" transit card. Courtesy of Flickr user Oran Viriyincy under a Creative Commons license.

Earlier this week, transit agencies in and around Seattle launched a new, two-tiered fare system: one rate for most riders in a region full of high-wage tech jobs, and another for those living on less than 200 percent of the poverty line.

The project — from the same city that last year brought us a $15 minimum wage, and a higher property tax to fund preschool for the poor — was designed to blunt rising inequality in the region, and it could aid as many as 100,000 low-income people there. Riders who qualify get a special "ORCA Lift" card for use on all of the region's transit systems that will automatically deduct $1.50 fares, as low as half of the standard rate on some services. A couple of other U.S. cities, including San Francisco, have tried something similar, but none has aspired to reach as many riders as Seattle hopes to. From the New York Times:

The distinctions start with scale and ambition: King County has about two and a half times San Francisco’s population, and in aiming for enrollment numbers San Franciscans could only dream of, it is relying on what transit experts say is the most innovative idea of all: tools honed by the Affordable Care Act. A countywide system of more than 40 health clinics, food banks, community colleges and other sites run by nonprofit groups was put together to enroll residents in health insurance, and those partners were re-enlisted in the last few weeks to start registering people for ORCA Lift.

To make matters even simpler, riders can verify their eligibility by showing that they've already qualified for other benefits like Medicaid, food stamps, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

This kind of transit discount is one of the smartest subsidies any city can offer to the poor for a host of reasons. It's much cheaper — and politically more feasible — to enable the poor to commute to cheaper housing than to try to build that affordable housing in the expensive neighborhoods where many of them work. Transit is already heavily subsidized by public money, and this system directs that subsidy to the people who need it most. Improving public transit is also a tangible way to tackle unemployment among would-be workers who have a hard time keeping a job because they have a hard time getting to it.

A discount transit program is also, quite simply, a way to boost the incomes of the poor by returning more money to their pockets. If you spend as much on coffee as you do commuting every day, the difference doesn't sound like much. But it's the equivalent of a modest raise for people making minimum wage, even in Seattle.

03 Mar 23:30

Game players are failing in our duty to be evil

by Colin Campbell

'She used Paarthurnax, the good dragon in Skyrim, as an example. She killed the dragon and enjoyed a lot of gated content as a result' and can GTFO and never come back, you ANIMAL

Most game players find evil paths in narrative games a big turn-off. Overwhelmingly, they follow "good" paths as the default option.

Statistics presented by Microsoft technical evangelist Amanda Lange at GDC today showed that, in narrative games where "good" and "evil" were clearly defined as story paths, only 5 percent of players opted for "evil" on a first play-through. The number jumped to around 50 percent on a second run.

In her presentation, "Beyond Binary Choices: How Players Engage With Morality," Lange showed a series of stats based on in-game achievements and path data. In Infamous, for example, 95 percent of players who completed the game reached the "good" ending while the number who saw the "evil" ending was 65 percent, most of whom, she surmised, probably saw it on a second play.

Lange described herself as a player who enjoys the "identity tourism" of experimenting with morality and identity in games. But based on research she conducted via online polls, she found that most players tended toward making in-game choices the way they might in real life.



This raises an important question for creators of narrative games. If players are not attracted to evil paths, what is the point of them as anything other than added content for subsequent play-throughs?

Some of the answers came through her research. Many respondents said that being evil for its own sake is not attractive, that it needs to come with specific rewards or, at least, a level of ambiguity. Players are more likely to "press the red evil button" if they are in situations where they are trying to impress a specific in-game character or faction.

Players will do unspeakable things to NPCs in open-world situations, but in narrative sequences, they are much more squeamish. Notorious examples include the Grand Theft Auto 5 torture scene and the "No Russian" scene in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, during which innocent civilians are gunned down. Many players reported finding these scenes distressing and uncomfortable.

I want to push the evil button and see what happens

She described these examples as good design, in that they achieved a lot of publicity, but they asked players to do things that they hated doing (No Russian was skippable). For Lange, this tendency to turn away from evil in games is strange. "I always play the bad guy," she said. "I want to push the evil button and see what happens."

She used Paarthurnax, the good dragon in Skyrim, as an example. She killed the dragon and enjoyed a lot of gated content as a result, but most players did not. The same with Skyrim's "Dark Brotherhood" quest, which she said was the best quest in the game, unseen by many players.

So what is the lesson for game designers who create "evil" narrative paths, and want players to experience those stories as viable first-play options? She said that presenting pure evil without context is a bad idea, because most people find the concept off-putting. Adding friction to evil is counter-productive. Evil should come with its own risks and rewards, as it (mostly) does in real life.

"People love to have their emotional boundaries tested," she concluded, adding that evil paths can create the most interesting moral problems.

03 Mar 21:30



via Tadeu

03 Mar 21:34

Did humans and wolves team up to kill off the Neanderthals?

by Jason Kottke

via who the fuck is Ben Wolf

My answer to that question, having read nothing about it beyond this article, is "it sounds like a bit of a stretch, but what an interesting thing to think about". This theory about how humans and wolves (and later, dogs) teamed up to outcompete Neanderthals for food is being forwarded by anthropologist Pat Shipman, author of the new book, The Invaders: How Humans and Their Dogs Drove Neanderthals to Extinction.

Modern humans formed an alliance with wolves soon after we entered Europe, argues Shipman. We tamed some and the dogs we bred from them were then used to chase prey and to drive off rival carnivores, including lions and leopards, that tried to steal the meat.

"Early wolf-dogs would have tracked and harassed animals like elk and bison and would have hounded them until they tired," said Shipman. "Then humans would have killed them with spears or bows and arrows.

"This meant the dogs did not need to approach these large cornered animals to finish them off -- often the most dangerous part of a hunt -- while humans didn't have to expend energy in tracking and wearing down prey. Dogs would have done that. Then we shared the meat. It was a win-win situation."

At that time, the European landscape was dominated by mammoths, rhinos, bison and several other large herbivores. Both Neanderthals and modern humans hunted them with spears and possibly bows and arrows. It would have been a tricky business made worse by competition from lions, leopards, hyenas, and other carnivores, including wolves.

"Even if you brought down a bison, within minutes other carnivores would have been lining up to attack you and steal your prey," said Shipman. The answer, she argues, was the creation of the human-wolf alliance. Previously they separately hunted the same creatures, with mixed results. Once they joined forces, they dominated the food chain in prehistoric Europe -- though this success came at a price for other species. First Neanderthals disappeared to be followed by lions, mammoths, hyenas and bison over the succeeding millennia. Humans and hunting dogs were, and still are, a deadly combination, says Shipman.

(via @robinsloan)

Tags: books   humans   Neanderthals   Pat Shipman   The Invaders
04 Mar 16:28



via Toaster Strudel

04 Mar 08:36

Idris Elba gets to work on new Luther episodes - Yahoo News UK

by gguillotte

Is it possible to change my ringtone to be the different ways Idris Elba says Alice's name throughout the series

Idris, who next stars in Pierre Morel’s action-thriller The Gunman alongside Sean Penn, has remained tight-lipped over which of his co-stars, including Ruth Wilson (Alice Morgan), would be returning for the new episodes.