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21 November 2014 by Jenn Granger

Greetings earthlings – congratulations, you’ve survived another week, and hopefully it’s been a good one! There’s been a fair bit happening, from how you can get involved in spreading some love this Christmas, to the robocops IRL; plus how stepping up often results in stepping forward, and the lowdown on the most secure large scale messaging service.


Watching webcams

You might have heard the news about some creepy webcam bizniss, with feeds streaming from peoples’ cams without their permission or knowledge.  The site lists streams from more than 250 countries and other territories, with 500 feeds from the UK and data watchdogs are saying that systems using default passwords, or no password at all, are the ones at risk.

They include images from a range of places, including an office in Warwickshire and a child’s bedroom in Birmingham. The images were stills, and it’s not to be confused with ratting (where hackers put a virus into webcam software that lets them control it); this is software scanning the net for feeds that they can get into, often through bad password practice. To protect yourself, make sure your password is strong and unique (and not just the default) and that you run your updates. Also, check your webcam and turn off remote access if you don’t need it.

Uberify night out

Uber and Spotify have come together with a genius idea… well, maybe. Uber now lets you choose the music from Spotify that’s played while you ride. It’s available to premium users in ten cities for the initial rollout (London, New York, San Francisco, Nashville, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Singapore, Stockholm, Toronto and Sydney) and is a pretty cool idea, in theory.

However, some drivers have complained that the cars don’t have the capacity to handle the audio, and that passengers might rate them badly because of it (they rely on ratings to get jobs). Other drivers have said that it’s distracting for them while they drive – and if passengers rate them badly for not playing their music, they’d undoubtedly rate them even worse for crashing.

Virtually someone else

A man has decided to live as someone else for 28 days in a virtual reality experiment that he reckons will give him an insight into human nature, but others have called potentially ‘extremely disturbing’. Mark Farid is going to use an ‘avatar’ or ‘other’, who will video his whole life for 28 days, as he watches it all through an Oculus Rift. He will basically ‘become’ this person, even down to assistants feeding him the same food that his participant eats.

He wants to see if he’s going to start thinking like another person after living like them. A psychologist will consult with Farid for an hour before he takes part, then watch him from the sidelines. You can apply to be the ‘other’ (the person who’s eyes he sees through) from the 28th; you need to be male, in a relationship, and living with someone who also agrees to take part. Possibly more importantly, you’ll need to be comfortable with your entire life being filmed for an entire month, and then the footage being used as part of a documentary. Apparently it could result in increased empathy, distorted perceptions and delusions, or that the brain could adapt surprisingly quickly to living as somebody else. Or it could just be a total nightmare. Either way.

Anonymous v KKK

The KKK may not exactly be the most popular (or sane) kids on the block, but they’re managing to move into the world of modern technology with a bang – by annoying hacktivist group Anonymous to the point that they hacked into their twitter account; wreaking havoc with their tweets and using it to identify members of the group. They also launched packet floods on several of their websites to knock them offline. However, even with the pretty much universal negative feelings against the KKK, there have been some who’ve criticised Anonymous’ tactics as being anti-freedom of speech.

#Flashback Friday – a brilliant performance from the legendary Delia

What have you seen this week that’s worth sharing?

Have a great weekend