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Current Event Cat of the Day: Amazon Drones

Amazon Drones

Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers. Goodbye UPS, hello killer drones! Minus the killing part… for now.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced the drone delivery service on 60 Minutes this week, explaining that the service, called Prime Air, will be able to deliver small products to your doorstop within 30 minutes of ordering. The drones, dubbed Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers.

I know this looks like science fiction, but it’s not,” Bezos told 60 Minutes host Charlie Rose.

“We can do half-hour delivery… and we can carry objects, we think, up to five pounds (2.3kg), which covers 86% of the items that we deliver.”

Bezos says the unmanned drone operation requires more safety testing and FAA approvals, but he’s hopeful Amazon can get their drone program together in about four to five years.

Amazon’s new announcement has left some other companies with a bad case of drone envy. Both UPS and Google have now decided to test out delivery drones for their services.

“The commercial use of drones is an interesting technology and we’ll continue to evaluate it,” UPS said in a statement. “UPS invests more in technology than any other company in the delivery business, and we’re always planning for the future.”

Over in Silicon valley, Google is also looking to copy Amazon’s Air Prime by testing “mini-drone delivery systems” to use with Google Shopping Express.

Looks like unmanned drones are the future of shopping! The Germans are certainly excited for it. While most people can’t wait to have pizza and condoms delivered to their house in 30 minutes or less via drones, the Germans are apparently more interested in having underwear delivered to mask their rampant cheating…

German Drones

Via: BBC News

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Polite But Stupid iPhone Thief Sends Owner Handwritten Numbers

iPhone Thief

A pickpocket in China painstakingly wrote out 11 pages of telephone numbers from a stolen iPhone and sent them back to the victim.

The thief, who has apparently never heard of icloud, and the victim, who has apparently never heard of my iPhone, were sharing a taxi together in the central province of Hunan in China when the robbery occurred. The victim, Zou Bin, had nearly 1,000 contact numbers in the device and was so concerned about losing the data that he began sending his phone threatening text messages.

“I know you are the man who sat beside me. I can assure you that I will find you,” he said in a text message to the thief.

“Look through the contact numbers in my mobile and you will know what trade I am in.”

“Send me back the phone to the address below if you are sensible.”

The thief must have mistaken Zou Bin for Liam Neeson’s character in Taken (and Taken 2!), because the threats scared him enough to write out (not type out) a thousand names and numbers and send them to the iPhone’s true owner. At that point it might have just been easier to give the whole phone back. But maybe he was concerned about the postage cost?

Zou said he was ‘astonished’ when he received a package containing containing his SIM card and 11 pages of handwritten contacts days later. Noticeably absent, however, was were hand drawn replicas of all Zou’s iPhone photos. Slacker.

“I suppose (the thief’s) hand is swelling,” Zou said.

But despite Zou Bin’s loss of iPhone, he may have inspired the plot for Taken 3:

First they took his daughter.

Then they took his wife.

Now…they take his iPhone!

Via: Metro

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Just Bought a Dell Lattitude 6430u? Urine For A Surprise!

Dell Cat Pee

Dude, you’re getting a Smell! Dell computers have agreed to issue replacement vouchers to the thousands of customers who complained about their laptops reeking like cat urine.

The “cat pee” issue was brought to light after owners of the new Latitude E6430u laptops complained on Dell forums about the strong smell coming from their computer.

“A few weeks ago I got a new Lattitude 6430u for work,” one user called Three West complained on Dell’s hardware support forum. “The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcat’s litter box. It is truly awful!”

Another customer, Hoteca, said: “I thought for sure one of my cats sprayed it, but there was something faulty with it so I had it replaced. The next one had the same exact issue. It’s embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad.”

Users complained that the smell was coming mainly from the keyboard and some initially blamed their cats for the odour. Dell support technicians said they were crazy and it MUST be their cats. The techies suggested that they clean their laptop air vents with compressed air  – but, alas, cat pee still filled the air.

Finally Dell acknowledged their mistake and blamed the smell on “a manufacturing process that has now been changed.”

“The smell is not related to cat urine or any other type of biological contaminant, nor is it a health hazard,” Dell support technician SteveB said.

Dell insists the manufacturing issue has been resolved and all new laptops should be cat urine free.

But one user still isn’t convinced:

“I just received my 5th replacement 6430u yesterday and the smell is still there.”

Maybe in his case, his cat actually did pee on the laptop…

Via: BBC News

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Beheading is Back on Facebook

Facebook Beheading

Facebook has lifted its ban on graphic beheading videos.

The social network site had placed a temporary ban on beheading related posts back in May after Facebook users complained that the clips could cause long-term psychological damage. After a long summer of reflection, Facebook decided gruesome decapitation videos were acceptable because the content is being shared to “condemn it, which we think is productive,” a Facebook spokesperson explained.

“If the video were being celebrated, or the actions in it encouraged, our approach would be different,” they added.

So beheading is totally cool, but pictures of mothers breastfeeding? OUT OF THE QUESTION!

As a result of Facebook’s new policy, a video of a beheading in Mexico is allowed to stay on the site for all to enjoy/condemn. The 46-second video, in which a man beheads a woman and pushes the body into a ditch, has been shared more than 2,500 times and “liked” by more than 1,000 people since it was posted last Saturday.

Despite the number of likes it received, many Facebook users were outraged, demanding that the company take it down. Unfortunately under Facebook’s new policy only images that “glorify violence” as well as those depicting a woman’s “fully exposed breast” will still be banned.

Facebook users angry“Remove this video too many young innocent minds out there shouldn’t see this!!!” wrote one user in the comments section below the beheading video.

“This is absolutely horrible, distasteful and needs to be removed… there are too many young minds that can see this. I’m 23 and I’m very disturbed after seeing a couple of seconds of it,” another chimed in.”

Calm down, it’s nothing to lose your head over.

Note: bad puns are still allowed on Facebook (and on ReaganPlusCats obviously).

Via: BBC News

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Apple Maps Still Have a Few Kinks to Work Out

Apple Maps 2

And so does Fairbanks International Airport. In the last couple of weeks two people have driven along the taxiway and across one of its runways because their Apple Maps app told them to.

The Alaskan aiport has closed one of its main access routes for aircrafts after the flaw in the Apple Maps app was discovered. The app directed motorists to drive along the taxiway, which is only used by aviation pilots, in order to reach the airport ramp side of the passenger terminal.

Apple Maps

“These folks drove past several signs,” Melissa Osborn, chief of operations at the Fairbanks airport, told the Alaska Dispatch. “They even drove past a gate. None of that cued them that they did something inappropriate.”

While only two Alaskans were stupid enough (Sarah Palin..?) to cross the runway, which is used by 737 jets, it was enough for the airport to put up extra barricades and send a strongly worded letter to Apple.

“We asked them to disable the map for Fairbanks until they could correct it, thinking it would be better to have nothing show up than to take the chance that one more person would do this,” Osborn said.

Apple is rushing to fix the issue before their Maps app gets any more bad press. In contrast, the Google Maps app provided a different, longer route, which takes drivers to the airport’s parking lot.

So you can take the longer route and end up in a parking lot or you can take the shorter route and risk getting hit by a 737. Or you can stop relying on your phone app and look out the window – if there’s a gate and a “do not enter” sign, you should probably turn around.

Via: International Business Times

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Iran Wants to Launch a Cat into Space… And Other News

Space Cat cat into space

Today in cat news, Iran has decided to launch a Persian cat into space. Why should monkeys have all the fun?

Don’t worry – the animal rights group PETA, is allll over this “cat into space” sh*t.

“Iran’s archaic experiment… is a throwback to the primitive techniques of the 1950s,” the animal rights group’s spokesman Ben Williamson said.

In February, Iran insisted it successfully sent a monkey outside Earth’s atmosphere and returned it safely. But the photos Iran released raised a few international questions about whether the same animal was shown in pre and post launch images. Interestingly enough, earlier this year President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he wanted to be Iran’s first astronaut. Maybe they should just send him instead of the cat… CBC News

Naval YardTragedy at the old Naval Yard today. 12 people are dead after Aaron Alexis, a man in his 30s from Texas, went on a shooting rampage at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command. Officials aren’t totally sure how many shooters were involved: but one thing is for sure – Aaron Alexis is dead. Washington police say there may be two other shooters at large, both wearing military-style uniforms, so I’m sure DC is a safe place to be tonight… President Obama gave the usual tragedy press conference, called the shooting a “cowardly act” and vowing that the people responsible will be “held accountable.” ABC News

Ban Ki-moonThe United Nations has officially confirmed what everybody (except Putin) already knew: sarin gas had been “unequivocally and objectively” used in Syria. The U.N stopped short of naming names though, so the debate over which side ordered the chemical weapons attack rages on. The States has insisted President Bashar al-Assad’s goonies were behind it, while Russia and Syria have insisted the rebels were responsible. But one thing is for sure: UN leader Ban Ki-moon is pissed. Ban called on the Security Council to impose “consequences” for any failure by Assad to stick to the Russian-led plan to destroy Syria’s chemical stockpile. BBC News

Colorado FloodWell that escalated quickly… The number of people missing in Colorado’s deadly flooding has jumped to 1,200 as the rain keeps on coming. The death toll climbed to 6 over the weekend after a 80-year-old woman was swept away in the torrent. Death toll aside, 17,494 homes had been damaged, 1,502 homes destroyed, and 11,700 people (and hundreds of pets!) evacuated due to the flooding. The Denver Post

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Hacker Swears at Two-Year-Old Via Baby Monitor

Baby Monitor Hacked Two-year-old

Trolling reached a new low when a Texas couple discovered a hacker had hacked into their baby monitor and started swearing at their two-year-old daughter.

Now, I hate babies as much as the next person, but shouting expletives and sexual terms at a sleeping two-year-old? That’s a little much.

The couple, Marc and Lauren Gilbert from Houston, Texas, reported that they heard a strange man’s voice coming from their Foscam baby monitor. Horrified, the couple went to their daughter Allyson’s room and realized that the voice was coming from the speaker of the family’s baby monitor, which was running on the home’s Internet router.

Marc Gilbert said the voice directed offensive, sexualised words at their daughter Allyson, who was asleep in bed. The pair heard the creepy voice calling his daughter an “effing moron,” and telling her, “wake up you little slut.” The family believed the hacker had read the girl’s name off the bedroom wall because he was calling her by name and trying to wake her up.

In a weird twist to the story, it turns out the two-year-old is deaf so none of this matters anyway. The couple described their daughter’s deafness as “something of a blessing” in the circumstances.

However, if she wasn’t deaf, they could have just put on Samuel L. Jackson reading the children’s book Go The F*ck to Sleep to get her back to bed. She’s used to the language by now.

Via: ABC News 

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The Kremlin Switches to Typewriters in a Fool-Proof Plan to Avoid Security Leaks

Kremlin Typewriter

In response to all the NSA spying / Wikileaks hoopla, the Kremlin has decided to go back in time to a period where hackers didn’t exist: the age of the typewriter.

The Federal Guard Service (FSO), which is in charge of safeguarding Kremlin communications as well as protecting President Vladimir Putin, is in the market to buy a number of electric typewriters. The old-timey approach is in direct response to recent worldwide spying revelations. Russians are beginning to think that using computers to prepare top-secret documents may no longer be safe.

“After scandals with the distribution of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the exposes by Edward Snowden, reports about Dmitry Medvedev being listened in on during his visit to the G20 summit in London, it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents,” an unnamed source from the Federal Guard Service said.

Now none of Russia’s secrets will ever get out! Except for those that come from unnamed sources at the FSO…

But why stop there? Why not throw out all the Kremlin telephones and opt for Kremlin carrier pigeons? I’d like to see a leaker hack into a pigeon. Actually, I would not – there would be a lot of blood and feathers…

Meanwhile NSA leak Edward Snowden is in week three of being stuck in legal limbo at the transit zone of a Moscow airport. And now that the Russians are switching to typewriters, it might take until year three for any official communication to come his way. I hope he likes airport food…

Via: The Telegraph

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François Hollande Is Also Spying On The French

François Hollande

President François Hollande is looking foolish today after the French newspaper Le Monde revealed that France is the latest country to be given the Big Brother label.

Just days after François Hollande gave the United States a stern talking to, telling them to stop eavesdropping on Europe if they want progress on a trade deal, Le Monde accused France of spying on its own citizens’ phone calls, emails, and internet activity.

François Hollande gave a speech last week calling the revelations that America spies on its allies “unacceptable” and demanding an immediate assurance that survelliance would be stopped or he would block negotiations on a transatlantic free trade treaty.

“We cannot accept this kind of behaviour between partners and allies,” Mr Hollande said. “We ask that this immediately stop. There can be no negotiations or transactions in all areas until we have obtained these guarantees, for France but also for all of the European Union, for all partners of the United States.”

Well the joke’s on Hollande now because he’s doing the same thing to his own constituents.In a similar style to the NSA’s Prism program, Le Monde reports that France runs a vast electronic surveillance operation, intercepting and stocking data from citizens’ phone and internet activity. The program reportedly doesn’t look at individual intercepts for content, but uses the data to connect the dots and networks of communication, essentially creating a map of “who is talking to whom”.

But the French also record data from large American networks like Google and Facebook, the newspaper said. Apparently, data on “all emails, SMSs, telephone calls, Facebook and Twitter posts” are collected and stored in a massive three-floor underground bunker at the Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure’s headquarters in Paris.

I think it’s pretty safe to say at this point that every government everywhere has some kind of surveillance system in place. Except maybe in Vanuatu – they haven’t discovered computers yet.

Via: LA Times

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Forgot Your Password? There’s a Pill for That.

Password Pill

Are you always forgetting your password? Too lazy to write them all down? Too paranoid about hackers to just use one?

Well, Motorola thinks it has a solution to the password problem.  The company is working with doctors to perfect a tiny, swallowable device that stores your codes and ID in your stomach. Technology is getting creepier by the day…

In order for the pill to work you would have to provide Motorola with your password information and they would create a custom pill that had a tiny electronic chip inside it. The password pill automatically syncs up with your smartphone and can confirm your identity to every device. In theory you would never have to remember another password in your life. Somehow the pill is powered by stomach acid and emits a 18-bit, ECG-like signal.

The only catch? (Besides having your stomach become some sort of satellite..) The password pill passes through your body in 24 hours so you would have to take a pill everyday – otherwise you might forget your all your information and just end up wandering the streets aimlessly.

The password pill may seem like an overly complicated and potentially hazardous solution to a small annoyance, but Regina Dugan, senior vice president of Motorola’s Advanced Technology & Projects, thinks the password pill is a necessity that will make everyone’s life easier.

“People have to authenticate themselves (to machines) on average 39 times a day, or log into their phone 100 times a day, and coming up with hacker-proof passwords has become more insane,” Dugan explained, “Sorting this out will improve everyone’s lives.”

“I would take the pill along with my vitamin every morning. It’s my first super-power. I want that.”

Mad-scientist quotes aside, I don’t know about this password pill… What if somebody steals your pills? Can they take over your identity? And more importantly, just how does this pill “pass through your system”?

Passwords are definitely a problem – people aren’t great at creating them and people are even worse at remembering them. Maybe getting rid of passwords altogether would be a better solution – either by fingerprint authentication or eyeball scanning. Then again, I’d rather have a hacker steal my pills than cut off my finger. Then again, it might be simplest to just write my passwords down and make sure they aren’t on the ”worst passwords list”: password, 123456, 12345678, jesus, monkey, trustno1, etc.

Via: The Australian

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