Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Warren Buffett / Quicken Loans is offering a $1 BILLION prize for the perfect NCAA bracket for this year's tournament -

Warren Buffett / Quicken Loans is offering a $1 BILLION prize for the perfect NCAA bracket for this year's tournament - 

Warren Buffett might be the epitome of the cautious investor, but he's betting $1 billion on this year's NCAA tournament.
Quicken Loans is offering a $1 billion prize to the basketball fan who submits the perfect NCAA bracket for this year's tournament. And the prize, if there is one awarded, will be paid out by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, (BRKA, Fortune 500)

The payment would be doled out over 40 years in annual payments of $25 million, or a lump-sum payment of $500 million. If there is more than one perfect bracket submitted, the winning entries will split the money.
Buffett would not disclose the premium that Quicken Loans CEO Dan Gilbert agreed to pay to Berkshire to cover the potential payout.
"Dan says it is too much and I say it's too little," he told CNN's Poppy Harlow.
He added that if there is a contestant who has a chance for the prize when the final game is held on April 7 in Arlington, Texas, he plans on attending the game.
"I will invite him or her to be my guest at the final game and be there with a check in my pocket, but I will not be cheering for him or her to win," he said, jokingly. "I may even give them a little investment advice."
Entry in the pool is free. Contestants can start signing up to participate on March 3, though they won't be able to make their picks until the brackets are set on March 16. The deadline for entry is Wednesday, March 19.

There are more than 9 quintillion possible ways to fill out the 64-team bracket, according to the math and science site Orgtheory.net. That's 9 million-trillion, or 9 followed by 18 zeros. It's much more of a long shot than the one-in-259 million odds of winning the grand prize in MegaMillions or the one-in-175 million odds of winning Powerball's top prize.
But Buffett said that because winners in the tournament are not random, there's no real accurate way to calculate the actual odds of the perfect bracket.

"There is no perfect math...There are no true odds, no one really knows," he said.
Buffett said he and one of the executives from Berkshire's insurance unit made independent calculations of the odds.
"[They] were in the same ballpark, but it's a big ball park," he said.
John Diver, director of product development for ESPN Fantasy, said in the 13 years that ESPN has offered NCAA bracket contests, no one has ever come close to a perfect bracket, even though there have been about 30 million entries. In fact, only once in the last seven years has anyone gotten the first round perfect.
"I don't want to say it's impossible, but it's basically impossible," he said.

Quicken is also paying out $100,000 prizes to each of the 20 contestants who do the best in the brackets. And it is donating $1 million to inner-city Detroit and Cleveland non-profit organizations that are dedicated to improving the education of young residents. Buffett said he came up with the idea while getting a tour of Detroit from Gilbert in November and Gilbert quickly signed on to the idea.


Candy Crush, has now trademarked the word “candy." -

Candy Crush, has now trademarked the word “candy." - 

King.com, the company responsible for developing the closest thing to online crack, Candy Crush, has now trademarked the word “candy." This means that no other mobile games are allowed to have the word “Candy” in their name, because the giant corporation fears their billion dollar industry will be devastated.

Now, King.com can force other companies to get rid of their games completely if that word is also in their title. Escapist Magazine reports that King filed for this trademark back in February of 2013, and almost a year later it was approved (on January 15, 2014 to be exact). I imagine all the tech bros of King.com chugging some sort of beer flavored like banana bread upon hearing this joyous news. Escapist writes, “Benny Hsu, the maker of All Candy Casino Slots - Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land, told Gamezebo that he was asked under no uncertain terms to pull his game from the App Store.” According to Hsu, King paralegal Sophie Hallstrom, told him, “Your use of CANDY SLOTS in your app icon uses our CANDY trademark exactly, for identical goods, which amounts to trademark infringement and is likely to lead to consumer confusion and damage to our brand. The addition of only the descriptive term 'SLOTS' does nothing to lessen the likelihood of confusion."


Doggie Deception: Thieves Target Dog Lovers - twist on the classic Nigerian scam -

Doggie Deception: Thieves Target Dog Lovers - twist on the classic Nigerian scam - 

Coloradans love their pets. Now thieves are using adorable pictures of puppies to steal money. Now an Aurora woman says she got drawn into this twist on the classic Nigerian scam.
Kellie Bohrer was looking for a puppy for her brother. She found an advertisement on dog.oodle.com for a cute Siberian husky. The puppy was described as a purebred and listed for $320 dollars. A good deal considering that purebred huskies can run $1,000. Kellie contacted the sellers and got more cute pictures and a registration certificate.
“The agency called and said that we needed to give them $1,600,” Bohrer explained.
The money was for insurance to ship the puppy from Washington state to Kellie’s home. Kellie got a form that assured her that all that money would be returned upon delivery.
“We waited for the puppy. We didn’t get anything,” Bohrer said.
What Kellie got was another e-mail asking for more money. This time the puppy was in Idaho and needed vaccinations and a new carrier.
“That was another thousand dollars out of our pocket,” Bohrer said.
Still, she got no puppy, but she did get another e-mail saying the husky was in Las Vegas in “puppy quarantine”. They wanted another $4,500.
“We’re like this isn’t right,” Bohrer said.
That’s when Kellie started asking questions. She found that the registration certificate was a fake version of a certificate issued by a real company. American Pet Registry is based out Arkansas and says that it’s gotten about 10 complaints about this scam from people all over the U.S. The certificate used in the scam is similar to ones issued by American Pet Registry, but contains mistakes like registration numbers that are not associated with the Registry.
“The first rule of thumb is if something appears to be too good to be true, it mostly likely is,” said Dave Joly, a spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Investigations office in Denver.
Joly says his investigators see this scam over and over again. The twist in this one is that the thieves are drawing people in with cute puppy pictures. CBS4 did a reverse search on the pictures, and found these same puppies for sale in Texas, Virginia, North Carolina and they’re even featured on what looks like a puppy sale site in a foreign county.
“Treat this as a business transaction. Don’t have an emotional attachment to anything that you’re purchasing,” Joly advised.
CBS4 tried to track down the seller listed on the insurance form, Aundria Darby of Hoquiam Washington. The address is a rural cross roads. And there are two Aundria Darby’s – one in Texas and one in California – neither of which are selling husky puppies.
“Being 19, I really didn’t understand what was happening,” Bohrer said.
Kellie is out about $3,000 and now she wants to warn other people about this scam.


AMC movie theater calls FBI to arrest a Google Glass user - then let him go with four free movie passes -

AMC movie theater calls FBI to arrest a Google Glass user - then let him go with four free movie passes - 

As if you needed another reason not to wear your dumb Google Glass in public—or ever, actually—an Ohio man claims he was yanked out of a movie theater and interrogated by federal agents, who believed he was illegally filming the movie with his face computer.
The man’s full account is posted on The Gadgeteer, but we’ll summarize it here so you can get the gist of it before you’re engulfed forever in this ghastly winter storm. 
Last Saturday, our Glass-wearing protagonist and his wife went to a showing of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit at an AMC in Columbus, Ohio. About an hour into the movie, he says some federal agents yanked the Glass off the man’s face, pulled the pair out of the theater and took them to separate interrogation rooms.
The man, who’d just been trying to enjoy a crappy movie with his lovely wife on a Saturday night, says he was accused of illegally taping the movie and questioned extensively about “who I am, where I live, where I work, how much I’m making, how many computers I have at home, why am I recording the movie, who am I going to give the recording to, why don’t I just give up the guy up the chain, ’cause they are not interested in me. Over and over and over again.”
The agents also allegedly displayed this level of ridiculousness: 
They wanted to know where I got Glass and how did I came by having it. I told them I applied about 1000 times to get in the explorer program, and eventually I was selected, and I got the Glass from Google. I offered to show them receipt and Google Glass website if they would allow me to access any computer with internet. Of course, that was not an option. Then they wanted to know what does Google ask of me in exchange for Glass, how much is Google paying me, who is my boss and why am I recording the movie.
After an hour of intense interrogation, the agents hooked the Glass up to a computer, and saw that all it was storing were personal family photos, he says. They allegedly went through his phone, too, and found nothing.
Then everybody felt really bad, and gave the man and his wife four free movie passes, so they can go see Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit again, twice.
Based on this strange tale, here are some things we should probably establish:
1) AMC needs to learn what Google Glass is, set out a policy as to whether its patrons can wear it or not. Yes, it’s pretty weird and suspicious that this dude was wearing Glass to the movies. Why would anybody do that, if not to film the movie? But having the feds remove a man from his seat mid-movie is pretty shitty, when what he’s doing isn’t expressly prohibited in the first place.
2) Law enforcement officials should make an effort to keep up-to-date on the latest technological advancements, so they don’t unintentionally behave like dodos.
3) Not that we couldn’t guess this before, but Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is probably a move that you should not go see.


'Password' no longer the top choice for computer passwords – but the new one is not much better.. -

'Password' no longer the top choice for computer passwords – but the new one is not much better.. - 

In news that will have computer security experts celebrating and shaking their heads, it seems that the most popular password is no longer ‘password’. It’s ‘123456’.

This is according to an annual survey from mobile software developers SplashData, who have collated a massive list of the most popular passwords used online from the data revealed by high profile hacks in 2013.

The main source for this year’s list was the cyberattack that hit Adobe in October, a hack that was originally thought to have targeted 2.9 million customers but was later revised to 38 million.

The Adobe hack certainly swayed the results of the survey (both ‘ adobe123’ and ‘photoshop’ make their first time appearence in the list - see below for the top 25) but the unseating of ‘password’ was the biggest surprise. It was relegated to second position, followed by ‘12345678’ in third place and ‘qwerty’ in fourth.

Other favourite standbys that also appeared included ‘abc123’, ‘ letmein’ and the ever redoubtable ‘111111’. A surprise appearance was also made by ‘trustno1’ – perhaps as a quiet rebuff to last year’s NSA revelations.

For those who may recognise their own password on the list and are considering upgrading their security, security experts recommend that instead of trying to memorise a random jumble of letters and numbers such as ‘d73h58fjk’ we pick phrase passwords – combinations of known words such as ‘monkeysteeplefacejacket’ that tend to stick in the memory.

The concept was outlined in this well-known XKCD comic and although it has its flaws (for example, if a hacker knew this format was being used they could crack the password quite easily) it certainly beats ‘123456’ – or ‘password’.

Rank Password Change
1 123456 Up 1
2 password Down 1
3 12345678 Unchanged
4 qwerty Up 1
5 abc123 Down 1
6 123456789 New
7 111111 Up 2
8 1234567 Up 5
9 iloveyou Up 2
10 adobe123 New
11 123123 Up 5
12 admin New
13 1234567890 New
14 letmein Down 7
15 photoshop New
16 1234 New
17 monkey Down 11
18 shadow Unchanged
19 sunshine Down 5
20 12345 New
21 password1 Up 4
22 princess New
23 azerty New
24 trustno1 Down 12
25 0 New

Read more -