Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Man in gorilla suit shot with tranquillizer dart at zoo... -

Man in gorilla suit shot with tranquillizer dart at zoo... - 

A man is recovering in hospital after being shot with a tranquilliser dart when he was dressed as a gorilla at a zoo

Frantic zoo keepers in Tenerife rushed to call an ambulance after a vet shot a tranquilliser dart at a man dressed as a gorilla.
Police on the Spanish island received a call from a panicked member of the public, who said that a gorilla had escaped from its pen in Loro Park zoo, and was seen running around the theme park.
A vet was called, and on spotting the creature fired a tranquilliser dart at its leg with enough sedative to fell a 200kg beast.

But to his horror, the vet - who had only been in the job for two months - realised that the creature was in fact an employee of the zoo, dressed in a gorilla suit, who was staging a mock escape to practise their emergency routines.
The 35-year-old man was taken to the island's University Hospital after the shooting, which happened after the call to the police was made at 11.40am on Monday, according to La Opinion de Tenerife.
He was said to be in a serious condition, having suffered an allergic reaction to the tranquilliser, but was expected to make a full 


Cut Off Glassholes’ Wi-Fi With This Google Glass Detector - a simple program called Glasshole.sh -

Cut Off Glassholes’ Wi-Fi With This Google Glass Detector - a simple program called Glasshole.sh - 

Image: Julian Oliver

Not a fan of Google Glass’s ability to turn ordinary humans into invisibly recording surveillance cyborgs? Now you can create your own “glasshole-free zone.”

Berlin artist Julian Oliver has written a simple program called Glasshole.sh that detects any Glass device attempting to connect to a Wi-Fi network based on a unique character string that he says he’s found in the MAC addresses of Google’s augmented reality headsets. Install Oliver’s program on a Raspberry Pi or Beaglebone mini-computer and plug it into a USB network antenna, and the gadget becomes a Google Glass detector, sniffing the local network for signs of Glass users. When it detects Glass, it uses the program Aircrack-NG to impersonate the network and send a “deauthorization” command, cutting the headset’s Wi-Fi connection. It can also emit a beep to signal the Glass-wearer’s presence to anyone nearby.

“To say ‘I don’t want to be filmed’ at a restaurant, at a party, or playing with your kids is perfectly OK. But how do you do that when you don’t even know if a device is recording?” Oliver tells WIRED. “This steps up the game. It’s taking a jammer-like approach.”

Oliver came up with the program after hearing that a fellow artist friend was disturbed by guests who showed up to his art exhibit wearing Glass. The device, after all, offered no way for the artist to know if the Glass-wearing visitors were photographing, recording, or even live-streaming his work.

Oliver’s program is still a mostly-unproven demonstration, though the 40-year-old New Zealand native has successfully tested it by booting Glass off his own studio’s network. More importantly, it shows how the uneasiness with Glass’ social implications could play out as the device hits the mainstream. Bars in San Francisco and Seattle have already banned Glass-wearers. In January, a Glass-headed movie-goer was suspected of piracy and questioned by Homeland Security agents after wearing the device in a theater. And the inventor of a Glass-like augmented reality setup claimed to have been violently thrown out of a Paris McDonald’s in 2012 based on the restaurant’s no-recording policy.

A program like Glasshole.sh could make those sorts of no-Glass policies more technically enforceable, though it may have to be adapted as Glass MAC addresses shift in future versions. And Oliver argues that a Glass-booting device is legal so long as the Glasshole.sh user is the owner of the network. He sees it as no different from cell phone jammers, which have been adopted in many schools, libraries, and government buildings.

Oliver warns, though, that the same Glass-ejecting technique could be used more aggressively: He plans to create another version of Glasshole.sh in the near future that’s designed to be a kind of roving Glass-disconnector, capable of knocking Glass off any network or even severing its link to the user’s phone. “That moves it from a territorial statement to ‘you can all go to hell.’ It’s a very different position, politically,” he says. For that version, Oliver says he plans to warn users that the program may be more legally ill-advised, and is only to be used “in extreme circumstances.”

As a long-time Berlin resident, Oliver says he sees Glass as a replay of the events surrounding Google Streetview in Germany, where private citizens protested Google’s uninvited photography of their homes and places of work. He sees Glass as another case of Google violating privacy norms and asking questions later.

“These are cameras, highly surreptitious in nature, with network backup function and no external indication of recording,” says Oliver. “To focus on the device is to dance past a heritage of heartfelt protest against the unconsented video documentation of our public places and spaces.”


Secret Service looking for sarcasm-detecting software -

Secret Service looking for sarcasm-detecting software - 

Oh yeah, this sounds like a great idea.

According to a work order posted online Monday, the Secret Service is looking to purchase software that will detect sarcasm on social media, among other things. (Via Federal Business Opportunities)

As you can probably imagine, this brought out every headline writer's best material. Great job, guys.

While this might sound like a joke, we can assure you it's not. These guys don't exactly look like the joking type now, do they? (Via Flickr / Chuck Patch)

The Washington Post spoke with ​a Secret Service spokesperson who said the agency currently uses FEMA Twitter analytics, but wants to create its own.

"Our objective is to automate our social media monitoring process. ... The ability to detect sarcasm and false positives is just one of 16 or 18 things we are looking at. ... We aren't looking solely to detect sarcasm."

Also on the list, "the ability to identify social media influencers, analyze data streams in real time, access old Twitter data and use heat maps."

While the men in suits are easy targets for jokes - the work order said the software has to be compatible with Internet Explorer 8 for Pete's sake - Time points out "when your job is to protect the president's life and watch for potential dangers, the ability to analyze sarcasm and weed out 'false positives'-like dumb teenagers making joking threats-is probably worth the money."

But unfortunately, computers still aren't very good at detecting sarcasm in text.

A 2011 Rutgers University study took hundreds of tweets that used the hashtag #sarcasm or #sarcastic, removed the hashtag then fed the rest of the tweet through a computer program. The software identified the sarcastic tweet just 65 percent of the time.

We're guessing the Secret Service would want something a little more accurate than that, since we're talking about keeping the president alive here and all. So if you have a better program, you have until June 9 at 5pm to submit. Wow. That's soooo much time.


European Central Bank Takes a Radical Step - the so-called negative deposit rate -

European Central Bank Takes a Radical Step - the so-called negative deposit rate - 

The European Central Bank cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low on Thursday and, in an unprecedented attempt to stimulate the euro zone economy, said it would begin charging interest on deposits held by the bank.

The so-called negative deposit rate has never been tried on such a large scale and is a bid to push down the value of the euro and encourage banks to invest excess cash rather than hoard it in central bank vaults.

The European Central Bank cut its benchmark interest rate to 0.15 percent from 0.25 percent, and the deposit rate to minus 0.10 percent from zero. The rate cuts will take effect next week, on June 11.

A produce merchant at a food market.Europe Struggles to Avoid Deflation’s GripJUNE 3, 2014
Mario Draghi, head of the European Central Bank, said on Thursday that interest rates would stay low for an extended period of time.European Central Bank Makes a Surprise Rate CutNOV. 7, 2013
The central bank said it would announce further measures later on Thursday “to enhance the functioning of the monetary policy transmission mechanism.” Analysts have speculated that those additional measures could include offering banks a new round of long-term loans at the benchmark rate, perhaps with strings attached to ensure that the money finds its way to businesses and consumers.

The interest rate cuts, including the move to a negative rate on deposits, had become all but certain after data earlier in the week showed that inflation in the euro zone fell to an annual rate of 0.5 percent in May, a level considered perilously low.

The fear is that the minuscule rises in wages and prices could lapse into outright declines — an economically debilitating condition known as deflation that is characterized by a downward spiral of prices, corporate profits and hiring. Deflation has already plagued the economies of several of the weaker euro zone countries, including Greece.

“Ultimately the macroeconomic consequences of a small negative rate are likely to be minimal,” Luke Bartholomew, a fund manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, said in a note after the central bank’s announcement, “But it should put downward pressure on the euro and it is an important signal of the ECB’s deflation fighting intent.”

Imposing a negative deposit rate is meant to give a positive jolt to the euro zone economy. In the annals of central banking, though, negative deposit rates have rarely been tried. Denmark had one until April, but the impact on an economy as large as the euro zone’s is largely unknown.

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