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August 21, 2014

UPS says malware attack compromised customer info at 51 of its stores

Have you done any business with UPS recently? You'd better check out the company's website: some of its stores may have leaked your personal data. After receiving a security advisory from the US Government, the company discovered that 51 UPS Stores were infected with malware, potentially compromising customer data for more than 105,000 transactions. UPS has already removed the offending software, of course, but the damage may have already been done. Now the company is trying to make good.

Customers affected by the data breach are eligible for free identity protection and credit monitoring services -- unfortunately, UPS isn't offering the services to customers directly. Instead, its posting a list of impacted locations on its website and asking customers to check themselves. The free proaction services are a nice gesture, but it's not the best outreach for customers that don't keep up with UPS news. Worried you're affected? Check out the list at the source link below.

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Via: Wall Street Journal

Source: UPS

August 21, 2014

Twitter shows how its bots keep your timeline spam-free

Twitter on a Nexus 5

Have you noticed that you're getting a lot less spam on Twitter these days? You may have to thank a bot for that. Twitter has just shed light on BotMaker, a recently developed system that (as the name suggests) lets the social network create anti-spam bot code with very little effort. Within a few seconds, engineers can set up rules that automatically take down and track spammers, in some cases before they've even managed to post anything. Besides barring known spam links, the bots can flag suspicious behavior -- if a lot of people block an account after it sends a tweet, it's going to be watched very closely. BotMaker will also look at long-term behavior, so spammers that slip through the cracks aren't necessarily safe.

Importantly, you shouldn't notice that BotMaker is working; it's designed to only fight certain forms of spam as they arrive, and saves more time-consuming tasks for later. Whatever its impact on performance, it's proving to be effective. Twitter is reporting a 40 percent drop in spam since its new tool kicked in, and it can improve any less-than-perfect rules within seconds instead of hours. It's doubtful the technology will ever completely rid the world of pitches for fake followers and cheap drugs, but it should help staff police a rapidly growing user base without hurting your day-to-day experience.

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Source: Twitter Engineering Blog

August 21, 2014

These beautiful objects symbolize human contact using cold, hidden machinery

Ask anyone who's tried maintaining a long-distance relationship: it's hard, and video chats, text messages and phone calls don't always satisfy our emotional needs. A lot of human relations are indirect, subtle actions of body language or behavior that aren't easily captured in video or text. Capturing the feeling of these unspoken cues seems is the point of "Saying things that can't be said," two students' final project at the Holon Institute of Technology. The series uses a mix of technology and familiar objects to create an abstract sense of presence between two distant partners.

The project consists of three pieces, but none of them directly simulate touch. "I'm with you," for instance, is a pair of pineapple-shaped objects that "beat" with the pulse of the other user -- implying closeness, but not mimicking it. Another pair of devices allows one user to playfully blow on a pinwheel, prompting an object at their partner's end to shoot bubbles. A third display simulates "blowing a kiss" by having one user's breath remotely flap a paper butterfly's wings.

All of the objects are subtle, but beautifully made. They aren't enough to make you feel as if your loved ones are really present, but the echo of presence they imply may satisfy an emotional need that videos, text and images can't. At the very least, the abstract objects are an interesting idea -- and even its creators admit that something suggested can be more real that something simulated. "It was important to me not to try and reenact the feelings of touch, pressure and warmth we feel when we hug or a caress our loved one," Student Daniel Sher said of the project. "Trying to imitate that will always feel fake."

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Via: VICE

Source: Design Boom

August 21, 2014

Parties for Secret users get you spilling the beans in real life

Headless people at a party

Part of the allure of Secret's app is supposed to be the anonymity; you can confess your innermost thoughts without facing any accusing fingers. However, people are now using Secret as a launching pad for parties where the very point is to confide in others you can see across the table. As Recode notes from first-hand experience, it's like seeing the app unfold in real life. Rather than make small talk, guests share their sincerest feelings about family and relationships -- you may find more about a stranger in a few hours than you would by following them on Facebook for a year. Even meeting up is dependent on revealing interesting tidbits, so you end up breaking the ice before you know anyone's names.

These parties are still new, and there's a distinct possibility that they'll fade out. However, the Secret-inspired occasions appear to have some benefits for real socialization. They help people meet strangers (albeit ones connected to existing friends), and you don't get the sense that these would-be friends have something to hide. Secret can be used for some decidedly malicious purposes, but these get-togethers suggest that it can be a force for good in the right hands.

[Image credit: Jupiterimages]

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Source: Recode

August 21, 2014

What if your Netflix queue was just a big, virtual room?

Sure, we know Oculus VR chief technology officer John Carmack's likes watching movies on the Rift headset from bed when he's sick, but what if you'd rather catch up on Orange is the New Black instead? A recent hackathon at Netflix produced something that could make that possible. The custom UI, dubbed "Oculix," shows off what it'd be like to navigate the interface in a virtual space replete with gesture control. It looks pretty neat if you ask us. What, with its floating tiles and text descriptions and all that. Sadly, unlike the home-brew Oculus apps we're used to, whether or not the greater community will get to give this a shot is up in the air. As is typical with Netflix's Hack Day projects, the outfit is making no promises of Oculix ever seeing the light of day.

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Via: The Verge

Source: Netflix

August 21, 2014

China’s ‘bullet screens’ combine movies and your snarky texts

Movie theater texters here in the US are (rightfully!) viewed as the lowest of the low, but certain spots in China look far more kindly on those cinematic simpletons. Why? Because some of their hastily composed missives actually become part of the show itself. According to the New York Times, some Chinese theaters are experimenting with what they call "bullet screens," which meld movies with text messages sent in from the audience. For the low, low price of 0.1 renminbi (or a dime), a film connoisseur can watch as their most poignant wisecracks scroll across the screen with countless others... for better or worse.

Sound familiar? This isn't the first time we've seen the line between content and comments blur -- Japan's niconico video service (see above) would've just been a regional YouTube knock-off were it not for the occasionally insane stream of comments sweeping across videos as they played. The end result is a visually jarring, often hilarious union of art and critique, a text-only version of MST3K unfolding before your very eyes. Our only question: when can we unleash our sparkling wit on a movie screen near us?

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Source: New York Times

August 21, 2014

The Big Picture: NASA’s electric plane achieves vertical takeoff

While EVs like the Tesla Model S and Renovo Coupe gain steam here on the ground, engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center are taking electric propulsion technology to new heights. What you see above is the GL-10 -- AKA Greased Lightning. This serious looking unmanned aerial system has a 10-foot wingspan and is powered by 10 individual electric motors with enough torque to propel it straight up in the air like a Harrier Jet. The GL-10 is nowhere near the size or weight of a Boeing V-22 Osprey, but that sort of maneuver is nonetheless impressive for a battery-powered machine.

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Source: NASA

August 21, 2014

Google sees over 1 million daily takedown requests for pirate links

will never stop us

While sites like The Pirate Bay are busy improving the experience for the torrent-loving crowd, Google's facing the task of processing an extreme amount of removal request for pirate links. According to a recent transparency report on the matter, Google is now seeing more than 1 million DMCA takedown notices per day. In the previous week alone, for instance, the tech giant was asked to remove about 8 million results from its search engine. As TorrentFreak points out, the amount of copyright removal notices sent to Google has seen a tremendous spike in recent times -- it wasn't long ago that the number of takedown requests was in the low-hundreds for the entire year. With the growth of the internet as a whole, however, it's easy to see how that's come to be. You can peruse the report in full here, if you're into that sort of thing.

[Image credit: will never stop us/Flickr ]

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Via: TorrentFreak

Source: Google

August 21, 2014

MLB hopes to ease blackouts on streaming local games

Boston Red Sox v St. Louis Cardinals

With MLB.tv, Major League Baseball's subscription-based streaming option, your local team's home games are blacked out due to TV and/or cable deals. That could change as early as next season though, as Bob Bowman, the league's head of Advanced Media, expects a revised online viewing agreement soon with broadcasters and teams. Networks pay millions for the rights to beam the action into living rooms, so we'd surmise there's quite a sum of money to discuss. When the restrictions are lifted, you'll likely need a cable plan to access those games -- just like FOX required for the All-Star Game this summer and ESPN does for its streaming option.

[Photo credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images]

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Source: Associated Press