China blocks Instagram in the wake of Hong Kong democracy protests
China has a history of tightening its censorship of internet services during times of political upheaval, and that’s unfortunately happening again with massive pro-democracy protests underway in Hong Kong. Both monitoring sites and on-the-ground observers report that the country has blocked access to Instagram on the mainland, most likely to prevent images of the demonstrations from spreading beyond Hong Kong (where Instagram is still working). It’s potentially a big blow to free speech, as the photo sharing service was one of the few foreign social networks that operated unfettered in the area. We’ve reached out to Instagram for more details, but it’s safe to presume that China won’t lift its restrictions so long as the protests continue — and it won’t be surprising if this ultimately proves to be a permanent ban.
[Image credit: Alex Ogle/AFP/Getty Images]
Breaking: Instagram just got blocked in China, possibly due to the circulation of protests photos in Hong Kong.
– edde (@Edourdoo) September 28, 2014
Filed under: Internet, Facebook
Source: Edde (Twitter), GreatFire.org, Blocked in China
The Shellshock command security flaw isn’t really fixed yet
Don’t get too comfy just because companies are rolling out patches for the Shellshock security bug — as it turns out, even updated websites and devices remain at risk. Developers are reporting that they can still run any code they like (and thus hijack systems) through the bash command shell simply by using instructions that aren’t covered by existing safeguards. You can use a common variable like “cat” (concatenate) to bypass the defenses, for instance. The only surefire fix may be a fundamental change to how the shell handles variables, which could break legions of apps and services. You still don’t have much reason to worry about your home Mac or Linux PC, but it’s now considerably less likely that the sites and connected gadgets you use will will be truly immune to Shellshock-based attacks.
[Image credit: Robert Graham, Twitter]
Filed under: Internet, Software
Via: Ars Technica
Source: Seclists.org, GNU.org
SoftBank reportedly wants to break into movies by acquiring DreamWorks
SoftBank may have already bought both a major mobile game studio and one of the US’ largest carriers, but it apparently isn’t done expanding its turf just yet. Both Hollywood Reporter and the Wall Street Journal claim that the Japanese carrier is now in talks to buy DreamWorks Animation, the movie studio you likely know for How To Train Your Dragon and Shrek. Reportedly, SoftBank chief Masayoshi Son wants to wield exclusive content as a weapon against rival mobile networks. While the sources aren’t diving into specifics about the potential partnership, it wouldn’t be surprising if you could eventually buy Sprint phones that come bundled with DreamWorks’ latest flicks.
Neither side has commented on the rumor, and there’s no certainty that the talks will lead anywhere. SoftBank’s long-rumored bid for T-Mobile didn’t pan out, after all. However, the conditions at least seem ripe for a deal. SoftBank is flush with cash thanks to its stake in Alibaba, which made billions for investors by going public; DreamWorks, meanwhile, wants to both expand its presence in Asia and reassure shareholders worried about its mediocre box office revenue as of late. It’s still odd to imagine a Japanese telecom becoming a big Hollywood player, but many wouldn’t have expected it to release a home robot, either — comparatively speaking, a DreamWorks acquisition could be the safer bet.
Filed under: Cellphones, Home Entertainment, Wireless, HD, Mobile
Via: The Verge
Source: Hollywood Reporter, Wall Street Journal
Archos announces colorful new smartphones
The bargain smartphone segment has grown immensely recently and it will continue to grow with Archos’ new Platinum smartphones. The Platinum line is made up of two new smartphones, the 45c and the 50b. The 45c is the smaller of the two phones with a 4.5″ screen. The 50b is the big brother of the family with it’s 5″ screen. Either can be had in your choice of blue, pink or black.
As far as specs go, both of these smartphones are just about identical. The 50b does have a better camera, an 8 MP compared to the 5 MP in the 45c. The big selling point seems to be the quad-core processor found in both phones, Archos claims, “it should handle the most demanding tasks.” It will be interesting to see how this processor performs compared to other smartphones in the $99 range. The Archos Platinum smartphones will start at $99 for the 45c and go up to $119 for the 50b.
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Inhabitat’s Week in Green: jewel-like greenhouses, solar planes and a space elevator
Each week our friends at Inhabitat recap the week’s most interesting green developments and clean tech news for us — it’s the Week in Green.
Could Apple’s new spaceship campus be the greenest building on the planet? It will be, according to CEO Tim Cook, who made the bold statement at a Climate Week NYC event last week. “It’ll be the center of innovation and it’s something that our employees want and that we want,” said Cook. In other tech news, a trio of 16-year-old Irish girls took the top prize at the Google Science Fair 2014 for developing a project that will combat the global food crisis. The project aims to provide a solution to low crop yields by pairing a nitrogen-fixing bacteria that naturally occurs in the soil with cereal crops it does not normally associate with, such as barley and oats. Speaking of Google, the search giant just ended its relationship with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadowy organization that writes industry-friendly bills for conservative legislators. The reason? Google Chairman Eric Schmidt says that the group is “literally lying” about climate change.
New York City’s favorite elevated park is finally complete — the third and final section of the High Line just opened to the public, and Inhabitat was first on the scene with a big gallery of photos and even a Hyperlapse of the newest section. In other architecture news, Thomas Heatherwick just unveiled a set of jewel-like glass greenhouses that harvest heat for Bombay Sapphire’s distillery in Hampshire, England. Bamboo is strong, lightweight and rapidly renewable, so it makes a great building material — and Bali-based Ibuku uses it to create spectacular green buildings. This week we chatted with Ibuku founder Elora Hardy about the benefits of building with bamboo. And speaking of low-impact design, the Buckminster Fuller Challenge just announced seven pioneering finalists for socially responsible design’s highest award — including a floating health clinic, a peace forest for bonobo monkeys, and the world’s first fully integrated farming system.
For two decades, Toyota has been hard at work developing a fuel cell vehicle that you’ll actually be able to buy. Inhabitat recently got an up-close look at the 2015 Toyota FCV, which looks like something straight out of Blade Runner. The car is virtually silent; it emits nothing but water; and it will likely cost more than a Prius, but less than a Tesla. Meanwhile, Facebook just unveiled plans for a fleet of solar-powered airplanes that will bring the internet to far-off locations. And if you’ve ever wished you could charge your smartphone by simply skateboarding, you’re in luck. Bjorn van den Hout has designed a longboard that generates its own electricity through two hidden dynamos, enabling it to charge your phone as you ride.
Think taking an elevator to the top of a 100-story skyscraper gives you a head rush? Try riding an elevator all the way to outer space. The Japanese construction company Obayashi recently announced ambitious (some might say unrealistic) plans to build a 60,000-mile elevator that would connect Earth with a space station. The company hopes that new developments in nanotechnology will enable it to build the massive elevator by the year 2050. Transportation isn’t the only challenge that astronauts are confronted with — when things break up there, it can be very difficult to find replacement parts (there aren’t many hardware stores in space). That’s where 3D printing comes in. Made in Space just created the first zero-gravity 3D printer, which uses a liquid’s surface tension to hold the filament together as it prints. The printer could help astronauts create the things they need without having to wait for a rocket from Earth to deliver it. It’s a popular misconception that NASA developed popular products like Tang and Teflon (General Foods actually created Tang, and DuPont created Teflon). But the American space agency has developed thousands of useful products over the past half century — including cellphone cameras, smoke detectors, life rafts and firefighter gear. Check out this nifty infographic to see some popular NASA spin-offs.
Sure, 3D printing is, for the most part, limited to makers and tech enthusiasts, but that could soon change. Nearly 100 UPS stores across the states now have 3D printers, making the chain the first nationwide retailer to offer the service. And best of all, the UPS store printers are professional quality, meaning that they’ll be able to produce higher-quality objects than most consumer 3D printers. On the fine art front, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei just unveiled a series of seven installations on Alcatraz that engage with the island’s history, while exploring the issues of human rights and freedom of expression. In one installation, the artist used 1.2 million Lego bricks to create portraits of 176 prisoners of conscience and exiles.
Science shows why real space battles would be more Asteroids than Star Wars
You’re probably aware that most sci-fi space battles aren’t realistic. The original Star Wars‘ Death Star scene was based on a World War II movie, for example. But have you wondered what it would really be like to duke it out in the void? PBS is more than happy to explain in its latest It’s Okay To Be Smart video. As you’ll see below, Newtonian physics would dictate battles that are more like Asteroids than the latest summer blockbuster. You’d need to thrust every time you wanted to change direction, and projectiles would trump lasers (which can’t focus at long distances); you wouldn’t hear any sound, either.
For that matter, even close-up combat might not happen. Given the sheer distances and the limits of the speed of light, it might look more like classic naval warfare, which was defined by limited ship-to-ship communication and long-range shots based on estimates. It wouldn’t make for riveting entertainment, then, but that’s fine — despite the name, sci-fi is more about telling a good story than maintaining absolute realism.
Filed under: Home Entertainment, Science, HD
Via: Geeks Are Sexy, Neatorama, Gizmodo
Source: It’s Okay To Be Smart (YouTube)
New exhibit showcases art in the digital surveillance era
It’s safe to say that surveillance technology had a profound effect on American culture, even before Edward Snowden’s leaks arrived — there’s a sense that you can never really escape the government’s eye. If you’ve ever shared that feeling, you’ll be glad to hear that there’s finally an art exhibition devoted to exploring high-tech monitoring. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art’s newly opened Covert Operations is full of projects that not only protest data collection, but sometimes use it to drive their points home. Jenny Holzer’s Ribs (above) streams real US government documents on its LED displays. Hasan Elahi’s Tracking Transience, meanwhile, uses selections from an online collection of 70,000-plus photos and location info as a sort of challenge; he wants you to mimic an FBI agent trying to piece together his life. If you’re interested in seeing any of these projects first-hand, you’ll want to swing by the Arizona-based museum no later than January 11th.
[Image credit: Richard-Max Tremblay / Jenny Holzer]
Filed under: Misc, Internet, Alt
Via: The Daily Beast
Source: Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Need a new charging cable, try the FRiEQ
I don’t know about you, but I’ve started to consider a quality charging cable a must buy accessory. Whenever I unbox a new smartphone it seems that the cable is shorter, thinner and more fragile. This has forced me and I’m sure many of you, to look for other options. A quality cable offers many advantages, but mostly ensures that you can reliably charge your beloved smartphone. Because honestly, the world would come to a screeching halt if you woke up in the morning to a dead battery.
In my search for a new Micro USB cable I came across the FRiEQ Hi-Speed cable. I have to admit, it was the colors that drew me in, but it was the blend of specs and value that convinced me to spend my money. The FRiEQ Micro USB cable is six feet long, covered in tangle-free, braided nylon and has gold connectors at either end. Best of all, FRiEQ claimed that this cable would cut down on the amount of time it took to charge my phone. All of this for only $7.99, I was sold!
When I opened the package and inspected the cable, I was impressed right away. The cable is thicker than most others I’ve used and the braided nylon keeps knots away. The connectors are easy to manipulate and fit perfectly. I tested the FRiEQ cable against, a stock LG cable and an Amazon Basics cable I’ve had for about a year. I can verify that the FRiEQ cable definitely charged my LG G3 faster than the other cables by a good margin.
I’ve been using the FRiEQ Hi-Speed cable for about two months now and it has held up great. It looks just as good now as the day I got it, but more importantly, it performs just as well as the day it came out of the package. If you’re looking for a new charging cable, you cannot go wrong with the FRiEQ Hi-Speed.
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One of the greatest pinball tables ever is going digital with your help
Ask pinball fans about classic tables and they’ll probably mention The Addams Family. It was widely available, well-designed and full of technological firsts, such as computer-controlled flippers. However, it hasn’t been recreated in software in its 22-year history — something FarSight Studios hopes to fix with a crowdfunding project to reproduce the table in Pinball Arcade. So long as the developer reaches its funding goal, you’ll get to play the Addams Family almost as if you’d stepped into an arcade circa 1992. The smart flippers, actors’ voices and Thing’s creepy animatronic hand should all remain intact.
Thankfully, it doesn’t cost much to contribute and (hopefully) keep this vintage machine alive. Pledging $7 will get you access to the table on one of the platforms Pinball Arcade supports, including most mobile devices, consoles and PCs. It only costs more if you want more platforms or special access, including the behind-the-scenes menu (if you pay $15) or the coveted Special Collectors Gold Edition ($100). The digital Addams Family won’t arrive until February if all goes according to plan, but that’s a trivial wait if you’ve spent ages yearning for a version of the table that you can afford to take home.
Filed under: Gaming
Sound off! How would you make a killer smartwatch?
It looks like the smartwatch is here to stay, and now that Apple has shown off their own attempt at creating some svelte looking electronic wrist candy, you can guarantee more people will be wearing them in the near future. But are smartwatches really useful? Besides showing off your latest notifications, what do they need to become an essential part of our lives? Head over to the Engadget forums and share your thoughts!