Category: Internet

Bing angers Saudi Arabia with terrorist slur

Saudi_ArabiaMicrosoft’s translation function on Bing has angered a fair few Saudi Arabians by mistranslating the Arabic word Daesh into English as “Saudi Arabia”.

For those who came in late, Daesh is the name of the Arabic death cult also known as the Islamic State, which is better known for its head lopping antics and tendency to murder innocents in the name of their God.

The news spread on social media and a campaign was quickly organised in Saudi Arabia calling for a boycott of Microsoft products. Redmond fixed the issue and has formally apologised to Saudi officials for the blunder.

According to Dr Mamdouh Najjar, VP and national technology officer for Microsoft in Saudi Arabia, the error occurred because Bing Translator has a crowdsourcing function – if a large group of people suggest a translation, then it becomes listed as a possible answer.

There are enough people in the US who believe that Daesh has been funded by Saudi Arabia and who would think that it would be a laugh to change Bing’s meaning.  However, while there have been cases of Saudi Arabians supporting Daesh, Saudi Arabians fighting for Daesh and a common belief in Wahhabism which is an extreme flavour of Sunni, the Saudis are actually fighting Daesh.


EU’s net neutrality will not stop ISPs throttling

Sam_and_Ralph_chokeWhile there are some good things in the EU’s net neutrality laws, they will not stop ISPs throttling those they think are heavy torrent downloaders.

The Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communication (BEREC) published its final guidelines for Europe’s net neutrality rules.

The rules, which are included in the Telecoms Single Market (TSM) regulation, would still allow targeted throttling of torrents and other traffic, by claiming that it is network management.

It says that internet providers are not allowed to offer a “sub Internet” service, where access to only part of the internet is offered for ‘free’.

ISPs are still allowed to throttle specific categories for “reasonable” network management purposes, as the second subparagraph of article 3 reads.

“In order to be deemed to be reasonable, such measures shall be transparent, non-discriminatory and proportionate, and shall not be based on commercial considerations but on objectively different technical quality of service requirements of specific categories of traffic.”

In other words, network management practices, including bandwidth throttling, could possibly target Torrents under a broader file-sharing category, or VPNs as encrypted traffic.

In other words, it would still be possible for ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic if that would improve the overall “transmission quality.” This is not a far-fetched argument since torrent traffic can be quite demanding on a network.

Net neutrality activists have said the rules are better than what was being mooted. They were worried that the EU would allow “fast lanes” and these had been banned. This would stop ISPs from throttling everyone and then charging sites or apps for a fast lane.

The new rules mean that ISPs will not have any incentive to throttle and regulators could stop ISPs from throttling in cases where it clearly had nothing to do with preventing future congestion.


Google’s well minging plans to kill Flash

flash_gordon_2From the end of next month Chrome will block that irritating Flash content that loads behind the scenes.

Google claims that this sort of flash rubbish accounts for more than 90 percent of the Flash on the web. In December, Chrome will make HTML5 the default experience for central content, such as games and videos, except on sites that only support Flash.

It is one of the nails in the coffin of Flash as the web slowly moves away from plugins in favor of HTML5. Since last year Chrome 45 began automatically pausing less-important Flash content (ads, animations, and anything that isn’t “central to the webpage”).

As Mozilla and Microsoft are expected to follow.  However it looks like Google is already planning to move ahead. In an email the search engine outfit said:

“The end goal for all these browser makers is to push as many sites as possible to HTML5, which is better for both performance (lowering memory and CPU usage while boosting battery life) and in terms of web standards (which makes life easier for developers). Given Flash’s various vulnerabilities, there are obvious security gains as well.”

Google plans to have Chrome serve HTML5 by default in Q4 2016. Now the timeframe has been narrowed to December.

Facebook kills click bait headlines

what-we-learned-about-facebook-ceo-mark-zucke-L-gl5gYRFacebook has worked out a way of banning click bait headlines with a new algorithm that deletes them on site.

These are not good headlines they are more like those which have phrases like “what happens next is hard to believe”, “I saw this and I was SHOCKED” “This dog bit the postman and his result was priceless.”

Facebook has manually classified tens of thousands of headlines with a clickbaitiness score to train the new algorithm. It scores each one and the higher the scoore the more the algorithm punishes the entire Page that shared them or site they link to by making all their posts or referral links less visible.

Facebook’s VP of Product Management on News Feed, Adam Mosseri was quoted as saying that if you post 50 times a day and post one piece a clickbait, this shouldn’t affect you. If you’re a spammer and post clickbait all day, this is going to hurt.

If a publisher reforms its ways and “they stop posting clickbait, their referral traffic will bounce back.” The algorithm identifies offenders on both the web domain level and the Facebook Page level, spammers can’t build a Page and then just launch new websites with different URLs to elude punishment.

Facebook already made an anti-clickbait algorithm change in 2014, focusing on user behavior. It looked for links that people Liked then clicked, but then immediately bounced back to Facebook and Unliked because they hated what they saw.

In February Facebook started looking more closely at how little time people lingered on clickbait sites, and identified links with lots of clicks but very few subsequent Likes. Today’s change focuses on the source of the problem rather than tracking the symptoms.


Uganda spends cash on a magic internet smut machine

Uganda-flagWhile it is desperate for cash to pay for a cancer diagnostic machine, the Ugandan government is prepared to waste $88,000 on a magic device which is supposed to tell if people are watching porn on their PCs and mobiles.

Having nude photos on mobile and electronic devices in Uganda can land you in jail for up to 10 years as the government is keen to “stamp pornography out of Ugandan society”.

It even has a Minster of Ethics, Simon Lokodo, who thinks it is ethical to waste money on this device while his country’s hospitals are strapped for tech.

He is clearly impressed with the machine which will arrive in Uganda next month.  It is not clear how it will work but Lokodo said that it will be able to “detect, control, and scrutinize porn on mobile handsets and other electronic devices”.

The ethics minister has previously asked telecoms operators in Uganda to track and block public access to pornographic material. To implement the anti-pornography law, a government-funded committee has been set up to look into it, tut, and have another look into it.

We are just amused that some South Korean salesperson managed to convince a government that their device can carry out the “difficult task” of sniffing out porn.  It must be like shooting pigs in a barrel. It would be harder to find an internet connected machine which did not have any porn on it.

Top Nigerian spammer arrested

11-spam-03A top Nigerian spammer has been arrested making it possible for thousands of people to get the millions he has stolen. All you need to do is send your banking details to the address at the bottom of this article.

The 40-year-old man, known only as “Mike” is alleged to head a network of 40 individuals behind global scams worth more than $60m. He used malware to take over systems to compromise emails, and specialised in romance scams. In one case, a target was conned into paying out $15.4.

Nigeria’s anti-fraud agency was also involved in the arrest.

While Nigeran spam is considered something of a joke by most of the millions of people who receive scam emails in their inbox every day – but they only have to be believed by a tiny percentage of people. Oddly these are the same target market used by Apple and Donald Trump’s political campaign

Recently the campaigns have become more malicious, sometimes hijacking someone’s PC or luring stupid internet users into believing they have found love online with the aim of emptying their bank accounts.

“Mike” also allegedly ran a money laundering network in China, Europe and the US.

“The network compromised email accounts of small to medium-sized businesses around the world including in Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Romania, South Africa, Thailand and the United States,” it said.

They are currently out on bail as investigations continue, police said. After all he is not a flight risk.


Google encrypts 97 per cent of YouTube traffic

encryptionSearch engine outfit Google has managed to shift 97 per cent of YouTube traffic to the encrypted https standard.

That is pretty quick, given that Google only seriously started to highlighted the use of HTTPS to encrypt connections between its users’ devices and its servers at the beginning of the year.

Google said that its Global Cache content delivery network is able to handle encrypted connections relatively easily, in large parts because hardware acceleration for AES, the algorithm at the core of the HTTPS protocol, is now ubiquitous.

It thinks that HTTPS connections has improved the user experience on YouTube.

“You watch YouTube videos on everything from flip phones to smart TVs. We A/B tested HTTPS on every device to ensure that users would not be negatively impacted. We found that HTTPS improved quality of experience on most clients: by ensuring content integrity, we virtually eliminated many types of streaming errors,” a SpokesGoogle said.

YouTube can’t hit 100 percent yet because it appears on so many different devices. Over time, though, Google will phase out insecure connections to YouTube, just like it has done with Gmail.

Briggs report calls for online courts

high-court-london-2 Lord Justice Briggs’  report into the Civil Courts has been published, including a section on the proposed online civil court.

Briggs has given his backing to the pilot online court scheme, which could results in tens of thousands of cases being dealt with annually online.

He said: “The online court project offers a radically new and different procedural and cultural approach to the resolution of civil disputes.”

For a start it will be a lot cheaper to run and will mean that people will not have to spend a fortune on lawyers.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, said: “Lord Justice Briggs has delivered a detailed and innovative final report, which the senior judiciary – working with the government and HM Courts and Tribunal Service – will now consider with care.

“While a number of the reforms being recommended are already an integral part of the HMCTS reform programme, such as the online court, the report has benefited from wide consultation which will help to improve the design and planning of those reforms.

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, with whom Lord Thomas jointly commissioned the review, said: “The civil justice system is facing a number of challenges and pressures, of which Lord Justice Briggs has provided a masterly analysis. He has given us ample food for thought on how the system can be modernised and made more efficient.


Getty stole public doman snaps and demanded money from the snapper

PHO-10Oct06-257568Online stock media outfit Getty Images is in hot water for billing for photos which had been donated for public use.

Documentary photographer Carol Highsmith is suing the outfit for a billion dollars after she discovered that Getty was trying to bill people for 18,000 snaps she had donated to the Library of Congress for public use.

Highsmith’s photos which were sold via Getty Images had been available for free via the Library of Congress. Getty has been accused of selling unauthorised licences of the images, not crediting the author, and for also sending threatening warnings and fines to those who had used the pictures without paying for the falsely imposed copyright.

The charge said that the defendants have apparently misappropriated. Highsmith’s generous gift to the American people. “Getty is not only unlawfully charging licensing fees…but is falsely and fraudulently holding themselves out as the exclusive copyright owner.”

Getty’s scheme went tits up when it made the mistake of threatening to sue Highsmith on December 2015 after using the images in website material for her own non-profit organisation

The communication, sent by the License Compliance Services, associated with Getty, charged her with copyright infringement and demanded a $120 payment (approx. £90).

Highsmith said that Getty has continued its ‘brazen and extortionate’ practice of threatening users of her photos, despite her raised complaint. She claims that the stock library is liable for statutory damages of up to $468,875,000, but is seeking $1 billion after previous copyright infringement judgements against Getty allow her to triple the amount.

Getty Images’ vice president for communications commented that this was ‘the first time Getty Images was made aware of the matter’. She continued that the company is ‘looking into these allegations with the aim of addressing these concerns as soon as possible.’

Thin Client rides again


Larry Ellison rode the “thin client” architecture back in the mid 1990s. Called the diskless desktop among various other names it amounted to a “smart terminal”. It was a tad premature.

Given another two decades the arrival of the Cloud as a “connected” computational facility for not so capable smartphones has belatedly arrived. And with that arrival Oracle is now in the mode of beefing up their “Cloud” capabilities with the announcement of its purchase of NetSuite Inc. for $9.3 billion. Oracle has been lagging the competition in cloud-based services, and is essentially buying market share according to several analysts based in San Francisco.

Oracle is a company caught between extending the viability of its installed hardware based system-software hegemony and the emerging Open Systems that most Cloud vendors are engaging. Their investment in the purchase of Sun Microsystems has not been primary to the company’s earnings potential. There was a time when Intel was non-persona grata at Oracle – that began to change two years ago.

The deal has been rumored for months, because the relationship between Oracle and NetSuite goes back decades. Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison has been a NetSuite investor since he co-founded the company with Evan Goldberg in 1998. Ellison and his family own about 45.4 percent of NetSuite’s common stock, according to a recent company filing. Zach Nelson, NetSuite’s CEO, ran Oracle’s marketing operations in the 1990s.

As Ellison and his family are part owners of Net Suite, a group of independent Oracle directors (excluding Ellison) helped evaluate and negotiate the deal with NetSuite. For NetSuite, approving the deal will mean getting clearance that sidesteps the large stockholder. The company said a majority of shares not owned by Ellison and his family; or by directors and executive officers; must vote in favor of the deal for it to be acquired.

If the deal is not approved there will be more than just a few amazed people to say the very least.

Salesforce Next?

Salesforce’s name has a marker on Oracle’s takeover radar. According to several sources this has reached the level of a personal vendetta with Larry Ellison – and Larry does like to win. So please standby…,