Tag: pope

Vatican bans killer robots

The Vatican has called for a ban on lethal autonomous weapons meaning that the Papal States has no interest in forming a Robot Army of its own.

The Vatican has joined Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt and Pakistan calling for a non-autonomous weapons ban. They are one of the few countries which has a view on the subject.

More than 80 countries that attended the summit were not too sure about the problem, one that is gaining increasing importance as technology advances.

Robots which can identify and kill the enemy on their own do not currently exist. All drones and other remote-controlled devices still require human intervention to confirm the target and operate on-board weapons.

Several militaries or companies are theoretically close to being able to build killer robots, but none have. The British MoD say it is too risky to attempt it. Russia has said that once it develops them it will field killer robots to defend missile bases from armies of fascist homosexuals wanting to take over the world.

These will be tank-like sentries are equipped with a laser rangefinder and radar sensors and a 12.7-millimetre heavy machine gun who say “we are the superior beings… istreblyat…. Istreblyat”.

To be fair we can’t see what the Pope would want with a robot Swiss Guard, unless he wanted to open a bottle of wine and remove a stone from a horse’s hoof at the same time. 

Vatican has a pirate problem

It would appear that one of the few theocratic states ever created by a fascist regime has a problem with piracy.

Last year the release of Football Manager had code inside that let the Sega developers track the IP of everybody who pirated a copy of the game.

More than ten million copies were passed around illegally, with the naughtiest nations responsible being China, Turkey and Portugal.

Sega were able to trace one pirated copy inside the Vatican. The Vatican has a population of 839 which means that statistically it is likely to have at least one pirate in its ranks. The game was pirated by 540,000 Italians. Italy has a population of 61.321 million so one in the Vatican is not that much higher on the ratio scale.

In Italy the worst that a pirate can expect is for Big Content to sue them, in the Vatican the worst that can be expected is excommunication and eternal damnation. This is probably proof then that stiff sentences for piracy don’t actually work.

For conspiracy theorists out there, the software was downloaded in the same year that Pope Benedict suddenly cleared out his desk and moved to Castle Gandolfo to spend time “in seclusion and prayer”.

Football Manager boss Miles Jacobson said that that one pirated copy did not equal one sale lost. He thinks it added up to 176,000 lost sales, or $3.7 million in revenue. 

Pope offers Twitter users time off from purgatory

A Papal court has ruled that contrite Catholics may win time off from purgatory if they follow Pope Francis on Twitter.

However, a court of the Catholic church warned that that the faithful cannot obtain lesser punishment just by ‘chatting online’.

According to the press in Rome, it is all a plan to keep ahead with the times. Because Twitter is very now.

The church’s granted indulgences reduce the time Catholics believe they will have to spend in purgatory after they have confessed and been absolved of their sins.

Purgatory is where you go if you are not good enough for heaven and not bad enough for hell. It is a little like Slough.

These days the idea of a loving god torturing people for eternity or purifying them with fire in the flames of purgatory is similar to liking Dick Cheney’s approach to waterboarding people and locking them up without trial. It seems that the Catholic Church can get people to accept that particular doctrine if it modernises it with tweets.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, head of the pontifical council for social communication, told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that just collecting the tweets is not enough. You still need a dose of faith.

Indulgences are not like getting a coffee from a vending machine, Celli said. They are only granted to those who carry out certain tasks such as climbing the Sacred Steps, in Rome. This gives you seven years off purgatory, eight if you buy the t-shirt.

Attendance at events such as the Catholic World Youth Day, in Rio de Janeiro, a week-long event starting on 22 July, can also win an indulgence.

Anyway, the court, which handles the forgiveness of sins, has also extended the privilege to those following the “rites and pious exercises” of the event on television, radio and through social media.

That includes following Pope Francis’ Twitter account. But you must be following the events live. It is not as if you can get an indulgence by chatting on the internet.

So that’s one schism which has been cleaned up before Martin Luther gets to complain about Paypal, sorry, Papal indulgences. 

Vatican denies Batman hack

Fears that the Vatican’s Twitter and website might have been hacked after a somewhat strange story about Batman was posted have been infallibly dismissed.

Yesterday, the website of Pope Frank ran stories about Batman with the headline “Holy Switcheroo!” While we get the whole thing, there are those in the Roman press, not to mention the Vatican, which are not used to seeing tabloid style headlines on the Pope’s site.

Two Vatican officials said the site had not been hacked, and the reason for the unusual posting was an “internal system failure” due to a non-native English speaker posting the story on the website.

It sounds to us like the “non-native” speaker understood what he or she was writing perfectly well and had mastered the idea of penning a decent headline, it was just that some people did not get it.

The story was from the Catholic News Service. It has as its headline: “Holy Switcheroo! Batman has grown bitter, more vengeful with the years” and details the evolution of the Batman comic franchise. It was not about the unholy switcheroo which saw one Pope quit to be replaced by another which resulted in St Peters being struck by lightning.

Vatican communications adviser Greg Burke said that some people might have been thrown off by the headline.

Monsignor Paul Tighe, number two in the Vatican’s social communications office, said the office’s website runs stories about communications and regularly takes copy from Catholic News Service, the news agency of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Once a story is posted, he explained, it generates an automatic tweet on the office’s Twitter handle, @pccs_va.

He admitted that even he thought that the site had been hacked. Later the story was knocked off the top of the site and was replaced by a yarn about Pope Francis saying why he selected the name Francis after St Francis of Assisi and not St Francis Xavier who brought the inquisition to Goa which resulted in 4,000 arrests and a hundred or so people being burnt at the stake. 

We review the new Pope Francis Mark I

Due to our proximity to the VaticanTechEye was given a chance to review the new St Peter v50 Pope which is code named Pope Francis (Mark One).

The good: The marketing of Pope Francis is slightly better than the earlier Pope Benedict model. The style looks less scary, and has a more user friendly “rabbit in the headlights” approach. The brand is untainted by a scandal involving the Nazis in its early design days. The fact he comes from Argentina will be good for Roman tourism which has suffered under a German pope. Germans only buy postcards and haggle over the price.

The bad: The software is based on Jesuit OS 2013 which was been taken off the market before for corrupting the Church’s operating system with its hidden binaries and other trickery. It was rebooted but has never shaken off its image of being a shadowy behind the scenes outfit. Pope Francis may also have been a little close to the Argentinian Junta and was implicated in the kidnap and arrest of two priests who made the grave mistake of helping the poor, which was not in the Vatican design spec.

There are some concerns that the keyboard and the operating system on Pope Francis is not flexible to meet the new market requirements.

The bottom line: Pope Francis is a fairly typical variant of the St Peter franchise with no great surprises.

Comparing the roughly half-dozen St Peter variants is relatively easy. The last two, the Pope John Paul reboot, and the rickety Pope Benedict were built around essentially identical hardware platforms. Inside was a CPU which was too conservative to actually run it.

Indeed, if the Pope John Paul had not assisted in the collapse of the old Stalinist central mainframe model, it would be remembered as an underpowered ultra-conservative which, while popular, failed to make a difference in the developing markets. Its attempts to launch new Saint apps may have flooded the market and resulted in the St Terresa  of Calcutta app being pushed through before anyone realised that she was not that nice.  The Benedict (St Peter v50), which was a stop gap brand, became swiftly bogged down with child abuse malware and there were rumours of corruption of financial files within the Vatican’s hard disk.

With its new Glasses trademark, the Pope Francis is seen as being more visually attractive, but lacks the design finesse of some of the more recent religions, such as Neo-paganism, Mormonism, or Apple fanboyism. Clearly St Peter v50 would benefit from some sort of makeover deal, such as Apple’s game changing rounded rectangle. However, it seems that Pope Francis will stick to the traditional cup and flatbread approach which has kept its existing clientele happy for centuries.

Fortunately Pope Francis has become equipped with enough memory to do something useful. Something that its predecessor appeared to be lacking, probably due to the age of the spec.

On paper, at least, these two products are remarkably similar. Both stick to the guidelines and are unlikely to do anything radical.

There are differences, and they don’t always favour the allegedly more consumer-friendly market. The Pope Francis still lacks the super-fast and friendly connections we have come to expect in the top of the range models. While its battery life might be slightly longer than the Benedict, the design is still too long in the tooth to expect much from, particularly when the pressure is increased under some hard operating conditions.

This model feels more ultraportable when plugged into its clam-up base, but it doesn’t stack up to the John Paul II in terms of hands-on utility and usability. Annoyingly, the Vatican’s website doesn’t seem to have a dock for sale as of this writing, but it has been spotted at Amazon, Staples, and others.

As a standalone, the Francis feels less substantial, certainly than the John Paul II model. The back seems a little plastic, although that might be useful as the model tries to appear to make reforms to the Vatican’s business plan, while not making any at all. Of course, it will continue to run Stainedglass Windows, but not the touch variant.

As a standalone the Francis is thick and heavy but that is the way its users like it. The main problem is the cost and its inability to use any practical apps other than the various flavours of guilt.

We give it three stars for now.



Pope to join Twitter

Hitler Youth conscript hat-wearing figurehead of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI, is planning to turn to social media with the help of the Vatican. 

Just as the Twiterrati largely reacted to David Cameron joining the website with heaps of scorn, the Pope has an even wider audience which will be prepared to harass him in 140 characters or less.

The internet’s rabid atheists are going to lap this up and we are predicting the following right now: an influx of parody accounts, anti-Catholic hashtags, and widely retweeted paedophile jokes. In other words, it’s going to be a PR nightmare for a week or so before the mob moves onto something else.

Reuters reports Benedict himself is not a fan of technology and writes most of his speeches by hand, so the anti-religion mob will be able to go nuts without having to consider hurting the feelings of an 85 year old man. He will not pen the tweets himself, but will personally sign them off before they’re sent.

The content is expected to be made up of the Pope’s weekly audience, as well as Sunday blessings and reactions to major world events like natural disasters.

Last year, the Pope officially gave his blessing to social media as part of World Communications Day. He said that social networking offers ‘extraordinary potential’, but he did warn that Facebook and Twitter can bring risks with them.

He warned against one-sidedness, self-indulgence, and false representation – all of which could arguably be levied against a man who is considered to be the successor to Saint Peter and spends much of his time in a palace.

Gates gushes about Windows 8

Microsoft has pulled its founder Sir William Gates III from the jungle where he is at war with the evil Dr Mosquito to talk up the miracle of Windows 8.

For those who came in late, Windows 8 will be in the shops in a few days. It is the first version of Windows which we will not be running on the day it comes out since Windows 95.

Clearly having got this message, the team at Vole central has pulled out the big guns to talk it up. In a YouTube interview with Microsoft executive Steve Clayton, Gates calls Windows 8 an “absolutely critical product” that would help extend the Windows franchise’s reach to lower-powered and touch devices. We would expect that he praise Windows 8, given that he had a nice word or two to say about ME at the time,

He did mention some interesting things about Vole’s operating system direction over the coming years. Gates said that Windows was evolving to be a single platform with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 sharing a kernel, file system, graphics support, and other elements.

This means that developers can port apps from the desktop/tablet OS to the smartphone OS with relatively little work. The two operating systems will share the same design aesthetic, with Start screens composed of tiles linked to applications so users will not notice much difference

Gates said that people want to consume their mail, reading, video anywhere, and they want it to be awfully simple. But touch needs to be incorporated without giving up the kind of mouse and keyboard capabilities that are natural in most settings.

He said that the major selling point of Surface, the Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets is the flexible keyboard that clicks into place along the bottom of the device.

Thus spake William Gates the words, and it was thus: 

Bill Gates gets close to killing off polio

While his former rival Steve Jobs is still able to inspire his followers to queue up to buy a broken phone, Microsoft boss Bill Gates is on his way to ridding the world of polio.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Gates said that the world was close to a historic moment, just as it was before the victory over smallpox in 1977.

Gates said that the evidence is clear and if everyone acts quickly polio could be put in the garbage bin of history by 2018.

In 1988, when an international vaccination program began, polio was rampant in 125 countries, leaving 350,000 children paralysed each year.

Now polio is endemic in only three countries, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so far this year 145 new cases have been reported. India has been polio-free for the past 18 months.

But Gates is concerned that global commitment is wavering as the number of cases decreases.

He said that Gates said billions more were needed to vaccinate those children leaving in or near polio “sanctuaries” to ensure the disease is destroyed by 2018.

Gates has thrown behind the cause funds from his $35 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as his own considerable lobbying weight. He said he had targeted polio not only because the goal was achievable, but because it would reinforce how effective mass vaccination can be.

One of his problems has been that parts of Pakistan has spread a rumour that the vaccination program is part of a Western plot to sterilise Muslims.

Mr Gates said he has found as much satisfaction in spending his vast fortune through the Foundation as he had building it through the creation of Microsoft.  Certainly it will get him remembered while Jobs is forgotten

Bill Gates takes on the Pope

Software king of the world Sir William Gates and his wife Melinda are taking on their biggest enemy since the mosquito – the Roman Catholic Church.

Melinda Gates, who is a Catholic, has said that the Gates Foundation will dedicate the rest of their lives improving access to contraception across the globe.

Gates told the Sydney Morning Herald that unless the Church pulled its finger out on contraception, women in African and Asia would be “voting with their feet”, as women in the West had done, and would ignore the church ban on artificial birth control.

She said that she had been inundated with messages of support from Catholic women, including nuns who wanted the Church to be more sensible about contraception. There were women out there who had been coming on to websites and saying ‘I’m a Catholic, but I believe in contraception’.

She said that in the West, while Bishops banged on about contraception, ordinary Catholics just did the opposite. In Africa however it was a big trickier.

In the US, 82 per cent of Catholics say contraception is morally acceptable. So let the women in Africa decide.

Melinda said that she did have some problems speaking out in defiance of the church hierarchy.

As a Catholic she believed in the religion and its “amazing moral teachings”. But she also had to think about keeping women alive.

When it comes to not letting women or babies die, that’s more important than arguing about what method of contraception is right, she thinks.

Mr and Mrs Gates are pouring $560 million into improving access to birth control over the next eight years.

She said it was time to push contraception back to the top of the development agenda.

She said that when the Gates Foundation started, it had focused on family planning. However it changed direction to vaccines after realising that women would not choose to have fewer children until they were sure their offspring would survive beyond childhood.


Anonymous takes revenge on the Pope

You have to hand it to hacker outfit Anonymous, they are not prepared to let bygones be bygones.

Yesterday the Vatican’s website was down for a number of hours and Anonymous’s Italian members rushed to stick their hands up to confess to the crime.

But, according to the Italian press, the hackers were not miffed at the Church for any of its recent actions but rather have focused on a complaint which would have been familiar to Martin Luther.

It said that the hack was to protest of a number of alleged abuses by the Catholic Church including past execution of heretics, and the selling of indulgences.

Indulgences used to be when you paid the church to get you out of purgatory early by arranging for appropriate prayers to be said after you died. It was a scam invented by one of the few British popes who knew a fair bit about purgatory having visited early Slough.

“Today, Anonymous has decided to put your site under siege in response to your doctrine, liturgy and the absurd and anachronistic rules that your profit-making organisation spreads around the world,” the hackers wrote in the statement,

It pointed out that the attack is not against the Christian religion or the faithful around the world but against the corrupt Roman Apostolic Church.

The Church has said sorry for the execution of some of its heretics, such as Giordano Bruno who was the first to suggest that there might be life on other planets. Although, to be fair, Bruno, who was a monk, also thought worshipping the Sun rather than Christ was a pretty neat idea.