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Posts Tagged ‘ Google ’

News In Brief: Criminal Does A Runner As Gardai Takeaway

Abrakebabra or Macaris? You decide! (image: soundtrackcollector.com)

Abrakebabra or Macaris? You decide! (image: soundtrackcollector.com)

Up first in our brief news this week a classic crime story that could only happen on our fair Isle. A dangerous criminal escaped from Garda custody as the lads in blue pulled their van over at a chipper. Sure you can’t fight crime when you’re starving! The public have been warned not to approach the criminal who is potentially dangerous, while the Gardai released a statement saying they preferred Abrakebabra to Macari’s.

Google have released the results of top searched for items in Ireland this year. It included such news stalwarts as the World Cup and Garthgate as well as the Greyhound recycling debacle. Amongst the predictable searches was Kim Kardashian’s arse and the death of Robin Williams but the real state of the nation was demonstrated in our second most popular googled question? How to… shift. What a romantic bunch we are. Continue reading

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How Big Businesses Use Emotional Power Of Logos

logo-infographic

Golden arches. Swoosh. Mouse ears. You know what they mean. Some logos are so powerful that they don’t need to spell out their names, or that they transcend cultural borders. How can these simple, trivial little artworks inspire global familiarity with so many of them having become iconic? Because they’re not trivial or simple.

Iconic logos are masters of subtleties and understatements. In the infographic, we learn that logos carry sublime colour meanings. Do you ever wonder why some logos are bright yellow and some red? Why luxury brands are usually black, white, or brown, while corporate logos are blue? Continue reading

News in Brief – A Year in Brief

Olympic TorchHAPPY NEW YEAR! How’s the head? Mouth feel like it’s full of Jedwards hair? What better way to start the New Year than tired, fat and saturated in booze?

It hasn’t been a bad year. Actually . . . Well anyway to celebrate the dawn of the unlucky for some 2013 News in Brief has taken a look back at some of the best stories from 2012.

2012 saw the evolution of lives lived online and cemented the necessity that is the internet across every aspect of our lives. And its propensity for porn. Seeing the potential in owning online, Kevin O’Shea from Waterford in a “moment of madness” bought the domains; finegael.xxx, sinnfein.xxx and fiannafail.xxx for €300; the X-rated dot-com equivalent known for its use in porn site web addresses. On his purchases O’Shea said, ” I was laid up with a broken leg and I had a lot of time on my hands. It was kind of like that film Rear Window where the main character goes a bit mad.”

Last year Irish author Julian Gough, took umbrage with the organisers of the eponymous Wodehouse literary prize after discovering their winner was secured before the short list was drawn up. The well sought prize for the winner of the Wodehouse award? Well the top author has the honour of bestowing their name on a pig. Gough offended by the fix in the competition stole the prize pig from its home in Wales threatening to return the animal “sausage by sausage” until the competition was made fair. In a twist to the tale, and despite Gough’s criminal activity, 2012 saw the writer once again short listed for the award.

A former drug addict helped her husband in his attempt to rob a building society disguised as a wheelchair bound woman. While Denise Ward, 39 waited outside in a car, Thomas Clark dressed in a black wig, threatened a Permanent TSB branch manager with an axe. However Clark and his 21-year-old accomplice were chased from the building by the manager, shouting; “would you ever f*** off”.

In other banking news Ulster Bank lost the run of itself also losing its customers cash somewhere. Taxes, the payment and avoidance of also dominated the news this year. British comedian Jimmy Carr’s lack of tax lead to controversy on this side of the water as well. Whilst we know certain superstars of our own *cough-German submarine named band-cough* have made use of off-shore, legal, tax reduction measures it is unlikely they will face a barrage like Carr as the Irish economy relies in part on the income of the `legitimate tax avoidance measures` we offer global companies such as Facebook, Google and Apple . And at least Ulster Bank apologised. Chief Executive, Jim Brown turned down this year’s bonus after the unmitigated disaster that has been Ulster Bank’s computer problems. Thanks Jim.

Starbucks found themselves in trouble after they “erroneously posted” a tweet on their @StarbucksIE account saying; “Happy hour is on! Show us what makes you proud to be British for a chance to win. Don’t forget to tag #MyFrappuccino”. Irish followers didn’t take well to the mis-tweet with comedy writer Colm Tobin calling it, “the social media equivalent of Oliver Cromwell kicking Fungi in the nose” and another tweeter suggesting Starbucks re-name frappuccino’s, ‘Trappachino’s’ for the duration of the Euro 2012. Of which the less said the better.

On a similar theme we all watched Eurovision didn’t we? You either love it or threaten to `shed the blood` of `European scum`. Oh dear. For a show that often receives a Marmite reaction an Islamic extremist group went a bit further threatening to use knives and chemical weapons in a terror attack on the Eurovision hopefuls in May. Irish entry Jedward were unfazed, tweeting `Just so you know the Jedward Baby Day Care is closed and will not be changing any diapers so go baby wee wee at your own home`. Quite.

Ah Jedward, the stalwarts or News In Brief what else have they done this year? Well another one turned up, then another two (although made of wax), they ran a marathon with no training and supported Westlife in their farewell tour in Croke Park – never will we see four men, so stoically and so expertly stand up from stools.

It was Jedward who carried the Olympic flame as well, as it crossed Irish soil. With population figures taken into account Ireland came fourth in the Paralympics and earned a total of sixteen medals across London 2012. Not too shabby and a source of great pride to the whole country who welcomed our champions home with great ceremony and celebration. First stop The Late Late Show where the host managed to make a mockery of the whole thing and get Adam Nolan’s name wrong, repeatedly. He certainly wouldn’t want to meet the boxing champion in the ring after calling him Andy throughout the show causing Adam to take to Twitter to endorse the return of Pat Kenny. And the gold medal for prize prat goes to Ryan Tubridy.

What’s longer than an olympic swimming pool and less watery? Well, a lot of things really, but particularly the journey Olympic gymnast hopeful Kieran Behan had to take get to China. Mr Behan had been invited to take part in a prestigious gymnastic event but due to mistakes regarding his visa, was forced to re-board his eighteen hour flight from Heathrow to Beijing. Back in England it was only after discussion with the Chinese embassy that Mr Behan was once again onboard and bound for the Chinese capital. Gymnastics Ireland have taken full blame for the blunder which has cost Keiran five days of important training.Mr Behan, who has overcome sever disability and injury to get to his position in the gymnastic world was understandably frustrated, a member of his team commented, `It was the world’s biggest cock up.`

2012 saw cuts to public services including the Gardai. A victim of a burglary was forced to go and pick up Gardai after she was told there were no patrol cars for them to use. The woman, from Newtowncunningham in Co. Donegal initially reported the incident at her home, before being told she had the choice of waiting for the nearest patrol car, which was 9km away at the Carrigans station, or collecting the Gardai herself to investigate the incident.

And who could forget the councillor in Cork that wanted to introduce DNA testing to determine the doggy culprits leaving mess all over the city’s streets? He’s hoping we all have.

Ah 2012 what a year. What will 2013 bring? Hopefully more of the same. A Westlife reunion, the continuation of Jedward, more government groaning, banking balls ups and the general news fodder that makes this country so great and gives News in Brief something to write about every week. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The First Wall To Fall?

You may know the website, surfthechannel.com, but you mightn’t know the man behind it all. Anton Vickerman is his name, a 38-year-old from Gateshead, in England. Or, at least, he was from Gateshead.

Vickerman, who founded the site in October 2007, has recently been jailed for four years, having been convicted on two counts of conspiracy to defraud. He was arrested in 2008 following a lengthy sting operation by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), who amongst other things, hired a private investigator to secretly film inside Vickerman’s house. On hearing of the verdict, Kieron Sharp, Director-General of FACT was triumphant. “This case conclusively shows that running a website that deliberately sets out to direct users to illegal copies of films and TV shows will result in a criminal conviction and a long jail sentence,” he said.

We should surely rejoice. After all, another criminal, an internet criminal and pirate has been caught. The day has been saved, as have lots of dollars for the creators of the television shows and films Vickerman was posting on his website. But wait a minute. Let’s actually do something the courts and FACT appear to have not – examine the nature of SurfTheChannel. When it was live, the website functioned as a sort of search engine for films and tv. Under each title were several links to different video hosting websites. Just the links, mind you, no videos, no hosting. Just a link, and a separate page in between, warning the user that they were about to leave STC, asking them if they really wished to proceed. When you think about it, Google doesn’t even do that. It too is a search engine. If you type ‘watch film online’ into the search bar, 494,000,000 results appear almost instantaneously, far more than you might have found on STC. Google doesn’t host them, it simply links to them, regardless of whether or not they might contain illegal content. It is up to the user to decide if they want to proceed. Only this week, the company announced its intention to downgrade illegal file sharing sites in its search results. Clearly they are aware of the presence of these sites in their index. So why doesn’t FACT come after Google and the other search engine giants? Is there an arrest warrant out for Larry Page too? I doubt it.

Let us link this to the real world for a moment. In any given bank branch in Ireland I would presume there is some sort of safe, containing fairly large sums of money. Now, we all know it’s illegal to break into these banks and steal that money. But what happens if I write a list of each AIB branch in the country, along with their exact addresses. Will I get arrested for simply telling people where to find the money, or posting it up on a noticeboard? After all, I’m not telling them to break in and steal it. That’s up to themselves entirely. Across the web you can find tutorials for almost anything, including some rather disturbing ones; killing somebody and how to get away with it. Now obviously killing somebody is illegal. But the reason you don’t find the creators being arrested is because not only have they not committed a crime, merely shown how one might go about doing so, certainly not advising such a course, but there are no big organisations like FACT, the Scientology of the movie business, ruthlessly cracking down on anyone who doesn’t follow their line of thinking.

The film and television industries are a little behind, as are the businesses which live on their coattails. People want digital entertainment, delivered instantaneously to their laptop and for reasonable prices. Cinema tickets are outrageous. Television packages like Sky extort large sums of money in return for little programming of any value. DVDs are still overpriced. Amazon Instant Video is getting there, though criticism are not so few, and its only available in the States. And Netflix is woefully under stocked in anything that resembles something watchable. The link below summarises the situation in a more humorous manner (though be warned, it is somewhat nsfw).

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/game_of_thrones

Watching illegally uploaded films or tv programmes is illegal, there’s no denying that. But its obvious why people are flocking to such websites in their droves. Less money means less to spend on entertainment, and if companies don’t understand that and react accordingly then they’re simply going to lose quite a lot of trade. Curbing piracy comes not by arresting anyone and everyone in sight, but by changing the method of media delivery. And while the users may be acting illegally in their choice of source, if its cheaper than what the industries are providing, then its a no brainer. Those providing the links to such content are simply making allowing for such content to be accessed, without forcing anyone to access it. Guns are not designed to save but to hurt or kill. And a gun dealer won’t advise you to wound or kill anyone, he merely provides you with the tools for the job, and leaves it use up to your own discretion. Anton Vickerman may be no angel but he’s no criminal either. If he must sit in jail for the next four years then Larry Page, Bill Gates and Marissa Mayer should be sitting right alongside him.

The case itself is highly suspect. FACT and the MPAA were allowed quite close to the investigation , and Hollywood officials were disturbingly involved with questioning while much of the evidence used in the case was gathered by those organisations in a private investigation. Also of interest is the crime Vickerman was charged with – conspiracy to defraud, rather than under the UK’s copyright laws. If his actions were indeed designed to circumvent piracy and copyright laws, then why was he not charged under them? Simple – the case was weak and would have been thrown out. And how can one man be charged as a conspiracy? Who did he conspire with? Himself? Perhaps he has several personalities we haven’t been informed of. “This was not a case brought using copyright law,” UK Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye said in a statement. “The interest groups involved couldn’t present a case of copyright infringement and decided to press for the use of the common law offence of ‘conspiracy to defraud.’ This offense is incredibly controversial in English law as it criminalizes conduct by two or more parties that would not be criminal when performed by an individual.” Only last year, the Crown Prosecution Service announced it would not be pursuing action against the founders of FileSoup, a service similar to SurfTheChannel, on the grounds that the case was a civil rather than a criminal matter, while Alan Ellis, the administrator of OiNK, which linked to BitTorrent downloads, was acquitted by a jury of conspiracy to defraud, having successfully argued that a) he provided a service similar to Google and b) he only offered links, and was not responsible for user’s decisions. Sound familiar? But when you have the government in your pocket, securing a conviction for anyone engaged in activities you don’t like shouldn’t be a huge problem.

Make the judgement for yourself. Visit Vickerman’s website and FACT, take a look at the evidence they offer and come to your own conclusions. Just don’t take the official story for granted.

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