Apple designer creates bonkers $12,000 hourglass

Found on CNet News on Thursday, 25 May 2017
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Hodinkee announced the hourglass earlier this week with a fair amount of pomp, noting,"...the Hourglass is a multi-sensory experience that cannot be communicated in words." And, oh yes, it will cost you $12,000 (£9,260, AU$16,000) to buy one of the 100 hourglasses.

The hourglass also thumbs its nose at common sand and is filled instead with 1,249,996 "nanoballs" made from stainless steel with a copper coating.

It would be so ridiculous if there wouldn't be enough hipster fanbois who hand over the cash to get this hourglass which costs just a few dollars to produce; but hey, it's Apple!

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 Set to Improve Security Features

Found on eWEEK on Wednesday, 24 May 2017
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The upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.4 release is set to provide organizations with a series of new features and enhancements that will improve security and performance.

Security isn't the only area of enhancement in RHEL 7.4, as the new release will also benefit from the inclusion the Network Manager 1.8 update. Network Manager is the open-source service that enables detection and configuration of network connectivity.

Well, any update is always about features and security. That said, they could drop NetworkManager altogether which is the amongst the first packages to be uninstalled always.

Redmond puts wall around Windows 10 for Chinese government edition

Found on The Register on Tuesday, 23 May 2017
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"The China Government Edition will use these manageability features to remove features that are not needed by Chinese government employees, like OneDrive, to manage all telemetry and updates, and to enable the government to use its own encryption algorithms within its computer systems."

Presumably a lot less information is collected by the notoriously data-hungry OS, and little of it is likely to flow to Redmond's servers. Any info that is extracted is almost certainly staying in China.

Sounds like a mix of good and bad things; having the MS surveillance removed globally would get lot of support not only in China.

Virtual rabbits 'culled' in Second Life

Found on BBC News on Monday, 22 May 2017
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Added to Second Life in 2010, Ozimals bunnies were collectible pets that players could breed.

Some owners had secured an "everlasting timepiece", giving their pets eternal life but preventing them from breeding. But the remaining rabbits entered "permanent hibernation" on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Eldritch said he had received a cease-and-desist letter, demanding he "cease all use of Ozimals intellectual property" from a company claiming to have designed the rabbits' "visual assets".

So much for "everlasting timepiece". It lasts only as long as some unknown company likes it.

The entrepreneurs making money out of thin air

Found on BBC News on Sunday, 21 May 2017
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A growing number of companies are compressing and bottling fresh countryside air and selling it online.

A single eight-litre bottle of compressed Canadian air – which comes with a specially designed spray cap and mask – holds around 160 breaths and costs C$32 ($24) per bottle.

He now sells 10,000 bottles a month in China and hopes to grow that number to 40,000. They have just started operating in India, where they hope to sell 10,000 bottles a month.

There was a move about this: Spaceballs.

Windows 10 S: no command line apps, free Pro upgrades for assistive tech users

Found on Ars Technica on Saturday, 20 May 2017
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First, a thing 10 S won't do: run command-line applications. CMD and PowerShell, the two built-in Windows command-line interfaces, won't be supported.

The rationale is that the built-in command-line applications include dangerous tools (for example, the diskpart partitioning program) that can break things, and the Store has no third-party command-line tools at all. To keep Windows 10 S protected against user error, they're all prohibited.

Partitioning the disk drive you bought is now a security risk? What on earth is Microsoft smoking? The command line is one of the most important tools, even on Windows. Removing it makes the OS completely useless.

BBC Says It May Contact Your Boss If You Post Comments It Finds Problematic

Found on Techdirt on Friday, 19 May 2017
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There are all sorts of different ways that websites that allow comments have dealt with trollish behavior over the years, but I think the BBC's new policy is the first I've seen in which the organization threatens that it may contact your boss or your school.

To be fair, it does seem to limit this to cases where it believes you've violated the law, but even so, it seems like a stretch to argue that the BBC should be calling your boss to tell on you for being a dipshit online, even if you break the law.

Anybody with $0.02 worth of white matter between their ears will just use a VPN; and nobody who falls into this category would register with their real names anyway.

Facebook cops $122M fine from EU over WhatsApp acquisition

Found on CNet News on Thursday, 18 May 2017
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Facebook told the Commission at the time that there was no way for it to match a user's Facebook account with their WhatsApp account. Last August though, these accounts indeed became linked, and the Commission found that employees at Facebook were aware of this possibility back in 2014, leading to the company being fined 110 million euros, or about $122 million.

Too bad that it's only pocket change for Facebook; the fine needs to be a hard blow for it to work, otherwise those costs will just be added to the next calculation for aquisition and integration.

Where have all the insects gone?

Found on Science on Thursday, 18 May 2017
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The group, the Krefeld Entomological Society, has seen the yearly insect catches fluctuate, as expected. But in 2013 they spotted something alarming. When they returned to one of their earliest trapping sites from 1989, the total mass of their catch had fallen by nearly 80%. Perhaps it was a particularly bad year, they thought, so they set up the traps again in 2014. The numbers were just as low.

Across North America and Europe, species of birds that eat flying insects, such as larks, swallows, and swifts, are in steep decline. Habitat loss certainly plays a role, Nocera says, "but the obvious factor that ties them all together is their diet."

Maybe they should just ask Monsanto and BASF.

It might be time to say goodbye to the MP3 - so let's look back at its life

Found on BBC Nws on Tuesday, 16 May 2017
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The Fraunhofer Institute says it has "terminated" its licensing programme with Technicolor because its patents are expiring.

The supposed "death" of the MP3 won't have much of an impact because of streaming and most new portable players now use different formats anyway.

It's not dead, and it won't be dead for many more years. The patents simply expired, what means that everybody can now implement the MP3 codec. While it's true that newer codecs can deliver better quality at a lower bandwidth, the widespread support of MP3 will keep it alive for a long time.