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Interesting snippets from around the globe

A giant shopping cart that does 80 km/h

A Pennsylvania man has built has super-sized shopping cart to help promote his son-in-law’s chain of grocery stores.

The Shopper Chopper is 3m tall and 4m long and can hold six people and 146 normal-sized grocery bags. It’s also street legal and powered by a 300HP engine which gets it up to 80km/h on the open road.

Weighing in at 1,340kg, it’s a little large to get inside the average grocery store.




Nude pictures as collateral for loans

The Chinese newsite, People's Daily Online, reports that many Chinese university students use nude pictures as IOUs on online lending platforms, putting themselves at the risk of having everybody – including their parents – see them naked.

Borrowers are also required to upload pictures of their ID cards and report their family information, including their address and cellphone numbers.

According to the report, the nude photos will be made public if the borrowers fail to repay their debts with interest. Interest rates can be up to 30% per week.

The amount of credit varies based on the borrower's educational background. Usually an undergraduate student can receive 15,000 yuan ($NZ3,200) in credit, while those studying at prestigious universities as well as doctorate students can receive even larger loans.

Snapshots of threatening collection messages have also gone viral, with a photo of a female borrower and a message reading how the lender would send the photo and her naked video footage to her family members if she could not pay back her 10,000 yuan borrowed within a week.

According to a law firm, the nude photos are actually invalid as collateral in terms of laws since nude photos are not property. It is in the category of reputation rights.

The law firm was quoted as saying, "If anyone threatens to publish the photos online, they will violate the clients' reputation. At the same time, they are also spreading pornographic material. Both are illegal and they will commit double offense."





Programmer gets paid for nothing for 6 years. Forgets how to code.

A user on a Reddit forum who goes by the alias FiletOfFish1066 (referred to as FoF hereafter) has been let go by his company after it was discovered that FoF hadn't actually done anything for six years.

Well actually he did something – watched Youtube, played games, went to the gym - but nothing productive, for which he collected $US95,000 on average for each of those years.

When he first got his software testing quality assurance job, he spent eight months automating all of the programming tasks. With all of his tasks fully automated by a computer, he was able to literally sit back and do whatever he wanted.

FoF’s tone on the Reddit seems fairly despondent after he posted about getting fired from his job. He's upset because he has now completely forgotten how to code, having relegated all that work to the computer, and now possesses no marketable skills.




The tale of Marissa Mayer’s 53 Yahoo acquisitions

Yahoo, the once-vaunted internet giant, is in a shambles. Its revenue is in decline. Its shareholders are apoplectic.  Its celebrity presenters for the media division can’t get to the door quick enough and the company has laid off 15% of its workforce. Its core business—internet search and advertising—is negatively valued.

Looming over all of this is a prospective sale of the company’s core assets, bids for which have reportedly reached more than $US5 billion even though they have stockholdings worth about $US 30 billion in Alibaba and Yahoo Japan.

Since Marissa Mayer took over in 2012, she led Yahoo through an acquisition binge and snapped up 53 companies for a total of $US2.3 – 2.8 billion. That’s a lot of cash.

The link below looks at those 53 acquisitions and what happened to them. (Most of them are closed and dead.)

Notwithstanding how heroically unsuccessful she has been, she will get a $US55 million ($NZ78 million) pay-out if Yahoo is sold and she gets the boot.

Nice work if you can get it.




Adobe Flash Player highly vulnerable

Security experts are once again warning enterprises to immediately update (or delete) all instances of the Adobe Flash Player they may have installed on any system in the wake of reports that a zero-day flaw in the web browser plug-in is being targeted by an advanced and persistent threat group.

The bug exists in Adobe Flash Player and earlier versions running on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Chrome OS and "successful exploitation could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system."

Adobe has now released an updated version of Flash patching 36 separate vulnerabilities, including the critical vulnerability which "if exploited would allow malicious native-code to execute, potentially without a user being aware."

Security researchers at Kaspersky Lab say it's already been exploited in Russia, Nepal, South Korea, China, India, Kuwait and Romania, and BankInfoSecurity writes that "The latest warning over this campaign reinforces just how often APT attackers target Flash, thus making a potential business case for banning it for inside the enterprise."




LG sells mosquito-repelling TV in India

In effort to help fight Zika, dengue and malaria, LG has released the "LG 32LG52D" TV with "Mosquito Away Technology."

According to Reuters, the TV uses ultrasonic waves that are inaudible to humans but cause mosquitoes to fly away. The TV has been released in India Thursday, and will go on sale next month in the Philippines and Sri Lanka, with no plans to market it elsewhere. It is available in two models, priced at 26,500 rupees and 47,500 rupees (~$NZ555 and $NZ1,000).

LG says the same technology used in its new TV has been used in some of its air conditioners and washing machines.



Back to top


What happens in one Internet minute?

150 million emails are sent every 60 seconds according to data from a Virginia based consulting company, Excelacom.

But wait, there’s more:

· 1,389 Uber rides are booked.

· 51,000 apps are downloaded from the Apple App Store.

· 347,222 tweets are tweeted.

· 20.8 million messages are sent on WhatApp.

· 527,760 images are snapped on Snapchat.

· 972,222 potential suitors are swiped on Tinder.

· $US203,596 sales are made by Amazon.

…and more videos are viewed on YouTube (2.78 million) than search queries with Google (2.4 million). Amazing.

(May ‘16)


Traffic lights in footpaths for the phone-distracted

It’s finally happened. The German city of Augsburg is now embedding traffic lights in the footpaths so smartphone pedestrian zombies staring at their screens for Facebook updates or WhatsApp messages don’t have to look up. 

The project was initiated after a teenager was killed crossing tram tracks while allegedly distracted by her phone.

(May ‘16)


Software makes announcements intelligible


Designed to make loudspeaker announcements more understandable, the ADAPT DRC software automatically adjusts to be heard over the ambient noise in airport terminals, railway stations and other similar venues.

The software was developed by Fraunhofer, Munich which, according to their website “is Europe’s largest application-oriented research organisation”.

The system relies on microphones located in specific areas of the venue that monitor the noise level to adjust the announcement in real time. More than simply making the announcement louder – which is not particularly effective – the ADAPT DRC software will reinforce specific pitches and frequencies, such as consonant sounds that are easily misheard.

(May ‘16)


Why not call a random Swede?

Sweden, the country, has got its very own telephone number and you can call it anytime you like to chat with a random Swede about, well, anything really.

The scheme is the work of the Swedish Tourist Association, which has created the number as a 250th anniversary tribute to the country's abolishment of censorship. It's an initiative designed to highlight the country's commitment to freedom of expression in a time when, according to the tourism board's CEO Magnus Ling, "many countries try to limit communication between people."

Everyone who lives in Sweden is able to register as an ambassador. People who call will be connected to a random Swede and according to the site, if you call twice the chances of getting the same Swede again are very small.

But before you leap on the phone to make a call, be aware that Sweden is in the GMT+2 time zone (10 hours behind New Zealand), and the call is not toll-free so you will be charged international rates.

The website even answers the question, “How do I say hello in Swedish?” The answer: simply say "Hallå!" or "Hej!"

(May ‘16)


Finland’s posties are now mowing lawns

We all know that electronic communications have made the snail-mail business very challenging to say the least.  In a world of email and text messaging, and a plethora of mobile-communication apps, national mail providers have had to get creative to make money as mail volume shrink and courier companies beat them to the front door.

For Finland, one new strategy involves delivering something other than mail. Starting next month, Posti, the country’s postal service, will start mowing their customers’ lawns.

Lawns will be mown on Tuesdays “due to the lower volume of advertisements and publications distributed on that day” between mid-May and August this year. Customers can order the service online and must provide their own lawnmower. Thirty-minute lawn-mowing sessions cost will 65 euros (~$NZ106) per month, and 60-minute sessions are 130 euros (~$NZ212) per month.

According to the press release, the idea came from the postal workers themselves.

Apparently, it’s tax-deductible.

(May ‘16)


The Internet of Seals (IoS)

Researchers in Scotland claim to be the first to connect marine mammals to the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of a study into declining populations of harbour seals in the north and east of the country.

Several seals in Orkney, an archipelago off the north cost, will be tagged and their behaviour monitored by scientists at the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St Andrews. The data is transmitted using Vodafone's M2M network and the tags are designed to simply fall off when seals moult.

The data collected will be used to help form Scottish marine policy in areas such as offshore wind farms and unexplained seal deaths.

(May ‘16)



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