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US Embassy Categorizes Beijing Air Quality As 'Crazy Bad' 270

Posted by samzenpus
from the it-totally-sucks dept.
digitaldc writes "Pollution in Beijing was so bad Friday the US embassy, which has been independently monitoring air quality, ran out of conventional adjectives to describe it, at one point saying it was 'crazy bad.' The embassy later deleted the phrase, saying it was an 'incorrect' description and it would revise the language to use when the air quality index goes above 500, its highest point and a level considered hazardous for all people by US standards. The hazardous haze has forced schools to stop outdoor exercises, and health experts asked residents, especially those with respiratory problems, the elderly and children, to stay indoors."
Security

TSA Pats Down 3-Year-Old 1135

Posted by samzenpus
from the security-theater dept.
3-year-old Mandy Simon started crying when her teddy bear had to go through the X-ray machine at airport security in Chattanooga, Tenn. She was so upset that she refused to go calmly through the metal detector, setting it off twice. Agents then informed her parents that she "must be hand-searched." The subsequent TSA employee pat down of the screaming child was captured by her father, who happens to be a reporter, on his cell phone. The video have left some questioning why better procedures for children aren't in place. I, for one, feel much safer knowing the TSA is protecting us from impressionable minds warped by too much Dora the Explorer.
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Debt Collectors Using Facebook To Embarrass Those Who Owe 266

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-up-or-be-unfriended dept.
Not even the tranquility of FarmVille can save you from the long arm of debt collectors. Melanie Beacham says that a collector from MarkOne Financial contacted her relatives about her past due car note via Facebook. She is filing suit alleging that the company is harassing her family. Tampa based consumer attorney Billy Howard of Morgan & Morgan says, "Now Facebook does a debt collectors work for them. Now it's not only family members, it's all of your associates. It's a very powerful tool for debt collectors to use."
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Denver Rejects UFO Agency To Track Aliens 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the name-and-galaxy-of-origin-please dept.
Republicans weren't the only ones to win big yesterday. Aliens in The Mile-High City can breathe easier thanks to voters rejecting a plan to officially track them. From the article: "The proposal defeated soundly Tuesday night would have established a commission to track extraterrestrials. It also would have allowed residents to post their observations on Denver's city Web page and report sightings." Let the anonymous probings begin!
Hardware Hacking

Building a Telegraph Using Only Stone Age Materials 238

Posted by samzenpus
from the from-scratch dept.
MMBK writes "It's the ultimate salvagepunk experiment, building a telegraph out of things found in the woods. From the article: 'During the summer of 2009, artist Jamie O’Shea of the organization Substitute Materials set out to test whether or not electronic communication could have been built at any time in history with the proper knowledge, and with only tools and materials found in the wilderness of New Jersey.'"
Social Networks

Meg Whitman Campaign Shows How Not To Use Twitter 147

Posted by samzenpus
from the type-slower dept.
tsamsoniw writes "California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman's campaign team attempted to share with her Twitter followers an endorsement from a police association. Unfortunately, the campaign press secretary entered an incorrect or incomplete Bit.ly URL in the Tweet, which took clickers to a YouTube video featuring a bespectacled, long-haired Japanese man in a tutu and leggings rocking out on a bass guitar. And for whatever reason, the Tweet, which went out on the 18th, has remained active through today."
Security

+ - New Use for Old Captchas->

Submitted by
tomandlu
tomandlu writes "The BBC is reporting that Carnegie Mellon University has found a novel use for CAPTCHAs — deciphering old texts. A sort of distributed computing project...

Basically, the CAPTCHA is made up of two words — one of which is known to Carnegie, and one of which isn't. If the user correctly deciphers the known CAPTCHA, then the unknown CAPTCHA is assumed to be correct. Well, almost. Two different users must give the same answer to the same unknown CAPTCHA before it is taken off the list.

Clever, IMHO, and might at least give us some consolation as we squint at those damn characters.

Of course, all this could be screwed if too many bots starting using the same algorithm to incorrectly guess the answer..."

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