Apr 18, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon

Gadgets

11Man Jumps On Subway Tracks to Save Phone, Survives After Being Run Over by Train

An unidentified man jumped on some subway tracks in New York City to retrieve his dropped cellphone this morning.

When the train came flying down the tracks, he was able to lay down in a space between the tracks, noted CBS New York.

After the subway train stopped, the uninjured man got up and left the station, reports the Associated Press.

“We can’t say it enough. You should never, ever under any circumstances go onto the tracks to retrieve anything,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority spokesman Kevin Ortiz told radio station 1010 WINS.

“Your life is certainly much more important than a cellphone," added Ortiz. “In essence, those trains can come at you very quickly. What most people don’t understand is that often it’s very difficult to climb back onto the platform from the tracks.”

Sources: CBS New York and Associated Press

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11Company Plans to Beam Free Wifi to Entire Earth in 2015

While Comcast plans to buy Time-Warner Cable and takeover the cable/Internet market, the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) has its own plan: to provide free Internet for the whole planet.

MDIF hopes to launch hundreds of low-cost miniature satellites into low Earth orbit (pictured), notes the Daily Mail.

MDIF is going to use datacasting, which sends data via radio waves and will theoretically broadcast the web around the world in what they call the "Outernet."

But MDIF first needs to raise tens of millions of dollars in donations, which they accept on their website.

"We have a very solid understand of the costs involved, as well as experience working on numerous spacecraft," MDIF's Syed Karim stated on the social media site Reddit.

"There isn't a lot of raw research that is being done here; much of what is being described has already been proven by other small satellite programs and experiments. There's really nothing that is technically impossible to this," added Karim.

Sources: Reddit, Outernet.is, Daily Mail

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11A $26 Hacking Device Can Take Over Your Car (Video)

A new device that costs only $26 to build can take over your car if it is physically plugged into your vehicle's Controller Area Network (CAN) bus.

Your CAN bus allows computerized devices inside your car to communicate without a host computer, and this new device, called the CAN Hacking Tool or CHT, can control your CAN bus.

The CHT recently made its debut at the DefCon 21 Hacking Conference (video below).

According to Jalopnik.com, once installed in your car, the CHT is controlled via wireless Bluetooth, which would give anyone with a cell phone control over your vehicle.

The developers of the CHT, Alberto Garcia Illera and Javier Vazquez Vidal, claimed they wanted to play with the settings of their cars to get better gas mileage.

The CHT uses a protocol designed for cars manufactured before 2010, but Vidal and Illera said the CHT could be configured for newer protocols and cars.

While the CHT creators do not have any criminal intent, it is possible that car thieves could use the CHT to control your car's headlights, steering, brakes, locks and alarms, noted the Daily Mail.

“It can take five minutes or less to hook it up and then walk away,” Vidal told Forbes. “We could wait one minute or one year, and then trigger it to do whatever we have programmed it to do.”

Sources: Forbes, Daily Mail, Jalopnik.com

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11Americans Prefer Smartphones Over Sex, Says Poll

A new poll shows that Americans prefer their smartphones, Internet access, cars, laptops and TV over sex.

The new study by Harris Interactive shows that while 20 percent of Americans say they can't live without sex, but 26 percent couldn’t live without using their smartphones.

Sex also got beat by the Internet, automobiles, laptop computers and televisions, notes the Daily Mail.

The poll also found that almost three quarters of adults say technology enriches their lives, almost half believe it helps their relationships and close to 40 percent claim that technology makes them happier.

But food topped technology and everything else with 73 percent of the vote.

Sex was able to beat computer tablets, social networking sites and GPS devices (navigation).

Even with all this love for technology, 69 percent did admit that gadgets were too distracting.

Sources: Harris Interactive and Daily Mail

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11Cloud Services Slowly Being Forced on Consumers

More and more tech companies are pushing users to store their content in "cloud" services, which are basically online depositories.

Originally made popular by Dropbox.com, these cloud services offer a certain amount of storage space for free, but then start charging users for extra files.

Cloud services are offered by Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other big (and small) players on the web. iPhones and Android phones are also getting in on cloud services, which were originally a convenient option.

However, Scientific American notes that some large tech companies are slowly eliminating the option for users not to use cloud storage.

Apple's new operating system Mavericks does not allow to users to sync their computer’s calendar or address book with an iPhone or tablet. Now, you can only sync your content via an Apple iCloud account.

With Windows 8 and 8.1, you can log on to your PC with either a local account on your computer or an online Microsoft account.

But without an online Microsoft account, you can't access SkyDrive or download apps from the Windows store.

What the web giants don't tell you is that cloud users are at the mercy of these corporations to access their own content. If a cloud site goes down, so does access to your content.

There is also the issue of privacy. Amazon landed a $600 million contract to create a private cloud for the CIA in 2013, reports InformationWeek.com. But will this new relationship compromise the security and privacy of other Amazon cloud users?

Apple, Google and Microsoft are also in possession of user's cloud content, which could be secretly accessed by the (National Security Agency) NSA. The agency's covert, mass spying activities have all cloud companies concerned about losing business, according to CRN.com.

The Independent reported in 2013, "All personal information stored by British internet users on major 'cloud' computing services including Google Drive can be spied upon routinely without their knowledge by US authorities under newly-approved legislation."

Sources: InformationWeek.com, Scientific American, The Independent, CRN.com

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11NSA Uses Social Apps on Cell Phones to Spy, Hacks 'Angry Birds'

The National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK government's spy agency GCHQ are hacking into various smartphone apps, including the game "Angry Birds" and Google Maps, to get users' private information.

The Guardian reports that top secret documents, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, show that some apps may share such private information as sexual orientation.

However, most smartphone owners are unaware that this private info is being shared across web by the NSA and GCHQ.

Rovio, the company that created Angry Birds, denied knowing that the NSA or GCHQ were hacking its apps.

"Rovio doesn't have any previous knowledge of this matter, and have not been aware of such activity in 3rd party advertising networks," Saara Bergstrom, Rovio's VP of marketing and communications, told The Guardian. "Nor do we have any involvement with the organizations you mentioned [NSA and GCHQ]."

Pro-Publica.org notes that one NSA document from May 2010 is titled "Golden Nugget!" and states "Target uploading photo to a social media site taken with a mobile device. What can we get?"

The NSA answers its own question by listing: image, email, phone, buddy lists, home country, age, gender, zip code, martial status, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, education level, and number of children.

An user's global location can be found by the NSA and GCHQ by intercepting Google Maps queries made on cell phones.

In response to the story, the NSA released a statement to The New York Times:

NSA does not profile everyday Americans as it carries out its foreign intelligence mission. Because some data of U.S. persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA's lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for U.S. persons exist across the entire process.

Sources: The New York Times, Pro-Publica.org, The Guardian

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11Protesters Confront FCC Chairman, Claim Cell Phones Cause Cancer (Video)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler was giving a speech on Jan. 9 in Silicon Valley when protesters interrupted him numerous times.

The protesters from StopSmartMeters.org claimed there is a strong link between cancer and cell phones (video below).

They spaced their interruptions throughout Wheeler's speech and asked why the FCC had not warned people about cell phones causing cancerous tumors, notes Storyleak.com.

“How many people have to die from brain cancer before the federal government puts warning labels on cell phones?” yelled one protester.

After the first protester was taken out, Wheeler joked, “John, it’s great to be here!” bringing laughter from the crowd.

“Thanks for my husband's brain tumor and many others, Tom,” another protester yelled during Wheeler's speech.

The connection between cell phones and cancer is widely debated.

According to US News & World Report, a study published in 2013 compared 20 heavy cell phone users to 20 deaf people who do not use cell phones. The study found that the heavy cell phone users had far more cell damage, which can lead to cancer.

But the National Cancer Institute website states, "Studies thus far have not shown a consistent link between cell phone use and cancers of the brain, nerves, or other tissues of the head or neck. More research is needed because cell phone technology and how people use cell phones have been changing rapidly."

Sources: Cancer.gov, US News & World Report, Storyleak.com, StopSmartMeters.org

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11Disney Tracks Guests in Parks with Computer-Chipped Wristbands

Disney’s theme parks are offering their guests rubber wristbands instead of paper tickets.

These “MagicBands” can be used as a park ticket, hotel room key and credit card, notes Time magazine.

While Disney's “MyMagic+ vacation management system” sounds convenient, the wristbands are also embedded with computer chips, which track each guest (wearing the bands) in the massive Disney parks.

The wristbands can track guests' buying habits, but also help locate missing children, if parents choose to set that feature.

Walk-around characters in the park can also track children and their information, enabling life-size Mickeys, Donalds and Goofys to greet children by their names.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) criticized the “MagicBand” last year over privacy issues in a letter to Walt Disney CEO, Bob Iger.

"Widespread use of the MagicBand bracelets by park guests could dramatically increase the personal data Disney can collect about its guests," wrote Rep. Markey, noted WESH.

“Although kids should have the chance to meet Mickey Mouse, this memorable meeting should not be manipulated through surreptitious use of a child’s personal information,” added Rep. Markey.

He also claimed the MagicBand bracelets "could potentially have a harmful impact on our children" and the "privacy of millions of guests."

In response, Igor claimed Rep. Markey's statements were “ludicrous” and “ill-informed.”

Sources: Time and WESH

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11Lifelike Robot Telemarketer Denies She’s a Robot (Audio)

Time magazine Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer recently got a phone call from a young woman offering him a deal on health insurance, but her voice sounded a little too perfect.

When Scherer asked the female voice if she was a human or a robot, she replied with a perfectly charming laugh and said she was real (audio below).

However, each time she was asked to say, "I'm not a robot," she refused, notes Time.

She cheerfully claimed there was a bad connection when Scherer asked her multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday.

More Time reporters called the female voice and got a pitch perfect repetition of the same answers and her name, "Samantha West." The female robot was trying to find out if each reporter was on Medicare and then transferred the call to a live salesperson (which may be worse than a robot).

There were also reports of a 'female voice" doing sales calls on 800Notes.com:

Woman on other end falsely claimed we requested health insurance quote, then had the nerve to request I answer five minutes worth of questions...Really? Telemarketer or scam.

They say she is a robot. ask her about it.they say, that if you ask her about' 'what's in the tomato soup'' she will say she doesn't understands the question. it is a scam. don't fall for it.

Received 2 calls today from this number and 1 last week.  Both times, a friendly sounded woman on the other end claimed I requested health insurance information.  She doggedly refused to deviate from her script.  Twice I hung up on her after trying to engage her in conversation.  The 2nd call today, she hung up on me.  After she asked how I was doing, I said, "Not well." ;-)  

One Time reporter spoke to a real salesperson, who said the company was PremierHealthAgency.com.

When the reporter called the company, Premier Health Plans Inc., directly he was curtly told, “We don’t use robot calls, sir.”

The reporter called again and spoke to another human who identified himself as "Bruce Martin."

“First of all, we use TV, we use radio, we use Internet,” claimed Martin, who wanted info about his company included in the Time article. “If you are going to publish this in the magazine, I’d like to get something out of it."

On Dec. 11, the website PremierHealthAgency.com was taken offline and now redirects to MyPremierHealthPlans.com, which has no content.

Sources: Time and 800Notes.com

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11Samsung Earns $6,486 Per Second, Apple Makes $4,540 (Infographic)

Just how much money do tech companies make these days?

Happier.co.uk has broken down the most successful ones by their yearly revenue, working days, hours and seconds.

Samsung topped the list by raking in $6,486 a second, while Apple earns $4,540 and Foxconn is at $3815.

Hewlett Packard (HP) makes $3459, Microsoft clocks in at $2331, Amazon pockets $1996, but Facebook only makes $230 every second.

The website has also created an interactive infographic that actually counts how much money the companies have made, by the seconds, since you've been on the web page.

You can calculate your own salary against these tech companies by using the same math. Divide your salary by the number of days you work. Once you get that daily number, then divide one day’s hours into seconds (8 hours = 28800 seconds) to find out how you make per second.

If that's a bit depressing, here's some good news. Occupy Wall Street activists have bought almost $15 million of Americans' personal debt, notes The Guardian.

The activists call their program "Rolling Jubilee," which buys up strangers' personal debt from the secondary debt market. That's where banks and other financial companies sell people's personal debt to third parties, usually collection agencies, for pennies on the dollar.

Launched one year ago, the Rolling Jubilee has spent $400,000 to buy up and forgive $14,734,569.87 of personal debt.

"We thought that the ratio would be about 20 to 1," said team member Andrew Ross. "In fact we've been able to buy debt a lot more cheaply than that."

Sources: The Guardian and Happier.co.uk

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