Reddit Revolts Against TSA’s New Enhanced Pat-Down Search

If you are an American citizen, be weary, be very weary of the airports. TSA’s (Transportation Security Administration) new enhanced security protocol grants screeners the right to subject anyone to a full body backscatter scan. Not only is the scanner shockingly detailed, but also injurious to health.

TSA
via Don’t Scan Us

Of course, you can opt out. However, in that case you will have to endure an enhanced pat-down search during the course of which the screener is free to palm your privates. Here’s a particularly graphic account shared by a popular blogger:

She then moved in front of my (sic) and touched the top and underneath portions of both of my breasts. She did not tell me that she was going to touch my breasts. She then felt around my waist. She then moved to the bottoms of my legs. She then felt my inner thighs and my vagina area, touching both of my labia. She did not tell me that she was going to touch my vagina area or my labia…

…I stood there holding my baby in shock. I did not move for almost a minute. I stood there, an American citizen, a mom traveling with a baby with special needs formula, sexually assaulted by a government official. I began shaking and felt completely violated, abused and assaulted by the TSA agent. I shook for several hours, and woke up the next day shaking.

Even as the horror stories continue pouring in, Americans are beginning to collectively raise their voice against TSA’s invasive procedures, and for this they are resorting to the internet. Reddit is trying to gain the attention of the mainstream media by collectively tweeting the following:

@cnn Mr. President: Would you send Michelle/Sasha/Malia through TSA screening? Naked photos or invasive genital groping, you get to pick.

Reddit Floods CNN

Others have decided to mark Thanksgiving as National Opt out day to gain the attention of lawmakers. Campaigns are also being organised through Twitter.

How do you feel about TSA’s new security measures? Is violating the dignity of a human being the only way to ensure safety? Is this really needed?


via We Won’t Fly

US Downloads Least Torrents, UK More, Germany Has Rapidshare While Asians Prefer Torrents, Online Movies and Direct Downloads

I read a recent report on one of my favorite sites on the state of how new users are being introduced to torrents. In that article, Torrent Freak stressed on how new people are introduced to torrents thanks to Google Search and now . Of course, that is a fact, but those results are more often than not based on trends, or in the simple language, what people are searching for more related to any topic. A classic example is a "how to" search on Google.

You have to note, that Google themselves are not promoting anything, these are just trends which are driven by local people and what they are searching for. I ran some tests in multiple countries using proxy IP addresses (not website which provide proxy services) which are very reliable and which I pay for to test several things in different countries to understand what people are searching for when it comes to movies and whether torrents are really being pushed so hard to new users.

Which country downloads the most torrents; or at-least searches for them; let’s take a look at it. Starting with US, where I did not need to use a proxy. I searched for the same movies Torrent Freak did and the results were different suggesting that people in US were more interested in reading a review of the movie rather than downloading it.

us_torrents_wall_street_money_never_sleeps

As you can see in the above image, people in US searched more for reviews of the movie rather than the torrents. Of course the torrent did appear in the wall street movie search.

Next up, I hit the United Kingdom through a proxy IP address and the results were alarming to say the least, considering that UK is considered second only to the US in several ways.

 

uk_torrents_wall_street_never_sleeps

Do you assume Canadians are safe enough to not fall to torrent downloads? Well think again after taking a look at the screenshots below. Once again the top search here was torrents.

canada_torrents_wall_street_never_sleeps

Next to hit was Europe. I did searches in Germany and guess what was popular there? You guessed it wrong. In these countries torrents were not the most popular means of downloading, it was RapidShare, a huge file sharing network which is known to host illegal movies and music. Considering that RapidShare has their base in Germany, this was not a surprise.

germany_illegal_movie_downloads

Next to hit up was Asia, a continent where most of the software used is illegal. So, did it fare otherwise when it comes to movies? Disappointingly no. Considering that I have lived in India for almost 24 years, I wasn’t really surprised with the results down there. But you can take a look at it for yourself.

india_torrents_wall_street_never_sleeps

pakistan_torrents_wall_street_never_sleeps

As you can see from the screenshots above. South Asian countries have more often than not found different ways to watch content illegally.  Though torrents are their biggest search, watching movies online and downloading content is also a big part of their plate.

Concluding

I am not saying that illegal download is only restricted to a particular country. However, in my experience I have found that developed countries such as United States watch or buy more content legally than other countries. It was surprising to see UK and Canada users searching for torrents on par with other developing countries though.

All in all, this was nothing more than just a experiment I intended to run to see who downloads torrents more and where. In the end it led to few revelations which I did not expect and things which I was already in the know.

If you have anything to say, feel free to leave a comment on this post.

Facebook Gains Control of Fb.com: More Proof of the Impending Launch of Facebook Mail

Yesterday we reported that Facebook might be preparing to unleash its own Gmail killer. Developed under the codename Project Titan, Facebook’s super-secret project is expected to see the light of day on Monday.

According to rumors, all Facebook users will be offered @facebook.com email addresses. This raises the question, how will Facebook differentiate between employees and users? DomainNameWire’s revelation that Facebook has seized control of the fb.com domain name offers a possible answer. Facebook acquired the domain name in September and began using its nameservers yesterday. It’s extremely likely that Facebook will be offering employees @fb.com email addresses.

Even more interestingly, mail.facebook.com (as well as mail.thefacebook.com) is redirecting to an Outlook web app login page. However, this doesn’t mean that the new Facebook email service will be using OWA as its front-end. A more likely scenario is that Facebook is just using Microsoft Exchange to handle employee email accounts.

Facebook to Launch Email Service on Monday?

Facebook will launch a new webmail service on Monday that will offer every Facebook user an @facebook.com email address, if TechCrunch is to be believed. Rumors regarding Facebook’s secret Project Titan have earlier surfaced on numerous occasions; however, this time it might make an appearance for real.

Facebook

With more than 500 million users, Facebook is larger than Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail and Gmail. Over the past few months, Facebook has beefed up its Photos and Events features, and launched a new location based check-in feature. It has already become an integral and indispensable part of life for millions around the world, and launching an email service will only strengthen Facebook’s grip.

Facebook’s growing dominance has earned it the ire of Google, who recently criticized the social network for trapping user’s personal information. If TechCrunch’s predictions regarding Facebook’s Monday event pans out, then Google better watch out. People might not need another webmail service, but if Facebook manages to integrate the new messaging system tightly with the main interface, it might find quite a few takers.

Evernote Crosses 5 Million Users

Evernote, the popular note-taking software has crossed a huge milestone today; 5 million active and kicking users. Evernote, is definitely one of the best note-taking software which is available for multiple platforms including , Mac OS X, and .

evernote_users_5_million

Another interesting point of their growth is that they added over a million users in the past 83 days. This might be partly due to their new Android app which was well received and Evernote 4 for Windows which was better than their previous versions.

Evernote took more than one year to get to the first million users, however, the adaptability of the software has grown a lot with them adding 4 million new users within the next two years. For more info on their achievement, visit the official Evernote blog.

Also Read: 11 Useful and Free Sticky Notes Software

Google Steps Up Its Game Against Facebook: Calls It A “Trap”

Google might rule the roost today, but five years on the scenario might be very different. Facebook is amassing a treasure trove of data on users around the globe that might give it the competitive advantage it needs to take on Google, and Google is obviously aware of this.

Facebook

Earlier this week, Google updated its ToS (Terms of Service) to stop Facebook from importing contact data from Google (Gmail). Within a couple of days, Facebook found a way around this by encouraging users to manually download and then upload their contact information. This trick ensured that users could still import information from Gmail, without Facebook needing to directly access Google’s Contacts Data API or Portable Contacts API.

As you might have guessed, Google isn’t too happy about this. After terming Facebook’s trickery as “disappointing”, Google is now resorting to a more direct approach to discourage users from importing data into Facebook.

Google is automatically displaying the following warning to all users who land on the contacts export page via Facebook:

Google-Facebook-Trap

Hold on a second. Are you super sure you want to import your contact information for your friends into a service that won’t let you get it out?

Here’s the not-so-fine print. You have been directed to this page from a site that doesn’t allow you to re-export your data to other services, essentially locking up your contact data about your friends. So once you import your data there, you won’t be able to get it out. We think this is an important thing for you to know before you import your data there. Although we strongly disagree with this data protectionism, the choice is yours. Because, after all, you should have control over your data.

Google’s motto has always been “Do No Evil”. Of late, critics have questioned Google’s dedication to that motto. However, Google obviously knows the value of being counted amongst the good guys. Even though it doesn’t want to provide Facebook free access to its social graph, it isn’t explicitly blocking its users from exporting their own data.

It will be interesting to see if this actually works. Casual users are notorious for not paying attention to messages like this. However, Google has definitely succeeded in highlighting the closed nature of Facebook, which has been criticized heavily in the past by privacy and data portability advocates. Well played Google.

Google Providing Free In-Flight Wi-Fi For Holiday Season

If you are travelling this holiday season, here is some good news for you. Google and have tied by with AirTran, Delta and Virgin America to provide free in-flight Wi-Fi to flyers through the holiday season.

Free In-Flight Wi-Fi

The free in-flight Wi-Fi is a follow-up from last year where Google had provided free Wi-Fi on Virgin America flights. Google will providing the free Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi on every domestic flight from November 20, 2010 through January 2, 2011.

For more information on participating routes and destinations visit http://www.freeholidaywifi.com/.

No Rest On Mount Everest, Internet Climbs The Mountains

I have known people who take a vacation to just relax and stay away from Internet. In fact, not so many years ago, travelling in a plane was comforting because you knew that you did not have access to the Internet. Then came in offline storage for , and a bunch of other services, which meant that you had access to content even on a plane. This was quickly followed up by Internet access on planes. See where we are headed.

Mount Everest Internet

If you thought that you could escape the Internet by climbing the highest mountain peak in the world; Mount Everest; think again. Ncell, a subsidiary of a Swedish phone giant TeliaSonera, has set up high speed 3G networks at an altitude of 5,200 meters in the Everest region.

"Today we made the (world’s) highest video call from Mount Everest base camp successfully. The coverage of the network will reach up to the peak of the Everest" Ncell Nepal chief Pasi Koistinen told reporters in Kathmandu on Thursday.

This means that you can no longer fool your wife when you say that you were busy climbing Mount Everest while you were busy playing golf, because you will now be able to make videos calls and surf the Internet on your mobile phones. Sigh, will we ever be able to get rid of the Internet? Do you think that they would have high speed internet in Heaven and Hell too?

(Source: AFP | Mount Everest Peak Image courtesy everest-2002.de)

Firefox 4 Won’t Be Ready Until 2011

Last week, we pointed out that the development of Firefox 4 was taking a lot longer than anticipated, as a result of which, the final version might not be released by the end of this year. A short while back, Firefox’s director Mike Beltzner, confirmed our fears in an update posted on Mozilla’s Dev Planning group. He wrote:

As those who have been tracking our nightly builds know, great things are happening with Firefox 4. The user interface changes are converging, the graphics and layout features are wrapping up, and recently the JavaScript engine was dramatically improved. The result is a fast, capable Firefox that provides better speed and responsiveness for web applications and users. Completing this work is taking longer than initial estimates indicated as we track down regressions and sources of instability. As part of our commitment to beta users, we will not ship software before it is ready.

Firefox-4-Beta

Firefox 4 Beta 7, which was originally expected to arrive on Sept 17, will ship in early November. Similarly, the release date of Beta 8 has been pushed back from October 1 to Nov 12. The RC build (Release Candidate) should arrive in early 2011, which will be followed shortly thereafter by the final build.

Yahoo Mail Gets a Facelift, Promises to Be Faster and More Social

After pretty much remaining stagnant and watching Gmail steal its thunder (repeatedly), Yahoo has finally updated its email service. The first significant update to Yahoo Mail in five years, promises to deliver a “faster, safer and more social email experience”.

I tried checking it out with my old Yahoo Mail account, which I solely use for signing up to newsletters that I am never going to read, and was immediately told that my browser (Opera 11) is not good enough for the latest and the greatest from Yahoo’s stables. Anyways, after I switched to Chrome, I was greeted by an interface that had way too much purple for my comfort, but will probably appeal to girls.

Yahoo-Mail-Beta-Opera

As far as features are concerned, the biggest addition is the integration of Twitter and Facebook into the “What’s New” page. You can track what your contacts are doing on Facebook and Twitter, retweet their messages, or even update your status directly from Yahoo Mail. YouTube, Flickr and Picasa have also been smartly integrated so that you can watch videos and slideshows from your friends and family members without leaving Yahoo Mail.

Yahoo-Mail-Beta-Updates

The user interface is essentially the same tabbed experience we have grown used to over the past five years, with some improvements here and there. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing though. Yahoo is also promising to offer a similar look and feel on the iPhone, iPad or an Android device.

Yahoo-Mail-Beta-Inbox

If you are a Yahoo Mail user, you can opt-in for the beta from here.