FBI paid at least $1.3 million to hack into the San Bernardino iPhone

iPhone parts in a NY repair store, February 17, 2016.  REUTERS

The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports that the FBI payed more than $1m to get into the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone after Apple refused to create software to bypass its encryption. The Washington Post reports that a one-off $1.3m price tag was admitted, obliquely, by FBI Director James Comey by comparison with his own salary.

Federal authorities have not publicly revealed who helped the FBI unlock the San Bernardino iPhone, which was at the center of an extended fight between the government and Apple. The Justice Department had maintained that only Apple could help it access the phone without erasing all of its data before abruptly saying it had gotten help from an outside party and no longer needed Apple’s assistance.

According to people familiar with the issue, the FBI cracked the phone with the help of professional hackers who were paid a one-time flat fee. Law enforcement officials have said recently that the FBI has found no links to foreign terrorists on the phone, though they are still hoping that geolocation data on the device could help reveal what the attackers did during an 18-minute period after the shooting.

The FBI's attempts to compel Apple's cooperation backfired after CEO Tim Cook publicly accused the Bureau of exploiting the case to try and gain backdoor access to iPhones in general. The phone ultimately yielded no useful information.
“But it was, in my view, worth it,” the FBI director said of what it cost to access the phone’s data.
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Britain warns LGBT travelers about visiting North Carolina, Mississippi

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The Independent writes that the U.K. is warning travelers about new anti-LGBT laws in North Carolina and Mississippi.

Dr Felicity Daly, director of the LGBT Kaleidoscope Trust said: “It is heartening the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is becoming more LGBT responsive in their work, it’s a good sign as it is an important issue in the UK, but most people who identify as LGBT in the UK will already be aware of the nature of certain states.”

Matt Horwood of Stonewall charity said: “What’s happened in Mississippi and North Carolina proves that equality is never secure.

"It’s positive to see the UK government recognise this need and update its travel advice pages accordingly."

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TRIPMUNKS: all the CGI Chipmunks movies overlaid, at half speed

nasty chipmunks

Neil Cicierega took the four (!) Chipmunks movies, superimposed them upon one another, and slowed them down. If CGI remakes of cartoons can be seen as the pigs of our cartoon childhoods ushered into the rendering plant, this is the psychic slime left gluelike under the vats. [via]

Previously: Chipmunk Christmas, slowed down to original speed Read the rest

Website serves endless stream of "epic" music

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Epic Music Time is a website that plays only epic music. Other single-serving web radio sites include jazzandrain.com, which plays jazz and the sound of rain, and relaxingbeats.com, which plays Industrial Pornogrind Metal. Just kidding. It actually plays relaxing beats. Read the rest

Blandly is a full-service blanding agency

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Tired of bad publicity? Terrified of the social media snarls that consume unwary brands daily? Your company needs Blandly, a full-service media agency that can bury you in a colorless mush of vacuous positivity, thereby guaranteeing your disappearance from the public imagination.

BLANDLY IS A FULL-SERVICE BLANDING AGENCY.

We specialize in bland identity, bland development, bland strategy, blandbuilding, bland positioning, digital blanding, fully integrated blanding campaigns, bland UI/UX design, and bland environments.

BLANDLY CREATES AWARD-WINNING BLAND SOLUTIONS FOR OUR CLIENTS.

From technology startups and trendy restaurants to established multinational blands, we work with each of our clients to develop innovative approaches that deliver measurable value.

WE ARE BLAND STORYTELLERS

The homepage is a great exemplar of the minimalist-but-not-really monosite that's basically every website now. Read the rest

Koyaanistocksi: Koyaanisqatsi but with stock art footage

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Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance was an experimental, dialog-free film by Godfrey Reggio (with a score by Phillip Glass) that depicts our relationship with nature and technology through a series of striking film images. Jesse England's Koyaanistocksi is a convincing recreation of its trailer made exclusively from generic stock art. A funny simulacrum, but of what order I can't tell: art rendered empty of meaning thanks to the pervasive replication of its own forms. [via Jeremy Erwin] Read the rest

NYPD cops charged with felonies after beating up mailman

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Two NYPD detectives who beat up a uniformed U.S. Postal Service mail carrier were charged with felony assault in Queens wednesday. Angelo J. Pampena, 31, and Robert A. Carbone, 29, were also charged with perjury after CCTV footage of the incident demonstrated that they had lied in their official reports of the arrest.

Mailman Karim Baker's harassment by NYPD began after giving street directions to a stranger who later killed two officers, reports the New York Times. But the October 2015 incident went beyond the usual stop and search, leaving Baker disabled.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Subin said the detectives approached Mr. Baker as he left work on Oct. 21, 2015, in Corona, Queens. Mr. Subin said the encounter was captured on surveillance video from a building across the street, and had been paired with audio from a 911 call from Mr. Baker’s cellphone that recorded what occurred.

Mr. Subin said the officers had asked to see his client’s identification and when he asked why he was being stopped, the officers told him he was parked too close to a fire hydrant. Mr. Baker then called 911 to ask for help, but he dropped the phone when the officers began pummeling him, Mr. Subin said.

The district attorney said Mr. Baker was seated in his car when the detectives punched and kicked him multiple times in the face and body and dragged him from the vehicle. Mr. Baker sustained spinal fractures and a knee injury and has not been able to return to work, Mr.

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If Slither.io was a text adventure

textadventureslitherio

The internet is addicted to Slither.io, a startlingly compulsive multiplayer mashup of the classic "Snake" game and Tron's "Light Cycles": block other snakes with your body, watch them explode into a cloud of orbs, then eat the glowing remains in order to grow longer and larger. It's a game of fast reactions, split-second decisions and low-latency internet connections.

Naturally, then, I wondered what it would be like as a text adventure. Read the rest

Transhumanist church not much different from any other small town church

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Motherboard's Claire Evans visited The Church of Perpetual Life, a transhumanist house of worship whose adherents await the time technology brings them into eternity—by curing aging. The strangest thing is that it seems much like any other smalltown Protestant church, right down to the bland off-white architecture, the nice pews, the books on tables, the clean-cut religiosity. It is in Florida.

"We are fighting against involuntary death, and view immortality as the ultimate solution to every problem mankind faces,” said Bill Faloon, one of the church’s founders.

His parishioners call themselves “immortalists.” Other monikers include transhumanists, “longevity enthusiasts,” and “people who really are committed to the anti-aging concept.”

Whatever they call themselves, they all share one thing in common: They believe that science and technology will find a way for humans to live forever on Earth.

Lurking behind it appears to be a foundation at odds with the taxman. (PDF) Read the rest

Trump slowed 50%

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Everyone sounds drunk or stoned when slowed down 50%, but doing so to Trump reveals that his bizarre, digressive speech patterns are uncannily like a drunk sped up 200%. Read the rest

Current American politics explained

explained
A friend from my native England asked me to explain what the hell is going on. I got confused talking about it, so just made this chart instead and emailed it to him. I'm sharing it here so you can marvel, once again, at the curious mix of ignorance and insight that ex-patriot Britons bring to the United States Experience. Read the rest

A world without internet

arcadia

Blake Snow imagines a world without internet

In addition to blurring (or obliterating) the lines between work and home life, the Internet has dramatically changed our cultural conception of patience. “Without it, we wouldn’t expect instant gratification as often as we do,” notes Michael Calore, a senior editor at Wired magazine. “Not just the ability to get an online answer immediately, or same-day delivery. Because of the Internet, the anticipation of waiting for things is largely gone.”

Snow's tone is questing, yet bound by inevitability; Clay Shirky is consulted and reassures us that escape is impossible. Alex Balk adds a few preliminary thoughts on how nice it would be in a world without internet.

3. Your awareness of just how shallow, vapid, rage-filled, dense, empty, angry and otherwise tiresome your fellow human beings are would be restricted to your personal observations of the few people around you who were unable to hide it, rather than being something informed by the constant universal broadcast of the vast army of people who were proud to proclaim it. ...

8. Your own self-loathing would be based on the terrible things you actually did instead of the terrible things you actually clicked.

9. Idiot lists like this would never be published...

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Slither.io is an addictive mutiplayer snake game

slitherio
Slither.io is the classic game Snake, but massively multiplayer and with the ruthless eat-and-grow mechanic of Osmos. The "eat" mechanism is subverted: hitting other creatures results in death, so you must instead outmanoever them and force them to hit you. On my best run, I got eaten at 7,000. Can you do better? [Thanks, Joel!] Read the rest

Google warns that Google.com hosts malware

googletransparencyreport
Google is pointing a finger at its own website, declaring it "partially unsafe" for web visitors. It's not clear if the report is one part of the sprawling company telling the truth about another part, a mistake, or a clever "googlebomb" of inbound links designed to trigger this result.

In any case, the warnings posted are delicious.

Some pages on this website install malware on visitors' computers.

Attackers on this site might try to trick you to download software or steal your information (for example passwords, messages, or credit card information).

Some pages on this website redirect visitors to dangerous websites that install malware on visitors' computers, including: 7b726aeb-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com, polnu4ewtan4iwki.ws, and 40d0dfd9-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com.

Dangerous websites have been sending visitors to this website, including: maeaflordapele.com, valeimaginar.blogspot.com, and bou7out.blogspot.com.

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Trump solemnly recalls the 7-11 attacks

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The New York Times reports on a gaffe that's part tragedy, part comedy, all Trump.

“I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-Eleven, down at the World Trade Center, right after it came down,” Mr. Trump said on Monday evening. “And I saw the greatest people I’ve ever seen in action.”

Mr. Trump did not seem to realize that he had invoked a chain of convenience stores, and the crowd did not seem to mind.

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Infinite Trump

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And I made an actually-infinite perfect-looping Trump GIF for you: Read the rest

I can see forever: Trump edition

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A woman reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump works the crowd following a campaign event in an airplane hanger in Rome, New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri Read the rest

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