Man dies after bathtub phone charger shock

Phone chargers usually only deliver a few volts of juice at a feeble amperage, but they'll deliver a lot more if you give them the chance. The BBC writes that a UK man died in the bathtub after being shocked by a charger connected to an extension cord.

Richard Bull, 32, died when his iPhone charger made contact with the water at his home in Ealing, west London. A coroner ruled his death was accidental and plans to send a report to Apple about taking action to prevent future deaths. Safety campaigners have warned about the dangers of charging mobiles near water following the inquest. Mr Bull is believed to have plugged his charger into an extension cord from the hallway and rested it on his chest while using the phone, the Sun reports.

Those little switching power supplies won't save you when wet. The bottom line, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents: "any appliance attached to the mains electricity circuit is dangerous near water." Read the rest

Trump humiliated: administration apologizes to Britain for saying it wiretapped him for Obama

Another day, another Trumpwreck.

The BBC:

The US has agreed not to repeat claims the UK's communications intelligence agency wiretapped Donald Trump during the presidential election campaign.

GCHQ rejected allegations made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, that it spied on Mr Trump, as "nonsense".

No 10 has now been assured by Mr Spicer he would not repeat the accusation.

CNN on the apology:

The White House has apologized to the British government after alleging that a UK intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster spoke with his British counterpart on Thursday about press secretary Sean Spicer's comment from the White House podium about a Fox News report that said British intelligence helped wiretap Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, a White House official said Friday.

The official described the conversation as "cordial" where McMaster described Spicer's comment as "unintentional."

I have to admit, I didn't expect it to be Theresa May to be the first international leader to publicly humiliate the dumb orange bastard like this, but it's not like she had to do any work. He gave it to her on a silver platter—or rather a gold-painted plastic one that plays the James Bond tune with a little beeper.

UPDATE: According to Buzzfeed, Trump admin insiders insist they did not apologize, but won't go on the record.

But US officials have been disputed whether the Trump administration had gone as far as an apology.

Read the rest

Windows 10 now "infested with annoying ads"

Microsoft gives away (ie forces) upgrades to Windows 10, and the price (ie reason) is that it is now "infested" with advertising, writes Tom Warren. Ads in the file explorer. Ads in core apps. Ads for Microsoft's browser that pop up as system notifications when he uses Chrome.

Microsoft added a notification center to Windows 10 for a reason. If it feels the need to blast its loyal users with irritating prompts then these should be channeled into that notification center, not wedged into the File Explorer or on top of the task bar. You shouldn't have to dig deep into a settings panel to disable these; they shouldn't be there in your File Explorer in the first place. Microsoft already had to walk back its aggressive Windows 10 upgrade prompts last year, so hopefully the company will come to its senses and rethink these annoying ads and bloatware in Windows 10.

Also, Mac nerds angrily switching to Windows was the computing equivalent of voting for Trump. The sick, sweet schadenfreude of watching the results gives me no pleasure. None at all! Read the rest

Amtrak vs snow, in slow-mo

An Amtrak train pulls into a station somewhere up east. The only problem? The tracks are already occupied by snow, piled a good six inches higher than the platform itself. Commuter Nick Colvin knows what's about to happen and has his iPhone set to record slow-mo footage, but as he writes, there was "a more spectacular arrival than expected." Read the rest

The American school of firearms instruction

STUDENT Did you mean to do that?

INSTRUCTOR

(thinks about it) Yeah.

Read the rest

Trump administration walks back Obama wiretapping claim

In a press conference, Donald Trump spokesman Sean Spicer walked back the president's tweeted claims that former president Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election campaign. By "wire tapping" Trump just meant "surveillance and other activities", and by "President Obama" and "a bad (or sick) guy" he was referring the entirety of the administration, not to Obama personally.

Namely, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump wasn't referring to wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping. "I think there's no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election," Spicer said. "The President used the word wiretaps in quotes to mean, broadly, surveillance and other activities." ...

Spicer also said that Trump was referring to the Obama administration broadly -- and not accusing Obama of personal involvement -- when he tweeted that "Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower" and accused Obama of being a "bad" or "sick guy."

Decide for yourself!

Read the rest

Do not burn old flashlight batteries

Popular Science once recommended throwing old batteries in the fire because "the burning zinc may help prevent soot formation, and the metals and chemicals make colorful flames." The November 1951 tip was bad advice, writes Snopes, but not so bad then as now: batteries a half-century ago contained different chemicals, were unsealed, and less likely to explode.

Read the rest

Man expertly directs speedboat into pole

I can't stop watching this video of someone slowly, carefully, unerringly directing his speedboat into a pole on a large body of water.

Here is a bonus video of someone slowly, carefully, unerringly directing a container ship into a large body of land.

Read the rest

It might be a bad idea to order refurbished Pixel phones from Google

A fellow on the internet reports that Google shipped him a refurbished Pixel phone loose in its box inside a standardized shipping package, with no packing material. The phone was broken.

I ordered an SD card from Amazon once and it came in a plastic case inside a box, which was inside another box, buried in at least a cubic foot of foam. Read the rest

Turkey cat funeral explained

This video of turkeys circling a dead cat went viral yesterday...

... and here's the explainer, from The Verge's Alessandra Potenza and Rachel Becker. They're a) warily inspecting a potential predator they don't realize is dead while b) getting stuck in a natural follow-the-leader pattern.
“predator inspection,” says Alan Krakauer, a biologist at the University of California, Davis, who studies the behavioral ecology of birds, in an email to The Verge. Sometimes, animals lower down in the food chain approach predators — a behavior that can be seen as risky, but can actually help the prey. Making the predator aware that the prey know it’s there can sometimes scare the predator away. ... What could be happening is that the turkeys are stuck in some kind of never-ending circle, with each bird following the tail in front of it. “It’s not unusual for them to get into those dances where they chase each other around,” Scott Gardner, a turkey expert with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, tells The Verge.
Read the rest

Internet-connected teddy bear leaked kids' data online

Update: Dupe!

Internet-connected Cloud Pets stored recordings online and put associated data in an unprotected database for hackers to find.

Since Christmas day of last year and at least until the first week of January, Spiral Toys left customer data of its CloudPets brand on a database that wasn't behind a firewall or password-protected. The MongoDB was easy to find using Shodan, a search engine makes it easy to find unprotected websites and servers, according to several security researchers who found and inspected the data. ... During the time the data was exposed, at least two security researchers, and likely malicious hackers, got their hands on it. In fact, at the beginning of January, during the time several cybercriminals were actively scanning the internet for exposed MongoDB's databases to delete their data and hold it for ransom, CloudPets' data was overwritten twice, according to researchers.

Security researcher Troy Hunt reports that the snuggly spies, from Spiral Toys, "represents the nexus" of the problem with internet-connected appliances and toys: children being recorded, data being leaked, and the technical possibility of surreptitious access to children through networked toys. "The best way to understand what these guys do is to simply watch the video [advertisement for the toy]."

Clearly, CloudPets weren't just ignoring my contact, they simply weren't even reading their emails. 4 attempts (that we know of) were made to contact CloudPets and warn them of this risk.
Read the rest

Watch the wrong movie announced as Best Picture Oscar winner, then the right one

Last night, La La Land was mistakenly announced as the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, forcing an excruciating on-stage reversal as millions watched cast and crew, Oscars in hand, realize they had in fact lost out to Moonlight.

Embedded here is the full clip of the cock-up. It's weird to see the sudden frisson of oh shit activity around the stage immediately after the mistake is made, but translating all too slowly into action. Watch how the news filters quietly from participant to oblivious participant in the background as the speeches proceed.

Pictured here, though, is the startled delight of Moonlight director Barry Jenkins realizing that his movie had, in fact, won the prize. Read the rest

West Elm's couch from hell (Update: couch from hell goes to hell)

Anna Hezel just saved us from an inadvisable couch purchase with her horrifying article, Why Does This One Couch From West Elm Suck So Much? Read the rest

"Waste of my fucking time" whispered into hot mic after Paul Ryan defends Muslim nation travel ban

At a press conference where Paul Ryan defended President Trump's Muslim-targeting travel ban, someone within whispering distance of a hot mic muttered "waste of my fucking time" as the House Speaker walked off.

Ryan denies saying it; consensus is it was a "bored cameraman" lurking around the lectern after he exited. Read the rest

Is this the ultimate "I'm not racist, but..."

My friend Michelle Fox spotted this vehicle in New Mexico. The "non-racist" really makes it! Read the rest

Helmet camera captures skiier tumbling over 150-ft cliff

He's fine. Fine and damnned lucky: "Turns out I am afraid of heights."

Skier Devin Stratton managed to ski himself off of an unmarked 150-foot cliff last week in the backcountry of the Wasatch Range in Utah, and escaped without so much as a bruise.

Stratton was capturing his run using a GoPro attached to his helmet, giving the world a first person POV of what it looks like when you accidentally find yourself skiing off a cliff. According to an interview with the Washington Post, he rarely wears the camera, but for some reason he flipped it on for this run.

In the clip, Stratton can be seen hitting fresh powder with some nearby runs. A few ski trails in the snow lead to a small hill, but Stratton doesn't notice that they stop before it's too late and he's going over.

Stratton turns his body as he's falling and manages to land on his back. According to the Post, Stratton credits the two feet of fresh powder and his packed backpack for cushioning his fall.

Read the rest

Light turnout for Trump inauguration

On the left, Obama. On the right, Trump. I guess no-one could find a dress. Read the rest

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