Uber used spyware to surveil and poach drivers from Australian rival service Gocatch

A senior source at Uber has confirmed to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Four Corners programme that Uber Australia illegally deployed an in-house piece of spyware called Surfcam in order to spy on drivers for a rival rideshare company called Gocatch; Uber was able to compile lists of drivers' emails, car registration numbers and other details and it used these to poach Gocatch drivers and turn them into Uber drivers. (more…)

Google Stadia sounds like a bad idea

I will take 6 GPU teraflops hardwired to my 1ms refresh rate monitor over 10 GPU teraflops and a BGP-4 routed TCP-IP backbone for gaming.

While presented as a wonderful way to buy a videogame and instantly have it appear on your screen, Google Stadia seems to be ignoring both that most online multiplayer gaming is super latency sensitive, and most ISPs suck.

Google plans to enter the arena of cross-platform play, but I can not see the latency allowing for much more than a good game of Hearts. FPS and other shooters, which are the mainstay of the streaming game realm Google hopes to latch onto as its advertising engine, seem unplayable in this model. Bandwidth restrictions may limit you to playing only when next door to a Google data center.

IGN:

The claim that Stadia runs with 10.7 GPU teraflops is when working with a single GPU. However, using multiple GPUs, Google claims Stadia can run even faster, making computing-intensive tasks like water simulation much easier, and more realistic. This power, of course, is dependent on players having a super-fast internet connection.

Google also claimed it is aiming to make games playable on Stadia fully cross-platform compatible. Phil Harrison, VP of Google, said during the keynote “As a new-generation game platform, Stadia will of course embrace full cross-platform play. Developers will have the ability to enable cross-platform multiplayer for all players and even bring game saves and progression across as well."

Cartoonist Kayfabe Show and Tell 08: Ed Piskor's Strategy for Publishing His First Graphic Novel

A comic book can go through many stages before it reaches its final form. This Show and Tell episode with your hosts Ed and Jim tracks Piskor's comic, Wizzywig, from its humble beginnings as a xeroxed zine shipped from his mama's basement to the more familiar hardcover graphic novel that's easily found in your local comic shop.


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New Zealand's domestic spies, obsessed with illegally surveilling environmental activists, missed a heavily armed right-wing terrorist

New Zealand is one of the Five Eyes countries (UK, USA, Canada, Australia, NZ) who collaborate on mass surveillance, and it has a notoriously off-leash, invasive surveillance apparatus that has been caught spying on NZ Greenpeace, the NZ Green Party, the Mana Movements and anti-TPP activists; the state was also caught giving private corporate spies access to its national surveillance data to help them hunt down and neutralize activists; unsurprisingly, the NZ police also abused these records, accessing them without a warrant on thousands of occasions (NZ also recruited the NSA to spy on kiwi activists). (more…)

Matt Taibbi finally makes sense of the Pentagon's trillions in off-books "budgetary irregularities"

The finances of the US armed forces have been in a state of near-continuous audit for decades and despite spending billions of dollars and thousands of person-years trying to make sense of what the military spends, we're no closer to an answer, and no one disputes that there are trillions of dollars' worth of unaccountable transactions (but importantly, not trillions of dollars in spending) that make it impossible to figure out whether and when and how the Pentagon is being ripped off, or wasting money, or both. (more…)

Trailer for a new Zombie series on Netflix: Black Summer

Mark your calendars for April 11 - that's when Black Summer starts streaming.

Set in the dark, early days of a zombie apocalypse, Black Summer stars Jaime King as Rose, a mother torn from her daughter who embarks upon a harrowing journey to find her. Thrust alongside a small group of American refugees, these complete strangers must find the strength they need to fight their way back to loved ones. But in order for Rose and her team to brave this hostile new world, they will need to make brutal decisions to contend with zombies - and each other.

It looks like they're fast zombies.

Image: YouTube

This is a 1960s TV commercial for prunes starring Ray Bradbury

This TV commercial for prunes (directed by Stan Freberg) stars Ray Bradbury, who keeps insisting he never mentioned prunes in any of his stories. I like the futuristic home with the people-moving tubes and the giant television screen, though I was nervous that Malcolm McDowell and his droogs were going to waltz into the front door at any second and cause trouble.

[via r/ObscureMedia]

Super bloom creates new California natural disaster: tourism overflow

Fires, earthquakes, floods and now overwhelming throngs of flower seeking tourists: California has it all.

Intense rainfall has caused California's deserts to bloom. Tens of thousands of folks just want to see all the flowers. Evidently pandemonium ensues.

BBC:

Lake Elsinore Mayor Steve Manos described it as "insane" in a post on Facebook.

"One of our employees was hit and run by a driver. A rattlesnake bit a visitor. Residents have been screaming at the people directing traffic."

The city brought in all available staff as well as outside traffic controllers to help control the situation on Saturday, issuing a plea to visitors to visit during the week instead.

"People are creating chaos out there and we have already had an injury," officials said on Instagram. "This is a public safety crisis so we ask your support."

Over the weekend, residents of Lake Elsinore were faced with up to three hours of traffic on their commutes. Many began expressing their frustrations on social media with the hashtags #Isitoveryet and #HanginthereLE.

It could deter visitors from coming, but more rain could mean more or prolonged blooms into the next couple of weeks.

Either way, Ms Dailey explained: "The city is preparing to reopen the trailhead entrance by providing alternative ways to reduce the impact that the tourism has had on our community."

Instructions for safely viewing flowers.

Photo by Joe Doherty

What it is like to spend a night at the cheapest hotel in Manhattan?

The Bowery Lodge is the cheapest hotel in Manhattan. At $45 a night, the Chinatown hotel costs about 1/5th the average price for a hotel room in Manhattan. In this video, a checked into the Bowery Lodge to learn what it's like to spend a night there. It's a tiny room with no furniture other than a bed and a bedside table. There's no window and it was hot and stuffy when the guy stayed there. The bathroom is down the hall.

At the end of the video, the guy says, "So I'm sitting here editing this video, two days later, and I've noticed that I have these red welts all over my arm and legs and they itch like crazy. Another one on my finger..."

 

[via Doobybrain]

Star Wars origin story for Grand Admiral Thrawn is as wonderful as I hoped

Thrawn begins the backstory of Grand Admiral Thrawn, perhaps the most fearsome non-Force user in the Empire.

Timothy Zahn's Heir the the Empire series introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn. The blue-skinned, red-eyed, master of strategy and tactics inspired decades of speculation and debate.

Then Star Wars Rebels re-introduced Grand Admiral Thrawn as the super villain intended to crush the nascent Rebellion. I was thrilled. Sadly, Thrawn was kind of a doofus and not nearly as tough for the Rebels to get around as I'd hoped.

That said, Thrawn was still fascinating. A blue-skinned non-human who appears a peer with Darth Vader? I wanted to know more and luckily Timothy Zahn was brought back to flesh out the story.

Marooned on a deserted planet for simply suggesting a non-standard approach to solving his people's problems, Thrawn is discovered by the Empire. The blue-skinned alien who outwits dozens of Imperial Troopers is taken to Coruscant to meet the Emperor and enlisted to help subdue the dangers of the Outer-Rim.

This adventure is a fantastic story, but learning Thrawn's motivations and backstory have set me down the path of reading the entire trilogy.

Thrawn (Star Wars) by Timothy Zahn via Amazon

The European Copyright Directive: What is it, and why has it drawn more controversy than any other Directive in EU history?

During the week of March 25, the European Parliament will hold the final vote on the Copyright Directive, the first update to EU copyright rules since 2001; normally this would be a technical affair watched only by a handful of copyright wonks and industry figures, but the Directive has become the most controversial issue in EU history, literally, with the petition opposing it attracting more signatures than any other petition in change.org’s history.

(more…)

Sightseeing train station has no exit or entrance

A train station in Japan is apparently unique, in that it has no exit or entrance other than the platform. Get off the train, check out the beautiful scenery, and get right back on again.

Called Seiryu Miharashi Eki, which translates to “Clear Stream Viewing Platform Station“, this station has been built so that passengers can stop off and admire the surrounding scenery.

San Diego! I'm coming to town tonight with my new book Radicalized! (next: NYC, Toronto, Chicago...)

Thanks to the folks who came to last night's LA launch for Radicalized, my latest book of science fiction for adults; I'm about to hop a train to San Diego for an event tonight at Mysterious Galaxy at 7:30 PM. From there, the tour takes me to NYC on Wednesday (The Strand, 7PM); then Toronto on Thursday (Metro Reference Library, 7PM, with Barry Hertz), and then to Chicago for events at C2E2. From there, I head to San Francisco, Fort Vancouver, WA (Portland, essentially!), Seattle and Anaheim. Looking forward to seeing you!

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