"Out of Home Advertising": the billboards that spy on you as you move through public spaces

Outdoor advertising companies are tapping location data brokers like Placeiq (which aggregates location data leaked by the spying dumpster-fire that is your phone's app ecosystem) and covertly siting Bluetooth and wifi sniffers in public space to gather data on the people who pass near to billboards: "gender, age, race, income, interests, and purchasing habits." Read the rest

Fun with charcuterie

Want to send an obliquely grim message with prosciutto?

Here's a fun idea of how to bring some surprise flair to your next office pot-luck.

“Office Potluck is today. I signed up to bring the meat and cheese platter,” says IMGURian @Eatthedead.

“Prosciutto, mozzarella, fresh bread, pepperoni, salami, melon...all the good stuff.”

“Weird thing is...nobody's touched it. Huh. Just means more for me!”

Made a charcuterie board for the office potluck today

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Minnesota county museum's impressive collection of creepy antique dolls

Olmsted County, Minnesota's History Center are sharing portraits of the creepiest dolls in their antiques collection. Folks can vote online for their favorite and the winner will be on display next week for Halloween. From MPR News:

"The doll I disdain handling is the one with human hair,” said curator Dan Nowakowski as he holds up a doll from the 1800s with an impressive braid and a dead-eye stare...

One creepshow contender was made with cloth for the head and limbs. "And then it was painted with a facial tone color, but the paint has chipped away,” Nowakowski said. “And now, unfortunately with the paint chipping, it looks like a mummy."

Nowakowski said that for a lot of the collection's dolls, the unsettling freakiness is all in the eyes.

Read the rest

Extremely cheap microwave oven has Alexa, listening

Behold the AmazonBasics Alexa-Equipped Microwave, a $40 item whose low price is belied by the fact everything you say to it is held in contingent perpetuity in an Amazon datacenter. [via]

AmazonBasics Microwave simplifies cooking by letting you microwave using your voice and an Echo device. Just say, “Alexa, reheat one cup of coffee,” and Alexa will start reheating with the appropriate power and time settings. Quick-cook presets mean there’s no need to guess cook times or heat levels when you’re defrosting vegetables or microwaving a potato. Plus, Alexa is always getting smarter and adding new presets.

If you want a cheap 700w mini-microwave from Amazon, this retro Daewoo model is adorable. Read the rest

Watch the trailer for "It Chapter Two"

Spoiler: Guess who's back!

Twenty-seven years after the events of the summer of 1989, It (Bill Skarsgård) returns. The Losers' Club fulfill their promises and return to Derry to put an end to the evil being once and for all. Unbeknownst to them, It has returned, stronger and crueler than ever.

In theaters September 6. Read the rest

Airbnb guest uses network sniffer to find hidden webcam, Airbnb finds no wrongdoing

Airbnb has a hidden camera problem: Airbnb hosts keep getting caught using hidden webcams to spy on people staying in their unlicensed hotel-rooms, and while the company proclaims a zero tolerance policy for the practice, the reality is that the company tacitly tolerates Airbnb hosts who engage in this creepy, voyeuristic behavior. Read the rest

London cops are subjecting people in the centre of town to facial recognition today and tomorrow

People in Soho, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square are being told by the London Metropolitan Police to submit to a trial of the force's notoriously inaccurate, racially biased facial recognition system, which clocks in an impressive error-rate of 98% (the system has been decried by Professor Paul Wiles, the British biometrics commissioner, as an unregulated mess). Read the rest

EFF's guide to creepy, surveillant Christmas gifts

Topping the Electronic Frontier Foundation's don't-buy for Christmas list: Facebook's Portal in-home spycams, followed closely by Alexa/Google Home and other "home hubs"; Verizon's "AppFlash" spyware-equipped phones; and even the Elf on the Shelf gets a look in (normalizes surveillance!). Read the rest

Dystopia watch: Guide to spotting hidden cameras in your Airbnb

If you're worried that your Airbnb host has hidden a camera in the place you've rented, because that is a thing that garbage people do, you can use these handy tips to spot it. Read the rest

Couple's 'maternity shoot' turns weird

Some strange things happened to papa-to-be Todd Cameron and his pregnant partner during their maternity photo shoot. It started off harmless enough, a nice couple in a field of pumpkins showing off that baby bump. But then it got weird... fast:

Looks like "baby" isn't going to wait for the delivery room

Oh dear

Baby come back...!

This wasn't the end. See what happens next by checking out their Facebook photo album with all the photos from the shoot.

photos by Li Carter, used with permission Read the rest

Who is this mysterious shackled woman ringing doorbells in Texas?

(UPDATE HERE)

Police in Montgomery County, Texas are searching for this mysterious woman who was apparently ringing multiple doorbells in the middle of the night at a subdivision over the weekend. Read the rest

Documentary about The Slenderman

The Slenderman is a boogeyman born from the Something Awful forums that manifested in the real world in 2014 when two pre-teen girls stabbed their friend 19 times to please The Slenderman. "A Self-Induced Hallucination" is director Dan Schoenbrun's documentary about The Slenderman that he made entirely from archival footage.

"The Slender Man. He exists because you thought of him. Now try and not think of him."

-Username "I," posted June 15th, 2009 on the Something Awful forums. (User was later banned for "post(ing) like a weird fucker.")

"Why I Spent Months Making An Archival Documentary about The Slenderman" (Filmmaker Magazine)

Read the rest

Frighteningly lifelike clay sculptures

Polina Verbitsaya has gotten quite adept at sculpting polymer clay into weird sculptures, like disturbing people, body parts, and and other visceral gew-gaws. Read the rest

Spanish football app turns users into unwitting surveillance operatives

Spain's got a stiffy for football, or soccer, if you must.

When a football match is on, just about everyone in the country loses their minds. TVs are gathered round, siestas are forgone, and team songs, in any bar you chance, will be full of scarf-swinging loons banging on tables and screaming for every goal. It’s loud, chaotic and lovely. For many Spaniards, catching a game while on the go involves downloading a smartphone app fronted by Spain’s national football league, Liga de Fútbol Profesional. Available for iOS and Android handsets, the La Liga app is not only licensed to stream football games, but also lets users keep track of the stats for their favorite teams and players.

Oh, it also tracks your every move and taps your smartphone's microphone, supposedly in the name of helping to root out unauthorized match broadcasts in bars, restaurants and cafes.

From El Dario, via Google Translate:

The Liga de Fútbol Profesional, the body that runs the most important sports competition in Spain, is using mobile phones of football fans to spy on bars and other public establishments that put matches for their clients. Millions of people in Spain have this application on their phone, which accumulates more than 10 million downloads, according to data from Google and Apple.

All of these people can become undercover informants for La Liga and the owners of football television broadcasting rights. If they give their consent for the app to use the device's microphone (which is common in many applications), they are actually giving permission for La Liga to remotely activate the phone's microphone and try to detect if what it sounds like is a bar or public establishment where a football match is being projected without paying the fee established by the chains that own the broadcasting rights.

Read the rest

Creepy new spy camera is so small it could be hiding anywhere

If you're not already wearing a tinfoil hat, it may be a good time to start: a pair of engineers based out of the University of Michigan have figured out a way to create a light-powered camera sensor that's only a millimeter in size: small enough to be practically invisible to a casual observer.

According to a paper published in IEEE Electron Device Letters by Euisik Yoon and Sung-Yun Park, the new camera has the potential to not only be insanely small, but also, self sustaining, thanks to a solar panel placed directly behind the camera's image sensor, which is thin enough that light, in addition to what's needed to create an image, is able to pass right through it. This could provide the camera with all the power it needs to be able to continue to capture images, indefinitely.  At a maximum of 15 frames per second, the images it captures aren't of the best quality, but they're more than adequate for creeping on an unsuspecting subject.

The good news is that, for the time being, the camera is nothing more than a proof-of-concept. In order for it to be deployed in the real world as a near-invisible surveillance device, someone a lot smarter than me will need to figure out how to store image data and transmit it using hardware that's just as discrete as the camera's image sensor and power source are.

Fingers crossed that it'll take them a while to work those issues out.   Image via pxhere Read the rest

Watch countless American news anchors mindlessly intone the same propaganda script

"Extremely dangerous for democracy," is just one phrase in the uncanny propagandistic script that dozens (hundreds?) of news anchors "report" in this compilation video. The effect is creepy and surreal; the connection is that all the stations are owned by the same conservative corporation, Sinclair, which is where the marching orders come from. Read the rest

Now Peeps are being enlisted to surveil our children

As if the Elf on a Shelf wasn't creepy enough, now they've put Peeps in the faux-surveillance game.

A new book and plush Peep sold together as Peep on a Perch is encouraging parents to start a new "Easter family tradition":

The soft plush Easter Peep included in the set can be perched anywhere throughout the home. Children will be proud to have the Easter Peep watch them being good all day as they get ready for bed without making a fuss, help out around the house, and use good manners. And the more kindness the Easter Peep sees, the happier the Easter Peep gets! PEEPS® fans of all ages will love to make this a new Easter family tradition.

One Amazon reviewer (who gave the product five stars) writes, "The book encourages children to help, share and be kind as the Peep reports directly to the Easter Bunny." No, just no. Read the rest

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