Friday, June 6, 2008

College Humor Prank Wars parts 1-6

This is great stuff. This is developing into something of an internet phenomenon. It is two guys (Streeter and Amir) that work at that spent most of 2007 pranking each other and there are some crackers in here. There are 6 videos to view and each one gets more and more risky/fun, it pays to start at the beginning. Check out after the jump for the films.

Number 1

Number 2

Number 3

Number 4

Number 5

Number 6

Superfast RC Helicopter - killbots next

Billed as the fastest RC helicopter in the world, the Rave 450 Electric helicopter has to be seen to be believed. Looks and sounds pretty angry, and I can see itbeing used as either a high class hedgetrimmer, or crowd control decapitation machine. Check out the vid after the jump.

More vids here at the CYB site. Check it out.

Or for buying models in NZ check these guys out

Thursday, June 5, 2008

When the cubicle becomes just too much

Most videos of people going postal in the office are usually set ups, viral adverts or just some guys having a laugh. But sometimes you watch them and wonder "What if someone lost it completely one day? How far would they go?"
Enter some eastern european man who obviously can't take the pressure any more of people bumping his desk, spilling his coffee and some fat bloke knocking papers onto the floor. Check out the two vids after the jump and make your own mind up as to its authenticity.


and heres some footage from a cellphone by a co-worker of the same scene.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Little Green Men, Call the Plumber Please.

What a week it’s been for NASA and space. We have the $325 million Phoenix Lander successfully making touchdown on the red planet and the Space Shuttle Discovery made it to orbit without any major issues. That means the hunt for little green men is now on and the Space Station will get its new crapper.

The Phoenix landed just as expected and in a nice flat area with very few rocks and boulders. During its rocket assisted descent the plumes of exhaust have blown away the dust to reveal flat, bright areas that we will hopefully find to be ice of some kind. After performing all the post landing tests it was confirmed that the lander was in good shape and ready to start science. Just yesterday the bucket scoop grabbed a sample of the regolith and took images of the rusty coloured material. I have to say that it looks a lot like mud and surprisingly there is a small patch of what looks like a white/silvery substance which NASA think could be ICE or some kind of salts.
NASA hopes to do some tests on this soil sometime over the next week and confirm what the makeup of it is. We may yet see traces of hydrogen which may mean water.

And coupled with that the Space Shuttle Discovery launched almost flawlessly on its way to the International Space Station to deliver the rest of the Japanese science module Kibo and repair the toilet that is not working. The toilet has 2 parts, one for poo and one for wee, it’s the wee part that is broken, so at least they are not up shit creek yet. In saying that the manual function of the toilet is working and the crew has been using the toilet in the Soyuz capsule which is docked for emergencies so it’s not all doom and gloom. If the toilet can not be fixed they may have to evacuate the station or use Apollo era crapper bags which could be messy.

The launch which was almost flawless did no apparent damage the orbiter but it sunbstantially wrecked part of the launch facility. Mortar and bricks were blown out from the blast chamber which channels the exhaust plumes during takeoff and scattered them over the road behind the pad. NASA have said that this should be repaired in time for the next scheduled launch at pad 39A on Oct 8th.

All in all a pretty good week for NASA as they try to complete the space station and prove that little green men do in fact live on Mars and War of the Worlds is a documentary.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Opt out you bastard, I said OPT OUT!

Premium SMS messaging services, credit cards, phone services, cable TV, gherkin in your McDonald's - you name the service, they will only remove it if you ask them too, even if you didnt ask for it in the first place. In this day and age, the dirty tactics marketing type or the sneaky bastard behind opt-out services, seems to be the calibre of person being hired by companies small and large to run their service administration. They will drum up cash by pushing their services onto unsuspecting people on mailing\phone lists or dimwitted individuals silly enough to sign up to services without reading the fine print.

How does it work? Simple - lets take scenario A. Jane is an average chick. She likes walks on the beach, romantic dinners and strangling ferrets. She purchases something online from a reputable online sales company called Nice Guys Inc. Working for Nice Guys Inc. is Jim Bastard. Jim trawls through the Nice Guys Inc. database collecting personal information of its customers and sells it on the side to a rep from Up Yours Inc. called Sneaky Bugger. Mr S. Bugger then uses the cell phone info to sign Jane up to a costly but innocuous Mobile Phone Quiz service that texts you questions and offers prizes for correct answers (prizes that don't exist, but that's another scam). Jane receives text messages, not understanding who they are from, and deletes them thinking she's being spammed. Jane receives her next cell phone bill, sees she is in the hock to the tune of $hitloads and promptly has a coronary. You see, what Jane didn't realise is that every time she received a text she was being billed for it. To cancel this, she would have to opt out, even though she never opted in personally in the first place.

Sound far fetched? Sound like I've run out of spam fodder for my blog and am making this shit up? Unfortunately no - this happens all the time and is on the rise around the world. Sneaky bastards are using our personal information and in some cases our gullibility against us yet again, and this include some major companies. In New Zealand we have Telecom, our largest telco provider, doing this very thing just recently with some of its services on mobile phones. Credit Card companies, for a long time, raise your credit limit without asking, and refuse to let you cancel your cards. American Express is a great example of this. A personal friend of mine has tried on multiple occasions to cancel his Amex and he gets transferred, put off, hung up on and abused to prevent him doing so. And they charge him a yearly service fee for having the card! WTF is up with that! An opt-out service you can't opt-out of!

And of course, there are always things advertised late at night on the telly for "sign-your-life-away-services" where you can have all manner of date\quiz\joke spam pour into your cell handset 24-7 if you are so inclined. These services, which cost the aforementioned $hitload, are aimed at the dimwitted and lonely individual who may just want to have someone text him\her once in a while. And while I feel sorry for them, they do write their own credit obituary by signing up.

"But" I hear you cry, "surely if this kind of thing was policed it wouldn't happen?". "Wouldn't the fuzz be cracking skulls if there was a law against it?" Sadly, no - there already IS laws against it, but unless you can prove who did it (in Janes case) or prove the company sent you the texts without your consent, theres not a lot anyone can do. The ombudsman in NZ already hears plenty of these cases every year and the number of cases is on the rise.

So what can we do? Well its like the other spam rants I've been on recently.

Awareness - be aware of scams doing the rounds, but dont believe everything you read. Check up on it if you are unsure if its spam alert about a scam or it came with an advert about Viagra. Check - they have a good encyclopaedia of spam emails and hoaxes. But also Googling will find most things

Protection - turn on junk filters, don't give out information to people you don't trust and don't do phone surveys - they are often people trawling for personal information so they can rip you off. If you recieve a text you don't understand, check with the phone company to make sure you are not getting billed for it.

Think-before-you-click - links in emails, pop-ups on websites, things asking you to "sign up". Don't do it unless its absolutely necessary, and don't give them any information you don't think is useful to complete whatever transaction you are trying to complete. Why do they want your phone number/address/bank account? If it wont let you through, lie - change a couple of numbers and if its ever a problem, say you mistyped.

Be careful out there!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Their day in the sun - Tribute 08

New Zealand had a modest involvement in the Vietnam war, which was in contrast to the major wars in the previous 40 years. We sent 3900 personnel between June 1964 and December 1972, and 37 of those young men did not come home. This Queens Birthday weekend was spent remembering those young men, and honouring the men who served in a war that many saw as wrong and has had massive repercussions on both the Vietnamese and Western forces for generations.

You may ask why we spent the last 5 days marching, speaking and remembering when this was all so long ago, and ANZAC day is our national day of remembrance for all our past armed servicemen and women. To answer that, go back to that time as the troops returned from fighting in a foreign country for what the government at the time deemed an important enough cause to lay down Kiwi lives. See here for an overview of the political and historical overview.
In 1972, if you were a returning serviceman there were no parades. There were no effusive speeches from the elected officials. There were no welcoming communities ready to buy you a pint at the pub as a small thank you for your part in a confusing and controversial conflict. There were plenty of protesters, plenty of officials who refused to recognise your involvement in serving for your country, and for many Vietnam War veterans all this contributed to serious mental health problems associated with fighting in an unpopular war. Add to this the physical and genetic effects of Agent Orange, widely thought to have been used in hand sprayers and dropped from aircraft to negate the cover of bush to the Vietnamese.
I was honoured this weekend to have been asked to take part in the Honour March through Wellington and be present for Whakanoa & Parliamentary Welcome. I walked with my Father in law who served two tours in Vietnam in Victor 5, and elsewhere in the crowd was my great Uncle who served in the SAS. It was a different atmosphere to how it must have been for the returning servicemen back in the 70's. There were people applauding, the officials spoke and apologised for previous wrongs, and promises were made.
So what did it all mean in the big scheme of things? To the millions of Vietnamese dead and the Kiwi's who died also, probably not a lot. But to the men and women who returned, it meant that there was acceptance that even though many did not agree with why they went, we applaud their efforts and they have our respect and pride for the job they did. Not just 12 month tour.

See here for more info on the NZ involvement in the Vietnam war.

And Here.

And here