Tag Archive | "north-korea"

The top 13 Instagram moments of 2013

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While Instagram recently touched on the top places to check in and the most hotly-posted about topics of 2013, the photo sharing network recently released its list of the top moments of the year, including Pope Francis, same-sex marriage triumphs and the Royal Baby.

  1. Catholics bid farewell to Pope Benedict XVI and welcome Pope Francis
  2. Egyptians gather in Tahrir Square and revolt against President Morsi
  3. @joemcnallyphoto snaps a #fromwhereistand from atop the Burj Khalifa
  4. People document the for the US Supreme Court decisions on same-sex marriage in California
  5. Instagram celebrates the marriage of @robinmay and @matthewjay, the first known couple to wed after meeting on Instagram
  6. @dguttenfelder, @drewkelly and others share moments from North Korea
  7. Russia sees its first InstaMeet, as does the White House
  8. The world welcomes the birth of Prince George, and another celebrity baby makes her debut.
  9. Michelle Obama joins the #tbt (#ThrowbackThursday) bandwagon
  10. Kobe Bryant walks again
  11. People document the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan’s destruction in the Philippines
  12. Batkid saves San Francisco as crowds document his adventure with the #sfbatkid hashtag
  13. Crowds gather to mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela and celebrate his life

Article courtesy of Inside Facebook

Big Brother Isn’t A Reason For Journalists To Quit The Internet

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In fear of Big Brother, award-winning technology law blog, Groklaw, has decided to shut down. TechCrunch, however, will not be following its lead. There is always a risk that an abusive government agent may try to intercept or intimidate our sources, but it’s the kind of risk that every media outlet has faced since the printing press and will continue to face into the foreseeable future.

In a heart-felt blog post, beloved Groklaw progenitor, Pamela Jones, explains that the only way to avoid the possibility of being monitored by the National Security Agency is to go completely off the grid. “My personal decision is to get off of the Internet to the degree it’s possible. I’m just an ordinary person.” Since Groklaw’s (impressive) brand of source-driven journalism was heavily reliant on email and online chatter, Jones claims, “The foundation of Groklaw is over. I can’t do Groklaw without your input. I was never exaggerating about that when we won awards. It really was a collaborative effort, and there is now no private way, evidently, to collaborate.”

While I’m no fan of secret spying, the decision to shut down has struck some journalists as rather odd. Any media outlet worth their salt regularly deals with confidential sources, often in a legal grey area that threatens both big businesses and the government itself. This most definitely poses risks. Recently, in the most extreme case, British spy agencies have detained journalists and destroyed hard drives to prevent further leaks of information.

But, this shouldn’t deter us. As the reporter tied to classified government leaks, Glenn Greenwald, explained after his partner was detained in Heathrow Airport, “If the UK and US governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further.

The logic of Groklaw seems to imply that all media outlets should shut down. There’s a few holes in this logic.

First, there are secure ways to communicate over email. Journalists can use end-to-end encryption, which is mostly spy  proof (probably how Greenwald communicates with his source, Edward Snowden). It’s true that some secure email providers have shut themselves down, but that’s only because the government can force them to turn over emails with the senders knowing. Individuals can and do send encrypted messages all the time that are stored on their local computers. Indeed, one secure communications provider, Silent Circle, shut down, in part, to “drive” users towards these independent types of communications.

Second, it is highly unlikely the NSA would care about a journalist like Jones or any of her sources. Jones informs people about tech law. The British government got in enough trouble when they detained their biggest threat for 9 hours in an airport; attacking the thousands of writers who deal with sensitive government matters is just plain impossible in a democratic state. Unless Jones has a scoop on some new super-secret government project, she’s just one of thousands of journalists the U.S wouldn’t target, even their wildest anti-Democratic dreams.

So, unless you believe we’re on the road to North Korea, it’s difficult to imagine why any media outlet should should shut down. I fancy myself a tad neurotic, but I won’t stop writing anytime soon and have no fear for myself or any of my sources. So, please come back Jones; the Internet hearts you.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

The Pirate Bay Celebrates Its 10th Birthday By Launching A Tor-Based Anti-Censorship Browser

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Image (1) pirate-bay-logo.png for post 12868

The Pirate Bay (TPB), the torrent site that really doesn’t need an introduction anymore, celebrates its 10th birthday today. To mark the day, TPB launched PirateBrowser, “a bundle package of the Tor client (Vidalia), Firefox Portable browser (with foxyproxy addon).”

The package, the group says, includes “some custom configs that allows you to circumvent censorship that certain countries such as Iran, North Korea, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland impose onto their citizens.”

If you’ve ever tried the Tor Browser Bundle from the Tor project, you’ll feel right at home with the PirateBrowser. It’s essentially the same package, but with the latest version of Firefox and a number of torrent sites pre-bookmarked for you.

Given that it is basically the Tor Browser Bundle, you could use it to access Silkroad and other hidden onion sites as well, but overall, it looks as if the PirateBrowser won’t offer the same kind of protections that the Tor projects bundle offers (and as we saw last week, that doesn’t always work, either). From what I can see, it won’t use the Tor network to access non-torrent sites that aren’t in its proxy settings, for example, so it’s not a replacement for a regular Tor setup.

TPB says as much on its download page, too (but it’s so far down the page, chances are most people will miss it): “While it uses Tor network, which is designed for anonymous surfing, this browser is intended just to circumvent censorship — to remove limits on accessing websites your government doesn’t want you to know about.”

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

North Korea Cuts Off 3G Access For Foreign Visitors Just Weeks After Allowing It

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Just weeks after first allowing foreign visitors to access 3G networks, North Korea has reportedly cut off mobile Internet service for short-term tourists, reports North Korea Tech (h/t Tech In Asia), which spotted a notice on Koryo Tours’ Web site. The Beijing-based company, which specializes in arranging tours to North Korea, said:

“3G access is no longer available for tourists to the DPRK. Sim cards can still be purchased to make international calls but no internet access is available.”

Foreigners visiting North Korea were allowed to get uncensored 3G data for the first time on March 1. Typically banned services like Twitter and Skype were available on the network, which was set up by Koryolink, a joint venture of Egyptian company Orascom Telecom Holding and North Korean state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC). North Koreans are blocked from accessing the global Web and allowed only a few services, such as MMS messaging and subscriptions to Rodong Sinmun, the state-run newspaper.

There’s no word yet on why North Korea decided to cut off 3G access for visitors, but it could be because the government was unnerved by the worldwide interest in tweets, Instagram pics, and other online missives sent by visitors to the highly-secretive country. The news that the DPRK has suspended 3G access for foreigners comes hours after North Korean state media said that the country’s military has ordered rocket and artillery units to be on “highest alert” to strike bases on the U.S. mainland, Guam, Hawaii, and other targets in the Pacific and South Korea. In response, Seoul said it hadn’t detected any warning signs of an attack, while the Pentagon said that U.S. military bases are ready to respond to “any contigency.”

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

How The Nuke From N. Korea’s Test Could Damage SF, Via Google Maps

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HYDESim: High-Yield Detonation Effects Simulator-soma-edited

North Korea reportedly tested a nuclear weapon tonight. For perspective, its recently demonstrated long-range missile could potentially deliver a bomb capable of taking out downtown San Francisco.

After measuring a 4.9 magnitude seismic event tonight, South Korea’s defence ministry confirmed that it was caused by an underground nuclear test. North Korea’s nuclear capability is estimated to be about 2 kilotons.

Of course, I immediately wanted to know what kind of damage this could do to San Francisco and found one disturbingly addictive website (for the paranoid) that allows users to see just how much of their hometown could be destroyed in a nuclear blast, overlaid on a Google Map (image above).

According to the website, nearly all of downtown South of Market (the home of TechCrunch’s San Francisco office) would be taken out, and parts of Lower Height and the Mission would suffer extraordinary damage. Nearly all of San Francisco and parts of Oakland (not shown above) are within glass shattering range. We pasted the explanation for what each concentric circle represents:

  • 1st: Complete destruction of reinforced concrete structures, such as skyscrapers, will occur within this ring.
  • 2nd: Severe damage to complete destruction of reinforced concrete structures, such as skyscrapers, will occur within this ring.
  • 3rd: Complete destruction of ordinary houses, and moderate to severe damage to reinforced concrete structures, will occur within this ring.
  • 4th: Severe damage to ordinary houses, and light to moderate damage to reinforced concrete structures, will occur within this ring.
  • 5th: Light damage to all structures, and light to moderate damage to ordinary houses, will occur within this ring.

There is a big caveat: North Korea has an embarrassingly bad missile program. Last year, one of their test rockets fell apart moments after liftoff. So, while there are long-range missiles that could potentially reach the West Coast, I’m not buying a bunker anytime soon.

Indeed, many seem to be far less concerned than we might imagine. As of this writing, CNN’s readers appeared to be more concerned about the porn on their smartphones than the threat of nuclear annihilation (at least for a few hours after the news was announced). Below is an actual photo of the relative traffic for their most popular stories.

I’m not sure which is more scary: the fact that we still leave in age where the world can be blown to bits, or that the masses care more about porn on their phones.

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

North Korea Steals Stirring Blast Footage From Activision’s Modern Warfare 3

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If you watch one paranoid fever dream video of a missle-blown New York set to a Muzak version of “We Are The World,” make it this one. While the prospect of mass nuclear annihilation isn’t funny, what is funny is this video from the official North Korean propaganda corps that shows a sleeping NK citizen dreaming of Glorious Missiles Of The Fatherland winging their way to New York where they destroy a stylized Manhattan. The biggest problem? The footage is stolen from a Modern Warfare 3 cut-scene.

In the scene the dreamer notes that “It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze with the fire started by itself,” which, given that the game was developed in California, is mostly true. However, with all that talk of North Korea’s amazing film production capabilities and excellent cinema, it’s odd that they wouldn’t render their own scenes of absolute destruction, possibly by making little models of Brooklyn and crushing them under the feet of Pulgasari.

Sadly, the other videos in the official North Korean YouTube channel are pretty boring unless you totally like smelting and power plants. It will be interesting to see real cinema come out of this country in the next few years as, just perhaps, international pressure finally caves in this gulag.

via Forbes

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

SPONSORED: North Korea Is Asia’s New Startup Hot Spot

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The old, Imperialist centers for entrepreneurial excellence have been eclipsed by the great and glorious Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, the world’s new and preeminent location for startups.

“We invite the world to come to us and plug into the vibrant tech hub that is North Korea,” said the Great Leader Kim Jong-un. “We have a workforce unparalleled, amazing infrastructure, and a can-do attitude.”

With such exciting firms as Instagram, Rovio, DKR People’s Tractor Factory, and Epicurious opening headquarters in Pyongyang, the beautiful city is turning into a force to rival Palo Alto in might and financial glory. President Obama is awed by the energy in North Korea.

Bootstrapping? Why waste your funding on employees when many of our people will work for free?

“Yes, we will,” said an unnamed citizen.

Looking for nightlife? Come to our beautiful hotel where you can enjoy fine beer and liquor. Enjoy the capital’s many statues or lay a wreath on the Great Leader’s grave. Are you a health nut? You will lose weight.

North Korea boasts a controlled, strong Internet connection to the West and dark fiber throughout the country. The captive market will let you test products without oversight or interference, and taxes are lower than in the Bay Area.

North Korea invites you to visit today. Visas are available to entrepreneurs, journalists, and celebrity founders, and Our Glorious Leader is sponsoring Geeks On A Kaengsaeng, a countryside tour that will bring outsiders closer to the beauty of North Korea.

The possibilities are endless in North Korea and your future is limitless. Start your dream in the Country of Dreams.

“Come to North Korea for the buzz,” says our Great Leader Kim Jong-un. “Stay until you are allowed to leave.”

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Loopcam Updates App And Releases First Ever Animations Shot In North Korea

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Screen Shot 2012-09-07 at 16.03.32

Clever ‘gif animations’ startup Loopcam has released it’s new version which has been more or less been rebuilt from the ground up. This is an infectious app and has cleverly hooked into the craze for creating funny animations.

Sitting between photographs and video, Loopcam captures a series of frames through an iPhone or iPad camera stop-motion style, which are merged into an animation to share and which can be embedded on a site. The new version features more social features, a upgraded design, deeper Facebook integration through the Open Graph. Berlin-based Loopcam is backed by Passion Capital and a syndicate of local angel investors.

It’s being used by musical producer Jermaine Dupri for instance.

But that’s not why we’re mentioning it today.

Founder Tor Rauden Källstigen became an occasional traveller to North Korea, after working with the project called Noko Jeans (which has since finished), which made the first and only jeans ever to come from North Korea.

While on a recent trip there Källstigen managed to record some loopcam loops.

Thus we present exclusively for you the first ever gif animations ever been made in North Korea.

We have some street scenes, some kind of fair ground attraction and Källstigen waving goodbye.


Article courtesy of TechCrunch

Here’s What Could Kill Facebook

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What Could Kill Facebook

Facebook is nearing a billion users, but what could topple the big blue giant? Government intervention, the shift to mobile, and a loss of “cool” all have the power to violently disrupt the social network, or at least cause it to lose its strong grip on the market.

Here’s a look at the four things that could ruin Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of a single site that connects the world.

The thread that runs between all these pitfalls is their potential to make Facebook irrelevant. If you can’t access it, its overrun by ads, there’s something better, or it’s simply uncool, Facebook could fade away.

It’s size, network effect, and wise leadership could protect it from these threats, and honestly, I think Facebook has the potential to be successful for a long, long time. But if you had to bet against Facebook, here’s what you’d be betting on.

Big Brother

Facebook is banned in China and access is or has been restricted in several countries including Iran, North Korea, and Syria. Right now this is limiting the social network’s growth potential. But if disputes with governments over what content is appropriate cause it to be shut out of more countries, these roadblocks could divert users to other local social networks. That would fracture the value that comes with having such a high percentage of internet users in one place. For example, Singapore is a valuable market with a strict government that could drop the ban hammer on Facebook.

Regulation around privacy could also slow Facebook down and make it more vulnerable to competition. Facebook narrowly escaped privacy audits from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Union. If the government of a core market put restrictions on how Facebook can launch new products or what features it can show where, it could create opportunities for startups to eat Facebook’s lunch. Imagine how much bigger a threat Foursquare would be if Facebook had been restricted from launching its Places location service.

Competition From The Next Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook doesn’t actually need to worry much about Twitter, Google+, or international players. They’ve failed to offer something revolutionary enough to make early adopters ditch Facebook, or mainstream enough to appeal to everyone. What big blue needs to worry about is the next social product visionary, the next Mark Zuckerberg that could turn Facebook into the next Myspace.

While acquiring and acq-hiring top talent from companies like Instagram was easy when it had pre-IPO stock to throw around, recruiting that next Zuck to side with Facebook rather than wage war against it is about to get tougher. Same goes for keeping its current rockstars from leaving to start a true competitor.

It might take a big hardware change like eyewear computers, holograms, or apps you download straight to your brain to finally make Facebook obsolete. Even then that upstart would have quite the uphill battle, but so did Facebook when it launched.

Smaller Screens, Small Ad Revenue

Staying afloat on display ads won’t cut it if the social network wants to live up to or surpass its ~$100 billion valuation, as Chris Dixon writes. It will have to think bigger. But for now, it has to worry about mobile.

Handheld devices have less room for ads and Facebook’s long list of features. Currently, Facebook only shows a few mobile news feed ads per user per day, while it shows as many as four to seven ads per page on the web. But if Facebook chokes mobile with too many ads, usage could plummet. As more users shift the time they spend on Facebook from the web to mobile, it will make less of the money that keeps the lights on for the whole service.

To counteract this Facebook is aggressively acquiring and hiring from mobile companies like Instagram in hopes of getting its mobile site and apps up to draw more eyeballs. However, while it has a huge footprint of over 500 million mobile users, there’s widespread discontent with the speed of its mobile apps. Many people think they’re cluttered, and complain of slow loading speeds.

Mobile is the biggest threat to Facebook, and the company admits it. If it can’t make more compelling mobile apps and earn more money from these small screens, the shift to mobile will see Facebook lowered into its own grave.

Losing Its Cool

Facebook doesn’t want to be cool. It wants to be a utility. It wants to be the cell phone or the television, not Virgin Mobile or HBO. But the fact is that a big reason Facebook is so popular is because it started by being accessible to only the most envied demographic in the world: Ivy League college students like those at Harvard. It used that prestige to spread like wildfire on every American college campus, and the sexiness of young adulthood to capture the teenage market. Its popularity in the trendsetting United States soon pulled in the rest of the world.

But now your mom is on Facebook. You grandma, professor, little cousins, and plumber are too. It’s not exclusive anymore. Usefulness is what keeps it afloat, but cold, dry, utility for everyone is vulnerable. And soon Zuckerberg will be 30, and he might no longer be seen as the geeky boy genius challenging the adults. He’ll be one of those adults. There are already signs that apathy and distrust for Facebook are setting in.

The slick destroyer of today’s social network would be something that starts elite but that gradually opens up like Facebook did. It would be designed specifically for the hip and young in-crowd. It would recruit big celebrities and carve out an influential niche from which to grow its power. This could be what makes Facebook seem old and boring. And the average Facebook user doesn’t want to go somewhere boring every day. That’s what their jobs are for.

[Image Credit: WaterySoul, TheFW, E:TB.]

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

U.S. House Passes Controversial CISPA Cybersecurity Bill 248 To 168

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The United States House of Representatives · House.gov

This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) by a vote of 248 to168. Unlike SOPA, which focused on copyright violations, CISPA wants to give Internet companies and the U.S. government the tools to protect and defend themselves against cyber attacks by sharing information with each other. Critics, however, argued that this information sharing would be happening with very little oversight and would put Americans’ privacy rights at risk.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), an outspoken critic of the bill, argued that the bill would “waive every single privacy law ever enacted in the name of cybersecurity. Allowing the military and NSA to spy on Americans on American soil goes against every principle this country was founded on.”

Even though this bill has now passed the House, chances are that it will not get through the Senate. On Tuesday, the White House issued a statement condemning the bill and on Wednesday, President Obama threatened to veto the legislation because it “fails to provide authorities to ensure that the nation’s core critical infrastructure is protected while repealing important provisions” of long-established privacy law.

Critics, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argue that the current version of this bill is basically a major violation of established privacy rights and would allow companies to hand anything and everything you do and say online over to the government in the name of “cybersecurity.”

Proponents of the bill, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), argue that the bill is “needed to prepare for countries like Iran and North Korea so that they don’t do something catastrophic to our networks here in America.”

An earlier provision in the bill that would have given Homeland Security more authority to monitor the Internet was dropped before the bill (PDF) passed. In return, though, a number of last-minute amendments, including one that expands the list of reasons for which shared information can be used. While the bill still allows for Internet companies to hand over confidential customer information to U.S. security and intelligence agencies, as well as local low enforcement services, it is worth noting that it does not require them to do so.

You can read a full version of the bill here (PDF).

Article courtesy of TechCrunch

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