Google has rolled out a change to its image search algorithm overnight that makes it tougher to stumble across adult pictures,
whether or not you're searching for them.
Here's how a Google representative explains the change:
We are not censoring any adult content, and want to show users exactly what they are looking for -- but we aim not to show sexually-explicit results unless a user is specifically searching for them. We use algorithms to select the most relevant results
for a given query. If you're looking for adult content, you can find it without having to change the default setting -- you just may need to be more explicit in your query if your search terms are potentially ambiguous. The image search settings now work
the same way as in Web search.
In other words, if you have SafeSearch turned off, you can still probably find anything you're looking for by appending the word porn to your search.
A new messaging device, dubbed Kissenger, lets users send kisses wirelessly to one another.
Unveiled at the Designing Interactive Systems conference in Newcastle, UK, in June, Kissenger comprises a pair of pressure-sensitive soft plastic lips which protrude through a smooth plastic casing the size of a large Easter egg.
The lips contain pressure sensors and actuators. When you kiss them, the shape changes you create are transmitted in real time over the net to a receiving Kissenger. There, the actuators reproduce the mirror image of the pressure patterns you
Hooman Samani of Singapore-based Lovotics developed the device. For the moment it is a prototype and Samani says it will not be commercialised until all the ethical and technical considerations are covered .
Users of Microsoft's consumer cloud service SkyDrive have had their accounts suspended for inadvertently breaking the terms of
their end user agreements.
WMPoweruser reports that a user in the Netherlands, going by the pseudonym WingsOfFury , lost access to his Windows Live account, including Hotmail and Xbox Live, after uploading 9GB of content to a private SkyDrive folder.
After asking for advice on a Dutch forum and contacting Microsoft, he was told his account had been blocked because he had uploaded content that violated the terms of service.
The software giant would not explain what WingsOfFury had uploaded that broke the rules, only that it related to files containing nudity, partial nudity, pornography, or content containing links to external sites that contain similar content.
And in these times of extreme PC the slightest insult can be arbitrarily deemed 'inappropriate' and the mildest picture can be seens as 'sexualised'.
Update: Dropbox: Don't trust it for anything valuable
Marco Arment is the creator of Instapaper, co-founder of Tumblr, and Internet-famous software developer. Responding to a listener question about the insecurity of Dropbox, he said:
Anything that is really sensitive or extremely valuable or needs to be kept very secret, I wouldn't store on anybody else's servers. That, to me, seems ridiculous unless I held the encryption keys like with the online backup service that I use.
Marco makes some salient points worth repeating here for users who may not be fully aware of how services like Dropbox typically work and the ramifications of storing your data off-premise. In case you didn't realize, Dropbox holds the keys to
encrypt and decrypt your data on their servers.
This means that a Dropbox employee could theoretically view (or steal) your data. Why do they hold the keys? Dropbox isn't just online backup, it's a collaboration tool. In order to offer public file sharing features, they have to be able to
decrypt data that is stored on their servers.
They also need to be able to decrypt data for legal reasons -- if they get a DMCA takedown notice or a subpoena from the US government requesting certain files, servers, or even racks of servers . And because Dropbox hosts data for
25,000,000+ users, some of which are undoubtedly doing very bad things, the likelihood of being served with a subpoena is far greater for them than for an individual person or organization.
An app that transmits data via sound aims to simplify the way users share images and other files between smartphones.
Chirp plays a two-second long noise that sounds as if it was made by a robotic bird. When heard by other devices it triggers a download. Chirp has the advantage that it can quickly send data to multiple devices at once. If recipients are offline
their devices will remember the chirp and download associated content later.
The software was developed by Animal Systems, a spin-off business from University College London (UCL). It is free to use, but companies will be charged a fee for add-on services.
The small team of computer scientists who've developed the app at UCL have big ambitions. They want the word to chirp to enter the vocabulary, they see a future where you pay for a can of drink with a chirp, where crowds at events
receiving mass chirps over the tannoy or radio audiences hold their phones up to be sent chirped information.
However Animal Systems seem to a censorial streak and will prevent users from transmitting links to adult content. Animal Systems subscribes to a blacklist service to block known pornographic or illegal-content website links. However, the
company says it does not plan to censor other material.
Chirp is currently available as an iPhone app. An Android version is promised soon
A Domain Name Server translates the human readable URL (eg melonfarmers.co.uk) into the IP address (eg, 206.292.1.17) use by computers on the internet.
This Domain Name System has recently become a censorship tool eg by the US who have been frequently banning websites by ensuring that US DNS servers refuse to look up a banned URL. The US had threatened to introduce even more broad powers with the
introduction of the SOPA legislation.
In a response to growing attempts at censorship, various alternative DNS systems have been proposed with an emphasis on those that can't be meddled with by the authorities. The latest, called ODDNS, comes out of France.
As its name suggests, ODDNS (Open and Decentralized DNS) is an open and decentralized DNS system running on the P2P (Peer-to-Peer) model. It's creator, web developer Jimmy Rudolf, told PCinpact he invented the system with two specific aims in mind.
The first, and of most interest to people fighting censorship, is to show governments that it is not possible to prevent people from talking.
The second, of interest to anyone who owns and maintain their own domain names, is to take back control of them.
ODDNS is an application which allows everyone running the software to share information about domain names with each other, a bit like how a P2P network functions. ODDNS can supplement or even replace regular DNS.
Because domain names and related IP addresses are shared among peers in the network, they can no longer be censored.
Still under development, as expected the source code to ODDNS is licensed under GNU GPLv3. PCinpact reports that the current ODDNS website will be updated next week and the first beta release of the software will follow shortly after.
The IWF press release leads on the new concept that child abuse images available on the internet are being hidden in secret portions of seemingly legitimate web sites.
The IWF explains the issue:
Criminals are disguising websites to appear as if they host only legal content. However, if an internet user follows a predetermined digital path which leads them to the website, they will see images and videos of children being sexually abused.
There are several reasons why this method is used. Firstly, it masks the criminal website from those who have not followed the correct digital path. Secondly, it means that a commercial child sexual abuse business may be able to acquire legitimate
business services if the website appears to host legal content when accessed directly -- essentially tricking companies into providing their services for what is actually a criminal enterprise.
These disguised websites have not yet been encountered on UK servers but the IWF is working with its Members -- the online industry - and other Hotlines around the world to effectively tackle this trend.
In general the report shows a very laudable near 100% focus on the blocking and taking down of child related material, and doing so speedily.
A useful statistic from the IWF is the number of illegal domains detected. This has declined from a 2006 peak of 3077 domains down to 1595 in 2011. (although this is an increase from 1351 in 2010). Thankfully this seems a pretty low figure for a
worldwide statistic. Presumably most of these have subsequently been taken down too.
On the subject of illegal adult material, the IWF received 2779 reports. Only 2 reports were about material hosted in the UK and therefore actionable by the IWF. One of these cases ended up in material being taken down, the other had already been removed
prior to action. Most of the other reports involved material hosted abroad. The IWF do not take any action in this case (presumably because the material is probably legal where it is hosted).
There is no comment about whether the recent UK obscenity acquittal of fisting and urolagnia material has had any impact on the IWF definition of illegal adult material.
Microsoft and NetClean have announced a joint effort to combat the sexual exploitation of children by making Microsoft PhotoDNA technology available and accessible to law enforcement agencies worldwide to help enhance child sex abuse investigations.
As the UK Hotline for the public to report child sexual abuse content hosted anywhere in the world - the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) will be one of the first organisations to employ this technology. The technology will be provided to law enforcement
agencies, at no charge.
PhotoDNA is an image-matching technology developed by Microsoft Research in collaboration with Dartmouth College that creates a unique signature for a digital image, something like a fingerprint, that can be compared with the signatures of other images
to find copies of that image. NCMEC and online service providers such as Microsoft and other online service providers currently use PhotoDNA to help find, report and eliminate some of the worst-known images of child sexual abuse.
Presumably it works on the geometrics within the picture, perhaps like facial recognition and wireframe modelling of pose, and so it can match pictures regardless of encoding, compression, size and, to some extent, cropping.
The technology will allow faster review of the massive number of seized images so investigators and prosecutors can tackle more cases whilst limiting the exposure of investigators to the images.
No doubt the technology will be equally effective in detecting rude pictures of heads of state, celebrity sex and cartoons of Mohammed, or whatever other pictures the authorities would like to put people in prison for.
The softcore UK adult TV station, Television X, is about to make British broadcasting history by being the first to broadcast in 3D.
The Society 3D will be broadcast on 13th and 14th of January on Television X and its sister channel Red Hot TV to subscribing Sky customers with a 3D TV.
Those who have a 3D TV can watch the interlaced side-by-side version which uses state of the art technology to create the 3D images.
In this one-off 3D special, Television X follows a submissive Angel Long as she is initiated into the sex-mad world of The Society. The landmark film has been produced by Kaizen XXX, which employed many techniques in order to make the 3D effects
For the opening image, which shows Angel blowing smoke rings into the viewers face, to the final, closing 'pop' shot, I aimed to make this film an iconic piece of porn history, said Andy P from the production house.
We are really excited about bringing an intensely erotic experience to our customers across the UK and Ireland, said Head of Programming for Television X Chris Ratcliff: The UK has never seen anything like this!
And for once, being totally softcore may be an advantage. Viewers won't have to be worried about being poked in the eye by a long hard dick.